Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis

Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis
Series: Cedar Ridge, Book 3
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781455586806
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

After an overseas mission goes wrong, Army Special Forces officer Jacob Kincaid knows where he must go to make things right: back home to the tiny town of Cedar Ridge, Colorado. All he needs to scrub away his painful past is fresh mountain air, a lakeside cabin, and quiet solitude. But what he discovers is a gorgeous woman living on a boat at his dock.

Sophie Marren has nowhere else to go. She's broke, intermittently seasick, and fighting a serious attraction to the brooding, dishy, I'm-too-sexy-for-myself guy who's now claiming her dock. Something about Jacob's dark intensity makes her want to tease-and tempt-him beyond measure. Neither one wants to give any ground…until they realize the only true home they have is with each other.

Whenever I pick up a Jill Shalvis book, I know I’m going to be settling in with a sexy, funny romance that’s sure to make me melt. Ms. Shalvis definitely does not disappoint in Nobody But You, where the last single Kincaid brother meets his match in a quirky tornado of a woman who knocks him off his feet.

Jacob Kincaid has finally returned home to Cedar Ridge. After spending years with the Army as his only family (by his choice), he has to find a way to reconnect with the siblings he left so long ago. Until he figures out how to do that, he’s taking some time to get his bearings in a quiet lakeside cabin. A cabin that doesn’t turn out to be so quiet when a dazzling redhead tries to illegally moor on his dock. Sophie Marren is recently divorced and has nothing to her name but her cheating ex-husband’s beloved boat. She’s determined to make a new life for herself, a life that doesn’t include men…even men as incredibly tempting as Jacob Kincaid.

Sophie and Jacob have incredible chemistry from the very first moment they meet. That chemistry could have made the book sail along at a great pace on its own, but when you add in the fact that Jacob and Sophie are simply irresistible in their own right, then it’s easy to see why Nobody But You is nearly impossible to put down. Jacob has been through the hell of war and hasn’t come out unscathed. He’s also got heartache in his past in the form of his fractured relationship with his twin. I adored Jacob and loved watching him heal with the help of Sophie and his family. It isn’t easy and Jacob isn’t perfect, but he’s a strong, swoon-worthy hero with a lot to offer, and he grabbed my heart and didn’t let go. As for Sophie, she is utterly fabulous. She’s had to survive both a horrible marriage and a family that has no faith in her. Yet despite all the people beating her down, Sophie is a determined, smart woman who is working her butt off to make a new life for herself. It isn’t easy, and I love that Sophie didn’t handle everything thrown at her with effortless grace. She’s a lively, relatable heroine you have to respect. She and Jacob are a fantastic match, and it was incredibly easy to root for them to get their happily ever after.

Nobody But You is the third Cedar Ridge book, but it can be read as a standalone. That being said, if you’re new to the series I defy you not to fall in love and want to read all the Kincaid family stories. The Kincaids are a spirited, hilarious bunch who tease and fight with one another, but at the end of the day it’s their clear love for each other that truly shines. Every book in the Cedar Ridge series has been a delight to read and Nobody But You is no exception. I highly recommend Sophie and Jacob’s story to any contemporary romance fan!

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, March 27, 2016

Review: The Perfect Fit by Jenna Sutton

The Perfect Fit by Jenna Sutton
Series: Riley O’Brien & Co., Book 2.5
Publisher: Jenna Sutton
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon
Jenna Sutton Reading Order

What happens when an optimistic, young veterinarian and a battle-scarred Army veteran end up as roommates?

Zeke May has spent the past two years recovering from an IED attack and trying to adjust to life as a civilian. The veteran hiring program at denim empire Riley O’Brien & Co. offers a new beginning. The only problem is the high cost of housing in San Francisco, and Margo Lange could be the perfect solution.

Now that Margo has completed veterinary school, she’s ready to fulfill her dream of living in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, she’s drowning in student loan debt and the only places she can afford are dumps. Luckily, one of her uncle’s Army buddies needs a roommate.

Although Zeke’s place is a perfect fit for Margo’s budget, he is not what she expects. He’s much younger than her uncle, and he’s melt-your-panties hot. She doesn’t want to fall for him, but it doesn’t take her long to realize that Zeke is the perfect fit for her, regardless of their age gap. Too bad he’s so obviously still in love with his ex-wife…

There are some stories that just make you happy when you read them. The Perfect Fit is exactly that kind of tale. Jenna Sutton has delivered a story that’s so bright, charming, and heartwarming that I couldn’t put it down.

Margo is a ray of sunshine. Her energy and optimism jump off the page and she simply dazzles everyone, Zeke included. Margo is a veterinarian who has always wanted to move to San Francisco, but the cost of living when combined with her student loan debt, is staggering. She needs a roommate, and luckily for her, her uncle’s old Army buddy has an apartment and could use a roommate as well. Zeke is eleven years older than Margo, but it’s the physical and emotional toll war has taken on him that makes him feel like he’s decades older. Zeke is strong, steady, and self-aware. Until he was injured he had no plans of leaving the Army. Now he’s adapting to a new life across the country that’s completely different than what he was used to. What Zeke needs is laughter and love in his life, and Margo brings that to him. Zeke puts up a few barriers trying to do what he thinks is right for himself and Margo, but I was rooting for he and Margo to knock down each obstacle. Both of them are likeable, hardworking people with big hearts. They’re not without flaws and vulnerabilities, which makes them relatable, and I honestly wish they were real just so I could be friends with them.

From the start, Zeke and Margo click as roommates, but the longer they live together, the closer they become. Add in their mutual attraction, and it’s clear that they won’t be able to resist one another for long. The sexual tension between them sizzles, and Ms. Sutton knows how to crank up the heat. But what really grabbed me was the honest emotional connection between Margo and Zeke. The two of them are truly a perfect fit; they’re good for each other and they make a fantastic, compelling couple.

The Perfect Fit is set in the world of Ms. Sutton’s Riley O’Brien & Co. series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. That being said, it was fun seeing more of the company and Cal O’Brien’s small supporting role had me eager to read his book. All in all, this is a fabulous novella that should charm any contemporary romance fan. Zeke and Margo are so appealing that the moment I finished their story I wanted to read it all over again. I loved The Perfect Fit and I can’t wait to read more Riley O’Brien & Co. stories!

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.

Review: Truly, Madly, Sweetly by Kira Archer

Truly, Madly, Sweetly by Kira Archer
Series: Sweet Love, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled: Lovestruck
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781633755727
Release Date: April 4, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Sugar and spice and love that’s oh-so nice…

An inherited parking spot. That’s all it took to make Natalie Moran’s food truck dreams come true. But her dream space is attached to a bakery inherited by someone else—drop dead gorgeous Eric Schneider, a financial consultant who wouldn’t know a cupcake from a cannoli. And he wants to buy Nat out, no matter what she has to say about it.

Eric’s determined to build his own business, but he needs the super cute klutz with the cupcake truck to help. If Nat will teach him the basics of running a bakery, he’ll give her free kitchen time. Except…neither expects the heat burning between them or the possibility that their arrangement might become permanent.

When it all blows up, Nat is convinced his actions mean betrayal. It’s up to Eric to regain her trust and show her he’s a man who is truly, madly in love with her, before she disappears from his life forever.

An energetic baker, a handsome businessman with a sweet tooth, a quirky meet-cute, and a little matchmaking from beyond the grave – Truly, Madly, Sweetly has all the elements of a cute and fun romance. Unfortunately, Kira Archer’s first Sweet Love story left a sour taste in my mouth.

When baker Natalie Moran inherits the perfect parking space from a kindly woman, she doesn’t expect that the man who inherits the bakery the spot is attached to – sexy businessman Eric Schneider – to decide to quit his job and start a bakery. Eric knows nothing about baking or running a bakery, so what does Nat – a hardworking woman putting all her time and money into growing her mobile cupcake business – do? She shoves almost her entire operation onto the shoulders of her best friend while working her butt off to renovate and set up Eric’s bakery, and also teach the man how to bake. For me, it took a herculean effort to suspend disbelief that any person in Nat’s situation can afford to be that careless with their own business just to get some free baking time in a kitchen. However, I could have gone along with this plan because Nat came across as the sweet and overly generous type. At least, I could have gone along with it if it weren’t for Eric.

It’s been a long time since I’ve come across a romance hero who has zero redeeming qualities. Eric decides on a whim that he’s going to quit his job and start a bakery, even though he knows nothing about baking, which is illogical, but again, I can go along with it for the sake of the story. What grated on my nerves was that he was so condescending toward Nat, assuming that being a professional baker is so easy that anyone could learn it in a day. He uses Nat, then is distrustful of her but never has the guts to actually ask her why she’s letting him suck up all her time. This was only the beginning of my problems with Eric. Despite being an adult, successful in his job, and living on his own, he drops everything to come running whenever his demanding mommy calls him (which is often). He continues to do this throughout the book, to the point where I never believed he’d be able to stand up for himself. The final nail in the coffin was Eric’s casual sexism. Despite being an adult living in a major city, apparently all women are the same – demanding, manipulative, shallow users who conform to some outdated sexist stereotype. To be fair, aside from Nat and her best friend, most of the women in the story are portrayed this way. When the hero is knocked off his feet by the fact that a female can actually enjoy an incredibly popular action flick, you know there’s a problem. By the end of the book, I felt like Nat would be better off cutting her losses instead of ending up with Eric.

Truly, Madly, Sweetly wasn’t the book for me. I had a number of issues with the story, the pacing, and the characters, but I don’t wish to belabor the point. I haven’t read any other books of Ms. Archer’s, so I don’t know if this story is a good example of her writing style. I might try a different book of hers in the future, but I’ll be passing on the rest of the Sweet Love 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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases!

Last year I absolutely loved Virginia Boecker's debut, The Witch Hunter. My only issue with the book was that I finished it wanting to dive right into the sequel, which isn't out until June. I can't wait to see what Ms. Boecker has in store for Elizabeth in my WOW pick, The King Slayer!

The King Slayer Cover Title: The King Slayer
Series: The Witch Hunter, Book 2
Author: Virginia Boecker
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 14, 2016

Book Description (from Amazon):

"I think, in time, you'll either be my greatest mistake or my greatest victory."

Former witch hunter Elizabeth Grey is hiding within the magically protected village of Harrow, evading the price put on her head by Lord Blackwell, the usurper king of Anglia. Their last encounter left Blackwell ruined, but his thirst for power grows stronger every day. He's readying for a war against those who would resist his rule--namely Elizabeth and the witches and wizards she now calls her allies.

Having lost her stigma, a magical source of protection and healing, Elizabeth's strength is tested both physically and emotionally. War always means sacrifice, and as the lines between good and evil blur once more, Elizabeth must decide just how far she'll go to save those she loves.

Review: The Closer You Get by L. A. Witt

The Closer You Get by L. A. Witt
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: M/M Erotic Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781609285524
Source: Publisher
Blue Ribbon Rating: 5 out of 5
Original Review Link
Book Purchase Link

Kieran Frost is a slut, and he knows it. He loves the single life and relishes both his hot one night stands and playing the third with his friends Rhett and Ethan. When Rhett’s daughter asks him to meet her newly out of the closet friend, Alex, Kieran figures he’ll do the guy a favor and show him around Seattle’s gay nightlife. Kieran doesn’t mind the attraction that sparks the instant he meets Alex. Why not be the one to introduce Alex to the pleasures of sex? It’s not like Kieran doesn’t have the experience and – when it comes to Alex – Kieran doesn’t mind going slow. But tangling with this virgin doesn’t just mess with Kieran’s sheets. Suddenly, the self-described manwhore finds that his perfect plan to help Alex explore his sexuality before they each go their separate ways has a problem. The more time Kieran spends with Alex, the less he can imagine ever letting the other man go.

I LOVE this book! With THE CLOSER YOU GET, author L. A. Witt has delivered an incredibly engaging romance with two heroes that captured my heart and supporting characters that charmed the hell out of me.

Both Alex and Kieran are on a journey of self-discovery, though only one of them knows it. Alex grew up having to hide the fact that he is gay and now, at twenty-one, living in a place where he can be out, he feels lost at sea, unsure of where to start when it comes to claiming his sexuality. It was a joy to watch Alex go from shy virgin to confident lover. Ms. Witt makes this transition believable, which is part of the reason THE CLOSER YOU GET shines. Kieran is the perfect person to help Alex come out of his shell. He’s knowledgeable, comfortable and straightforward when it comes to sex and men, but those aren’t the only reasons why he’s a great guide for Alex. Kieran is also patient and truly cares about Alex, and these aspects come through loud and clear from the start.

Kieran is a man who is easygoing on the outside but has inner scars that have the potential to bring his burgeoning relationship with Alex to a screeching halt. The most important obstacle is the fact that Kieran does NOT want a relationship. He’s not commitment-phobic, and he does believe in love. He has just borne witness to – and often been trapped in the middle of – too many failed relationships. Kieran is terrified of getting hurt which is, of course, why I was so desperate to see him find lasting love with Alex.

As a pair, Kieran and Alex are smoking hot. Ms. Witt makes sensual exploration a real treat in THE CLOSER YOU GET. But what resonated with me wasn’t the heat Alex and Kieran generated but rather how the pair fell in love, almost without knowing it. There was beauty in how they almost seamlessly slid into a relationship, and I didn’t want to put down THE CLOSER YOU GET because I felt like I had to keep reading until Alex and Kieran found that magic “happily ever after.”

THE CLOSER YOU GET is the sequel to THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, and Rhett and Ethan, the heroes of that book, play strong supporting roles in Kieran’s story. Not having read THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, I can safely say that THE CLOSER YOU GET can be read as a standalone. However, I was sufficiently intrigued by what Ms. Witt reveals about Rhett and Ethan’s history to want to read THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US.

THE CLOSER YOU GET is a gorgeous romance that I loved from beginning to end. Successive re-reads have not dimmed my pleasure in reading THE CLOSER YOU GET, and I look forward to revisiting Alex and Kieran yet again in the near future.

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

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, March 21, 2016

Monday in Review

Happy spring!

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

Reviews for upcoming releases:
- The Study of Seduction (The Sinful Suitors, Book 2) by Sabrina Jeffries (available 3/22/16)

All other new reviews:
- Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels, Book 8) by Ilona Andrews
- Emergency Delivery (Love Emergency, Book 2) by Samanthe Beck
- Sweet Seduction by Daire St. Denis
- Trifling Favors (Redcakes, Book 7) by Heather Hiestand
- A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic (Geek Girl Mysteries, Book 2) by Julie Anne Lindsey
- Fight to the Finish (First to Fight, Book 3) by Jeanette Murray
- Asking for More (Asking for It, Book 2.5) by Lilah Pace

Upcoming reviews:
- The Conquering Dark (Crown & Key, Book 3) by Clay and Susan Griffith
- Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews
- Truly, Madly, Sweetly by Kira Archer
- 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
- Wicked Ever After (Blud, Book 4) by Delilah S. Dawson
- Filthy Rich by Virna DePaul
- How to Ravish a Rake (How to Series, Book 3) by Vicky Dreiling
- Soul Weaver by Hailey Edwards
- Air Bound (Sea Haven, Book 3) by Christine Feehan
- Earth Bound (Sea Haven, Book 4) by Christine Feehan
- Fire Bound (Sea Haven, Book 5) by Christine Feehan
- Ain’t She Sweet (Green Mountain, Book 6) 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
- Kosher USA by Roger Horowitz
- 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
- If the Viscount Falls (The Duke’s Men, Book 4) by Sabrina Jeffries
- The Art of Sinning (Sinful Suitors, Book 1) by Sabrina Jeffries
- Arena by Holly Jennings
- 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
- 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
- Wish Upon a Wedding (Cricket Creek, Book 10) by LuAnn McLane
- 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
- Captive Prince (Captive Prince, Book 1) by C.S. Pacat
- Prince’s Gambit (Captive Prince, Book 2) by C.S. Pacat
- Kings Rising (Captive Prince, Book 3) by C.S. Pacat
- Raw Desire by Kate Pearce
- Soul Sucker by Kate Pearce
- ‘Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick
- 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
- Bay of Sighs (Guardians Trilogy, Book 2) by Nora Roberts
- The Obsession by Nora Roberts
- Beauty’s Kingdom (Sleeping Beauty, Book 4) by A. N. Roquelaure
- Nobody But You (Cedar Ridge, Book 3) by Jill Shalvis
- 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

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Review: The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries

The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: The Sinful Suitors, Book 2
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781476786070
Release Date: March 22, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Sabrina Jeffries Reading Order

When Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakeborough, agrees to help his best friend’s impetuous ward, Lady Clarissa Lindsey, in her time of need, he knows he’s in for trouble. He’s been hunting for someone to wed, and she’ll just get in the way. Although captivated by the witty, free-spirited beauty, he fears she’d be all wrong as a wife...if she would even take such a gruff cynic for her husband. Yet he wants nothing more than to have her for his own.

Clarissa has no intention of marrying anyone—not Edwin, whom she’s sure would be an overbearing husband, and certainly not the powerful French diplomat stalking her. But when matters escalate with the diplomat, she chooses Edwin’s gallant offer of a marriage between friends in hopes that it will deter her stalker. She expects nothing more than an amiable union, but their increasingly tempestuous kisses prove more than she bargained for. When her stalker’s vow to expose the lovers’ deepest secrets threatens to destroy their blossoming attraction, will their tenuous bond withstand public ruin, or will Edwin lose all that’s important to him to protect his bride?

Just when I think I have an absolute favorite Sabrina Jeffries novel, another story comes along that grabs my heart and doesn’t let go. The Study of Seduction made me smile, sigh, broke my heart, and then put it back together. It’s a fabulously entertaining read, thanks in no small part to its smart, endearing hero and heroine.

I flat-out love Edwin. When we met him in If the Viscount Falls (the last of the Duke’s Men books), he was clearly a reserved, honorable man who might be accused of being a stick-in-the-mud. He continued to be straight-laced through the next few stories we saw him in, but I just knew that Ms. Jeffries would show him to be a case of still waters running deep. It’s no surprise that Ms. Jeffries proved me right. Edwin is incredibly smart and a skilled engineer. What he lacks is the polish and patience for meaningless chatter that society adores. He does, however, need an heir, which means he must hunt for a wife. But before he can begin his search, his best friend asks Edwin to look after his cousin while he’s gone. Clarissa is intelligent, witty, and the only woman who has ever gotten under Edwin’s skin. She’s also being stalked by a French diplomat whose obsession with her is frightening. Edwin won’t hesitate to protect Clarissa, but their close association makes his long-standing attraction to her impossible to ignore.

Clarissa flits and flirts about society, charming everyone, but beneath the surface is a wonderfully complex heroine. She carries emotional scars and is traumatized by an event in the past I won’t spoil. What she survived changed the path she was on, and she’s determined never to wed. Yet, for all her fears, Edwin awakens something in Clarissa she thought long dead. They’ve danced around one another for a long time, but once Clarissa’s stalker forces their hand, they band together and the change in their relationship allows them to truly starting to see beneath the surface of one another. Every layer of Edwin and Clarissa’s characters that was revealed made me love them more. Ms. Jeffries handles some very sensitive topics in The Study of Seduction, and she does so with aplomb. As individuals, Clarissa and Edwin are compelling characters. As a couple they are fantastic. The sexual tension between them is explosive, and when you combine that with their witty repartee, it’s easy to see why their story is so addictive.

The Study of Seduction is a story of love, understanding, healing, and hope. Ms. Jeffries perfectly balances lightness and fun with rich emotion and I absolutely loved it. Ms. Jeffries never fails to deliver a wonderfully engaging story, and Edwin and Clarissa’s romance is no exception. I highly recommend The Study of Seduction to any historical romance fan!

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.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Review: Unmasked by J.J. Wynn

Unmasked by J.J. Wynn
Series: Venice Falls, Book 1
Publisher: J.J. Wynn
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781478149798
Source: Author
Blue Ribbon Rating: 3 out of 5
Original Review Link
Book Purchase Link

High school student Jack Newhouse has two dreams; going to culinary school and winning the heart of childhood friend Ashlynn Yuan. Fate seems to have a quirky sense of humor, for while studying Casanova, Jack is given an antique mask said to belong to the legendary lover. Suddenly Jack — who never seems to attract girls — has women falling all over him. Is it coincidence or does the mask have some sort of magical power? And if the mask is magic, does Jack really want to use a supernatural accessory to win Ashlynn?

Author J.J. Wynn starts off her VENICE FALLS series right with the charming story UNMASKED. Jack and Ashlynn are two bright teenagers with a shining future ahead of them…if they can get through to their parents that they need to leave their hometown for college. There’s a sweetness to both of them that makes it easy to be entertained by UNMASKED. It was lovely to watch Jack and Ashlynn work their way around teenage awkwardness and misunderstandings in order to build up the courage to reveal their feelings for one another. All they need is a little push, and they get that from the Casanova mask. Is the mask magical? Perhaps it is. Then again, perhaps it isn’t. Whether or not there’s magic at work doesn’t really matter; the important parts of UNMASKED are Jack and Ashlynn working for the future they want, both in terms of romance and schooling. Things do tend to fall into place a bit too easily in UNMASKED for the story to be realistic, so you do have to suspend disbelief with this story. Still, UNMASKED is a genuinely sweet read that’ll make you smile.

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

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.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Review: Emergency Delivery by Samanthe Beck

Emergency Delivery by Samanthe Beck
Series: Love Emergency, Book 2
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781633755802
Release Date: March 14, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

He’s damn good at rescuing people, but she has no intention of being saved.

Madison Foley is determined to stand on her own two feet, no matter how wobbly her circumstances. Fate, however, keeps throwing her off balance, and then sending heroically hot paramedic Hunter Knox to save her.

She’s put men on the back burner until she gets her life on track.

But Hunter’s got other plans.

Decisions. Decisions.

I’ve got a new book boyfriend and his name is Hunter Knox. Emergency Delivery may only be the second story I’ve read by Samanthe Beck, but after falling fast and hard for Hunter and Madison, Ms. Beck has a spot on my auto-buy list. Emergency Delivery has so much of what I love about romance: a hero and heroine I fell in love with from the start, a romance that made me melt, and it’s all wrapped up in a fast-paced, utterly addictive story I could not put down.

Hunter is a make-you-swoon hero with a heart of gold. He’s a paramedic whose biggest problem is his hero complex; he gives all of himself and more trying to save people, and he can sometimes overpromise. When he delivers a baby on the side of the freeway, he can’t help but feel a connection to new mother Madison Foley. Madison has had one turn of bad luck after another, but she’s determined to make a good life for her newborn daughter, Joy. Only fate throws Madison another curveball and lands her back in the hospital and in Hunter’s path. His protective nature and soul-deep goodness convinces Madison to accept his help and stay in his guest room. Of course, their connection and attraction to one another means they’re on the fast track to becoming more than roommates…

What makes Emergency Delivery so captivating are Hunter and Madison, who grabbed my heart. Hunter isn’t perfect, but he is generous, intelligent, kind, patient, and completely sexy. In other words, he’s an utterly perfect hero. He’s had some setbacks in the past, but he continues to look forward and work hard to reach his goals. Yet what I liked best of all about Hunter is how he fell for Madison. It doesn’t hurt either that the way he is with Joy practically guarantees an ovary explosion while reading. Madison, in turn, is a compelling mix of strength and vulnerability. She’s (quite realistically) in over her head, but nevertheless she’s a strong, hardworking woman who will do anything for her daughter. She’s had a rough go of it and has been used horribly by her ex, but though she’s shaken, she isn’t broken. She wants to stand on her own two feet, which makes it difficult for her to accept help from Hunter. But Hunter isn’t one to be denied, and close quarters ensures that Madison and Hunter’s romance develops in a natural, smooth way. That being said, the love story is not without its ups and downs. Both Hunter and Madison can get in their own way by making assumptions, but the mistakes they make are logical and realistic.

As a romance, Emergency Delivery is a fantastic mix of sensuality and sweetness and I loved every bit of it. It’s the second book in the Love Emergency series, and if you don’t mind reading spoilers from the first book, Emergency Engagement, the story can be read as a standalone. Once I finished Hunter and Madison’s story, I wanted to dive right back in for a re-read, which is always a good sign. Quite simply, I loved Emergency Delivery and I can’t wait to read more Love Emergency books!

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, March 10, 2016

Review: Trifling Favors by Heather Hiestand

Trifling Favors by Heather Hiestand
Series: Redcakes, Book 7
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781616507978
Release Date: March 15, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

The sweetest treat is a kiss…

Greggory Redcake’s plate is full. Widowed young and left with two small children, the manager of the Kensington location of the illustrious tea shop is besieged on all sides between the bakery and family matters. If only his remarkably efficient shop assistant, Betsy Popham, could manage his home life, too! But Greggory can’t linger on thoughts of Betsy’s fetching smile when a dead body is discovered in the bakery…

Betsy has no time for romance, not even with the delectable Mr. Redcake, whose kisses are all too unforgettable. Haunted by a specter from her family’s past, Betsy is terrified that the man blackmailing her has turned to deadly violence. Yet the only way to save her position--and possibly her life--is to accept Greggory’s help as their delicious attraction sweetens into the tantalizing promise of true love…

Trifling Favors is a story I wanted to like far more than I did, which makes it a bit difficult for me to review. Hardworking Betsy Popham has been an interesting secondary character in the Redcakes series and I was excited that she finally got a book of her own. I loved learning more about Betsy and my heart broke for her more than once over the course of the story. She’s the daughter of a convicted killer and has lived her life with that hanging over her head. Not only that, she’s been blackmailed, used, stolen from, and disappointed by love. Through it all, Betsy has remained a determined, hardworking woman who keeps her head held high even when life throws yet another curveball at her. In other words, she’s the perfect example of a strong heroine who you want to see find love with a hero who will appreciate all that she is.

What Betsy gets is Greggory Redcake, who – though likeable on his own – is lackluster as a romantic hero. Greggory is a widower with two babies and a teashop he and Betsy have worked hard to make a success. I was looking forward to seeing them fall in love and work together, but ultimately the romance never rang true for me. Greggory was certainly attracted to Betsy, but his “love” for Betsy felt more like lust mixed with wanting her organizational skills to run his chaotic home. He didn’t seem to appreciate Betsy for who she was, but instead tried to cherry pick what he liked about her and then fit her into the mold of what he thinks a wife of his should be. Needless to say, this was incredibly disappointing. As for Betsy, though she cared for Greggory, she still seemed more hung up on Ewan Hales, the man she loved and lost. Greggory was almost like a consolation prize, one I doubted if she was wholly certain she wanted before her hand was forced. I finished Trifling Favors wishing there was more to the ending so that I could feel the romance come together. As it stands, the story ended more with a whimper than a strong happily ever after that would satisfy.

Though I did have a number of issues with the romance, Trifling Favors wasn’t a bad read. It was slow to start, but once it picked up I enjoyed author Heather Hiestand’s writing. There’s a mystery involving theft and murder that was fun to watch Betsy and Greggory pick apart and solve. It’s this plotline that is the book’s saving grace, for it adds excitement and offers readers the opportunity to become invested in the tale.

Trifling Favors is the seventh book in the Redcakes series, and as I have been reading the series out of order I can safely say the book stands on its own. That being said, a lot of past Redcakes heroes and heroines are mentioned or briefly appear, which should delight fans. Trifling Favors isn’t the strongest book in the series and I was sadly disappointed in the love story, but I enjoy Ms. Hiestand’s writing enough that I will definitely finish catching up on the 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.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases!

Julia Quinn is one of my favorite authors and the Bridgertons are one of my all-time favorite series (Romancing Mister Bridgerton is always on my Top Five list of books and I absolutely adore all eight books in the seires). I was ecstatic to learn that JQ is doing a new series that's (slightly) connected to the fabulous Bridgertons. Billie Bridgerton, the heroine of Because of Miss Bridgerton, is the aunt of the eight siblings I love so well and I cannot wait to read her tale! If you haven't read JQ, you're missing out. Run - don't walk - to get her Bridgerton series! They're funny, heartwarming, absolutely addictive historical romances :)

Because of Miss Bridgerton Cover Title: Because of Miss Bridgerton
Series: Rokesbys, Book 1
Author: Julia Quinn
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Julia Quinn Reading Order

Book Description (from Amazon):

Sometimes you find love in the most unexpected of places...

This is not one of those times.

Everyone expects Billie Bridgerton to marry one of the Rokesby brothers. The two families have been neighbors for centuries, and as a child the tomboyish Billie ran wild with Edward and Andrew. Either one would make a perfect husband... someday.

Sometimes you fall in love with exactly the person you think you should...

Or not.

There is only one Rokesby Billie absolutely cannot tolerate, and that is George. He may be the eldest and heir to the earldom, but he's arrogant, annoying, and she's absolutely certain he detests her. Which is perfectly convenient, as she can't stand the sight of him, either.

But sometimes fate has a wicked sense of humor...

Because when Billie and George are quite literally thrown together, a whole new sort of sparks begins to fly. And when these lifelong adversaries finally kiss, they just might discover that the one person they can't abide is the one person they can't live without...

Monday, March 7, 2016

Review: Asking for More by Lilah Pace

Asking for More by Lilah Pace
Series: Asking for It, Book 2.5
Publisher: InterMix
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance Asking for More Cover
ISBN: 9781101989166
Release Date: March 15, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Lilah Pace Reading Order

How far is too far?

Finally sure of each other's strength and love, Jonah and Vivienne continue to explore their darkest fantasies together. However, what should be a night of ecstasy takes a dangerous turn, injuring Vivienne. She shrugs off the incident, but Jonah is haunted by it, particularly by the fear that others may believe he abuses her, or even glimpse the truth of their erotic obsession.

Then Jonah receives a call from his younger sister, Rebecca, who's dealing with trouble of her own in South America. When Vivienne travels with him to aid Rebecca, she learns yet more about his tortured history—and Jonah opens up to Vivienne as never before.

Can Vivienne help Jonah cast off the shadows of his past forever?

Reader Advisory: Asking for More deals explicitly with fantasies of non-consensual sex. Readers sensitive to portrayals of non-consensual sex should be advised.

In Asking for It, Jonah and Vivienne are two strangers brought together by forbidden desires who forge a deeper connection than either could have imagined. In Begging for It they find the courage and strength to fight for each other and the relationship they could have. Now comes Asking for More, the story of what happens after happily ever after, and It. Is. Fantastic.

Vivienne and Jonah have faced their demons and both they and their relationship have come out the stronger for it. They’re sure of each other, of their love, and life seems to have settled into an easy rhythm for them. Then Vivienne trips and is injured during one of their games, and Jonah is deeply shaken. Right on the heels of Vivienne’s accident comes the news that Jonah’s sister, Rebecca, has had some trouble and he and Vivienne must travel to Belize to help her. What both events make clear to Vivienne is that she hasn’t yet grasped the true depths to which Jonah’s childhood has scarred him. While the two of them have faced many demons and are continuing to see therapists and heal, in Asking for More Vivienne gets a far better understanding of Jonah than she previously had. I absolutely loved that we delved deeper into Jonah’s psyche, as peeling back the layers to his character alongside Vivienne is always a treat. What this story makes clear is that happily ever after isn’t perfect, even when you’re as well matched as Vivienne and Jonah. Both of them have to be brave, open, and honest with each other and their trust in one another makes the story incredibly powerful.

Asking for More is rich with emotion, and yet author Lilah Pace makes this peek into the lives of Jonah and Vivienne feel light on its feet. Somehow Ms. Pace always manages to infuse the Asking for It stories with hope and sensuality to battle back the darkness. The result is a compelling tale that fans of the series are sure to adore. Like Asking for It and Begging for It, Asking for More isn’t for everyone. Jonah and Vivienne have overcome a lot of ugliness that is addressed, and the rape fantasies they enjoy playing out could be a trigger for some readers.

Every time I revisit Jonah and Vivienne I fall in love with Ms. Pace’s writing all over again. Asking for More is quite simply an excellent afterward to Jonah and Vivienne’s journey. I can only hope Ms. Pace writes stories for Jonah’s siblings, for I don’t want to leave this phenomenal series behind.

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, March 6, 2016

Review: A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic by Julie Anne Lindsey

A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic by Julie Anne Lindsey
Series: Geek Girl Mysteries, Book 2
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 9781459290396
Release Date: March 7, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

It’s been three months since Jake Archer rolled into town, accused Mia Connors of murder and stole her heart. She hasn’t heard from him since. So when a man collapses at the fall Renaissance Faire, she’s surprised to see the US marshal arrive on scene. And shocked when he points the finger at her—again. Mia would sooner be able to resurrect the poor fellow than poison him.

Jake Archer’s career has been rising fast, but it’s about to come to a crashing halt. The Ren-Faire victim was in protective custody—Jake’s custody—and they were painfully close to nabbing a major crime boss. If Jake doesn't solve the murder soon, he'll be fetching donuts instead of protecting his nation. A difficult enough task without the alluring Mia Connors in the way.

Working with Jake to catch the killer might push Mia into crazy-cat-lady territory. But with a murderer on the loose—and Mia's reputation on the line—they'll have to work fast to find the killer before the killer finds them.

A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic is a story I wanted to like much more than I did. As a cozy mystery, it hits every single element, down to the (mostly) kooky cast of characters, led by the cosplay-loving, geeky heroine herself. Yet, for me, there was something missing. The characters all felt less developed in this second Geek Girls Mysteries outing, the mystery was not at all mysterious, and the first half of the book moved far too slowly.

IT manager and would-be sleuth Mia Connors is back in action mere months after the events of A Geek Girl’s Guide to Murder, and to author Julie Anne Lindsey’s credit, the traumatic events that occurred in the first story have stayed with Mia. That doesn’t mean our inquisitive heroine will hesitate to jump right back into a murder mystery at the local Faire. Her eagerness to track down a killer overpowers her common sense, and I can’t blame either Jake or his homicide detective brother for being frustrated by Mia’s interfering with a murder investigation. Mia buzzes about like a bee, causing and getting into trouble in ways that are sometimes charming and sometimes strain credulity. Still, Mia’s got an upbeat nature, a strong personality, and realistic vulnerabilities that I found appealing. It’s those things that keep the story moving along when scenes threatened to drag.

Jake is one of the few bastions of calm in A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic, and as intrigued as I was by him in the first book, I was looking forward to diving into his character more. Sadly, we don’t get to learn very much more about Jake and what we do uncover is quickly glossed over. Mia’s family is far more present than Jake, yet for some reason they took a step back in this book, becoming less realized as characters. The Connors clan dropped into single-note caricatures, often for laughs, which was a bit of a disappointment since they were a strong presence in the story.

As for the murder mystery itself, A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic falls victim to the same problem A Geek Girl’s Guide to Murder had: the bad guy is practically wearing flashing lights. I didn’t expect the mystery to be difficult to solve, but a bit of guesswork and more organic motivations for the villain would have been appreciated. As it stands, the mystery felt more like a device to get Mia from one location/quirky character to the next. This was a pity, because the story and the series as a whole truly have potential. All in all, A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic isn’t a bad read. It has funny moments, geeky pop culture references that are charming, and the leading characters are likeable and have the potential to be truly interesting.

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.