805 Followers
42 Following
WitandSin

Wit and Sin

My name is Kimberly and I'm the reader/reviewer behind Wit and Sin. Wit and Sin is a website that provides honest reviews and publicity. I primarily read and review Romance titles, but I also review Urban Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult, Mystery, and Non-Fiction titles. In addition to Wit and Sin, I am a reviewer for Joyfully Reviewed (pen name: Shayna) and Romance Junkies (pen name: Lily).

Currently reading

Down for the Count (Dare Me Series, #1)
Christine Bell

Review: Moonlight & Whiskey by Tricia Lynne

Moonlight & Whiskey - Tricia Lynne

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

A take-no-s*** heroine, a rockin’ hero, and the city of New Orleans are the stars of the show in Moonlight & Whiskey. Tricia Lynne’s debut shows she has a lot of promise as an author – the way she writes about NOLA makes you feel like you’re really there. The city is a vivid, luscious character in and of itself and was unquestionably my favorite part of the book.

I really wanted to like Avery and there are some things I really did enjoy about her. Watching her come into her own in her professional life was fantastic and she has some body image issues that make her relatable. But aside from that, Avery is a bit much for me. She tends to go from zero to one hundred in no time flat, she and her best friend can be crass (and it takes a lot to put me off in that area), and she just felt too over-the-top all the time with very few breathers. Declan starts out the book a pretty hot hero (who doesn’t love a hero who’s a bad boy/skilled lover/kind soul?), but the deeper he and Avery fall in love, the more his demons are brought out. There’s a lot of talk of the light and the dark in Moonlight & Whiskey, especially as it relates to Declan, and sometimes I felt like I was getting repeatedly hit over the head with this particular theme.

The romance is filled with erotic moments, but once the book starts travelling down the light/dark path the passion turns into flat-out drama. There are times Avery and Declan work really well together, but I wanted something more substantial than what was given to make me believe in them as a couple given how quickly they fall in love. A lot of overused tropes start appearing as well in the latter half of the book (the big misunderstanding, pushing someone away for their own good, the heroine who is always overlooked yet two very different kinds of guys fall all over themselves for her, etc.). I don’t want to spoil the story, but many of the obstacles in the way of Avery and Declan’s happily ever after don’t feel organic. There’s a certain character’s interference in particular that just felt shoehorned in for added drama and honestly I just wanted to shake all the characters and tell them to calm the f*** down for five minutes. Call it reader preference, but for me if there’s high drama there also needs to be some balance or the characters start to seem immature and the entire reading experience is like being hit by a two-by-four.

As I mentioned before, Moonlight & Whiskey is Ms. Lynne’s debut and while I had issues with the characters and romance, there really are times in the story her writing was captivating. The way she brought NOLA to life ensures that I’ll definitely want to read another one of her books because I’m interested to see how she grows as an author.


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

 

 

Review: The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton by Stacy Reid

The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton - Stacy Reid

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Lily Layton is a widow twice over who has never known true passion. She’s been taught that what she yearns for is wrong, but that doesn’t keep her from writing down her deepest desires in her diary. It’s a perfectly safe escape…until she loses it.

Oliver Carlyle, Marquess of Ambrose, has decided it’s time to choose a wife. But when he finds a scandalous diary, he can’t get his mind off the mysterious author. How can he pick from the debutantes and titled ladies his mother has picked out for him when there’s a woman in his home who is his perfect carnal match? And why can he not keep his gaze from Lily Layton, his mother’s companion and the one woman at the party he cannot have?

The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton is a scorching hot read. Stacy Reid always delivers engaging stories and Lily and Oliver’s romance is no exception.

As individuals, Lily and Oliver are great characters. Together? They’re dynamite. Lily grabbed my heart from the first. She’s kind, generous, and an incredibly talented designer. She’s also the survivor of an abusive marriage. But no matter how her last husband tried to shame her and tear her down, Lily has an unbreakable core of strength. That doesn’t mean she’s invulnerable – far from it. I loved watching Lily grow over the course of the story and I was cheering for her as she fearlessly risked everything for what she wants most. And Oliver is just about the sexiest gentleman you could hope to read about. He’s incredibly sensual and has a code of honor Lily tempts him to break. They fit one another perfectly outside the bedroom as well. But it’d be remiss of me not to talk about how erotic a pairing they are. In their initial rendezvous, neither knows the other’s identity, but that doesn’t tamp down on the heat they generate. Their story is ferociously sexy and only gets hotter as the book goes on and Lily and Olvier become more adventurous.

Class differences aren’t the only thing standing in the way of Oliver and Lily’s perfect happily ever after. There’s a heavy emotional turn Ms. Reid doesn’t shy away from. And here I’ll include a SPOILER ALERT, so please skip the rest of this paragraph if you want to avoid spoilers. There is an incredibly emotional plotline through the course of this story involving possible infertility that anyone struggling with pregnancy or coping with infertility may find triggering. It’s an element of realism woven into the fantasy and my heart broke for Lily more than once. Ms. Reid handles this sensitive topic honestly and I appreciated that, though whether or not the resolution of this plotline satisfies is going to be a matter of reader preference.

The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton is sexy as can be, emotionally engaging, and just plain fun to read. I devoured the book in one sitting because I adored Lily and Oliver and their chemistry is phenomenal. I highly recommend The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton to anyone looking for a fast-paced historical romance with well-drawn characters, an entertaining plot, and an abundance of steam.


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.

Source: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2019/02/review-scandalous-diary-of-lily-layton.html

Review: What Doesn’t Kill Her by Christina Dodd

What Doesn't Kill Her - Christina Dodd

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Kellen Adams has been a victim, a survivor, and a warrior. She’s prepared for anything…except learning that she’s the mother of a seven-year-old that she never knew existed. Kellen doesn’t know what to do with her daughter, Rae, or with Max, the lover she only has fleeting memories of thanks to the bullet in her head that took her memories and left her in a coma for a year. Kellen is floundering when she takes the opportunity for what should be a simple security job. A few days away from Rae and Max may help to clear her head. But when her mission turns deadly, it’s a race through the wilderness and a fight for survival Kellen can’t afford to lose.

What Doesn’t Kill Her is a tense thriller that had me eagerly turning the pages late into the night. I loved Kellen in Dead Girl Running and I continued to do so as I learned more about her. She is so strong, has been through absolute hell more than once, and she never stops fighting. She has looked death in the face but what scares her most at the start of this is trying to navigate the waters of motherhood. Rae is bright, chatty, endearing, and just a fun kid. She’s adorable and Kellen can see she’s a good kid, but she’s having trouble bonding with her. Her reasons make sense and I actually liked that Kellen didn’t instantly bond with Rae, but rather we got to watch their relationship develop. We also get to see how Kellen’s relationship with Max plays out. Even though he’s caring and patient with Kellen, things can be (understandably) bumpy between Kellen and Max because he’s an incredibly loving, protective father who wants Rae to have the mother she yearns for. The romance between Kellen and Max starts out as a slow burn, but when things pick up speed it’s clear that old feelings never died. I loved watching the romantic and familial relationships develop over the course of the story.

Of course, if Kellen, Max, and Rae want to become one happy family, they all have to survive the events of What Doesn’t Kill Her. It’s difficult for me to talk about the suspense element without giving away spoilers, so forgive me for being overly vague. A race up the mountain is only the beginning of Kellen’s problems in this story. She faces multiple threats and horrible odds, is beaten, bruised, and pushed to her limits, but she never gives up. I hated having to put the book down as the tension mounted and the stakes were raised higher and higher.

What Doesn’t Kill Her is the second full-length book in the Cape Charade series and you should definitely read Dead Girl Running before diving into this book. Like its predecessor, What Doesn’t Kill Her is captivating from beginning to end. Christina Dodd knows how to make readers beg for more and – given the cliffhanger ending in this book – I am definitely on the edge of my seat as I wait to discover what happens 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.

Source: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2019/01/review-what-doesnt-kill-her-by.html

Review: Willful Depravity by Ingrid Hahn

Willful Depravity - Ingrid Hahn

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

A lusty artist meets his match in a confident printer’s daughter in Willful Depravity. Ingrid Hahn has delivered an erotic historical romance with a lot of potential and mixed results.

One of my favorite things about this story was Patience’s self-love. She’s spent her whole life hearing that she should lose weight, that she’d be pretty if only she did, but Patience is happy with how she looks and I loved that. Her confidence only grows over the course of the story and the positivity in this book was one of its best features. Giles, the depraved marquess, is immediately captivated by Patience. It’s lust at first sight for both of them and there is plenty of enjoyable, steamy scenes throughout the book. Yet while the attraction between them is undeniable and I had no problem believing they would risk plenty to have a lusty holiday, I had a bit harder time believing in the love story part of it. There isn’t much romantic development in Willful Depravity, which is a pity. The characters tell us they’re in love, but there’s no real indication of why, aside from a physical attraction. The romance element rang false, and perhaps if the characters had been a bit more layered the actual romance would have worked better.

The road to happily ever after is not an easy one for Patience and Giles. The main obstacle is Giles’s father, whose sneering contempt definitely comes alive on the page. But the man is such a black-hatted villain that he fell flat and I didn’t really buy the somewhat clunky resolution to his plotline. There’s a lot of potential to Willful Depravity, but it did fall short on a couple of fronts. That being said, it’s not a bad book and I really liked a lot of the elements. Patience is a likeable, relatable heroine and Giles is a sexy, fun hero. With characters like that, it’s impossible not to like their story, flaws and all.


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.

 

Source: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2019/01/review-willful-depravity-by-ingrid-hahn.html

Review: Playing for Keeps by Jill Shalvis

Playing for Keeps  - Jill Shalvis

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Sparks fly when opposites attract in Playing for Keeps. Jill Shalvis’s seventh Heartbreaker Bay novel has all the humor, heart, and endearing characters you’d expect to find in her books. And when you add in a scene-stealing rescue dog, it’s easy to see why Sadie and Caleb’s book charmed the heck out of me.

Sadie grabbed my heart from the very first page and didn’t let go. She’s a wonderful tattoo artist, she’s strong, independent, and deeply vulnerable. She has a family that doesn’t understand her, and she has scars both physical and emotional that she keeps hidden. Sadie isn’t a perfect heroine – she’s been hurt badly in the past and it’s hard for her to trust, to risk her heart and open up to someone, and that causes her to make mistakes more than once with Caleb. But Caleb has the patience and heart to get through to Sadie. He’s pretty much the perfect hero; he’s got a huge heart, a brilliant mind, and is loyal and protective to the max without ever being pushy. Basically, Caleb is the ultimate book boyfriend. He and Sadie have been dancing around one another for over a year, but each has been holding back. When they co-rescue a dog and decide to co-parent the utterly adorable Lollipop, the barriers start to come down. I loved seeing Caleb and Sadie’s full characters slowly revealed and I’ll leave it to readers to discover what lies beneath the sass and the suits. Their love story is sensual, emotional, and not always easy, but every bump in the road is worth it in the end.

It wouldn’t be a Heartbreaker Bay story without family and friends playing strong supporting roles and I loved both seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones in this story. The bonds of friendship and family are almost as important to Playing for Keeps as the romance and I just adored the quirky cast of characters. So while I finished Caleb and Sadie’s story a well-satisfied reader, their book definitely left me wanting more Heartbreaker Bay stories (Ivy’s in particular).


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.

 

Source: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2019/01/review-playing-for-keeps-by-jill-shalvis.html

Review: Wrong Bed, Right Roommate by Rebecca Brooks

Wrong Bed, Right Roommate (Accidental Love #1) - Rebecca Brooks

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Falling for your best friend’s sibling is one of my favorite romance tropes, which is why I couldn’t resist picking up Wrong Bed, Right Roommate. Rebecca Brooks has kicked off her Accidental Love series with a sexy forbidden romance.

I have the greatest affection for tightly-wound heroines and Jessie definitely fits the bill. She’s driven, obsessively organized, and determined to be successful now that she’s got her chance to get her foot in the door of New York publishing. Jessie does need to learn to loosen up a bit, and that’s where Shawn comes in. Shawn is Jessie’s opposite in most ways and I admit I had a harder time connecting with him. He has been selfish in the past and has treated the women in his life as fairly disposable, but he recognizes his behavior and is determined to turn his life around which I did like. Shawn also has a tendency to be so laid-back that he can be fairly irresponsible, to the point where I had trouble believing the ending of this story. I don’t want to say too much and spoil the book, but while there was some genuine growth in Shawn’s character, at times his progress didn’t feel earned. Perhaps a bit more time spent with him might have made him feel a bit more believable by the end.

Lust and close quarters are the kick Jessie and Shawn need to “break the rules” and fall into bed. Their romance was solid and there was some nice emotional development, but it felt a bit flat to me. There wasn’t anything particularly new or fresh about the romance to make it stand out, nor were the dialogue or the chemistry between the leads exciting enough to make me simply sit back and enjoy watching beloved tropes play out. I’ve adored Ms. Brooks’s books in the past and I know she can pack and emotional punch, but Jessie and Shawn just fell a bit short of the mark. All the elements were there and the story was good, but I did finish Wrong Bed, Right Roommate feeling like I wanted a bit more.


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.

 

Source: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2019/01/review-wrong-bed-right-roommate-by.html

Review: Lipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish

Lipstick Voodoo - Kristi Charish

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Kincaid Strange, the best voodoo practitioner in the Pacific Northwest, has not been having a good time lately. After solving a series of murders that left her physically and emotionally worn out, all she wants is to get back to doing normal séances and zombie raisings. But before you can say “feral zombie,” Kincaid is up to her ears in problems again. She’s in debt to a sorcerer’s ghost, her roommate and best friend, Nathan Cade – ghost of a grunge rock star – is trapped in a zombie’s body, and now her Seattle cop ex wants Kincaid to look into a murder involving people from Nate’s past. It’s more than your average practitioner could take… But Kincaid Strange is anything but average.

Return to Kristi Charish’s fantastical and fascinating world of zombies, ghosts, and ghouls in Lipstick Voodoo. I loved Kincaid’s first outing - The Voodoo Killings - and couldn’t wait to see what happened next for the kickass voodoo practitioner.

Kincaid continues to be a great protagonist. She’s strong but flawed, smart but doesn’t know everything, and when her back’s against the wall, she’ll continue to fight, especially if someone she cares about is in danger. This time around, her irresponsible but loveable roommate, Nate, has gotten her into hot water. Nate is trapped in a zombie body and the clock is ticking for her to figure out how to get him out before Nate burns out. Nate has a fun personality and it’s easy to see why Kincaid adores him, but that doesn’t mean she’s blind to his flaws. Nate’s impulsive nature has gotten him into deep trouble and he’s got secrets Kincaid will have to suss out when supernatural murders strike and it’s clear there’s a connection to him. I loved watching how Kincaid’s mind worked as she unraveled the rapidly multiplying mysteries.

Lipstick Voodoo also brings the return of other fascinating characters. From the powerful zombie Lee Ling to the surprisingly interesting Mork to Gideon Lawrence, a sometimes-terrifying sorcerer’s ghost, there are a wealth of complex secondary characters that round out this story extremely well. I loved delving deeper into Gideon’s character in particular; he’s powerful, dangerous, intriguing, and I very much want to learn more about him. He and Kincaid have an interesting relationship and his insights into Kincaid’s character add to the story.

Lipstick Voodoo is a twisting blend of paranormal mystery, action, and the emotional struggle of a woman caught between the living and the dead. There’s a lot going on in this book, but Ms. Charish deftly weaves all the threads together to create a wonderful, engaging story. If you haven’t read The Voodoo Killings I highly recommend doing so before diving into this book (unless you don’t mind huge spoilers). I finished Lipstick Voodoo a well-satisfied reader, but I cannot wait to see what Ms. Charish has in store for Kincaid next!


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

 

 

Source: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2019/01/review-lipstick-voodoo-by-kristi-charish.html

Wit and Sin's Best Books of 2018

2019 is here and with it comes a bunch of highly anticipated reads. But before I fully dive into the new year looking for some new favorite books, it’s time to take a look back at the best books of 2018. I read 117 books last year, including a few re-reads that I fell in love with all over again. I tried 26 new (to me) authors and discovered some wonderful authors whose backlists I cannot wait to dive into (Lauren Blakely is now an autobuy author for me). And finally, I participated in my ninth A to Z Reading Challenge, a fun challenge that usually leads me to at least a couple of books I might not have moved to the top of my TBR pile otherwise.

I read a number of excellent books last year, but below are my favorite reads of 2018 – my top ten new reads, two bonus children’s books that I thought deserved their own category, and my favorite re-reads.



My Top Ten Books of 2018

Note: My picks weren’t all published in 2018, but all were new-to-me reads for the year.
Also note: The books are alphabetized by author as I love them all equally.


1. Wanderlust by Lauren Blakely
My Review | Purchase Link



2. Smoke and Iron (The Great Library, Book 4) by Rachel Caine
My Review | Purchase Link


3. Heroine’s Journey (Heroine Complex, Book 3) by Sarah Kuhn
My Review | Purchase Link



4. The Chateau (The Original Sinners, Book 9) by Tiffany Reisz
My Review | Purchase Link


5. Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz
My Mini Review | Purchase Link


6. Picture Perfect Cowboy (The Original Sinners, Book 10) by Tiffany Reisz
My Review | Purchase Link


7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, Book 7) by J.K. Rowling
Purchase Link



8. Rainy Day Friends (Wildstone, Book 2) by Jill Shalvis
My Review | Purchase Link



9. Ocean Light (Psy-Changeling Trinity, Book 2) by Nalini Singh
My Review | Purchase Link


10. Royally Wed (The Royals, Book 3) by Teri Wilson
My Review | Purchase Link




Top Children’s Books of 2018

 

1. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Marlon Bundo and Jill Twiss
My Mini Review | Purchase Link



2. The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Monster's Guide to Life by Sesame Workshop
My Mini Review | Purchase Link



My Top Re-Reads of 2018

 

1. Aidan & Ethan (Seeking Redemption, Book 1) by Cameron Dane
Purchase Link


2. Purity in Death (In Death, Book 15) by J.D. Robb
Purchase Link


3. Angels Fall by Nora Roberts
Purchase Link



4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, Book 2) by J.K. Rowling
Purchase Link

Review: Untouchable by Jayne Ann Krentz

Untouchable - Jayne Ann Krentz

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Foster brothers Jack Lancaster, Max Cutler, and Cabot Sutter were all raised in a cult until one hellish night when cult leader Quinton Zane burned down the compound, leaving them orphans. Supposedly Zane died years ago, but Jack, Max, Cabot, and their rescuer/foster father, Anson Salinas, know better. After years of chasing shadows, the man behind their trauma is within their grasp…if they can survive his machinations. Because Zane is tired of hiding, and with a fortune on the line he needs to eliminate the threat the four men who know too much about him present. And he’s going to start with Jack…

Untouchable is an entertaining read that brings the hunt for Quinton Zane to a satisfying conclusion. Jack and Winter are more cerebral characters which gives them and their romance a slightly different dynamic. They’re an interesting pair: a focused hunter haunted by the past who works cold cases and a skilled hypnotist with ghosts of her own. I loved watching how Jack’s mind worked through cases and he definitely fascinated me. Winter is the only person who can bring him back when he goes too far into his own head and her skills are interesting in their own right. They fit one another well, they have solid (if understated) chemistry, and there’s definitely passion. Yet while I liked them together, I won’t deny that there was a certain ineffable spark that was missing, thus making the love story feel a bit by-the-numbers. I’ll be honest and say that this didn’t bother me overmuch, but I do think it’s worth mentioning because other readers may not be as content.

As one might expect from the final book in the trilogy, the resolution of the Quinton Zane plotline shifts the balance more toward suspense. Zane has been the bogeyman of the series; the charismatic, pyromaniac cult leader who is a brilliant con man capable of eluding capture for decades. The problem with having such a powerful villain is that they work better as a shadowy, unseen figure than they do as a main antagonist. There’s so much buildup in When All the Girls Have Gone and Promise Not to Tell that there’s no way one human man could deliver when he ultimately appears (at least if you want him to be plausibly defeated by the heroes and heroines). For me, Zane was the weak point in Untouchable and I wished some of the much-touted charisma and cleverness had shown to make him a stronger villain. That being said, the action scenes were still exciting and the hunt itself was entertaining. Jayne Ann Krentz knows how to keep the pages turning and the story engaging, so I can forgive some of the weaker points in the story because I enjoyed it, flaws and all.

Untouchable is the third book in the Cutler, Sutter & Salinas series but it can be read as a standalone. I enjoyed revisiting beloved characters and I got a kick out seeing Jack and Winter in towns from other Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick books (who doesn’t love a good Easter egg?). So while Untouchable has its flaws, it was still a solid read and a satisfying end to the Cutler, Sutter & Salinas trilogy.


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.

 

Source: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2018/12/review-untouchable-by-jayne-ann-krentz.html

DNF @ 47%

The Nashville Bet - Shana Gray

I love a good modern day fairytale, which is why I picked up The Nashville Bet. But this Pixy Stix of a story just wasn't for me. I thought if I could get past the truly alarming number of exclamation points (only brought up because the author went so overboard with them it pulled me out of the story), Ava and her friends might grow on me. But they - and Ava in particular - came across as completely juvenile, which made it hard to take - even for a fluffy and fun read. Ava was so starry-eyed that an old school Disney princess would find her attitude a bit hard to take and Chase was uninteresting, cardboard perfection.

I stuck with this book for over a week because people seem to really enjoy it and I wanted to find the fun. But for me it was a bland, shallow, insta-love tale that was going nowhere so I threw in the towel. I adore fluffy stories, but this one just didn't pull me in and I found the characters annoying. As I said before, I seem to be in the minority so The Nashville Bet might simply not be a good fit for 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.

Review: Not the Duke's Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt

Not the Duke's Darling - Elizabeth Hoyt

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Murder, betrayal, revenge, trauma, blackmail, mysterious orders, politics, secrets, danger, and romance… Not the Duke’s Darling is a whole lotta story packed into one book. Elizabeth Hoyt dives headfirst into the intriguing world of the Greycourt family and the result is a bit of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, I liked many of the elements to this tale. On the other, there was so much going on that everything felt incomplete.

At the center of Not the Duke’s Darling are Freya and Christopher. Christopher was once the best friend of Freya’s brother, Ran de Moray, until the night Ran was accused of and beaten nearly to death for murdering Aurelia Greycourt. It’s been fifteen years since that night, and Christopher is still haunted by it. He’s also carrying invisible scars from the death of his wife and his time as a prisoner in India. Christopher had the potential to be an intriguing hero. All the elements are there – a young man who made the wrong choice and is still suffering for it, PTSD, an adorable emotional support dog, his yearning to feel alive again – but his character development felt stifled by the abundance of plot and I didn’t get as deep a sense of him as I would have liked. Freya suffered the same fate. She’s a Wise Woman and a spy and I wish I could have learned a lot more about that part of her life, 99% of which takes place pre-book. She’s brave, independent, and definitely (humanly) flawed, but she also has a warm heart that shows in moments when the plot lets her breathe.

The romance between Christopher and Freya is enjoyable, but could have been so much more if it had been given room to grow and time for passion to be explored. Instead we are shuffled from one plot point to the next. To start, there’s the Dunkelders – men who think the Wise Women are witches and want to murder them – and their mustache-twirling plot to introduce a new era of witch hunting. The ignorance and sexism that’s innate to the Dunkelders could have been more ominous if – at the risk of repeating myself – they had been given more page time. There’s also the matter of Christopher being blackmailed, Freya’s initial quest for revenge, and looming over everything, the question of who murdered Aurelia Greycourt all those years ago. Neither Freya nor Christopher are Greycourts, but the titular family of the series is featured heavily, mostly in the form of Messalina Greycourt. Messalina is the third point of view in Not the Duke’s Darling and she’s a wonderful character who had the characteristics of a classic Hoyt heroine.

I’m a longtime fan of Elizabeth Hoyt’s which makes this book a bit difficult to put a rating on. Had it been by another author or had I been new to Ms. Hoyt’s work, I might have liked this book better (though at the end of the day, I did enjoy it). But I know Ms. Hoyt’s writing – her passionate, unique, flawed characters and their liveliness on the page – and Freya and Christopher were just missing some of that ineffable zing. I was, however, completely fascinated by some of the secondary characters. From Messalina to the mysterious Gabriel Hawthorne to Freya’s lovelorn charge, Arabella Holland, there are plenty of characters who have me excited to read more Greycourt stories. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Ms. Hoyt has in store for readers, especially given the way things ended in this book. So while I may have finished Not the Duke’s Darling wanting a bit more from Freya and Christopher, I did enjoy it and I think there’s great promise to the Greycourt 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.

 

Source: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2018/12/review-not-dukes-darling-by-elizabeth.html

Review: The Spartan Way: Eat Better. Train Better. Think Better. Be Better. by Joe De Sena

The Spartan Way: Eat Better. Train Better. Think Better. Be Better. - Joe De Sena

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

The Spartan Way is a helpful, no-nonsense resource for anyone looking to make a change. No matter what your goal, Joe De Sena’s Spartan philosophy is something you can apply to your life. I loved Mr. De Sena’s passion – it comes through strong in this book and his dedication and enthusiasm is infectious. Self-Awareness, commitment, passion, discipline, prioritization, grit, courage, optimism, integrity, and “wholeness” are not new values or ideas, but the way they are presented is what separates this book from the pack. It’s intense, honest, and straightforward, which I really appreciated. I will note that some of the examples Mr. De Sena uses in this book are a bit extreme and the sample sizes in the studies he cites are sometimes rather low, but the core principals are good. If you want a good kick in the butt and helpful, easy-to-digest advice that will serve you well, I recommend The Spartan Way.


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.

Source: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2018/12/review-spartan-way-eat-better-train.html

Review: A Protector in the Highlands by Heather McCollum

A Protector in the Highlands - Heather McCollum

4.25 stars - Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Betrayed, sexually assaulted, and threatened by those of the highest power, Scarlet Worthington does the only thing she can do to protect herself: flee her home. With the help of her brother and sister, Scarlet has found peace, safety, and purpose in Scotland, where she and her sister are running the Highland Roses School. Scarlet is determined to never again be someone’s victim and she wants her students to be able to protect themselves as well. With her new brother-in-law away, the best candidate to teach Scarlet and her students self-defense is the oh-so-handsome (and stubbornly closed-mouthed) warrior Aiden Campbell. Scarlet and Aiden strike sparks off one another immediately, but each has a past that makes them wary of trusting the other. However, some passions are simply impossible to deny…

A Protector in the Highlands grabs your heart and doesn’t let go. Heather McCollum has delivered an emotional, satisfying romance with two incredibly strong leads who are impossible not to root for. Scarlet saved herself from a horrible attack once, but she knows she cannot rely on luck should she be threatened again. I loved her strength, spirit, intelligence, and her determination to learn how to protect herself. She’s clever in coming up with ways for her students to arm and defend themselves and by the end of the book I really wanted a pair of the hair sticks she designed. Her confidence has been badly shaken, but I really enjoyed watching her find herself again. As for Aiden, he’s a fantastic hero. He’s strong, protective, and handsome, to be sure, but what melted my heart was how he acted around Scarlet. He doesn’t even blink when Scarlet asks him to teach her and her students how to defend themselves, even when others are scandalized. He doesn’t know what happened to Scarlet in the past, but he’s always clear that he’ll never make her feel pressured or unsafe and that’s a sexy as hell hero right there. Aiden has ghosts of his own, ones that make him reluctant to trust his heart to Scarlet. But it’s clear that these two are made for each other and I just loved watching them fall madly, passionately in love.

Politics, intrigue, and danger are woven into the story, though to say exactly how would spoil the tale. I liked how these elements rounded out the story, slowly adding intensity until the action-packed climax. All in all, A Protector in the Highlands is a truly satisfying historical romance. Scarlet and Aiden make this story shine and their romance was wonderful to watch unfold. I cannot wait to see what comes next for the brave Highland Roses!


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.

 

Source: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2018/11/review-protector-in-highlands-by.html

Review: When All the Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz

When All The Girls Have Gone - Jayne Ann Krentz

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Charlotte Sawyer isn’t one to take risks. But her calm, orderly life is turned upside down when her stepsister, Jocelyn, disappears and Jocelyn’s best friend turns up dead. Desperate to find her sister, Charlotte teams up with Max Culter, a former profiler turned private investigator. What the two of them don’t know is that they’re about to stir up a hornet’s nest. For there are secrets buried well over a decade that are about to be turned up. Secrets someone will kill to protect.

When All the Girls Have Gone is a fast-paced romantic suspense that keeps me entertained every time I read it. Jayne Ann Krentz deftly twines together multiple players, motives, and storylines and the result is an engaging mystery I loved watching Charlotte and Max put together.

At the center of the book are Charlotte and Max, and they’re the reason I find myself coming back to this book. They’re smart, likeable, and their flaws endeared them to me as much as their strengths. Charlotte isn’t bold and she’s definitely not a risk-taker, but she’ll take on everything thrown at her with aplomb because she’s got a huge heart and won’t let the people she loves get hurt. Max has an equally big heart and he’s working to rebuild his life after his career as a profiler crashed and burned. Circumstances throw Charlotte and Max together, but the two of them make a great team from the start. Though they do fall in love incredibly quickly and their love story is understated, they fit one another so well that their slide into love just worked for me.

When All the Girls Have Gone leans more toward the suspense side of romantic suspense. A murder and a disappearance are only the beginning of the mystery. Murder, drugs, rape, and long-buried secrets all come to light and the result is a truly engaging mystery. I honestly don’t want to say much because it would spoil the fun of putting together the pieces alongside Charlotte and Max. This isn’t a pulse-pounding thriller, but Ms. Krentz definitely keeps things moving at a good pace and even during re-reads when I knew what was coming I would get sucked into the story. All in all, When All the Girls Have Gone is a truly satisfying romantic suspense and a great start to the Cutler, Sutter & Salinas 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.

 

Source: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2018/11/review-when-all-girls-have-gone-by.html

Review: The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

The Other Miss Bridgerton - Julia Quinn

Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed

 

Poppy Bridgerton is dragging her heels on the marriage mart.  She isn’t about to settle for just any man who asks her – only someone who can match her quick wit and will treat her as an equal could catch her interest and none of her suitors have even elicited the slightest glimmer of attraction from her.  Taking a break from London, she goes to the Dorset to visit a friend.  While exploring the coast, Poppy discovers a smugglers cave…which would be delightful if there weren’t smugglers in it when she did!  Resourceful as she is, this is one mess Poppy isn’t able to escape and she soon finds herself kidnapped and taken aboard the Infinity, to be presented to its less-than-pleased captain.

 

Captain Andrew Rokesby loves excitement, but a captive miss in his bed is definitely not the kind of thrill he seeks.  Andrew would like nothing more than to set Poppy free, but his duty to the Crown and the time-sensitive nature of his mission means the lady is stuck accompanying him to Portugal.  A battle of wills and words is about to take place on the high seas…the kind of battle that could cost both sides their hearts.

 

Oh, what fun The Other Miss Bridgerton is!  Julia Quinn’s characters are always lively and loveable, but there seems to be a special sort of magic to her work when the Bridgerton family is involved.

 

Poppy is cousin to Edmund Bridgerton (father of the original eight Bridgertons) and she’s as smart, curious, and sprightly as you’d expect her to be.  I absolutely adored her from the very first and couldn’t wait to see her fall in love.  Andrew is her match in every way; he’s charming, competitive, and bright.  I loved the banter between the two of them and really enjoyed watching them peel back the layers of each other’s characters.  Though their story begins in what both would consider less than ideal circumstances, it’s easy to see these two were made for each other.  In fact, had they met at an ordinary family event (quite possible since Poppy’s cousin Billie is married to Andrew’s older brother), you just know they would have fallen in love anyway.  But close quarters lead to a slightly less conventional love story and I loved watching their slow-burn romance unfold.  Add in a dash of adventure and what’s not to love about this book?  It’s a sparkling romance with good humor, endearing characters you can root for, and it’s so light on its feet that the pages of the story seem to fly by.  I absolutely adored The Other Miss Bridgerton and cannot wait to read it again.

Review: Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman

Kiss Me at Christmas - Valerie Bowman

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Lady Regina Haversham has long been holding out for a love match. But as she nears thirty, her uncle is determined to see her wed. Regina knows she cannot put off her uncle’s chosen suitor forever, but she’s determined to at least have control over who she loses her virginity to. And there’s only one man she wants: famous Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf. Though he’s tempted, Daffin turns Regina down. That would be the end of it, except it seems that someone is targeting Regina. With her cousin out of town, Daffin is the one tasked with protecting her. Close quarters have a way of bringing down barriers, but given the difference in their stations, Regina and Daffin will need a Christmas miracle to get their happily ever after.

Kiss Me at Christmas is a warmhearted, sparkling holiday romance. Regina and Daffin absolutely charmed me; they’re both incredibly likeable and they have wonderful chemistry. Regina is open, curious, and kind while Daffin is protective and devilishly handsome. Physically, intellectually, and emotionally Regina and Daffin are a match and their romance builds from flirty and sweet to spicy. Yet while it’s clear they’re meant for each other, class differences aren’t always easy to overcome, even if Daffin is close friends with Regina’s cousin.

The romance in Kiss Me at Christmas makes the pages of the story fly by. But the romance is intertwined with the mystery of who is trying to kill Regina. At first, I enjoyed this subplot and had my theories about who was behind everything. Unfortunately, a mystery needs to have a satisfying – or at least logical – conclusion and this one was both unsatisfying and seemed to come out of left field. It felt manufactured for plot reasons, which was a pity because Daffin and Regina are such entertaining characters that you can’t help but feel they deserved better. This isn’t an insignificant quibble, but I still honestly enjoyed this book anyway. There’s a buoyancy to Valerie Bowman’s writing that just lifts me up whenever I read her books and Kiss Me at Christmas is no exception.


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.

 

Source: http://witandsin.blogspot.com/2018/11/review-kiss-me-at-christmas-by-valerie.html