Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review: When Somebody Loves You by Shirley Jump

When Somebody Loves You by Shirley Jump
Series: Southern Belle Book Club, Book 1
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance When Somebody Loves You Cover
ISBN: 9780425279373
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

At heart, Elizabeth Palmer is a practical Jersey girl. And her life reflects that—until everything suddenly falls apart. In a bid to change her luck, the intrepid reporter accepts a job to write a story on a reclusive quarter horse breeder in Chatham Ridge, Georgia. To her surprise, she finds herself settling into the warm, inviting town—even joining the Southern Belle Book Club—and craving the company of the rancher she’s there to interview…

Hunter McCoy has good reason to keep his distance from the determined reporter. Tragedy has taught him to stick to things that don’t require his heart. But he can’t seem to resist the vulnerability he detects beneath Elizabeth’s tough demeanor.

But when Hunter is faced with the possibility of a terrible loss and shuts Elizabeth out, she will have to prove to Hunter that having somebody love you can heal all wounds…

Love can heal almost any wound in When Somebody Loves You. Shirley Jump’s first Southern Belle Book Club novel is a story of taking a leap of faith and risking your heart.

In a bid to live a vastly different life than her mother, Elizabeth Palmer has always played by the rules. When she finally can’t take her grey, responsible life anymore, she goes after her dream of being a writer and travels from New Jersey to Georgia to write an article on quarter horse breeder Hunter McCoy. Hunter also likes routine, and since the death of his fiancée, his ranch has become his world. Elizabeth’s arrival upsets his orderly life and the two of them find their worlds turned upside down by an attraction neither expected. It’s easy to like Elizabeth and Hunter – they are smart, hardworking people who each have vulnerabilities that tug on the heartstrings. They fit one another like lock and key, and though there is some arguing and sexual tension, it’s clear these two are made for one another. Indeed, there’s nothing to dislike about When Somebody Loves You, but I found myself wanting more. Everything is a bit too perfect and orderly, which is surprising since this is a story where the hero and heroine have to throw caution to the wind and risk their hearts for a chance at love. The story felt a bit too obviously structured, and though Elizabeth and Hunter were well developed, the supporting cast was largely two-dimensional. When Somebody Loves You has a lot of possibility, but the story never truly grabbed me and I wish it had a bit more depth. That being said, there are some sentimental moments that are truly touching and the story is enjoyable overall.

When Somebody Loves You is the first book in the Southern Belle Book Club series, but don’t expect to see much of said book club. This was a bit disappointing because I wanted to learn more about the book club members. Perhaps future books in the series will flesh out the secondary characters more. I enjoy Shirley Jump’s writing and though I had issues with When Somebody Loves You, it was a sweet, breezy read and I look forward to enjoying the next Southern Belle Book Club 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.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday in Review

It’s update time again, just in time for the autumn reading season. And there are a lot of great reads coming this fall.

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

Reviews for upcoming releases:
- This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver (available 9/28/15)
- Down the Rabbit Hole by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Mary Kay McComas, and R.C. Ryan (available 9/29/15)
- The Stolen Mackenzie Bride (Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 8) by Jennifer Ashley (available 9/29/15)
- Claimed (Outlaws, Book 1) by Elle Kennedy (available 10/6/15)
- Written in the Stars (Cricket Creek, Book 9) by LuAnn McLane (available 10/6/15)
- Against the Ropes (First to Fight, Book 2) by Jeanette Murray (available 10/6/15)
- All I Want (Animal Magnetism, Book 7) by Jill Shalvis (available 10/6/15)

All other new reviews:
- Making a Play (Hometown Players, Book 2) by Victoria Denault
- Devoted in Death (In Death, Book 41) by J.D. Robb

Upcoming reviews:
- The Conquering Dark (Crown & Key, Book 3) by Clay and Susan Griffith
- 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
- Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker
- Down for the Count (Dare Me, Book 1) by Christine Bell
- Down and Dirty (Dare Me, Book 2) by Christine Bell
- The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
- Unnatural by Joanna Chambers
- The Professional: Part 2 by Kresley Cole
- The Professional: Part 3 by Kresley Cole
- Wicked Ever After (Blud, Book 4) by Delilah S. Dawson
- 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
- Air Bound (Sea Haven, Book 3) by Christine Feehan
- Earth Bound (Sea Haven, Book 4) by Christine Feehan
- It’s Only Love (Green Mountain, Book 5) by Marie Force
- 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
- Base Instincts (Demonica) by Larissa Ione
- 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
- The Art of Sinning (Sinful Suitors, Book 1) by Sabrina Jeffries
- A Talent for Trickery (The Thief-Takers, Book 1) by Alissa Johnson
- When Somebody Loves You (The Southern Belle Book Club, Book 1) by Shirley Jump
- Archer (Hard Body, Book 1) by Debra Kayn
- Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz
- 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
- Yours All Along (Loving on the Edge, Book 6.5) by Roni Loren
- Break Me Down (Loving on the Edge, Book 8.5) 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
- Prince’s Gambit (Captive Prince, Book 2) by C.S. Pacat
- 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
- Stars of Fortune (The Guardians Trilogy, Book 1) 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
- Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss, Book 1) by Nalini Singh
- Fighting the Fall (Beyond the Cage, Book 2) by Jennifer Snow
- The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings, Book 1) by J.R. Ward
- Takeover by Anna Zabo

Review: This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver

This Book Will Change Your Life by Amanda Weaver
Publisher: Entangled: Embrace
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance This Book Will Change Your Life Cover
ISBN: 9781633754317
Release Date: September 28, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Take a chance and change your life…

College is where Hannah Gregory plans to follow in her dad’s footsteps as a chemistry prodigy-except she bombs her first test. And now her future isn’t so certain. Worse, she’s not sure she wants it anymore. Salvation comes from an unlikely place – a used bookstore and the sexy Ben Fisher, the passionate college senior who works there.

Ben is trapped in a life mapped out for him. Trapped in a future career as a lawyer to make his father happy. Trapped pursuing a girl he doesn’t even like because she fits into a world he doesn’t want but can’t escape. But then he meets the beautiful and quirky Hannah. And for the first time, he knows what it means to truly want something.

So he gives in to being her friend. Then to wanting her. Then to kissing her. But freedom comes with a cost, and it isn’t long before their carefully planned lives begin to fall apart…

This Book Will Change Your Life is a bibliophile’s dream romance. Hannah and Ben are two endearing college students brought together by chance and who end up finding a connection through the magic of books. Their ensuing romance is bright, sweet, and so full of hope and promise that I wanted to read their story again immediately upon finishing it.

Hannah is a freshman who thought she had her life planned out. But when she fails her first chemistry test, she begins to question everything. When seeking shelter from a sudden downpour in a small bookstore, Hannah runs into Ben, a college senior whose clear love and enthusiasm for books changes Hannah’s world. Ben is shocked that Hannah doesn’t read for fun, and so he sets out to find a book that will change her life forever. And it does. The first book leads to the second, then the third, then more. Hannah suddenly finds her world expanded…and her heart in jeopardy. She and Ben become fast friends when they talk about the books he picks out for her, but she soon finds herself falling for him. The only problem is, Ben also has a life mapped out for him, one that includes a career he doesn’t want, and a different girl, one who’s suited to the life his father wants him to have. It isn’t easy for either Hannah or Ben to break free of their parents’ expectations – or their own ideas of how their futures should be. As for whether or not the books they read and talk about together change their lives…well, that’s something I’ll leave for readers to find out.

In Hannah and Ben, author Amanda Weaver has created two intelligent, interesting, vibrant characters who will grab your heart from the very beginning and not let go. It’s easy to adore them, to root for them, and the pages of This Book Will Change Your Life fly by because Ben and Hannah’s chemistry is electric and they themselves will charm the heck out of you. As any book lover knows, happily ever afters aren’t easy, but there’s no doubt you’ll be avidly turning the pages of Ben and Hannah’s story, wanting to see these two overcome the obstacles in their path.

I cannot express how much I loved This Book Will Change Your Life. Ms. Weaver’s love of books shines clearly through every page of the story, automatically drawing in anyone who loves to read. When you add that to a simply lovely romance between two incredibly appealing characters, it’s impossible not to love this book. This Book Will Change Your Life is a sweetly romantic read you won’t want to miss!

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, September 24, 2015

Review: All I Want by Jill Shalvis

All I Want by Jill Shalvis
Series: Animal Magnetism, Book 7
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance All I Want Cover
ISBN: 9780425270196
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

Pilot-for-hire Zoe Stone is happy to call Sunshine, Idaho, her home base. But her quiet life is thrown for a loop when her brother’s friend Parker comes to stay with her for a week. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife special agent is a handsome flirt with a gift for getting under her skin. And the situation only escalates when Parker hires her to fly him around the area while he collects evidence on a suspected smuggler.

Now she has to live and work with the guy. But when they’re in the air, she sees another side of him. He’s driven, focused, and sharp. And while he enjoys giving commentary on her blind dates, she quickly realizes with a shock that it’s Parker who gets her engines going…

All I want is a Jill Shalvis hero! In Parker James, Ms. Shalvis has once again delivered a strong, sexy-as-sin, loveable hero – and this one adopts kittens. How could I not melt over Parker? This USFW special agent infiltrates and takes down wildlife trafficking rings and more, is a loving brother and good friend, and slides right into Zoe’s life, knocking down all her shields. Parker isn’t perfect, but he’s a perfectly delicious hero and deserves an equally amazing heroine to give him the love and sense of home he never knew he needed. He finds that in Zoe Stone, the sister of Parker’s friend Wyatt. Zoe is a hardworking, smart, quirky, funny as hell pilot. She had to take on far too much responsibility at a young age and she’s also been badly burned by love. This means she’s used to being the boss and is afraid to give her heart to anyone, least of all a man who is only in Sunshine for a short time. I absolutely adored Zoe, felt for her, and was rooting for her to take a chance on love with Parker. When she does…well, watch out, because All I Want gets seriously steamy.

All I Want doesn’t just have a sweet and spicy romance – it has laugh-out-loud humor too. Parker and Zoe have absolutely sparkling chemistry and their back-and-forth made me grin. And this wouldn’t be an Animal Magnetism novel without animals, so of course a lot of the humor comes from Oreo the Bernese mountain dog and two crazy kittens. Ms. Shalvis knows how to make readers smile one moment and melt the next, and this is definitely the case in All I Want. Add some scenes involving the James and Stone families and a dash of suspense in the form of an illegal antiquities dealer Parker is determined to catch and you have a truly well-rounded book, one that’s pretty much impossible to put down.

All I Want is the seventh book in the Animal Magnetism series, but you don’t have to have read the previous six books in order to enjoy Zoe and Parker’s story (though the series is fantastic). So whether you’re a longtime fan of Sunshine, Idaho or are visiting for the first time, prepare to sit back and enjoy a wonderfully entertaining 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.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Review: Against the Ropes by Jeanette Murray

Against the Ropes by Jeanette Murray
Series: First to Fight, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance Against the Ropes Cover
ISBN: 9780425279274
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

As a troubled teen, Gregory Higgs channeled his energy into boxing instead of breaking the law. The ring gave him purpose and something to strive for. So did the Marines. Combining the two seemed like a natural fit.

Another natural fit? Reagan Robilard, the sweet athlete liaison who keeps all the fighters out of trouble and manages their PR—a job that gets more challenging when someone digs up the truth about Greg’s not-so-shiny past after equipment is vandalized at the gym.

Even if it wasn’t her job, Reagan can’t let Greg take the fall. Because passion doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to matters of the heart…

Against the Ropes is a fast-paced, sensual romance with plenty of action and a whole lot of heart. Greg and Reagan are strong, likeable characters with hidden vulnerabilities that will call to you and their romance is one that will leave you with a smile on your face.

Greg captured my interest in the first First to Fight book, Below the Belt. To all the world, Greg is a man who is quick on his feet and has charm to spare. He laughs easily and rolls with the punches. That first impression – Brad and Marianne’s image of Greg – is only part of the story. In Against the Ropes we see the whole of the man. Greg has a painful past, one he wishes he could wipe off the face of the earth. And though he swears his life began when he joined the Marines, he has undoubtedly been shaped by his childhood as much as he has by what he has done to change his life since. I loved peeling back the layers of Greg’s character and I was rooting for him to find peace and happiness.

A loveable hero like Greg deserves an equally endearing heroine and he got one in Reagan. Like Greg, Reagan has built an image around her – in her case the confident professional – that is only part of who she is. Reagan has worked her butt off to break out of the life her family thinks she should have. Managing the boxing team’s PR is her first real job and she’s desperate to do her best. Reagan is a smart, caring woman who sees the best in people and sometimes struggles to find her way. She and Greg have an instant attraction, but their romance is a slow building one. Author Jeanette Murray doesn’t let Reagan and Greg slide through without overcoming obstacles, but there’s no doubt that the two of them are meant to be together. There’s a sweetness to their romance that, when mixed in with the sensuality, made Against the Ropes sigh-worthy.

Against the Ropes is the second book in the First to Fight series, but it can be read as a standalone. That being said, I defy you to see Brad and Marianne after their happily ever after and not want to dive into the fabulous Below the Belt. There is also an overarching series plot involving someone targeting the team, and the vandal ups their game in this book. This time, the attacks threaten to damage Greg’s reputation and ruin Reagan’s career, which makes the plotline all the more compelling. The only downside to the blending of the romance and mystery threads was that it made the ending of the story feel rushed. Without spoiling anything, I’ll say that I would have liked to have spent a bit more time with Greg and Reagan at the climax. Still, the added mystery keeps the book moving at a quick clip and I thoroughly enjoyed the book as-is.

Greg’s relationships with his fellow Marines and Reagan’s with her new friends adds an extra layer of entertainment to the story. The men of the Marine Corps boxing team and the woman who love (or will love) them are all smart, interesting characters you wish were real just so you could know them. I absolutely adore the First to Fight series and after finishing Against the Ropes I am on the edge of my seat, waiting to read Graham’s book, Fight to the Finish!

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, September 20, 2015

Review: Claimed by Elle Kennedy

Claimed by Elle Kennedy
Series: Outlaws, Book 1
Publisher: Signet
Genre: Erotic Dystopian Romance Claimed Cover
ISBN: 9780451474445
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Elle Kennedy Reading Order

After a devastating war decimated most of the world, Hudson Lane has only known the oppressive life under her own father’s tyranny. She finally escapes, branding herself an outlaw and hunted by the Enforcers. Her best chance at survival is Connor Mackenzie, an aggressively sensual fugitive who opens her eyes to the wicked possibilities of a world without rules.

As the leader of a band of outlaw fighters, Connor can’t resist the beautiful stranger who asks for his protection. Despite his reservations, he agrees to introduce her to a whole new way of life. But when Connor discovers Hudson’s connection to the enemies of liberty, he wonders how far he can trust the woman who has abandoned all inhibitions to challenge every forbidden desire.

Claimed is a ferociously sexy book! Leave yourself plenty of time to read, because once you enter the dark and erotic dystopian world of Elle Kennedy’s Outlaws you won’t want to leave.

In the wake of near-global destruction, the world has been divided up into colonies controlled by the Global Council and policed by Enforcers. Those who don’t wish to live and die under the GC’s strict control are outlaws. When Hudson – a woman with secrets and powerful ties to the ruling class – escapes the rigid control of the GC, she knows she can’t survive on her own. A chance encounter lands her in the path of Connor and his men and she boldly asks to go with them. Connor never wanted to be a leader, but is, doesn’t want to take in Hudson, but he does, and doesn’t trust her one bit, but falls for her nonetheless. Their romance is passionate, bold, and downright filthy in all the best ways. There’s no room for sweetness or tenderness in Connor’s world, but living and loving on the edge is what makes Claimed so exciting.

Connor is an alpha through and through. His past and his need to protect the very small number of people who have his loyalty makes him a tough-as-nails character. He isn’t an easy or charming hero, but a warrior who makes tough calls. Hudson challenges him on every level. She’s innocent in a lot of ways when she first leaves the city, but she quickly embraces all aspects of the free world. Where a lesser woman would crack, Hudson stands strong and claims her future. The push-pull between Hudson and Connor is red-hot and the sexual tension is almost too much to bear. But when it explodes – watch out. Ms. Kennedy is a master at delivering stories with raw emotion and blisteringly hot sex, and Claimed has both in abundance.

Claimed kicks off the Outlaws series and brings readers into a dystopian future they’ll want to explore more. The worldbuilding is flawlessly weaved into the story and it’s as interesting as Hudson and Connor’s love story. It’d be remiss of me to talk about the Outlaws without mentioning Connor’s men. Rylan, Pike, Kade, and Xander are all too sexy for their own good, but it’s their distinct personalities and the bonds of loyalty and friendship that tie all the men together that really make them stand out. Each man is deliciously intriguing in his own right and I finished Claimed hungry for more Outlaws books.

Claimed is edgy, exciting, and darkly erotic. If Hudson and Connor’s story is anything to go by, then readers are in for one hell of a ride with the Outlaws 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.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Review: The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer Ashley

The Stolen Mackenzie Bride by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 8
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Romance The Stolen Mackenzie Bride Cover
ISBN: 9780425266021
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Jennifer Ashley Reading Order

1745, Scotland: The youngest son of the scandalous Mackenzie family, Malcolm is considered too wild to tame…until he meets a woman who is too unattainable to resist.

Lady Mary Lennox is English, her father highly loyal to the king, and promised to another Englishman. But despite it being forbidden to speak to Malcolm, Lady Mary is fascinated by the Scotsman, and stolen moments together lead to a passion greater than she’d ever dreamed of finding.

When fighting breaks out between the Highlanders and the King's army, their plans to elope are thwarted, and it will take all of Malcolm’s daring as a Scottish warrior to survive the battle and steal a wife out from under the noses of the English.

The Stolen Mackenzie Bride is a sweeping historical romance that is too compelling to put down. Jennifer Ashley takes readers back in time to the story of Malcolm Mackenzie and Mary Lennox, the ancestors of the beloved nineteenth century Mackenzies.

Mal is the great-great-grandfather of Hart, Cam, Mac, and Ian, and the apples didn’t fall too far from the tree. Mal is strong, protective, handsome, and clever. He’s got charm to spare, but like all Mackenzies, once he sets his sights on something – or someone – he goes after it. Mal is proverbially knocked off his feet when he first sees Mary, and within moments of meeting her he knows she’s the woman for him. Mary may seem the perfect English rose on the surface, but there’s a strength and fire to her that Mal notices immediately. Their initial meeting made me grin and their back-and-forth left me with no doubt that I wouldn’t be able to put The Stolen Mackenzie Bride down until I’d seen these two get their happily ever after. Individually, each is an endearing character who will make you smile one moment and admire their courage the next. Put them together and you have a passionate, emotional, utterly captivating romance.

Even though Mal and Mary fall in love swiftly, that love is tested in the fires of a war that threatens to tear them apart. For The Stolen Mackenzie Bride is set against the backdrop of the Jacobite rising of 1745 and the Mackenzie family is (unwillingly) in the thick of it. It’s fascinating to watch how Ms. Ashley blends fact and fiction, and her attention to detail – not just concerning historical events but to the thoughts and motivations of those caught up in it – makes the story shine. She shows care and respect to the horrifying events, and that adds power, emotion, and a richness to the story that can’t be beat. Ms. Ashley doesn’t pull her punches, and readers will feel the mounting tension as the stakes rise over the course of the book.

Though The Stolen Mackenzie Bride is one of the darker books in the Mackenzies & McBrides series, Ms. Ashley never lets the story get dragged down. There are plenty of moments of love, laughter, and family, and you can be sure that Mal’s brothers will win your heart. Fans of the series will love seeing the similarities between the eighteenth century Mackenzies and the nineteenth century characters. But readers new to the series need not fear - The Stolen Mackenzie Bride can easily be read as a standalone.

Jennifer Ashley is an amazing talent and her Mackenzies & McBrides books are among the best historical romances. Lushly drawn and featuring characters who will grab your heart and not let go, The Stolen Mackenzie Bride is not to be missed!

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Review: Down the Rabbit Hole by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Mary Kay McComas, and R.C. Ryan

Down the Rabbit Hole by J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Mary Kay McComas, and R.C. Ryan
Publisher: Jove
Genre: Futuristic Mystery / Paranormal Romance Down the Rabbit Hole Cover
ISBN: 9780515155471
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
J.D. Robb Reading Order

You’re late for a very important date…

Enter a wonderland of mesmerizing tales. It’s a place that’s neither here nor there, where things are never quite as they seem. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s whimsical masterpiece, ranging from the impossible to the mad to the curiouser, these stories will have you absolutely off your head.

Don’t be afraid to follow them…


“Wonderment in Death” (In Death, Book 41.5) by J.D. Robb
At first glance, the deaths of Marcus and Darlene Fitzwilliams is an open-and-shut case of murder/suicide. But when Eve Dallas takes on the case as a favor to a friend, the very down-to-earth lieutenant finds herself navigating a world of spirits, mediums, and poisonous tea parties to hunt down a killer who has twisted Lewis Carroll’s classic for his own deadly purposes.

J.D. Robb has blended Alice in Wonderland with the In Death-verse in a most wonderfully imaginative way. “Wonderment in Death” is a fast-moving hunt for a mad killer who targets his grief-stricken prey both for profit and pleasure. It is fascinating to see Eve navigate a case that’s riddled with Alice in Wonderland allusions. It’s completely at odds with her character, but she handles it like a pro (with the help of Roarke, Peabody, Louise, and others, of course). The story itself is twisted, yet highly entertaining, and I loved that even in novella format, Ms. Robb seamlessly weaves in Eve’s personal connections. There’s a lot to love about “Wonderment in Death.” Fans of the In Death series are in for a real treat!

“Alice and the Earl in Wonderland” by Mary Blayney
The new Earl of Weston is desperate to save his estate, but more importantly, he wants to win the hand of Miss Alice Kemp. Fortunately for him, a magical coin sends Weston and Alice tumbling through time to the wonderland that is 2005 London. If Weston plays his cards right, he’ll find the answers that can save both his estate and his love life.

“Alice and the Earl in Wonderland” is a sweet story of two lovers who get a new outlook on life when they time travel two hundred years into the future. Author Mary Blayney makes the romance work by showing the already solid connection between Weston and Alice. Love isn’t their problem – society’s strict rules are. Alice’s parents are divorced, which is scandalous in 1805, and she doesn’t wish to have Weston ostracized by his association with her. Both she and Weston learn a lot as they visit the twenty-first century, their newfound knowledge helping them solve their problems. I liked “Alice and the Earl in Wonderland,” but I wish I could have connected to the characters better. Most of the story is watching Weston and Alice marvel at life in 2005, which doesn’t leave much room for character development. Still, I look forward to reading “Amy and the Earl’s Amazing Adventure” (in the Dead of Night anthology) so I can see what happened to the characters who switched places with Weston and Alice during their time travel adventure.

“iLove” by Elaine Fox
Macy is in love with her boyfriend, Jeremy, but she believes he’s more in love with his phone than with her. She finally hits her limit and dumps him, but before he can go after her, Jeremy finds himself sucked into his phone, where he must win back Macy’s love through a dating app if he hopes to find a way out into the real world again.

“iLove” was an interesting, incredibly relevant story that emphasizes the importance of human connection. People are attached to their smartphones more and more, and I loved how Elaine Fox took that on in her story. Jeremy is a genuinely good guy, but he isn’t the best of boyfriends, more absorbed in his phone than in the woman he is dating – it’s easy to see why Macy is frustrated with him. There’s a slight Alice in Wonderland connection in this one, but mostly “iLove” is a story of second chances and the power of human contact. It’s interesting, unique, and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Fox’s work.

“A True Heart” by Mary Kay McComas
Costume shopping goes incredibly wrong – or right, depending on your point of view – for Elise when a supernatural being takes her on a doozy of a tour through her life. “A True Heart” is a fast-paced, intriguing story that perhaps owes more to A Christmas Carol than Alice in Wonderland. Elise has been badly hurt in the past, and because of this she’s formed a hard shell around her heart. Because author Mary Kay McComas shows how deeply vulnerable Elise is, she’s a very likeable, interesting, flawed heroine. When her supernatural guide takes her through various changes and scenes from her life, Elise begins to get a clearer picture of herself and how the walls she’s built have affected not only her life, but the lives of those around her. There’s a bittersweet quality to most of “A True Heart,” but I found it touching. There’s heartbreak, healing, and promise in this tale and though it can be a bit bizarre in parts, this works for the story overall. “A True Heart” is has a lot of emotion packed into one novella, and I finished the story a well-satisfied reader.

“Fallen” by R.C. Ryan
Softhearted Beth Campbell is determined to win her aunt’s approval and a place in her newly-merged company by convincing a Scottish recluse to sell his land to her client. But when she hits her head while en-route to the Highlands, Beth finds herself in a world of magic and intrigue…and falling for a sexy Highland warrior.

“Fallen” is a fairytale for adults that is sure to charm readers. I adored Beth and Colin and was easily swept away by the magic R.C. Ryan weaves into this lovely romance. Beth is out of sorts when she finds herself in eighteenth century Scotland, at the home of a laird who tempts her like no other man has before. Her attraction to Colin Gordon is instant, but there’s something deeply wrong with his home. People are flashing in and out of animal form, there’s a plot to kill Colin that Beth must thwart, and her grandmother’s legend of the Beast of the Highlands seems to be unfolding before her very eyes. There’s so much to unpack and enjoy about “Fallen” that I wish the story were longer. Beth and Colin’s romance is both sensual and sweet, but it’s also a bit rushed and the ending felt hurried. I wish I could have learned more about the curse upon Colin and it would have been great if we could have explored the magical side of the story further as well. Still, as it stands “Fallen” is an excellent story I thoroughly enjoyed.

Down the Rabbit Hole contains a wide range of tales, so there’s something for everyone. Aside from “Wonderment in Death,” the Alice in Wonderland connections in the anthology are tenuous at best. This is a pity, because Lewis Carroll’s beloved tale is rife with fantastical elements that would have been fun to see played up more. In Death fans will want Down the Rabbit Hole for “Wonderment in Death” alone, and the story is definitely worth it. But whether or not you’re a J.D. Robb fan, the anthology as a whole is unique and well worth the 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.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Review: Written in the Stars by LuAnn McLane

Written in the Stars by LuAnn McLane
Series: Cricket Creek, Book 9
Publisher: Signet
Genre: Contemporary Romance Written in the Stars Cover
ISBN: 9780451470508
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

No one is more shocked than Grace Gordon when her cosmetics line makes her a millionaire in need of new investments. Bailing out Mason Mayfield’s Cricket Creek craft brewery seems like the perfect solution. It doesn’t hurt that the sexy country boy makes her weak in the knees…

Sure, Mason is grateful to Grace for saving his brewery. But her upscale marketing plans for his down home business are driving him crazy. She needs a good man to reel her in, and he happily takes the job—especially since it’ll involve some time behind the brewery’s closed doors.

Unfortunately, Grace has never been good at staying in one place. And now that she’s thinking about leaving, Mason has to convince her to call Cricket Creek home—and admit their love was written in the stars…

Written in the Stars is a breath of fresh air. Grace and Mason’s story is sweet, but has a bit of a kick – just like Mason’s drool-worthy chocolate porter.

Grace Gordon is a marketing genius who doesn’t like to stay in one place for long. The imminent birth of her niece, however, brings her to Cricket Creek and her lousy sense of direction lands her on the doorstep of Mason Mayfield’s brewery. It’s easy to fall for both Grace and Mason. Grace is funny, self-aware, and practically bursts with energy. Mason, in turn, has a laid-back charm and quiet sensual appeal that plays wonderfully against his straight-and-narrow, focused nature. Mason has been hurt in the past both personally and professionally. He’s getting his second chance at professional success with his new craft brewery, but even that’s looking like it could fall apart if he doesn’t come up with a marketing plan as fantastic as his beer. Grace comes into his life like a force of nature, her marketing expertise and enthusiasm both a blessing and a curse. She takes Mason out of his comfort zone, forcing him to trust her with her business. Even more frightening, it’s not long before they’re falling for each other and Mason worries whether he can trust her with his heart when it’s clear she’s not in Cricket Creek to stay. Neither Mason nor Grace is perfect, but when their flaws lead to obstacles in the path of their romance, it adds depth to the story. I was completely invested in Grace and Mason’s intertwining business and love lives and was rooting for them to make it every step of the way.

A secondary romance involving Grace’s mother, Becca, adds to the book’s charm. I adored the supermodel-turned-businesswoman and her instant attraction to a former pro fisherman had a lot of promise. My only (small) issue with Written in the Stars was that Becca and Jimmy’s storyline wasn’t as fully fleshed out as it could have been. They had tons of potential and were a dynamic pair, so it would have been lovely to see more of their romance.

Author LuAnn McLane knows how to blend sprightly banter, smooth Southern charm, and heartwarming romance together just right. Written in the Stars is a perfect example of this, which will surely delight both fans of the Cricket Creek series and readers new to the books. Written in the Stars is a cozy read contemporary romance fans won’t want to miss!

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, September 9, 2015

Review: Devoted in Death by J.D. Robb

Devoted in Death by J.D. Robb
Series: In Death, Book 41
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Futuristic/Mystery/Suspense Devoted in Death Cover
ISBN: 9780399170881
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
J.D. Robb Reading Order

When Lieutenant Eve Dallas examines a body in a downtown Manhattan alleyway, the victim’s injuries are so extensive that she almost misses the clue. Carved into the skin is the shape of a heart—and initials inside reading E and D…

Ella-Loo and her boyfriend, Darryl, had been separated while Darryl was a guest of the state of Oklahoma, and now that his sentence has been served they don’t ever intend to part again. Ella-Loo’s got dreams. And Darryl believes there are better ways to achieve your dreams than working for them. So they hit the road, and when their car breaks down in Arkansas, they make plans to take someone else’s. Then things get messy and they wind up killing someone—an experience that stokes a fierce, wild desire in Ella-Loo. A desire for Darryl. And a desire to kill again.

As they cross state lines on their way to New York to find the life they think they deserve, they will leave a trail of evil behind them. But now they’ve landed in the jurisdiction of Lieutenant Dallas and her team at the New York Police and Security Department. And with her husband, Roarke, at her side, she has every intention of hunting them down and giving them what they truly deserve…

A deadly would-be Romeo and Juliet with a lust for killing and torture have Lieutenant Eve Dallas racing against the clock in Devoted in Death. Author J.D. Robb shows no signs of slowing down; this forty-first full-length In Death novel has all the suspense, thrills, and fascinating characterization fans have come to expect from the series.

Devoted in Death is a rarity in the In Death-verse because readers know who the killers are and get to see into their depraved minds right from the start. Ella-Loo and Darryl are twisted individuals who choose people at random, getting sexual and emotional thrills from torturing and killing their targets. Ms. Robb keys readers in from the very beginning, thus giving us an advantage over Eve and her team who start with nothing but a dead body. For me, this kept things fresh and interesting and it was fascinating to watch Eve put the pieces together. We often see how her thought process works, but by having a lot more information than Eve, it sheds a different light on her work. This isn’t an easy case; the killers are vicious and when we get the victims’ points of view it can be heartbreaking. Of course, this is part of what made the story powerful for me and kept me feeling the same beat-the-clock pressure as Eve.

The In Death books can generally be divided into two classes – case-centric stories and character-centric ones. Devoted in Death is a case-centric tale with Roarke and many of Eve’s non-NYPSD loved ones playing more minor roles. As dear to my heart as all these characters are, it was great seeing the working dynamic between Eve and her fellow cops. Though character growth isn’t prominent in this story, there still is some to be had and it’s entertaining in its own right, but I’ll leave it to readers to uncover this part of the story themselves. Suffice it to say that it’s the small moments in the book that add humor and heart to the story, and I’d expect nothing less from Ms. Robb.

Devoted in Death is an engaging, tautly-written mystery that will please old and new In Death fans alike. There’s nothing like settling down for a few hours and watching Eve, Roarke, and their friends solve a new case. I finished Devoted in Death a well-satisfied reader and I cannot wait to read the next In Death book, Brotherhood in Death!

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review: Making a Play by Victoria Denault

Making a Play by Victoria Denault
Series: Hometown Players, Book 2
Publisher: Forever Yours
Genre: Contemporary Romance Making a Play Cover
ISBN: 9781455564040
Release Date: September 8, 2015
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

He’ll do whatever it takes to win–on and off the ice.

Luc Richard is the hottest player in the NHL–and it has nothing to do with hockey. His racy relationship with his supermodel ex set the tabloids on fire but nearly put his career on ice. To avoid being traded, Luc agrees to take a break from the spotlight–and from women–and spend the off-season at home in Silver Bay, Maine. It's the perfect plan… until he reconnects with Rose.

Rose Caplan is tired of being shy, sweet, and safe. She’s ready for passion, romance–and Luc. Having loved him longer than she can remember, she’s finally ready to prove she’s not the same innocent little girl he once knew. Off the ice Luc doesn’t do games, but this new Rose makes him feel like playing a little dirty. If he’s really got a shot at her heart then he’s not just playing to win. He's playing for keeps.

I love a good friends-to-lovers romance and I’m a sucker for a hockey player hero, so of course I snatched up Making a Play. Victoria Denault’s second Hometown Players story is a sultry tale with a healthy dose of angst and it moves at a satisfyingly fast pace.

Rose is the classic good girl who’s loved her lifelong friend from afar. Now, with Luc single and home for the summer, she’s finally ready for him to see her as a woman he would desire. What Rose doesn’t know is that her attraction has never been one-sided. But Luc doesn’t want romance, commitment, or a real relationship – all the things he knows Rose wants. Thinking it’s for her own good, Luc keeps her in the friendzone until the temptation of her gets to be too much for him to resist. From there Making a Play heats up and Ms. Denault does a good job of keeping things sensual and emotional.

There is genuine affection and love (in the non-romantic sense) between Rose and Luc from the very beginning, which is what kept me invested in the story, even when I grew frustrated with both hero and heroine. Rose is 21/22 and Luc 24/25, and because the do act their age, the story feels like something between new adult and adult romance. This isn’t a mark against the book, merely an observation. There’s a lack of maturity on Rose and Luc’s parts that would have been more logical in a new adult romance, but the story is written as a straight contemporary romance. It’s an awkward in-between which drew me out of the story and may or may not do the same for other readers. A lot of Rose and Luc’s problems would have been solved had they been open with each other from the start and had taken responsibility for their actions. They don’t seem to truly take control of their destiny until the very end, which serves the plot but not the characters.

There are a lot of romance formulas at play in the story, and though they don’t feel fresh or new, the formulas work. And though I had some issues with Rose and Luc, I did like them both overall. Rose is sweet and charming, and Luc is sensual and protective. Their shared history carries them through and makes the ending mostly satisfying (things were wrapped up quickly enough that I still had a few questions). The familial relationships with secondary characters added depth to the story and made me want to learn more. So while Making a Play was hit-or-miss for me at times, I’m still interested in reading more of Ms. Denault’s work. And with Callie’s story on the horizon, there’s no way I’ll be missing out on the next Hometown Players book, The Final Move.

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.