Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: Grave Phantoms by Jenn Bennett

Grave Phantoms by Jenn Bennett
Series: Roaring Twenties, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance Grave Phantoms Cover
ISBN: 9780425280768
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Jenn Bennett Reading Order

Feisty flapper Astrid Magnusson is home from college and yearning for the one thing that’s always been off limits: Bo Yeung, her notorious bootlegging brother’s second-in-command. Unfortunately her dream of an easy reunion proves difficult after a violent storm sends a mysterious yacht crashing into the Magnussons’ docks. What’s worse, the boat disappeared a year ago, and the survivors are acting strangely…

Bo has worked with the Magnusson family for years, doing whatever is needed, including keeping his boss’s younger sister out of trouble—and his hands to himself. Of course, that isn’t so easy after Astrid has a haunting vision about the yacht’s disappearance, plunging them into an underground world of old money and dark magic. Danger will drive them closer together, but surviving their own forbidden feelings could be the bigger risk.

Grave Phantoms is an exceptionally entertaining, insanely addictive read that is not to be missed! I’ve been dying to read Astrid and Bo’s book since I first saw sparks fly between them in Bitter Spirits. Fortunately, Jenn Bennett has made their story well worth the wait – Grave Phantoms is a truly captivating, fast-paced, sizzling read with endearing characters and a romance that will stay with you long after you finish the book.

Bo is a hero who will grab your heart from the very beginning and not let go. He was given a job by Winter Magnusson as a teenager and has since become like family to the Magnussons, though not entirely. Bo is a man straddling worlds, not fully fitting in among the Chinese community after years of living with Winter, but his race and socioeconomic status keep him from being part of the Magnussons’ world. Falling for Astrid complicates his already complex life, but when the sexual tension between them comes to a full boil, there’s no way for Bo to keep his feelings from spilling out. Astrid, in turn, is a vivacious young woman whose energy is infectious. She’s not a brat by any stretch of the imagination, but she is a bit spoiled in the beginning of the story, which is to be expected because she’s young, wealthy, and adored. But though she’s privileged, Astrid is so charismatic that you’re simply drawn to her; there’s no way you could not adore her. She also has a big heart and it’s been clear throughout the series that she gave it to Bo a long time ago. The two of them are a fantastic couple, their chemistry so compelling you’ll be unable to put Grave Phantoms down.

Yet while it’s clear Bo and Astrid are made for one another, as Astrid soon begins to understand, love isn’t enough to make a relationship between her and Bo work. This is, after all, San Francisco in the 1920s, and Ms. Bennett does not pay lip service to the realities of racism. Woven into Grave Phantoms is the blatant racism Bo is faced with on a daily basis along with the harsh realities he and Astrid will face as an interracial couple. Not only is it illegal for Bo and Astrid to marry in California, in many places merely touching Astrid in public could land Bo in hot water. Even under the best of circumstances, with a supportive, powerful family behind them, Bo and Astrid will have a lot of ignorance and hostility to face in order to make it as a couple. But the risk (to Bo in particular) is worth the reward when you have two people in love and ready to fight for the happiness they deserve. Ms. Bennett did an excellent job of weaving in a dose of reality while keeping the story hopeful and optimistic.

It’d be remiss of me to discuss Grave Phantoms without mentioning the supernatural storyline woven through the romance. When a ship crashes into the Magnussons’ pier and only a half dozen confused, amnesiac survivors are recovered, the mystery begins. And when Astrid starts having visions of the supernatural events that occurred onboard, the paranormal puzzle pieces start coming together in an interesting fashion. I loved watching the pieces fall into place as Astrid and Bo delve into the underground world of magic and greed. It’s a different sort of supernatural mystery than can be found in the first two Roaring Twenties books, but it’s intriguing nonetheless.

The Roaring Twenties series is wholly unique in its time, place, and characters, but these factors wouldn’t mean much without taking into account Jenn Bennett’s phenomenal writing. Each Roaring Twenties book has been snappy, smart, and beautifully written and Grave Phantoms is no exception. Fans of Bitter Spirits and Grim Shadows will be charmed by the supporting roles their favorite characters play and Ms. Bennett gives the expanding Magnusson clan a wonderfully satisfying happily ever after. I loved Grave Phantoms from beginning to end and I cannot wait to read Bo and Astrid’s story 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, April 27, 2015

Blog Tour: A Scoundrel by Moonlight by Anna Campbell

A Scoundrel by Moonlight Blog Tour

I've been a huge fan of Anna Campbell's ever since I picked up her incredible debut, Claiming the Courtesan. Ms. Campbell's latest romance, A Scoundrel by Moonlight releases tomorrow, April 28th, and it's the fourth book in her fabulous Sons of Sin series. You can check out my review of A Scoundrel by Moonlight here, but make sure you come back to this post - there's an excerpt from A Scoundrel by Moonlight below and a giveaway from Ms. Campbell's publisher, Forever!

Excerpt from A Scoundrel by Moonlight:

A Scoundrel by Moonlight CoverLeaning one hand against the wall, she gulped and faltered to a stop. She struggled to get her breath back against the dizzying recollection of those big strong arms wrapping around her.

Until that last squeak of self-preservation, when he’d been so appallingly close to taking her, she’d been mad for him. She’d loved everything he’d done. The kisses. The caresses. The murmured praise and encouragement. The heat. The intimacy.

What she knew about this man should disgust and terrify her. He’d bedded women all over England. He’d come close to bedding her. She shivered to remember that hard, insistent weight pressing between her thighs. Yet he’d stopped when she asked, and she couldn’t mistake how he’d repented his loss of control.

When a woman lay at his mercy, what sort of rake let her escape unscathed? Nothing from last night fitted what she knew, except perhaps how the marquess attracted her like a magnet drew iron.

Was Dorothy mistaken about her seducer’s identity? Why would she blame her fall on Lord Leath if he wasn’t responsible?

And there was the inarguable fact that someone had seduced Dorothy.

Now what became of Nell’s quest once the marquess proclaimed her a lightskirt? Could she convince the Duke of Sedgemoor of Leath’s misdeeds with only Dorothy’s last words as proof? Especially when Nell’s own belief in his crimes wavered with every new day. She had a horrible feeling that Sedgemoor would dismiss her accusations as mere fancy.

Fate must decide.

She raised her chin and marched toward her ladyship’s apartments, only to halt in the doorway on a betraying gasp when she saw Leath with his mother. For one searing moment, his gaze met hers. That sizzling contact transported her back to those torrid moments in his bed. Then he glanced away and continued discussing Lady Sophie’s latest letter.

About A Scoundrel by Moonlight:

A Scoundrel by Moonlight CoverAnything can happen in the moonlight…

Justice. That's all Nell Trim wants-for her sister and for the countless other young women the Marquess of Leath has ruined with his wildly seductive ways. Now she has a bold plan to take him down…as long as she can resist the scoundrel's temptations herself.

From the moment Nell meets James Fairbrother, the air positively sizzles. Yet for all his size and power, there's something amazingly tender in his touch. Could he really be such a depraved rogue? The only way to find out is to beat the devil at his own game…one tempting kiss at a time.

My Review | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | BAM! | iTunes

About Anna Campbell:

Always a voracious reader, ANNA CAMPBELL decided when she was a child that she wanted to be a writer. Once she discovered the wonderful world of romance novels, she knew exactly what she wanted to write. Anna has won numerous awards for her Avon historical romances including Romantic Times Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill, the Heart of Excellence, the Aspen Gold and the Australian Romance Readers Association's most popular historical romance (twice). Her books have twice been nominated for Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA Award and twice for Australia's Romantic Book of the Year.

When she's not writing passionate, intense stories featuring gorgeous Regency heroes and the women who are their destiny, Anna loves to travel, especially in the United Kingdom, and listen to all kinds of music. She lives near the sea on the east coast of Australia, where she's losing her battle with an overgrown subtropical garden.

Find Anna Cambpell on the Web: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Review: A Scoundrel by Moonlight by Anna Campbell

A Scoundrel by Moonlight by Anna Campbell
Series: Sons of Sin, Book 4
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical Romance A Scoundrel by Moonlight Cover
ISBN: 9781455557936
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Anna Campbell Reading Order

Anything can happen in the moonlight…

Justice. That's all Nell Trim wants-for her sister and for the countless other young women the Marquess of Leath has ruined with his wildly seductive ways. Now she has a bold plan to take him down…as long as she can resist the scoundrel's temptations herself.

From the moment Nell meets James Fairbrother, the air positively sizzles. Yet for all his size and power, there's something amazingly tender in his touch. Could he really be such a depraved rogue? The only way to find out is to beat the devil at his own game…one tempting kiss at a time.

What do you do when your head tells you not to trust someone but your heart begs you to go after them anyway? That’s the question in A Scoundrel by Moonlight. Not everything is all that it seems for our hero and heroine in the fourth installment of Anna Campbell’s fabulous Sons of Sin series. Nell Trim disguises herself as a housemaid and arrives at the Marquess of Leath’s house determined to ruin the man who brought about her sister’s demise. Only James Fairbrother, Leath himself, is nothing like the heartless seducer Nell’s sister named on her deathbed. James is handsome and seductive to be sure, but he’s also hardworking and not the kind of man who would use and cast aside people. It’s not long before Nell finds herself entranced by the man who doesn’t know he’s her enemy, and Nell’s internal struggle is fascinating to watch. As for James, he’s positive that his mother’s new companion is not all that she claims to be, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting her. James knows better than to try and seduce someone whose position is relies on him. After all, he’s had to spend an immeasurable amount of time trying to help the women whose lives his uncle ruined while using his name. Mutual suspicion doesn’t do anything to dim the sexual tension in A Scoundrel by Moonlight, and boy do things get steamy. But as Nell and James fall for one another, deception and misunderstandings threaten to destroy their newfound love.

In order to untangle the mass of secrets and overcome the obstacles standing in the way of their happily ever after, Nell and James will require some outside help. Said help comes in the form of past Sons of Sins heroes and heroines. Sidonie, Jonas, Genevieve, Richard, Pen, and Cam are all back in full force and they dazzle whenever they’re on the page. You don’t have to have read Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed, A Rake’s Midnight Kiss, or What a Duke Dares in order to enjoy A Scoundrel by Moonlight, but fans of the series are sure to adore the supporting roles our three beloved couples play. James’s uncle did a lot of damage to them, but though there was animosity in the past – particularly between James and Cam – there’s never any doubt that they will all band together to make things right. Even though I adored Nell and James, watching them interact with the other six was perhaps my favorite part of the book.

Anna Campbell never fails to entertain and I always finish her books a supremely satisfied reader. A Scoundrel by Moonlight is a story sure to charm any historical romance lover – it has passion, romance, drama, and an ending that will leave you smiling.

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 19, 2015

Review: The Mistake by Elle Kennedy

The Mistake by Elle Kennedy
Series: Off-Campus, Book 2
Publisher: Elle Kennedy
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance The Mistake Cover
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Elle Kennedy Reading Order

He’s a player in more ways than one…
College junior John Logan can get any girl he wants. For this hockey star, life is a parade of parties and hook-ups, but behind his killer grins and easygoing charm, he hides growing despair about the dead-end road he’ll be forced to walk after graduation. A sexy encounter with freshman Grace Ivers is just the distraction he needs, but when a thoughtless mistake pushes her away, Logan plans to spend his final year proving to her that he’s worth a second chance.

Now he’s going to need to up his game…
After a less than stellar freshman year, Grace is back at Briar University, older, wiser, and so over the arrogant hockey player she nearly handed her V-card to. She’s not a charity case, and she’s not the quiet butterfly she was when they first hooked up. If Logan expects her to roll over and beg like all his other puck bunnies, he can think again. He wants her back? He’ll have to work for it. This time around, she’ll be the one in the driver’s seat…and she plans on driving him wild.

There is NO sophomore slump for Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus series. The Mistake is by turns sexy, snappy, heartbreaking, and swoon-worthy. Grace and Logan will grab your heart from the first and not let go, so be prepared to read The Mistake in one sitting because you won’t want to put the book down.

Grace is a smart, funny heroine with a propensity for babbling that I adored. She’s been living in her best friend’s shadow at the beginning of The Mistake, but her first few encounters with Logan are, in many ways, the catalyst for her change. Watching her come out of her shell and take charge of more than her academics was incredibly entertaining. Grace is a heroine you can relate to, and when you add that to her innate likeability there’s no doubt that you’re rooting for her to find happiness with Logan. And speaking of the gorgeous hockey player, when we last left Logan in The Deal, he was obviously longing for Hannah, his best friend’s girlfriend. I’ll admit up front that heroes in love with their best friend’s significant other is one of my least favorite romance tropes. I’m a big fan of Ms. Kennedy’s, so though I was wary, I started the book hoping she’d blow my doubts over Logan as a hero out of the water. And boy, does she ever. Ms. Kennedy takes what could have been a tired (and often unsatisfying) trope and shatters all expectations of Logan’s reasoning. I loved watching Logan (with the help of Garrett and Hannah) sort out a problem that was obviously causing him pain. Logan is a great guy and a loveable hero, but he’s also undeniably mixed up for a number of reasons in the beginning of the story. It’s because he’s trying his best to be a good person in the midst of his confusion that he hurts Grace. Though my heart broke for her at the time and I understood her reticence to give Logan a second chance, I really liked that Ms. Kennedy also made me understand why Logan screwed up so that I was cheering for him to win her back.

When the new school year starts and Logan sets out to make things right with Grace, The Mistake goes from incredibly entertaining to utterly fabulous. I can’t count the number of times I grinned or outright laughed over Logan’s determined wooing of Grace, or the help/teasing he got from his best friends. As a couple, Logan and Grace are dynamite. They’re mature, but in a way that is consistent with their age, and it’s easy to be swept away by their hot, heartfelt love story. But the second half of The Mistake isn’t all sexy, fun, romance – though there’s plenty of all of that which is why the book is insanely addictive. There’s also the painful reality of what Logan will face once he graduates. Logan dreams of going pro, but can’t see hockey in his future with a family that needs him back at home after graduation. Love, duty, and dread are all warring inside him, a realistic and heartbreaking look at giving up your dreams because you’re needed. By the end of the story I was glued to the book not only because of the love story, but because I needed to see how Logan’s life would work out. I won’t reveal what happens, but suffice it to say that Ms. Kennedy makes the resolution satisfying and organic to the story.

The Mistake is the second book in the Off-Campus series, but you don’t have to have read The Deal to follow along. That being said, Garrett and Hannah, along with Logan’s other roommates, Dean and Tucker, are all strong supporting characters who provide lots of laughs and genuine support. All the major players in the Off-Campus series have bright personalities, but though they stood out, they never took the spotlight from Logan and Grace.

Elle Kennedy has a singular talent for writing books with off-the-charts heat, sarcastic humor, and truly memorable characters. The Mistake has all that and more and I cannot wait to see what’s next for the beloved Briar hockey players!

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.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Review: Walking on Sunshine by LuAnn McLane

Walking on Sunshine by LuAnn McLane
Series: Cricket Creek, Book 8
Publisher: Signet
Genre: Contemporary Romance Walking on Sunshine Cover
ISBN: 9780451470492
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Mattie Mayfield is more interested in fishing, four-wheeling, and mudding than being a girlie girl. But acting like one of the boys means she often gets ignored when it comes to romance—especially by Colby, her brother’s best friend. Maybe if she changes the game, she’ll finally start getting some attention.

Bad boy musician Garret Ruleman doesn’t fit in with the crowd in Cricket Creek, but there’s something about sweet, unassuming Mattie that catches his eye. Garret intends to ask her out, but all Mattie wants is for Garret to give her a makeover that will force Colby to see her as a real woman.

Garret agrees to help in return for lessons on how to become a Southern stud. And as the local girls start falling for the newly countrified Garret, Mattie wonders if in the end, they’d actually be perfect together…

You know a book is going to be a delight when you have the biggest grin on your face before you’ve even finished the first chapter. Such was the case for me with Walking on Sunshine. Mattie and Garret are flat-out adorable together. In fact, I dare anyone not to smile at their first meeting, their banter and charm is so irresistible. They’re effortlessly appealing in the way only straight-shooting, genuinely kind characters can be, which of course makes it impossible to resist their romance.

Mattie is a tomboy who’s a not-so-secret romantic. At the start of the story, she’s about had it with the local guys not seeing her as a desirable woman. Garret’s arrival in Cricket Creek seems to be the break Mattie needs to get the object of her affections to notice her. Garret is smooth, cultured, and – as the son of a model – is the just the man to teach Mattie how to change things up. In return, she’ll help this former bad boy urbanite change his image and fit in in his new home. Mattie and Garret’s lessons are fun to read about, but though they’re both seemingly trying to change who they are, all they’re really doing is revealing different facets of their characters to the world. It was fun to watch them come into their own over the course of the story, but what I truly liked best was that both Mattie and Garret saw and were attracted to each other from the start. Neither of them needed to be anything other than themselves with one another, which was, of course, the point. There were a few obstacles in their path which sadly felt manufactured (as did the resolutions to said obstacles), but I suppose smooth sailing all the way through wouldn’t have made for much of a story.

Like all the other Cricket Creek books I’ve read so far, Walking on Sunshine contains a secondary romance. Country music star Shane and his new housekeeper/chef, Laura Lee had a sweet, fast-paced romance that I’d have liked to have seen more of. Their attraction to one another was obvious and there was so much potential to them with Shane’s past as a famous star, the scars Laura Lee’s past has left on her heart, and their employer/employee relationship. Honestly, the two of them had enough material to make up an entire book so I was a bit disappointed their plotline felt rushed. That being said, Shane and Laura Lee were charming and their story did weave well into the overarching storyline, not in the least because they were both friends and mentors to Garret and Mattie.

Walking on Sunshine is the eighth book in LuAnn McLane’s charming Cricket Creek series, but it can be read as a standalone. Having read more than half the series at this point, I do have to say that Walking on Sunshine isn’t the strongest installment. It definitely has the potential to be one of the best, but the manufactured drama and the fact that Mattie and Garret seemed to need their friends to give them a push more than once brought my enjoyment of the story down a notch or two. In addition, about halfway through the book Garret and Shane’s conversations jarred me out of the story and made me notice the writing rather than the characters, for they spoke in such a way that it was obvious it a woman was writing their dialogue. Even with these quibbles, I still thoroughly enjoyed Walking on Sunshine. Mattie and Garret are utterly endearing characters and their chemistry was wonderfully entertaining. I can’t wait to read the next Cricket Creek book, Written in the Stars.

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 16, 2015

Review: Don't Walk Away by Vivian Arend and Elle Kennedy

Don’t Walk Away by Vivian Arend and Elle Kennedy
Series: DreamMakers, Book 3
Publisher: Vivian Arend
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance Dont Walk Away Cover
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Elle Kennedy Reading Order

He wants to rock her world—in bed and out of it
For former Army Ranger Dean Colter, sexual escapades and wild flirtations are the norm—but it wasn’t always that way. Years ago, the DreamMakers co-owner was a one-woman kind of guy until he tore Emma Lee’s heart apart. Yet he’s never forgotten her, and when Emma waltzes back into his life, a second chance is suddenly within his reach…and he’ll be damned if he’ll screw up again.

She wants her world to stop spinning apart
Emma’s no longer the naïve girl she used to be. Now a successful designer in the fashion world, she refuses to let Dean’s killer smile and sweet-talking ways distract her from her goals. But being the target of Dean’s full-out seduction isn’t easy to resist, even as the dynasty she’s built teeters toward disaster. This time she might the one who breaks both their hearts when she has to walk away.

Don’t Walk Away is the perfect mix of sweetness and spice. Emma and Dean’s story has all the raw passion I’ve come to expect from Elle Kennedy and Vivian Arend, and it’s wrapped up in a truly sweet reunion romance. Add in the incredibly fun supporting cast of characters and it’s easy to see why I devoured this book in one sitting.

They say the bigger they are the harder they fall, and that’s definitely true for “Manwhore of the Year” Dean. The final member of the original DreamMakers trio enjoys sleeping his way through San Francisco and claims he has no desire to change his naughty ways. Seeing Emma again changes all that. She’s his first and only love and though it’s been eleven years, Dean quickly falls head over heels for the woman Emma has become. But it’ll take more than charm and boatloads of sex appeal for Dean to regain Emma’s trust. He broke her heart when they were younger and though Emma can forgive him once she knows his reasons, trusting him with her heart again isn’t so easy. Dean has to put all his DreamMakers skills to use to win her over and it’s an absolute blast to watch. Emma and Dean have such bright chemistry and they’re both so genuinely likeable that it’s impossible not to be swept away by their love story. I do wish we’d gotten to see a bit more of their shared past, but as it stands Emma and Dean’s romance is a satisfying combination of dirty good fun and genuine emotion.

Don’t Walk Away is the final story in the DreamMakers trilogy, but I’ve got my fingers crossed so hard they hurt that there are related books to come. Mses. Arend and Kennedy leave some pretty big teasers for their awesome supporting characters, and I just might cry if Suz and Gillian don’t get books of their own. While I keep my hopes up, I’ll definitely enjoy re-reading all three DreamMakers books. All Fired Up, Love is a Battlefield, and Don’t Walk Away are a blast to read. Hot as hell former Army Rangers heroes who make dreams come true, smart, sassy heroines you’d love to have as friends, red-hot romances… What’s not to love?

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

Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: The Liar by Nora Roberts

The Liar by Nora Roberts
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Romantic Suspense The Liar Cover
ISBN: 9780399170867
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions…

The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.

Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning…

The Liar is appealingly eclectic. It’s not just a romance, but a story of family, home, and building dreams. Of mystery, danger, and deception. Only Nora Roberts could so seamlessly entwine all these things and then top it off with the welcoming charm of the small Southern town of Rendezvous Ridge. It’s impossible not to be drawn into this story, and into the lives of its protagonists.

Perhaps my favorite thing about The Liar (yes, even above the romance) was Shelby’s character growth. At the beginning of the book we see her as a widow almost completely overwhelmed by the mass of deceit her husband’s death reveals. I say “almost,” for though Shelby’s been in an abusive relationship for years and is just discovering that the life she thought she had was little more than an illusion, there’s a core of steel in her that can’t be broken. I admired her strength from the start, how she pulls herself up and does what needs to be done to make a better life for her daughter. In many ways The Liar is Shelby’s story; her coming into her own over the course of the book and learning to believe in herself and her future is just as important as her love story with Griffin. Griffin is a hardworking, disarmingly charming contractor who is knocked off his feet by both Shelby and her adorable daughter, Callie. It’s clear the three of them are meant to be a family, but given all that Shelby’s been through and the speed at which she falls for Griff it’s no wonder that she’s a bit gun-shy. Griff is almost too good to be true, but Ms. Roberts keeps him from being unbelievably perfect. The Griff/Shelby romance will make you smile and sigh and – like all of Ms. Roberts’s love stories – every up and down in their relationship is worth it for the wonderfully satisfying happily ever after.

The suspense storyline in The Liar revolves around Shelby’s husband’s secrets and the danger they bring. The suspense is slow to build, as Ms. Roberts sets the stage piece by piece and much of the book is focused on Shelby building a new life for herself and Callie in Rendezvous Ridge. Though I think it’s pretty clear what’s going on and who is behind it, that doesn’t hurt the story any. The fun of it is watching Shelby uncover the pieces of the puzzle and put them together with the help of Griff and their loved ones.

Faint notes of the Hepburn and Grant classic, Charade, appear in the story. It’s only fitting, for like the film, The Liar is effortlessly engaging, drawing in its audience as the story unfolds. I adored The Liar and look forward to reading it 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, April 6, 2015

Blog Tour: Still the One by Jill Shalvis

Still the One Blog Tour

I'm a huge fan of Jill Shalvis's work, as you might have guessed if you've visited Wit and Sin a time or two :) Still the One, the latest book in Ms. Shalvis's Animal Magnetism series, is sexy, fun, and wonderfully addictive. Still the One releases tomorrow, April 7th, and you can check out my review here. But make sure you come back to this post - there's an excerpt below and a giveaway from Ms. Shalvis's publisher, Berkley!

Excerpt from Still the One:

Still the One CoverAJ held the door open for Darcy, doing his best to keep his tongue in his mouth, but he wasn’t sure he quite managed.

“Thanks,” she said, brushing up against his arm and shoulder as she stepped into the elevator.

His free hand came out to stabilize her, a purely instinctual move. He didn’t give a thought to the fact that she hated to be helped because he couldn’t give a thought to anything.

Holy. Shit. Hotness.

Her little black dress—emphasis on little—just about killed him.. The bodice was short, snug, and, at first glance, modest.

Second glance, not so much.

She bent over and fiddled with her heels, which had a strap around her ankle and screamed SEX. So did the way the hem of her dress rose up on her thighs, high enough that his eyes nearly popped right out of his head. “What are you doing?” he managed.

“Nothing.” Still bent at the waist, she shifted to her other heel, during which time he pressed his fingers into his eye sockets to keep his eyes in his head.

She was all leg and silken skin and crazy gorgeous hair, and he attempted to steel himself against her but he failed. He’d been wrong, oh so very wrong when he said he’d be able to handle her. He couldn’t, not in her yoga pants, not in a sexy little black dress, not at work, not in his truck, not in an elevator, not in anything anywhere—he couldn’t do it, Sam I Am.

She straightened and sent him a searching look. She’d piled all that long curly hair on top of her head but several silky strands had escaped, brushing her temples and shoulders, giving her a just-got-laid look. Her lips were siren red and he knew it made him a pig, but all he could think about was her mouth and how her lips would looked stretched around his—

“We’re on time still, right?” she asked.

He had to clear his throat to answer. “Yeah.” Jesus.

The door slid shut and silence filled the elevator while they stared at each other. To keep his hands to himself, he backed to the wall.

“So,” she said, looking like she was mentally cracking her knuckles. “What are the rules here? Kiss ass? Sit, shake, and roll over on command? Tell everyone how you saved my life? Obey your every order?”

Her sarcasm helped him roll his tongue back into his mouth. “I will ask you to kiss someone’s ass never,” he said. “Same for sit and shake and roll over. And you know damn well I didn’t save your life. But as for the obeying me? That. Lots of that would be great.”

About Still the One:

Still the One CoverDarcy Stone is game for anything—except sexy Navy vet and physical therapist AJ Colten, the guy who’d rejected her when she’d needed him most. Now the shoe is on the other foot and he needs her to play nice and help him secure grants for his patients. Unfortunately Darcy can’t refuse. She needs the money to fund her passion project: rescuing S&R dogs and placing them with emotionally wounded soldiers.

AJ admits it—Darcy is irresistible. But he’s already been battle-scarred by a strong-willed, vivacious, adventurous woman like Darcy, and he’s not making the same mistake twice—until he and Darcy are forced to fake a relationship. Growing closer than they’d ever imagined possible, Darcy and AJ have to ask themselves: how much between them is pretend? What’s the real thing? And where does it go from here?

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About Jill Shalvis:

Jill ShalvisJill Shalvis is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. She has written more than four dozen romance novels and lives in Nevada with her family.

Find Jill Shalvis on the Web: Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads


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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Review: Secrets of a Gentleman Escort by Bronwyn Scott

Secrets of a Gentleman Escort by Bronwyn Scott
Series: Rakes Who Make Husbands Jealous, Book 1
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Historical Romance Secrets of a Gentleman Escort Cover
ISBN: 9780373297689
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

He's the talk of the ton—for all the wrong reasons!

Society’s most outrageous—and popular!—escort Nicholas D’Arcy is renowned for his utmost discretion. So when he suddenly finds himself named and shamed by a jealous husband, he reluctantly accepts a summons to the countryside…a fate worse than death!

Annorah Price-Ellis isn’t what Nick is used to—innocent, feisty and decidedly uncomfortable with the spontaneous heat between them! Suddenly, London’s most audacious lover is out of his depth, and in danger of revealing the real man behind the polished facade…

Rakes Who Make Husbands Jealous Only London's best lovers need apply!

Secrets of a Gentleman Escort is a lovely combination of sensual and sweet, thanks to the book’s endearing protagonists. Annorah is a woman who feels like she hasn’t yet truly lived. She’s fast approaching the deadline where she must marry or lose most of her inheritance, and therefore she decides it’s time to take charge and do one thing for herself before she makes her choice. So she hires one of London’s most talented prostitutes for five nights. Only Nick is more than just a handsome escort. The more time he and Annorah are around one another, the more she sees the smart, likeable man beneath the polished exterior. Their romance is charming, pure and simple.

While Annorah and Nick are a heroine and hero you can become invested in, Secrets of a Gentleman Escort does falter outside these two. The story is filled with historical anachronisms that are so blatant they hampered my enjoyment of the story. There’s also the matter of the villains Annorah must face, namely her scheming aunt and a would-be suitor determined not to take “no” for an answer. These villains are black-hatted, rather irritating characters who never rise above one-dimensionality and whose interference in Annorah’s life is never suitably handled. Indeed, the entire ending of Secrets of a Gentleman Escort felt rushed, which is a pity because a bit of fleshing out could have taken the book to the next level – all the elements were there.

Secrets of a Gentleman Escort is the first book in the Rakes Who Make Husbands Jealous series. I’m still conflicted about Annorah and Nick’s story – I truly liked the main characters but am frustrated by the lack of development in every other aspect of the book. That being said, I do want to see where Bronwyn Scott takes Nick’s fellow escorts in future stories so I’ll be back for more Rakes Who Make Husbands Jealous tales.

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 in Review

Happy Spring!

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

Reviews for upcoming releases:
- Below the Belt (First to Fight, Book 1) by Jeanette Murray (available 4/7/15)
- Still the One (Animal Magnetism, Book 6) by Jill Shalvis (available 4/7/15)

All other new reviews:
- Colour Me Undead by Mikela Q. Chase
- Darling Beast (Maiden Lane, Book 7) by Elizabeth Hoyt
- Beauty Bites (Biting Love, Book 6) by Mary Hughes
- Four Nights With the Duke (Desperate Duchesses, Book 8) by Eloisa James
- Hair of the Dog by Kelli Scott
- Barefoot in Lace (Barefoot Bay Brides, Book 2) by Roxanne St. Claire
- Rebellion of a Chalet Girl (Chalet Girl, Book 6) by Lorraine Wilson

Upcoming reviews:
- Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews
- Skies of Steel (The Ether Chronicles, Book 3) by Zoë Archer
- The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 6) by Jennifer Ashley
- Wild Man (Dream Man, Book 2) by Kristen Ashley
- Down for the Count (Dare Me, Book 1) by Christine Bell
- Down and Dirty (Dare Me, Book 2) by Christine Bell
- The Professional: Part 2 by Kresley Cole
- The Professional: Part 3 by Kresley Cole
- How to Ravish a Rake (How to Series, Book 3) by Vicky Dreiling
- 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
- His Game, Her Rules by Charlene Groome
- Captured (Fallen Siren, Book 0.5) by S.J. Harper
- Reckoning (Fallen Siren, Book 2) by S.J. Harper
- One Taste of Scandal (Redcakes, Book 2) by Heather Hiestand
- The Volatile Amazon (Alliance of the Amazons, Book 4) by Sandy James
- Breathe (In Vino Veritas, Book 2) by Lauren Jameson
- Linger (In Vino Veritas, Book 3) by Lauren Jameson
- When the Rogue Returns (The Duke’s Men, Book 2) by Sabrina Jeffries
- How the Scoundrel Seduces (The Duke’s Men, Book 3) by Sabrina Jeffries
- If the Viscount Falls (The Duke’s Men, Book 4) by Sabrina Jeffries
- Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen
- Archer (Hard Body, Book 1) by Debra Kayn
- Before You Break (Between Breaths, Book 2) by Christina Lee
- There You Stand (Between Breaths, Book 5) by Christina Lee
- Caught Up in You (Loving on the Edge, Book 4) by Roni Loren
- Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk, Book 1) by Bec McMaster
- Keeping Secrets in Seattle by Brooke Moss
- While You Were Writing (Watkins Pond, Book 2) by Virginia Nelson
- Raw Desire by Kate Pearce
- Soul Sucker by Kate Pearce
- The Fifth Favor by Shelby Reed
- Laugh (Burnside, Book 2) by Mary Ann Rivers
- Festive in Death (In Death, Book 39) by J.D. Robb
- Blood Magick (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy, Book 3) by Nora Roberts
- The Liar by Nora Roberts
- Beauty’s Kingdom (Sleeping Beauty, Book 4) by A. N. Roquelaure
- Nights of Steel (The Ether Chronicles, Book 4) by Nico Rosso
- Secrets of a Gentleman Escort by Bronwyn Scott
- Archangel’s Legion (Guild Hunter, Book 6) by Nalini Singh
- Archangel’s Shadows (Guild Hunter, Book 7) by Nalini Singh
- Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss, Book 1) by Nalini Singh
- Takeover by Anna Zabo

Review: Below the Belt by Jeanette Murray

Below the Belt by Jeanette Murray
Series: First to Fight, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance Below the Belt Cover
ISBN: 9780425279250
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Athletic trainer Marianne Cook is ready to do whatever it takes to turn the men of the Marine Corps boxing team into fighting machines. After all, her ultimate goal is to land a job training professional athletes. But when she notices a certain hard-bodied marine trying to hide an injury, Marianne realizes that she’ll have to use covert tactics to get him talking.

First Lieutenant Brad Costa has waited years for the chance to fight for a spot on the Marine Corps boxing team, knowing he has to push twice as hard to get half as far as his younger counterparts. Brad tries to downplay his injuries to the attractive trainer who has his dreams in her hands, but Marianne isn’t buying it. Maybe it’s time to deploy some targeted flattery.

As Brad and Marianne’s attraction turns red-hot, there’s more than one person having a hard time keeping their eyes on the prize…

Jeanette Murray kicks off her First to Fight series with the wonderfully entertaining Below the Belt. I had a blast reading Brad and Marianne’s story; it’s fun, sexy, and the characters are so likeable you won’t want to put the book down.

I loved that Brad was a serious athlete, one who’s aware of both his strengths and weaknesses. His reasons for wanting to be on the team are very personal and cause him to be a bit stubborn when he’s injured. He has to work extra hard to make up for the fact that he’s older than the rest of his potential teammates and to work around the major issue of the knee injury he gets right at the beginning of training camp. His fear of being cut from the team causes him to try and hide his injury from Marianne, which of course leads to major complications once he starts to fall for her. Marianne is a smart, caring trainer ready to excel at her job. She knows Brad is injured and is as determined to get him to let her help him as he is determined to hide the extent of his injury. When attraction and then love enter the mix, things get dicey for both of them, but Ms. Murray definitely gave this plotline a satisfying resolution.

Brad and Marianne are a dynamite couple. Their flirtation is pure fun to read and when the sexual tension heats up Below the Belt gets even better. As I mentioned before, their professional lives are inextricably intertwined with their burgeoning relationship, but I love that they handled the potentially taboo topic of an athlete and trainer dating like adults. There’s no faux drama or sneaking around and that made me root for these two all the more. Their romance was both sweet and hot, and I had the biggest grin on my face when Brad and Marianne got their happily ever after.

I can’t talk about Below the Belt without discussing Brad’s fellow Marines. Brad’s the strong, silent type, but he’s about to learn that no man can be an island on the Marine Corps boxing team. I laughed as he was practically dragged out his isolation by his hilarious roommate, Gregory Higgs, not to mention the younger Marines who looked up to him. The relationships among the Marines as they begin to form a team makes is as important as the romance in Below the Belt. Ms. Murray makes these men so appealing you wish they were real just so you could meet them (and no, not just because they’re all incredibly hot). I can’t wait to see how the team develops over the course of the series.

Below the Belt has charm and heat to spare, but when you add in the intelligent characters and Ms. Murray’s attention to detail when it comes to training, the Marine Corps, and the work an athletic trainer does, there’s no doubt that this book is not to be missed. I love a good sports romance, so please, Ms. Murray, keep these Marine 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.