Thursday, July 30, 2020

Review: Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting

Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781538734674
Release Date: August 11, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Blaire Calloway has planned every Instagram-worthy moment of her cupcake and cocktails shop launch down to the tiniest detail. What she didn't plan on? Ronan Knight and his old-school sports bar next door opening on the very same day. He may be super swoony, but Blaire hasn't spent years obsessing over buttercream and bourbon to have him ruin her chance at success.

From axe throwing (his place) to frosting contests (hers), Blaire and Ronan are constantly trying to one-up each other in a battle to win new customers. But with every clash, there's also an undeniable chemistry. When an even bigger threat to their business comes to town, they're forced to call a temporary time-out on their own war and work together. And the more time Blaire spends getting to know the real Ronan, the more she wonders if it's possible to have her cupcake and eat it too.

Kiss My Cupcake is So. Much. Fun! I was charmed and delighted by Blaire and Ronan from beginning to end – so much so that I didn’t want to put the book down.

Blaire comes from a family of elite chefs who like to hobnob with the rich and famous. They want her to be a part of the family business, but Blaire’s heart is in frosting and fabulous martinis. She’s determined to make her own way and I loved her focus and dedication to making Buttercream and Booze (a café I wish were real because it sounds amazing) a success. Her dream is rattled – literally – by the business next door. Ronan is rehabbing his family bar and from the start he and Blaire clash. From the axe throwing to the loud bands on Saturday nights, the sexy lumberjack hipster is driving Blaire mad. But she can’t deny her attraction to the man and it’s easy for readers to see why. In addition to being utterly drool-worthy, Ronan is a sweetheart. He’s got a good heart, a fun sense of humor, and he’s just plain charming.

Bickering and buttercream make a great start to this love story, especially with the ever-present simmering sexual tension. I loved watching Blaire and Ronan’s professional and personal relationships develop. When they team up professionally, it’s a wonderfully unique match. And personally… Damn, when author Helena Hunting turns up the heat, Ronan and Blaire are seriously sexy. The two of them fit one another like lock and key…or frosting and cupcake, to stick with the theme. I loved them as individuals and as a couple, enjoyed seeing them interact with their families and friends. Ronan and Blaire aren’t perfect and they do make mistakes, but those flaws add to the overall appeal of them. Because they are so likeable it was impossible for me not to get swept up in their love story.

Kiss My Cupcake is smooth and sensual, flirtatious and fun. From Blaire and Ronan’s unique styles and tastes to the businesses they develop to the love story that’s sure to leave you smiling, there’s nothing I didn’t adore about this book. I cannot wait to revisit Ronan and Blaire again and again and again!


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

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Review: The Paper Solution by Lisa Woodruff

The Paper Solution: What to Shred, What to Save, and How to Stop It From Taking Over Your Life by Lisa Woodruff
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Genre: Self-Help/Home and Organization
ISBN: 9780593187760
Release Date: August 4, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

From the "Marie Kondo of paper" comes a simple and accessible guide to paper management.
Americans are drowning in paper. We keep stacks of it on the kitchen counter, stash it in drawers, and store file cabinets full of documents that we never even look at. Studies show that fully 85 percent of the paper in our lives can be tossed--but which 85 percent? And how do we organize and manage the 15 percent that remains?

With The Paper Solution, founder of Organize365 Lisa Woodruff delivers a proven, step-by-step guide for what to shred, what to save, and how to sort what's left behind. With her method, you'll learn:

• What documents you must absolutely hold on to
• Which papers you can dispose of today
• How to ditch your bulky filing cabinets and make your vital documents accessible and portable

And at the heart of it all is the Sunday Basket: a box that sits on your counter and corrals those stray bills, forms, coupons, and scraps into an easy-to-use paper-management system. The Sunday Basket will become your new weekly habit--one that leads to less paper, less stress, and more time to spend on the things (and people) that matter most.

I’m an organization junkie and – try as I might to go paperless – I still seem to end up with more stacks of paper than I would like, so I was eager to dive into The Paper Solution. While I feel there’s value in the advice author Lisa Woodruff gives and there is definitely no bad advice in this book, my feelings when I finished this were a bit mixed.

The biggest issue I had with The Paper Solution is that – to me – a lot of the statistics and information seem dated already (pulling stats from eight years ago doesn’t prove a point to me when technology has changed significantly since then). Yes, paper has an insidious way of piling up…except for that one sneaky form you happen to need at the time that goes missing. But there are a lot of items (bills, for example) which have digital download and reminder options. There’s a big emphasis on a “Sunday basket” and using various color-coded slash pockets to ensure you don’t lose things and remember to go through them. There’s also an emphasis on binders (household warranties and manuals, medical binders, etc.) That’s helpful advice, but again, feels dated when so much of this can be done digitally.

The Paper Solution feels like more of a useful guide to people who either want or are forced to keep a lot of paper rather than digitize and eliminate. Or perhaps it is for people whose lives are more chaotic than mine. I think people who find themselves overwhelmed and/or have larger households than I do might find this book more helpful. The organization tips seem useful to managing overwhelming situations, such as settling an estate. The tips and tricks are solid, so even though some things felt dated to me and I didn’t personally find the book useful, I recommend it for people whose paper piles are impacting their lives.


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, July 16, 2020

Review: Murder in the East End by Jennifer Ashley

Murder in the East End by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Below Stairs Mysteries, Book 4
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Mystery
ISBN: 9780593099377
Release Date: August 4, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jennifer Ashley Reading Order

When young cook Kat Holloway learns that the children of London's Foundling Hospital are mysteriously disappearing and one of their nurses has been murdered, she can't turn away. She enlists the help of her charming and enigmatic confidant Daniel McAdam, who has ties to Scotland Yard, and Errol Fielding, a disreputable man from Daniel’s troubled past, to bring the killer to justice. Their investigation takes them from the grandeur of Mayfair to the slums of the East End, during which Kat learns more about Daniel and his circumstances than she ever could have imagined.

I always love entering Kat Holloway’s world. In Murder in the East End my favorite no-nonsense cook and amateur sleuth is on the hunt to find out what happened to children who have gone missing from London’s Foundling Hospital. She’s brought into this case by Daniel McAdam and his foster brother, a vicar who is more than he seems. As the trio and their unlikely band of allies (the bold and kindhearted Cynthia, adorable and brilliant Thanos, and mysterious newcomer Judith) delve deeper into the Foundling Hospital’s practices they’ll find themselves in the slums, where danger and heartbreak await.

Kat is the heart of the Below Stairs mysteries and she continues to be a fantastic heroine. She’s got a way of getting people to open up and I like watching her put the puzzle pieces together. And as you might guess from the introduction of a man from Daniel’s past, we do finally learn a bit more about the mysterious Mr. McAdam. I practically gobbled up these crumbs of information alongside Kat, though of course I still wanted more. I cannot wait until the day Daniel’s full history is revealed. As for the supporting cast, author Jennifer Ashley continues to flesh out these wonderful characters. Everyone’s voice is unique and their trials and tribulations make the world of the story feel rich.

I thoroughly enjoyed Murder in the East End but I struggled with rating it because the mystery itself fell a bit short for me. Even though they’re hunting for missing children who are in terrible danger, there’s an almost meandering quality to this story that didn’t quite go with the dire situation. The mystery lacked intensity and wasn’t as well defined as I’m used to. And though I won’t spoil the plot, I will say I didn’t feel quite satisfied by the revelations that occurred. Of course, part of the reason for that is due to an overarching plotline that will continue in future books so I’ll be content to wait and see what happens there. Even with these issues, I love spending time with Kat, Daniel, and their friends and I am always sucked into their world and their developing relationships. I cannot wait to see where Ms. Ashley takes these characters next!


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

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Review: Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters

Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters
Publisher: Carina Adores
Genre: Female/Female Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781488076305
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible | Carina Press
Elia Winters Reading Order

Megan Harris had hopes of seeing the world, but at twenty-five she’s never even left Florida. Now a wedding invitation lures her to Quebec…in February. When her ex-friend Scarlett offers to be her plus-one (yeah, that’s a whole story) and suggests they turn the journey into an epic road trip, Megan reluctantly agrees to the biggest adventure of her life.

A week together in a car is a surefire way to kill a crush, and Scarlett Andrews has had a big one on Megan for years. The important thing is fixing their friendship.

As the miles roll away, what starts as harmless road-trip games and rest-stop dares escalates into something like intimacy. And when a surprise snowstorm forces Megan and Scarlett to hunker down without the open road as distraction, they’ve got a bigger challenge than making it to the church on time: facing the true nature of their feelings for each other.

Hairpin Curves is a sexy and sweet road trip romance that’s impossible to resist. Childhood best friends who have fallen out but are making amends? Check. Secret crushes? Check. Layered characters? Check. Sizzling sexual tension? Check. A sex-positive romance that makes your heart sing? Check. Elia Winters hits all the right notes and more in this story. Every bit of Megan and Scarlett’s romance worked for me and it was a delight from beginning to end.

Megan is at a crossroads in her life at the beginning of this book. She’s been in almost a holding pattern for years and her life seems as unexciting as, well, her beige home. When Scarlett approaches her about doing a road trip to Québec for a friend’s wedding, Megan is uncertain. She and Scarlett had a falling out right before college and they haven’t spoken since. But somehow Scarlett convinces her and they start of on an adventure that leads to more than either could have imagined.

What I loved most about Hairpin Curves is the layers Megan and Scarlett have. Megan seems staid and boring on the surface and on some levels she is cautious, responsible, and extremely risk-averse. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t dream of more. I enjoyed seeing her hidden talents come out and I was even more entertained seeing her dirty side revealed. Megan is a realistic mix of seeming contradictions and I loved that about her. And Scarlett…oh, she tugged on my heartstrings at times. Scarlett is a bombshell who seems to have all the confidence in the world. She loves with her whole heart and isn’t afraid of that. But Scarlett is also vulnerable in many ways. She doubts herself, her intelligence, and there are moments when she broke my heart. I desperately wanted to see Scarlett and Megan fall in love and get their happily ever after because I liked these two interesting, complex women.

It isn’t easy for Megan to let go of the past and the hurt Scarlett caused her, but Scarlett is determined to repair their friendship. Their road trip from Florida to Québec is filled with fun stops and quiet, intimate moments. The stops they make along the way bring out new sides of them and I loved watching Scarlett and Megan let their walls down and fall for each other. The sexual tension that simmers is hot and when it boils over… Well, I wouldn’t expect Ms. Winters to deliver anything but deliciously erotic love scenes and she doesn’t disappoint.

In Hairpin Curves the road to happily ever after has a some detours in the form of old wounds, insecurities, and a lack of communication, but each of these is presented in a way that’s logical to the characters and their situation. I enjoyed watching Scarlett and Megan overcome these internal obstacles because their love story was worth the work. Ms. Winters had me hooked from beginning to end. Hairpin Curves made me smile and sigh throughout and the pitch-perfect ending charmed the heck out of me.


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

Friday, July 10, 2020

Review: A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee

A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781250621108
Release Date: July 14, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Aubrey Choi has been content running her highly successful bakery Comfort Zone and with its first expansion taking up all of her time, dating has been the least of her priorities. Then a one-night-stand with gorgeous Korean hunk Landon Kim makes her want things she didn’t think she had time for. Too bad it turns out he’s a celebrity food critic whose scathing review of Comfort Zone goes viral and nearly destroys Aubrey’s business—and her fond memory of their night together.

Landon tries to clean up the mess he made by offering Aubrey a spot on the new celebrity cooking show he’s producing. She agrees to use this as a way to save her bakery and her reputation—no thanks to him—but vows to guard her heart. Now Aubrey and Landon find themselves sharing a villa in California wine country, which is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. For the next three weeks, baker and critic will tempt each other as they struggle to resist admitting that they have all the necessary ingredients for love.

When celebrity food critic Landon Kim is accidentally given a “Frankencake” that was custom made for a child with eclectic tastes, his review of the bakery it came from is less than kind. In fact, it nearly ruins Aubrey Choi's business right when she’s posed to expand. Landon has a policy of never reviewing a place twice, but when he learns of the mix-up wants to make an exception… Except he can’t because before his review came out Aubrey was his one-night stand. It’s a messy situation, but Landon tries to help by having Aubrey featured on a cooking show he’s producing. The problem is, once they’re in wine country they learn they’re sharing a villa. Aubrey and Landon need to keep things professional in order to keep their credibility. But close quarters and a fierce attraction have a way of wreaking havoc with even the best of intentions…

A Sweet Mess is aptly-titled (and I mean that in a good way). It’s a sweet but sometimes messy romance with two likeable characters.

Aubrey is a delightful heroine. She’s fun, independent, and a seriously talented baker. I loved watching her creations come to life (the food in this book is guaranteed to make anyone salivate) and even more I loved her determination to succeed. She’s been hurt in the past by her family but has struck out on her own and built a successful business from scratch, which I admired. Landon once dreamed of being a chef, but in putting his family first he had to give up what he wanted to help his mother and brother. Both Landon and Aubrey have good hearts, but they aren’t perfect, which was nice. And though their romance is “forbidden” because giving into their attraction would risk both of their professional reputations, their slide into love is fairly inevitable when they’re in such close quarters.

Where A Sweet Mess fell apart for me was in the last quarter of the book. The story took a turn and became a bit melodramatic and then syrupy sweet. It didn’t feel organic to the story and though the characters’ reactions weren’t wholly out of character, everything felt rushed and stilted. It’s such a disappointment because up until that point A Sweet Mess was a truly fun, fluffy read. Still, I enjoyed the book overall and I hope author Jayci Lee returns to the town of Weldon because I’d love to see Tara, Aubrey’s best friend, get a book of her own.


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, July 6, 2020

Review: Haunted Heroine by Sarah Kuhn

Haunted Heroine by Sarah Kuhn
Series: Heroine Complex, Book 4
Publisher: DAW
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780756416492
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Everything in Evie Tanaka's life is finally perfect. As a badass superheroine, she defends San Francisco from demon invasion on the regular. Her relationships with superhero partner Aveda Jupiter, little sister Bea, and hot, half-demon husband Nate have never been stronger. Maybe it's possible for a grad school dropout turned put-upon personal assistant turned superhero to have it all?

Just when she thinks life can't get any better, Evie learns she's pregnant. Everyone around her is overjoyed…but Evie has major doubts about whether she's cut out for motherhood. Before she can dwell on her dilemma, a local women's college reports a string of mysterious "hauntings," and Evie and Aveda are called in to investigate, going undercover as grad students during the creepiest time of the year: Halloween.

As she confronts terrifying ghosts and lives out a bizarre version of the grad school life she left behind, Evie can't help but wonder about the road not taken: what would her life be like if she'd stayed here instead of pursuing superheroing with Aveda? And can an overwhelmed pregnant superhero truly have it all?

She's about to find out.

The adventure continues as superheroine Evie Tanaka confronts the past and faces the future in Haunted Heroine. Sarah Kuhn’s latest entry in the Heroine Complex series has all the action, humor, and heart I’ve come to expect from this wonderful, original series.

When she and Aveda go undercover as grad students at Evie’s former college, it’s time for Evie to face what might have been. She had to drop out as a grad student because she was burning the candle at both ends, trying to be a mom to her grieving little sister while also taking a challenging class load was just too much. Being back at Morgan College posing as a grad student makes Evie question things. She loves her life, loves her husband and the family she’s made, but impending motherhood (with a baby who has both superhero and demon DNA) and an emotional distance between her and Nate is making Evie doubt herself. I really loved that there wasn’t false drama; these are all logical questions. Take away the supernatural elements and Evie’s doubts and insecurities are all real-world problems people face. Evie has already become the badass superheroine she’s meant to be and I won’t spoil the story by going into detail over the obstacles she faces. Suffice it to say that in Haunted Heroine Evie fully comes into her own and learns self-acceptance, which I absolutely loved.

Evie’s college adventure wouldn’t be complete without her co-superheroine at her side. The growth of Evie and Aveda’s friendship is one of my favorite things about the Heroine Complex series. While their friendship was toxic at the beginning of Heroine Complex and Aveda really had to learn boundaries, she’s come a long way. Aveda is supportive and protective of Evie, recognizing her own faults and determined to be the best friend she can be. She also takes to college life immediately and her enthusiasm was infectious. I adored watching their friendship grow even stronger. They also make plenty of new friends at Morgan and each of these students are interesting and engaging characters in their own right. The bonds that form in this book are wonderful to read about and the pages of the story practically flew by because of them.

It would be remiss of me to talk about Haunted Heroine and not mention the hauntings. Morgan College is experiencing some fearsome ghost activity and Evie and Aveda are on the case. I loved watching the layers of the mystery unfold as Evie and Aveda investigate the supernatural happenings. The action is fun and exciting, the mystery and its potential consequences are interesting, and I finished the story excited to see what Ms. Kuhn has in store for the Heroine Complex-verse.


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, July 1, 2020

Book Reviews: Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Below is a master list of my sci-fi and fantasy/urban fantasy reviews. Though these books may contain romantic elements, they are not primarily romance novels.

Note: The review links will open up in a new tab/window.


Click to jump to a particular section:

New Reviews

Reviews for Upcoming Releases

Anthologies/Multiple Authors (alphabetized by title)

Alphabetized by Author:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |


New Reviews


top

Reviews for Upcoming Releases


top

Anthologies/Multiple Authors (alphabetized by title)


top

A

- Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels, Book 8) by Ilona Andrews
- Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, Book 9) by Ilona Andrews
- Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels, Book 10) by Ilona Andrews

top

B

- Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega, Book 5) by Patricia Briggs
- Wild Sign (Alpha & Omega, Book 6) by Patricia Briggs

top

C

- Lipstick Voodoo (Kincaid Strange, Book 2) by Kristi Charish
- The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, Book 1) by Genevieve Cogman
- The Burning Page (The Invisible Library, Book 3) by Genevieve Cogman

top

D


top

E


top

F


top

G


top

H


top

I


top

J

- Arena (Arena, Book 1) by Holly Jennings
- Gauntlet (Arena, Book 2) by Holly Jennings
- Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

top

K

- Heroine Complex (Heroine Complex, Book 1) by Sarah Kuhn
- Heroine Worship (Heroine Complex, Book 2) by Sarah Kuhn
- Heroine’s Journey (Heroine Complex, Book 3) by Sarah Kuhn
- Unsung Heroine (Heroine Complex, Book 3.5) by Sarah Kuhn
- Haunted Heroine (Heroine Complex, Book 4) by Sarah Kuhn

top

L

- The Last Quarrel: Episode One by Duncan Lay

top

M

- Den of Wolves (Blackthorn & Grim, Book 3) by Juliet Marillier
- The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards, Book 1) by Juliet Marillier
- A Dance with Fate (Warrior Bards, Book 2) by Juliet Marillier

top

N


top

O


top

P


top

Q


top

R


- The Awakening (The Dragon Heart Legacy, Book 1) by Nora Roberts

top

S


top

T


top

U


top

V


top

W


top

X


top

Y


top

Z



top

Disclosure Notice: In accordance with FTC Guidelines, I would like everyone to know that while I do purchase my own books quite frequently, you should assume that each book reviewed here at Wit and Sin was provided to the reviewer by the publisher or the author for free.

Book Reviews: Mystery and Thriller

Below is a master list of my mystery and thriller reviews. Though these books may contain romantic elements, they are not primarily romance novels.

Note: The review links will open up in a new tab/window.


Click to jump to a particular section:

New Reviews

Reviews for Upcoming Releases

Anthologies/Multiple Authors (alphabetized by title)

Alphabetized by Author:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |


New Reviews

- Death at the Crystal Palace (Below Stairs Mysteries, Book 5) by Jennifer Ashley

top

Reviews for Upcoming Releases


top

Anthologies/Multiple Authors (alphabetized by title)

- Wicked Charms (Lizzy and Diesel, Book 3) by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

top

A

- Death Below Stairs (Below Stairs Mysteries, Book 1) by Jennifer Ashley
- Scandal Above Stairs (Below Stairs Mysteries, Book 2) by Jennifer Ashley
- Murder in the East End (Below Stairs Mysteries, Book 4) by Jennifer Ashley
- Death at the Crystal Palace (Below Stairs Mysteries, Book 5) by Jennifer Ashley

top

B


top

C


top

D


top

E


top

F


top

G


top

H


top

I


top

J


top

K


- A Fatal First Night (Ella Shane Mystery, Book 2) by Kathleen Marple Kalb
top

L

- Murder at Pirate’s Cove (Secrets and Scrabble, Book 1) by Josh Lanyon
- A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic (Geek Girl Mysteries, Book 2) by Julie Anne Lindsey

top

M


top

N


top

O


top

P


top

Q


top

R

- New York to Dallas (In Death, Book 33) by J.D. Robb
- Celebrity in Death (In Death, Book 34) by J.D. Robb
- Delusion in Death (In Death, Book 35) by J.D. Robb
- Calculated in Death (In Death, Book 36) by J.D. Robb
- Thankless in Death (In Death, Book 37) by J.D. Robb
- Concealed in Death (In Death, Book 38) by J.D. Robb
- Festive in Death (In Death, Book 39) by J.D. Robb
- Obsession in Death (In Death, Book 40) by J.D. Robb
- Devoted in Death (In Death, Book 41) by J.D. Robb
- Brotherhood in Death (In Death, Book 42) by J.D. Robb

top

S

- A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
- Quiet in Her Bones by Nalini Singh

top

T

- The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

top

U


top

V


top

W


top

X


top

Y


top

Z



top

Disclosure Notice: In accordance with FTC Guidelines, I would like everyone to know that while I do purchase my own books quite frequently, you should assume that each book reviewed here at Wit and Sin was provided to the reviewer by the publisher or the author for free.