Friday, February 28, 2014

Review: Passionately Yours by Cara Elliott

Passionately Yours by Cara Elliott
Series: Hellions of High Street, Book 3
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical Romance Passionately Yours Cover
ISBN: 9781455573271
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

The youngest of the Hellions of High Street, Caro Sloane has watched her two sisters have exhilarating encounters with dashing heroes, and now she is longing for some excitement of her own. After all, how can she write truly passionate poetry until she has experienced a Grand Adventure? But that seems unlikely to happen as she’ll be spending the next few weeks in the quiet spa town of Bath, where nothing grand or adventurous ever happens...until she and her new friend Isobel are nearly abducted while walking on a quiet country road—only to be rescued by Alec McClellan, the moody and mysterious Scottish lord she met at Dunbar Castle.

Alec has come to England to deal with a treacherous betrayal and fears that his half-sister Isobel is in peril from an old enemy. Does he dare share his secrets with Caro? The bold and brave beauty leaves him no choice, and together they are quickly caught up in a swirl of dangerous intrigue...where fiery desire between them may ignite into the greatest danger of all.

Cara Elliott saves the best for last with Passionately Yours! The youngest Sloane sister’s book is bright, fun, romantic, and dramatic – everything you’d expect for a hellion poet heroine.

Sparks first flew between Caro Sloane and Scottish noble Alec McClellan in the previous Hellions of High Street book, Sinfully Yours. I had high expectations for Caro and Alec coming into Passionately Yours, and fortunately these two met every one of them. Caro is a bright, intelligent, passionate young woman who finds herself a bit at loose ends now that her sisters have gotten married and are off traveling with their husbands. Luckily for Caro, her new friend Isobel happens to be the sister of the man Caro loves to loathe. Alec is a serious, gruff, politically-minded man who seems to be Caro’s opposite. “Seems” is the operative word, for the two have a lot more in common than either could have imagined. I loved watching the back and forth between Alec and Caro as they reluctantly fall in love with one another. It’s not an easy fall, for Alec’s first marriage has left him wary of trusting another woman, but Ms. Elliott gives these two a satisfying happily ever after.

Passionately Yours follows a bit of a predictable path – there’s the requisite kidnapping, a vaguely Wickham-type villain, and a love-shy hero – but Ms. Elliott makes the comfortably familiar journey an entertaining one. Strains of Northanger Abbey filter through the book as well, which added to my enjoyment of the story. Add in a dash of political intrigue, threats to Caro and Isobel’s lives, and an utterly charming secondary romance for Isobel, and there’s truly nothing not to like about Passionately Yours.

Passionately Yours is a fast-paced, engaging read that’s sure to leave you with a smile on your face. I highly recommend Caro and Alec’s story to anyone who’d enjoy a delightful historical romance.

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, February 26, 2014

Review: Mystery Man by Kristen Ashley

Mystery Man by Kristen Ashley
Series: Dream Man, Book 1
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance Mystery Man Cover
ISBN: 9781455599189
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Night time is the right time...

Gwendolyn Kidd has met the man of her dreams. He's hot, he's sexy, and what started as a no-names-exchanged night of passion has blossomed into a year and a half-long pleasure fest. Sure, it's a little strange that he only appears in her bed at night, but Gwen is so sure he's the one, she just can't turn him away...

Hawk Delgado knows more about Gwen than she could ever imagine. She's gorgeous, headstrong, and skittish about relationships. But Hawk is facing his own demons, demons that keep him from connecting with anyone. Yet when Gwen is drawn into Denver's lethal underground scene, Hawk's protective nature comes out full force. The problem is, when Gwen gets a dose of Hawk's Alpha attitude in the daylight, she's not so sure he's the one anymore....

Kristen Ashley kicks off her Dream Man quartet with a high-octane read that draws you in from the start! Mystery Man is a larger-than-life romance with a story that’s a bit over the top, but incredibly entertaining nonetheless.

Gwendolyn Kidd is your average clotheshorse cosmo girl whose life would be fairly uneventful if it weren’t for her bad news little sister and a mystery lover who has been somehow breaking into her home for many an erotic midnight rendezvous. While the titular lover may be more interesting, let’s start with the bad seed sis. Ginger has made one bad move after another and, as a result, has made some lethal enemies who’re now targeting Gwen. Who’ll save our heroine who knows more about shoes than self-preservation? A couple of hotties, actually, but chief among them is her mystery man, Cabe “Hawk” Delgado. Where Gwen is a bubbly open book, Hawk is the epitome of strong and silent. I was drawn into Mystery Man because of Gwen. Though she has a tendency to make terrible choices, I still found her personality welcoming and she was simply fun to read about. She also has a warm and generous heart that I adored; her love for her friends, family, and especially her stepmother is what made Gwen shine. Hawk was a bit harder for me to become invested in, mostly because he is…well…a mysterious man. For the majority of the book all I knew was that he’s a hot alpha commando who is a bit too presumptive when it comes to Gwen (putting cameras inside her house without her knowledge and consent?) and that he seems opposed to speaking in complete sentences (a stylistic choice on Ms. Ashley’s part, and one I recognize will probably not bother other readers as much as it did me). That being said, by the end of Mystery Man I adored Hawk and I absolutely loved him and Gwen as a couple. Their tumultuous relationship – complete with its backdrop of fire and gunshots courtesy of the story’s villains – kept Mystery Man moving at a quick pace.

A host of secondary characters bring Mystery Man to life and set the stage for future Dream Man books. And speaking of future “dream men,” badass biker and fan favorite Kane “Tack” Allen threatens to steal every scene he’s in, and meltingly sexy detective Mitch Lawson does the same. Even if I hadn’t liked Gwen and Hawk’s book – which I absolutely did – Ms. Ashley’s introduction of the other Dream Man heroes would have been enough to ensure that I’ll read the rest of the series.

Kristen Ashley has a distinctive writing style and a flair for the dramatic, and I mean both in the best of ways. Mystery Man is a big, bold, engaging book that’s a fantastic escapist read.

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, February 23, 2014

Review: The Clockwork Wolf by Lynn Viehl

The Clockwork Wolf by Lynn Viehl
Series: Disenchanted & Co., Book 2
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Historical Urban Fantasy/Steampunk The Clockwork Wolf Cover
ISBN: 9781476722375
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

As the proprietor of Disenchanted & Co. in a steampunk version of America, Charmian “Kit” Kittredge makes her living solving magical crimes. But when a snobbish lady begs for help, saving her reputation might very well cost Kit her life.

Doing a favor for deathmage Lucien Dredmore, Kit agrees to interview a newly widowed lady as a potential client. Upon meeting, however, she learns that the woman in question is none other than Lady Eugenia Bestly, president of the Rumsen Ladies Decency Society— someone who once led a vicious campaign to ruin Kit’s life. Ironically Lady Bestly now lives in fear herself, for the press is about to unmask her husband as the savage “Wolfman” who died while terrorizing the city.

As monstrous rampages continue to occur, Kit soon determines there is more than one Wolfman, and that they may themselves be victims of evil players. While avoiding both mechanized assassins and attempts by Dredmore and Chief Inspector Tom Doyle to take her under their protection, Kit follows a tangled path that leads from a prestigious gentlemen’s club fronting a hellish secret to a vengeful native tribe and dangerous, ancient magics.

Magic meets mechanization in Lynn Viehl’s wonderfully inventive The Clockwork Wolf. The fast-paced, engaging second installment of the Disenchanted & Co. series lives up to its predecessor as readers follow Kit on a new investigation, one that takes readers deeper into the world of Toriana, delves further into Aramanthan mythology, and introduces us to “native magic.”

The Clockwork Wolf picks up not long after the first book in the series, Disenchanted & Co., left off. Kit, a dispeller who didn’t believe in magic until very recently, is adjusting to her changing world view while still making her living solving crimes and avoiding the occasional attack on her person. I love Kit. She’s an independent woman in a time and place where said independence is frowned upon. While she isn’t perfect, Kit is loyal, honorable, clever, and overall simply a character who commands respect from readers, if not from the society she lives in.

And speaking of that society, Toriana (The Provincial Union of Victoriana) is an alternate-history version of America, one where the Revolutionary War was lost. Kit lives in Rumsen (roughly equivalent to San Francisco) and from the nobs on the Hill to the prostitutes on the street, people are being terrorized by the Wolfmen, supernatural steampunk predators created by a mysterious force. It’s up to Kit to discover who is making the Wolfmen, how they’re doing it, and why…all while managing to stay alive and out of police custody. I won’t spoil what happens, but suffice it to say Kit’s case takes readers on an exciting journey. I was fascinated by the Wolfmen and the intricacies of the steampunk elements Ms. Viehl threads into the story, and I was on the edge of my proverbial seat for much of the book as Kit faced danger time and again.

Though The Clockwork Wolf isn’t a romance, there definitely are strong romantic elements. Deathmage Lucien Dredmore once again joins forces with Kit on her case (whether she wants his help or not) and he continues to pursue her romantically. I flat-out love Lucien and Kit together. They complement each other in terms of skills, and when it comes to their budding relationship their personalities both mesh and clash in the most entertaining ways. Every scene they’re in together ratchets up the energy level of the book. That being said, Ms. Viehl does introduce a love triangle element, as Chief Inspector Tom Doyle steps up to become a major player for Kit’s affections. I hate to say it, but what happens between Tom and Kit near the end of the story cast a slight pall over my enjoyment of the book. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not overly fond of love triangles, and that should be noted, seeing as my aversion is not one universally shared. But though Ms. Viehl makes it clear why Kit is drawn to her childhood friend, the all-too-perfect Tommy Doyle simply doesn’t carry the same charismatic appeal as the utterly compelling Lucien Dredmore. Lucien emanates power, but has a hint of vulnerability which breaks your heart at unexpected moments. And, as previously mentioned, there’s no duplicating the chemistry he and Kit have; the banter between them is a big part of why I enjoy the Disenchanted & Co. stories so much.

The Clockwork Wolf is a novel that defies strict characterization. It’s steampunk, alternate history, urban fantasy, and romance all woven together to create one engrossing book. If you haven’t read Disenchanted & Co., I recommend doing so before beginning The Clockwork Wolf, or at least reading the glossary. There’s a lot to take in as far as world-building goes, but Ms. Viehl does it so expertly that you don’t really notice, as you’re immersed in Kit’s world. I highly recommend The Clockwork Wolf – it’s an exciting adventure penned by a phenomenally talented author, and I cannot wait to see where Ms. Viehl takes Kit next!

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Blog Tour: Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis

Once in a Lifetime Blog Tour

If you've visited Wit and Sin before, then you know I'm a HUGE fan of Jill Shalvis's Lucky Harbor series. This is my go-to series for when I want sexy, funny contemporary romances. I'm thrilled to be a part of the Once in a Lifetime blog tour, particularly since Once in a Lifetime is one of my favorite books in the series (and that's saying something). Not convinced? Check out my review of Once in a Lifetime to see what I had to say about Ben and Aubrey. Then make your way down this page to read some delightful Q&As with Ms. Shalvis, read a deliciously sexy excerpt from Once in a Lifetime, and enter to win some fabulous prizes from Ms. Shalvis's publisher, Forever!

Q&As with Jill Shalvis

1. Ben is pretty handy (and handsy!)—do you trust Alpha Man to handle construction projects around the house or do you prefer to hire someone with official qualifications? Jill Shalvis
Ha. Alpha Man is a general contractor. He does it all, thankfully, since I can’t fix a damn thing without breaking it.

1. What would readers be surprised to find out about you?
That I’m not a natural romantic at heart. I have to work at it. Ask poor Alpha Man, my idea of romance is Taco Bell on a dock at the lake…

3. What’s your idea of a dream vacation?
Somewhere on an island with warm sun, calm waters, and an outlet to charge my Kindle. Oh, and food that magically appears…

4. What’s the funniest “meet-cute” you’ve ever written?
Well, it might just be in Once In A Lifetime, when in the opening scene, Aubrey tosses her drink in Ben’s face.

5. What can your fans look forward to next in the Lucky Harbor series?
Next up is a Lucky Harbor trilogy for this coming summer and fall, It’s In His Kiss, He’s So Fine, and Once In A Million, the stories of the three sexy hot guys who run Lucky Harbor Charters.

Where to find Jill Shalvis on the Web: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Excerpt from Always on My Mind

Once in a Lifetime Cover“You’re incredible, Ben, you know that? You’re an insensitive, first-class jerk, and–”

He leaned in. “And what?” he asked, voice dangerously low.

“And…” Stymied at her ridiculous and constant reaction to him, Aubrey put her hands to his chest to give him another shove, but somehow got her wires crossed and she fisted his shirt instead.

“Dare me,” he said softly.

Oh, how she hated how well he knew her. “I dare you to kiss me,” she whispered, and then to make sure he did, she put her mouth on his first…

Purchase Once in a Lifetime here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | iTunes


Grand prizepack featuring the entire Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis!

5 copies of Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis.

Enter here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: The Billionaire's Demands by Addison Fox

The Billionaire’s Demands by Addison Fox
Series: Boardrooms & Billionaires, Book 3
Publisher: Entangled: Indulgence
Genre: Contemporary Romance The Billionaires Demands Cover
ISBN: 9781622661893
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Addison Fox Reading Order

Booth Harrison has made a habit of getting what he wants, be it a new addition to the Harrison media empire, or a better relationship with his half-brother. But meeting his brother’s new sister-in-law, Camryn McBride, poses a new challenge. The savvy CFO of McBride Media has a brain he wants to pick…and a body he needs to claim.

Camyrn has spent the past few years helping to rebuild her family’s magazine company, focusing on that rather than her disastrous personal life. But when Booth Harrison invites her to be the keynote speaker at a sales conference in Hawaii, she’s tempted to combine business with pleasure.

But meeting the billionaire’s demands won’t be easy, because someone doesn’t want a merger between them to happen.

A reserved CFO meets her match in a sexy alpha businessman in The Billionaire’s Demands. Sparks fly in this fast-paced final installment of Addison Fox’s Boardrooms & Billionaires trilogy.

I absolutely adored Camryn; she’s intelligent, quick-witted, and confident when it comes to her business persona. She knows numbers and is incredibly good with people when she’s in the mold she has made for herself. However, Camryn is not always as sure of herself when it comes to breaking free of the defined role she’s set for herself, and this hint of vulnerability made me love her. Booth draws Camryn out her shell, which is one of the many reasons I liked him. He’s a devastatingly sexy hero who’s persistent when it comes to getting what he wants, but Ms. Fox never makes him pushy. He and Camryn make an excellent couple in every way and I loved seeing their relationship develop over the course of The Billionaire’s Demands. The road to happily ever after isn’t an easy one for them. Booth’s father – who already tried to throw a wrench in the relationship between Camryn’s sister, Keira, and Booth’s half-brother, Nathan – does his level best to wreak havoc on his son and heir’s love life. But villainous outsiders aren’t the only obstacle in Camryn and Booth’s path. Camryn has ghosts in her past which have to be laid to rest before she can give her heart to Booth. Ms. Fox makes their journey worth any heartache it and I finished The Billionaire’s Demands a well-satisfied reader.

The Billionaire’s Demands is the third Boardrooms & Billionaires story, but it can easily be read as a standalone. That being said, the scenes with Camryn and her sisters will definitely make you want to read Tempting Acquisitions and Merger to Marriage. I loved watching the three of them together and by the time I finished The Billionaire’s Demands I wanted to read the entire trilogy straight through. Love a classic-style romance that feels modern? Then pick up The Billionaire’s Demands!

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, February 16, 2014

Review: Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb

Concealed in Death by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death, Book 38
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Genre: Futuristic/Mystery/Suspense Concealed in Death Cover
ISBN: 9780399164439
Release Date: February 18, 2014
Blue Ribbon Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Original Review Link
Book Purchase Link
J.D. Robb Reading Order

It’s almost Christmas, but billionaire businessman Roarke’s day starts off as anything but merry and bright. When swinging a sledgehammer to start demolition on a long-vacant property he’s purchased, Roarke uncovers two skeletons wrapped in plastic. No matter how old the homicide is, there’s only one thing for Roarke to do: call his wife, NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas.

By the time the NYPSD has finished searching the building, twelve bodies have been uncovered. Determining the victims’ identities and cause of death is only the beginning of the mystery. The victims are all young teenage girls who seemingly had little in common. Their only connection is to the building, a place that was once called The Sanctuary, a shelter for troubled teens about fifteen years ago. Being a cold case doesn’t stop Eve from putting everything she has into finding who killed and concealed twelve girls.

Concealed in Death is a wonderful puzzle of a story. Author J.D. Robb takes a different route in this thirty-eighth full-length installment of her wildly popular In Death series, and I really enjoyed the change of pace. Concealed in Death marks one of the rare times we get to see Eve work a cold case, yet, though there is no sense of immediate danger, the book is still compelling. I loved watching Eve put together the pieces of the puzzle that is the girls’ murder, particularly since she has to start with nothing but skeletons and an abandoned property. Each girl’s story that she uncovers is fascinating in its own right, and I, like Eve, wanted to see the killer brought to justice. Even if you can guess what happened, it’s the journey rather than the outcome that makes the story shine.

Concealed in Death is one of the more case-centric books, but that doesn’t mean Ms. Robb skimps on the personal moments. We delve into the backstory of one of the series' most beloved characters, and there’s a truly touching moment between Eve and Dennis Mira. These small moments – the kind that bring tears to the eye – are a large part of why I love the In Death series so much. Every layer added to the characters means something when you’re invested in a series this long-running. Whether you’re a fan of Eve, Roarke and their friends or simply love a good puzzle, Concealed in Death is sure to entertain.

Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here with permission from Romance Junkies.

Sunday in Review

It’s update time again :)

Below are the newest reviews I’ve written here and on Romance Junkies. The master list and categorical lists on the right-hand side are updated as well.

Reviews for upcoming releases:
- Concealed in Death (In Death, Book 38) by J.D. Robb (available 2/18/14)
- Once in a Lifetime (Lucky Harbor, Book 9) by Jill Shalvis (available 2/18/14)

All other new reviews:
- Melting the Ice (Play-by-Play, Book 7) by Jaci Burton
- Texas Hold ’Em (Hotter In Texas, Book 3) by Christie Craig
- Sinfully Yours (Hellions of High Street, Book 2) by Cara Elliott
- Cursed by Cupid by Wendy Sparrow

Upcoming reviews:
- Rise of the Gryphon (Belador, Book 4) by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love
- Dangerous Seduction (Nemesis, Unlimited, Book 2) by Zoë Archer
- Skies of Steel (The Ether Chronicles, Book 3) by Zoë Archer
- The Seduction of Elliot McBride (Highland Pleasures, Book 5) by Jennifer Ashley
- The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures, Book 6) by Jennifer Ashley
- Mystery Man (Dream Man, Book 1) by Kristen Ashley
- Wild Man (Dream Man, Book 2) by Kristen Ashley
- Down for the Count (Dare Me, Book 1) by Christine Bell
- Down and Dirty (Dare Me, Book 2) by Christine Bell
- Bolted (Promise Harbor Wedding, Book 2) by Meg Benjamin
- The Professional: Part 1 by Kresley Cole
- The Professional: Part 2 by Kresley Cole
- The Professional: Part 3 by Kresley Cole
- Cowboy Waltz by Cameron Dane
- How to Ravish a Rake (How to Series, Book 3) by Vicky Dreiling
- Scarlet Devices (Steam and Seduction, Book 2) by Delphine Dryden
- Soul Weaver by Hailey Edwards
- Some Like It Hot (Rising Star Chef, Book 2) by Louisa Edwards
- Hot Under Pressure (Rising Star Chef, Book 3) by Louisa Edwards
- Passionately Yours (The Hellions of High Street, Book 3) by Cara Elliot
- A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes by Suzanne Enoch
- The Billionaire’s Demands (Boardrooms & Billionaires, Book 3) by Addison Fox
- Cowboy Take Me Away (Rainbow Valley, Book 1) by Jane Graves
- Trouble at the Wedding (Abandoned at the Altar, Book 3) by Laura Lee Guhrke
- One Taste of Scandal (Redcakes, Book 2) by Heather Hiestand
- Beauty Bites (Biting Love, Book 6) by Mary Hughes
- The Volatile Amazon (Alliance of the Amazons, Book 4) by Sandy James
- Thrown for a Curve (Perfect Fit, Book 2) by Sugar Jamison
- Breathe by Lauren Jameson
- Archer (Hard Body, Book 1) by Debra Kayn
- Midnight Pursuits (Killer Instincts, Book 4) by Elle Kennedy
- Since You’ve Been Gone (Welcome to Paradise, Book 4) by Elle Kennedy
- Caught Up in You (Loving on the Edge, Book 4) by Roni Loren
- Wildflower Wedding (Cricket Creek, Book 6) by LuAnn McLane
- Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk, Book 1) by Bec McMaster
- All Fired Up (Hot in the Kitchen, Book 2) by Kate Meader
- Keeping Secrets in Seattle by Brooke Moss
- Blood Persuasion (Immortal Jane Austen, Book 2) by Janet Mullany
- Raw Desire by Kate Pearce
- Soul Sucker by Kate Pearce
- Dare to Love (Dare to Love, Book 1) by Carly Phillips
- The Fifth Favor by Shelby Reed
- Dark Witch (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, Book 1) by Nora Roberts
- Nights of Steel (The Ether Chronicles, Book 4) by Nico Rosso
- Secrets of a Gentleman Escort by Bronwyn Scott
- Cairo Caper by Barbara Silkstone
- Archangel’s Legion (Guild Hunter, Book 6) by Nalini Singh
- Heart of Obsidian (Psy-Changeling, Book 12) by Nalini Singh
- Sully’s Sweet Salvation by Sierra Summers
- Primal Law (Alpha Pack, Book 1) by J.D. Tyler
- The Clockwork Wolf (Disenchanted & Co., Book 2) by Lynn Viehl
- Easy by Tammara Webber
- Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson

Friday, February 14, 2014

Review: The Saint by Monica McCarty

The Saint by Monica McCarty
Series: Highland Guard, Book 5
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical Romance The Saint Cover
ISBN: 9780345528407
Blue Ribbon Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Original Review Link
Book Purchase Link

Though Robert the Bruce has been crowned King of Scotland, his reign is by no means secure. In fact, the king needs his Highland Guard – an elite, shadowy force of warriors – now more than ever.

Magnus Mackay is as fierce a warrior as any of his Highland Guard brethren. But Magnus – known as “Saint” for his calm demeanor and lack of interest in women – hides a painful secret. He’s long been in love with Helen de Moray, the daughter of his clan’s enemy and the woman who broke his heart when she refused to abandon her family and run away with him. Years have passed since Magnus has seen Helen but when they do meet again, it’s on her wedding day. Helen is betrothed to Magnus’s partner and best friend and for that reason, if no other, she can never be his.

Helen is determined to win back the heart of the man she so foolishly turned away when she was young and scared. But tragedy threatens to cause a divide between them that not even their love can overcome. Will Helen be able to break through the walls the Saint has built around his heart to reconnect with the man beneath the warrior’s honor?

Nobody does star-crossed lovers like Monica McCarty! THE SAINT is filled with heartbreak, betrayal and hope. Love is lost, found and forced to go through the proverbial fires of hell to come out stronger than ever. Ms. McCarty had me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning of THE SAINT, taking the story through twists and turns I could not always expect; something I love in a book.

Magnus and Helen are two people who are very clearly meant to be together, but the depth of the hatred between their two families is not something either can ignore. As youths, Magnus and Helen were idealistic, and I loved that Ms. McCarty showed that side of them – the happy young lovers who were not prepared to face the obstacles in their path. Though Magnus and Helen have matured in some ways when they meet again, there are a whole new set of problems facing them. You have to respect Magnus’s sense of honor, but it’s that same code of honor that threatens to derail any headway Helen makes with him. There was almost too much heartbreak in THE SAINT, but Ms. McCarty kept the book afloat with a subplot involving Helen’s eldest brother and the overarching plot of the series about Robert the Bruce’s quest to unify Scotland under his rule.

One of the things I love about Ms. McCarty’s books is how she seamlessly blends history and fiction. I feel like I’m in this high-stakes war for Scotland’s freedom as the Highland Guard fights for the security of Robert the Bruce’s throne. In fact, my favorite moments of THE SAINT might actually be the attempts on the Bruce’s life. Both Helen and Magnus are at their best when they’re saving the king.

THE SAINT is the fifth book in Ms. McCarty’s HIGHLAND GUARD series, but Ms. McCarty provides enough information that the book can be read as a standalone. Fans of the series will undoubtedly be delighted to revisit some of their favorite Highland Guard warriors and their wives, however, and there are always more warriors yet to get their happily-ever-afters to pique the interest. I finished THE SAINT a well-satisfied reader and I’m looking forward to Ms. McCarty’s next HIGHLAND GUARD 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.
Note: My review was written for Romance Junkies and is cross-posted here with permission from Romance Junkies.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: Sinfully Yours by Cara Elliott

Sinfully Yours by Cara Elliott
Series: Hellions of High Street, Book 2
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical Romance Sinfully Yours Cover
ISBN: 9781455573257
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

After an eventful Season, Anna Sloane longs for some peace and quiet to pursue her writing. Though her plots might be full of harrowing adventure and heated passion, she'd much prefer to leave such exploits on the page rather than experience them in real life. Or so she thinks until she encounters the darkly dissolute-and gorgeously charming-Marquess of Davenport.

Davenport has a reputation as a notorious rake whose only forte is wanton seduction. However the real reason he's a guest at the same remote Scottish castle has nothing to do with Anna...until a series of mysterious threats leave him no choice but to turn to her for help in stopping a dangerous conspiracy. As desire erupts between them, Davenport soon learns he's not the only one using a carefully crafted image to hide his true talents. And he's more than ready to show Anna that sometimes reality can be even better than her wildest imaginings...

The oh-so-proper Sloane sister lets her hellion side out in Sinfully Yours. Once again author Cara Elliott takes a popular romance trope – this time an outwardly proper heroine with a secret falling for a wastrel aristocrat who is more than he seems – and manages to keep if from feeling like a retread. I liked watching Devlin and Anna uncover each other’s secrets, for beneath the masks each shows society the two are quite a bit alike. “The Devil” has a passion for automata, while Anna writes scandalous popular novels. It was fun watching Anna battle her bad case of writer’s block, and I only wish we’d seen a bit more of Devlin the inventor. Still, Devlin and Anna had solid chemistry, even though the sparks that flew between them in the first Hellions of High Street book, Scandalously Yours, seemed a bit dimmer in their own story.

Overall I enjoyed Devlin and Anna together and the pacing of their romance and the mystery revolving around who’s trying to assassinate a German prince kept Sinfully Yours moving at a quick clip. What did pull me out of the story off and on was Ms. Elliott’s writing style. Whether by accident or design, there were an astonishing number of adjectives and a truly alarming amount of alliteration in Sinfully Yours. This may not bother everyone, but it was so noticeable that I had to mention it as it impacted my reading experience. That being said, I liked Sinfully Yours and I’m very much looking forward to reading Caro Sloane’s book, Passionately Yours.

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, February 7, 2014

Review: Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis

Once in a Lifetime by Jill Shalvis
Series: Lucky Harbor, Book 9
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance Once in a Lifetime Cover
ISBN: 9781455521135
Release Date: February 18, 2014
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

Sometimes wrong is oh-so-right…

After a wrenching loss, Ben McDaniels tried to escape his grief by working in dangerous, war-torn places like Africa and the Middle East. Now he’s back in his hometown and face-to-face with Aubrey Wellington, the hot-as-hell woman who is trouble with a capital T. Family and friends insist she’s not the one to ease his pain, but Aubrey sparks an intense desire that gives Ben hope for the future.

Determined to right the wrongs of her past, Aubrey is working hard to make amends. But by far, the toughest challenge to her plan is sexy, brooding Ben …even though he has absolutely no idea what she’s done…

Can this unlikely couple defy the odds and win over the little town of Lucky Harbor?

Jill Shalvis has done it again! Once in a Lifetime is an utterly captivating story of love and redemption that will have you tearing up on one page and smiling the next.

Picking a favorite Jill Shalvis heroine is nearly impossible, but Aubrey’s definitely at the top of my list. She’s not universally beloved by the Lucky Harbor residents, women don’t generally tend to jump at the chance to be friends with her, and her reputation is less than sterling. In other words, she’s far from perfect. Aubrey’s got a giving heart that few are willing to see and she’s constantly working toward being a better person, which I absolutely loved about her. She broke my heart more than once over the course of the book, and was a very large part of why I didn’t want to put Once in a Lifetime down.

The other reason I was so in love with Once in a Lifetime? Ben. He’s a sexy, brooding alpha who’s a soft touch with children and animals – how could you not love him? Ben’s also a widower who isn’t looking for love and definitely doesn’t ever see himself falling for someone like Aubrey. Aubrey’s the opposite of his late wife, yet she fits Ben perfectly. The two of them set the pages of Once in a Lifetime a blazin’, and that’s before they ever hit the sheets. When they do…watch out! Ms. Shalvis knows how to bring the heat.

If you haven’t read the Lucky Harbor series, then you’re missing out and should rectify the situation immediately. Once in a Lifetime is a great introduction to the town and it’s wonderfully quirky residents, even though it’s the ninth book in the series and the third story in this particular trilogy subset. Ben and Aubrey’s closest friends (and the protagonists of It Had to Be You and Always On My Mind) play strong supporting roles and bring much of the humor to Once in a Lifetime.

Jill Shalvis is one of my autobuy authors for a reason. Every story she writes has humor, heart, and heat, and Once in a Lifetime is no exception. Just when I think Ms. Shalvis can’t get any better, she delivers as story like Ben and Aubrey’s and I fall in love with her writing all over again. Don’t miss Once in a Lifetime!

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, February 2, 2014

Review: Cursed by Cupid by Wendy Sparrow

Cursed by Cupid by Wendy Sparrow
Publisher: Entangled: Flirt
Genre: Contemporary Romance Cursed by Cupid Cover
ISBN: 9781622664771
Release Date: February 3, 2014
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Dear Reader, this letter is to inform you of Cupid’s curse, which will fall upon you if you don’t pass this email on to three friends within three hours.

Tilly Morrow didn’t believe in the curse and now she hasn’t had a second date in three years…because all her first dates end in disaster. In fact, she just accidentally punched a guy in the face, leaving her without a date for Valentine’s Day!

Bryant Murphy isn’t sure if the curse is real or not, but if dating Tilly means occasionally getting assaulted with a chocolate shake or nearly electrocuted, it’s worth the risk. Armed with more lucky charms than a bowl of cereal, Bryant will have to battle flying swords, Russian mail-order brides, and shrimp linguini if he’s going to win the girl.

Cursed by Cupid is a wonderfully zany read that’s sure to bring a smile to your face. Anyone who’s ever had rotten luck in love will surely appreciate Tilly’s trials. Three years ago she broke what should have been a harmless chain letter and found herself horribly cursed. Luckily for her, Bryant isn’t one to be scared off by rogue chocolate shakes or flying prop swords. He’s determined to help Tilly break her curse and I was utterly charmed by that and by him in general. He and Tilly are two characters you wish were real just so you could be friends with them (though you might have to wear a poncho for a girls’ night out with Tilly). Bryant and Tilly’s madcap road to a first date made Cursed by Cupid feel like a screwball romantic comedy, and I mean that in the very best way.

Cursed by Cupid is pure fun from beginning to end and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a zippy romance to lighten the heart. Though it isn’t easy for Tilly to overcome her curse, author Wendy Sparrow made all the madness worth it. Having enjoyed Cursed by Cupid as much as I did, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more of Ms. Sparrow’s stories.

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

Review: Melting the Ice by Jaci Burton

Melting the Ice by Jaci Burton
Series: Play-by-Play, Book 7
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance Melting the Ice Cover
ISBN: 9780425262986
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Everything’s coming together for budding fashion designer Carolina Preston. Only months away from having her own line, she could use some publicity. That’s when her brother suggests his best friend as a model—hockey player Drew Hogan.

Carolina and Drew already have a history—a hot one, back in college. Unforgettable for Carolina, but for Drew, just another slap shot. This time, though, it’s different. His perfect body would be for professional use only. This time, she could use him.

Drew is all for it. He’s looking forward to the exposure. Plus, it would give him a chance to prove to Carolina that he’s changed. If only he could thaw her emotions, convince her to let down her guard and let him in just one more time…

Jaci Burton heats things up in the aptly-titled Melting the Ice. I adored the sexy seventh installment of Ms. Burton’s Play-by-Play series, and I can’t wait to glom up the rest of these hot-as-hell sports romances.

I’ll admit up front that I’m a sucker for a hockey player. But even if Drew didn’t have that going for him he’d still be a great hero. He’s charming, seductive, and doesn’t let Carolina drown in her work to the point that she never has any fun. Though he hurt Carolina back in college, he’s not the selfish player he once was and he more than makes up for the past. I loved how he pursued Carolina, not even realizing he was falling in love with her until it was almost too late. Drew’s dedicated to his loved ones, his team, and his work ethic is superb. He’s Carolina’s match in every respect. She’s a fashion designer who’s worked her butt off to get where she is and nothing will stop her from making a success of her line. Though Drew and Carolina’s mutual attraction threatens to derail their concentration (they think), they truly bring out the best in one another personally and professionally. It’s easy to fall for them, and that’s why Melting the Ice is so compelling.

I haven’t yet read the previous six books in the Play-by-Play series, so I can safely say that Melting the Ice can be read as a standalone. That being said, I’m more eager than ever to read The Perfect Play, Changing the Game, Taking a Shot, Playing to Win, Thrown by a Curve, One Sweet Ride, the novella Holiday Games, and the upcoming Straddling the Line. I already have the first three books in the series, but I know for sure I’ll be rushing to buy Gray Preston’s book, One Sweet Ride, as he and Evelyn were wonderful supporting characters in Melting the Ice.

Melting the Ice is a fast-paced, sizzling read that’s easy to be swept away by. Ms. Burton, please keep those sinfully sexy athletes coming!

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.