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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).

Review: Eff This! Meditation by Liza Kindred

Eff This! Meditation:108 Tips, Tricks, and Ideas for When You're Stressed Out, Anxious, or Overwhelmed - Liza Kindred

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Eff This! Meditation is a handy quick guide with centering and mental grounding practices. It’s not really a book on meditation as the title suggests, but rather an accessible book of quick tips that you can use to help calm yourself. The practices range from a minute to more than an hour, which I appreciated. It’s something you can flip through and mark your favorites for when you’re feeling overwhelmed and/or stressed. Author Liza Kindred has a very easygoing, nonjudgmental voice and her tips and tricks are not going to scare anyone off. The practices Ms. Kindred lists aren’t new or innovative and I will say that I’ve seen many of them on Pinterest before. Still, taking Eff This! Meditation for what it is, it’s a good resource written in an accessible way that will appeal to anyone looking to have a few quick tips to help when they’re stressed or anxious.


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/2019/10/review-eff-this-meditation-by-liza.html

Review: Holiday by Candlelight by Laurel Greer

Holiday by Candlelight - Laurel Greer

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

You can’t judge a book by its cover, and that’s definitely the case for Holiday by Candlelight. While the couple embracing and lighting the menorah on the cover (not to mention the book blurb) might indicate a warm Hanukkah romance in the vein of the thousands of Christmas romances out there, it honestly has nothing to do with the holiday. Caleb, the Jewish hero of the story, is either an observant Jew or a bacon-loving nonobservant Jew. Either one or somewhere in between would be all well and good by me – how someone does or doesn’t practice their faith or incorporate their religion’s culture into their lives varies from person to person – but I wish it had been consistent for the length of the story. It felt like author Laurel Greer Googled some key words related to Judaism (and Hanukkah in particular) and then inserted them randomly in a few spots without any follow through. And presto! Diversity!

Not so much.

False advertising and the half-baked way Ms. Greer treats Judaism aside, Holiday by Candlelight had its ups and downs. Caleb was a top surgeon whose career came to a screeching halt when he was trapped in an avalanche and his hand was crushed. Caleb can’t perform surgery anymore and on top of that he has severe PTSD. Moving to Sutter Creek, Montana was supposed to help him move forward. But falling for Garnet James, a woman as adventurous and risk-loving as Caleb used to be, triggers him. Garnet has lost herself trying to fit in with others before and she’s determined not to compromise what she wants ever again. So her falling for the risk-adverse Caleb is an equally terrible idea. Of course, mutual attraction has other plans for them…

Caleb is an interesting and well-drawn hero. The avalanche, how it shaped him, and how he works through his fears and PTSD are compelling and make it easy to root for him. He was truly the big draw in this book and kept me turning the pages. Garnet…is not as appealing. She has potential, and I understood why she didn’t want to lose herself in a relationship, but for much of the book she comes across as selfish. A relationship isn’t balanced when only one person is compromising and given how Caleb struggles to work through his fears for her as well as himself, it was frustrating that Garnet spent so much of the book refusing to look beyond her own wants. Eventually she becomes a character I could enjoy more, but it takes most of the book. The romance between them was lacking in chemistry, which was a huge letdown. I really wished I could feel the pull between them, but everything about their supposed attraction felt flat. I was much more interested in the dynamics between side characters, past and possibly future Sutter Creek, Montana heroes and heroines.

Holiday by Candlelight isn’t a bad book, per se. There is simply a lot of potential to the characters and the story that goes unfulfilled. The story did finish strong, which was nice and left me with enough of a warm and fuzzy feeling to bump up the rating. Perhaps if it had had more of that energy throughout it would have been a more exciting tale. If you’re looking for a good interracial, interfaith, or Hanukkah-specific romance, this isn’t the book for you. But if you simply want a wintertime romance with skiing, Search and Rescue, an interesting hero, and guaranteed happily ever after, Holiday by Candlelight checks those boxes.


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/2019/10/review-holiday-by-candlelight-by-laurel.html

Mainly by Moonlight

Mainly by Moonlight - Josh Lanyon

3.25 - 3.5 stars

Mainly by Moonlight is a book that’s hard for me to rate. I really enjoyed reading it and didn’t want to put it down. I *adored* Cosmo and wanted to see him get the HEA he yearned for.

However, I can’t deny there were *a lot* of little niggling issues I had with the story, the world building, the romance, and some of the characters. (And yes, I’m taking into account this is really 1/3 of a larger story). Little things here and there really pile up.

So I’m vacillating wildly on this rating. My heart says 4 stars, but my brain strongly objects and won’t let all those little issues go.

Review: Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh

Archangel's War - Nalini Singh

4.25 stars - Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

The Cascade has reached its peak and the final battle is here in Archangel’s War. At the heart of it all is the Archangel Raphael and his angel-made consort, Elena Deveraux. Everything in the previous eleven Guild Hunter novels has led to this: a battle for the world’s survival waged against a seemingly invincible enemy – Lijuan, the Archangel of Death.

If you’ve read Archangel’s Prophecy (and you absolutely should before starting this book), then you know that the events in that story changed Raphael and Elena. How, I cannot say without spoiling the book. Unfortunately, there’s a lot in this book I cannot write about without spoiling it. I will say that I enjoyed watching the build up to battle, seeing Elena and Raphael discover what the Cascade has done to them now and how they might use it against Lijuan. And make no mistake, Lijuan is coming. Her power is dark and cruel, fascinating to read about in its horror. The Cadre alone may not be enough to stop her, even with all their Cascade-born talents.

Archangel’s War brings all the major players in and I enjoyed their interactions. Nalini Singh has created a vast and varied cast of characters and all of their personalities are unique and well-defined. It brings depth to this world and is a consistency that’s much needed when the Cascade plays havoc with the rules of power and change. Everyone has a role to play and fans of the series will undoubtedly be delighted that most of the past heroes and heroines get some page time in this story.

About a third of Archangel’s War is devoted to battle scenes and how much you enjoy this will depend on personal taste. I don’t personally love long, drawn-out battles – even though the action keeps moving – but for Ms. Singh to do any less would be a disservice to the characters and the threat she has been building over the course of the series. At times I felt like things got repetitive, but again, I could understand the logic of it. I did feel like a few things were rushed at the end regarding supporting characters new and old (again, spoilers so I apologize for the vagueness), but I hope to see these plot points played out in future books. And while the stakes have never been higher, I never really felt the tension. Never felt that the characters I loved most were in danger, a direct contrast to how I felt reading Archangel’s Prophecy. This is a pity, but I definitely don’t want to indicate that I didn’t like the war sections of this book. Even though they’re not my personal favorite and I had some niggling issues, Ms. Singh’s writing never fails to suck me in.

Archangel’s War is a satisfying ending to a complex storyline that has spanned twelve books. I always enjoy time spent with Elena, Raphael, and their loved ones, and this time was no exception. Now, with the war over, I cannot wait to see where Ms. Singh takes the Guild Hunter series 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/2019/09/review-archangels-war-by-nalini-singh.html

Review: Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh

Archangel's Prophecy - Nalini Singh

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Archangel’s Prophecy is a ticking time bomb, and I mean that in the very best way. It’s a tense, exciting thrill ride and author Nalini Singh doesn’t hold back as the Cascade picks up steam and threatens the very heart of the Guild Hunter series: Elena Deveraux.

Elena – strong, powerful, Hunter-born mortal turned angel – and her indescribably powerful mate, the archangel Raphael, are facing something more frightening than they ever could have imagined. Elena’s wings are failing, her immortality regressing, and nothing can stop it. The haunting voice of an archangel lost to sleep prophesizes Elena’s doom. Elena isn’t one to go quietly, which is one of the many reasons I adore her, and Raphael definitely won’t let the woman he loves more than life itself fall without a fight. Their love is as strong as ever, even as their nerves are stretched to the breaking point. I desperately wanted to know what was happening to Elena. I hated having to put down Archangel’s Prophecy because I loved and hated watching her struggle. It’s rare that authors can keep me guessing, but Ms. Singh manages it.

Even with her wings failing and mysterious things happening to her body, Elena doesn’t have time to take a breath. After her brother-in-law is nearly decapitated, it’s clear that her sister and niece are in danger. Elena can’t – won’t – lose another member of her family and she’ll fight for their safety to her last breath. I found this case to be both interesting and tragic, but I admit the most exciting part of the story was watching Elena fight through the changes in her to unravel the mystery.

Archangel’s Prophecy is the eleventh book in the Guild Hunter series and you should definitely be familiar with the world before jumping in. This is not a book to be missed, but fair warning: it ends on one hell of a cliffhanger. I’m thankful I can dive right into Archangel’s War because with everything that happened at the climax of the book (too many spoilers to talk about) I would have gone mad waiting to find out what happens next. Ms. Singh knows how to up the stakes and I’m on the edge of my seat as I prepare to dive into Archangel’s War.


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/2019/09/review-archangels-prophecy-by-nalini.html

Finding Fraser

Finding Fraser - Kc Dyer

DNF at 15%

 

Fellow readers, I tried. I picked up and put down this book three times over three years before I finally gave up. When a reading a particular book feels like a dreaded homework assignment, it's time to give up.

Finding Fraser simply isn't my cup of tea. I don't have to relate to the main character in a book in order to like it, so not connecting with Emma wasn't the problem. I just couldn't work up any interest in her character, her actions, her reactions, the situations she found herself in, or K.C. Dyer's writing style. Everything seemed shallow and disjointed. Nothing about Finding Fraser worked for me, and that's just fine. I'm just not a reader suited to this particular story.

Review: Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

Royal Holiday - Jasmine Guillory

3.75 stars - Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Royal Holiday is a Hallmark Christmas movie waiting to happen. It’s a picturesque bit of fantasy that’s blessedly low on drama and high on sweetness.

Vivian Forest is a social worker with a clear love of her job and the people she helps, which won me over immediately. Vivian rarely does things for herself, so when her daughter, Maddie, talks her into taking a vacation to England where Maddie has been asked to dress a member of the royal family, Vivian packs her bags and is along for the ride. I loved seeing someone as hardworking, kind, and generous as Vivian get to sit back and enjoy herself. But life as the guest of royalty isn’t all tiaras and scones. There’s also the Queen’s sexy private secretary, Malcolm Hudson. Malcolm is the picture perfect version of a holiday fling. He’s handsome, sweet, and I seriously envied the private tours he took Vivian on.

Malcolm and Vivian are both in their fifties, know their own minds, and generally avoid manufactured drama, which I liked. Vivian’s time in England is the stuff of dreams, from picturesque walks on royal grounds to a private visit to the V&A and more. I adored being whisked away from reality by author Jasmine Guillory and was happy to suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride. Malcolm and Vivian’s love story glides with relative ease, keeping with the overall lighthearted tone of the book. I think it had potential to be more than a fluffy read had Ms. Guillory delved more deeply into both characters. It’s a pity, because Vivian and Malcolm both hinted at rich and interesting histories, so I would have loved to see them better fleshed out. And as much as I like a sweet read, I will say that Royal Holiday edged into saccharine territory more than once. Someone laughing or giggling on almost every page (most of the time for reasons I couldn’t understand) for the first three-quarters of the book was distracting and made me wish for tighter editing. But even with these issues, I think Royal Holiday is the kind of warm and cozy book you’d want to escape with on a cold winter’s night.


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/2019/09/review-royal-holiday-by-jasmine-guillory.html

Review: Wrapped Up in You by Jill Shalvis

Wrapped Up in You (Heartbreaker Bay, #8) - Jill Shalvis

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Wrapped Up in You has everything I’ve come to expect from Jill Shalvis’s books: endearing characters, funny banter, friendship, family both blood and made, and a romance that will make you smile and sigh. Kel and Ivy’s story was a joy to read from beginning to end.

After years of hard knocks, Ivy Snow is determined to reap the success of her hard work by putting down roots in the Bay Area. Her Cow Hollow taco truck is incredibly popular and she’s finally in the black and almost ready to put a down payment on a brand new condo. I loved Ivy’s spirit, her determined attitude, her capacity for love, and the vulnerabilities she tries to hide from others. She keeps pain and secrets close to her chest, preferring to focus on the here and now and not let others know the hard times she’s been through, thanks primarily to her brother. If there’s one thing Kel O’Donnell hates, it’s lies. The Idaho sheriff/cowboy has been hurt badly, physically and emotionally, and he doesn’t like secrets. But even though he can tell Ivy is hiding something, he can’t help but want her. She’s sassy and strong and oh-so-tempting. Getting her to trust him, to learn it’s okay to lean on someone, is hard work but it’s worth it. The two of them light up the page and their banter made me smile over and over again.

Kel’s time in San Francisco is supposed to be temporary, but that isn’t the biggest obstacle to his and Ivy’s happily ever after. Trust is hard earned and easily broken for both of them and neither likes being vulnerable. But they prove that love is worth the risk and it was easy to root for them every step of the way. Of course, they do need the help and support of their friends and family. A host of past (and hopefully future) Heartbreaker Bay heroes and heroines make an appearance in Wrapped Up in You, bringing the love and laughter I so enjoy in Ms. Shalvis’s books. If you’re a fan of this series, you’ll enjoy visiting beloved characters. If you’re new, strap yourself in and prepare for an irreverent, heartwarming story with a romance that’s both sweet and spicy. It’s the perfect holiday read to enjoy all year long.


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/2019/09/review-wrapped-up-in-you-by-jill-shalvis.html

Review: Arctic Heat by Annabeth Albert

Arctic Heat (Frozen Hearts #3) - Annabeth Albert

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Owen Han has a new lease on life after surviving cancer. He’s making his way through his bucket list, determined to live his life for himself while he discovers what he really wants. His latest stop is volunteering alongside park rangers for the winter in Alaska. The gorgeous vistas are nothing to sneeze at, but the real beauty is his partner: stoic Ranger Quill Ramsey. Owen would never want to be in a relationship with someone buried as deeply in the closet as Quill, but sharing a little body heat never hurt anyone, right?

Annabeth Albert proves that the warmest of personalities can win over even the most guarded of hearts in Arctic Heat. Ms. Albert’s third entry in the Frozen Hearts series is a slow burn romance that will melt your heart by the end.

Owen has a sunny personality and a determination to win people over that made me smile. He’s the opposite of Quill, a quiet, authoritative ranger who struggles with his attraction to Owen. Quill has had a host of negative life experiences that have impacted him and it’s easy to understand why he struggles to keep his relationship with Owen professional even while the sizzling attraction keeps drawing them together. I liked Quill a lot; his shyness, loneliness, and vulnerability called out to me and I was looking forward to seeing him find joy, companionship, and love with Owen. I liked that Owen was bold and sexy and brought Quill out of his shell, though at times Owen seemed to lack patience and empathy. It’s understandable in a way because his life prior to their meeting was vastly different from Quill’s. Neither man is perfect, but their flaws make them interesting. Their romance is slow burn, which is both good and bad. On the one hand it felt like they really got to know one another, on the other the book did move at a glacial pace for the first half of the story.

The life of an Alaskan park ranger is as important to the story as the romance and the research Ms. Albert did really shows. Quill and Owen’s duties, the beauty they see, and the dangers they face are fascinating. All in all, I enjoyed Arctic Heat. I struggled with the slow pace in the beginning, but Owen and Quill’s happily ever after at the end felt earned.


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/2019/09/review-arctic-heat-by-annabeth-albert.html

Review: Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney

Seduction on a Snowy Night - Mary Jo Putney, Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

“A Christmas Abduction” by Madeline Hunter
Caroline Dunham’s family once owned a famous racehorse-breeding farm, but their luck has been spiraling downward for years. It’s the last straw when she learns that Adam Prescott, Baron Thornhill, has done something unforgivable to a member of her family. What’s a woman to do when she has no options? Abduct the lord in question, of course. Except this supposed villain is nothing like she expected…

“A Christmas Abduction” started out a lot of fun, mostly due to the chemistry between Caroline and Adam. Caroline has had enough and is determined Adam will do right by her family and Adam is anything but your typical hostage. I liked watching Adam start to care for Caroline and her friends, enjoyed seeing him work hard alongside Caroline. As for Caroline, I respected how hard she worked and her loyalty to others, her strength in holding her family afloat. That being said, the romance left me wanting a bit. Given what Caroline believed of Adam, her attraction to him and the way she gave into it made the love story feel a bit stilted and rushed. Added to that, the ending was tied up so neatly that it was not entirely believable. Still, “A Christmas Abduction” is an enjoyable story and Madeline Hunter’s writing keeps things moving along at a quick clip.


“A Perfect Match” (Duke Dynasty, Book 1.5) by Sabrina Jeffries
Colonel Lord Heywood Wolfe has come to a ball to warn his best friend’s sister, Kitty, that one of her suitors is a villainous fortune hunter with a dark past. One thing leads to another and Heywood ends up abducting Kitty and her cousin, Cass, and taking them to his family home for the holidays in order to protect them. Kitty is an heiress and Heywood needs funds to restore the estate he inherited, so she should be the one he’s courting. Except he can’t take his mind off of Cass, the intelligent beauty who is his perfect match in every way…

“A Perfect Match” was my favorite novella of this anthology and the reason I picked it up in the first place. Sabrina Jeffries brings Christmas cheer and charm with her story of a soldier in need of a fortune and a secret heiress who will only marry for love.

Heywood and Cass sparkle, their chemistry wonderful and their back-and-forths made me smile. Cass has sworn her family to secrecy about her being an heiress and she’s been burned in the past by fortune hunters. So even though she’s quickly falling for Heywood she doesn’t want to reveal she has money and risk not finding a man who wants her for herself. I adored Cass and Heywood and was rooting for their happily ever after. The only thing that detracted from the story was a turn in attitude from Heywood at the end, one that was out of character and seemed forced in to add drama. It’s a pity, because otherwise “A Perfect Match” is a fun, aptly-titled story with two protagonists I adored and a cast of supporting characters who made me smile.


“One Wicked Winter Night” (Rogues Redeemed, Book 3.5) by Mary Jo Putney
After exploring the world for years, Lady Diana Lawrence has decided to return home to England. The only thing she’s wary of is running into the man who was the reason she so quickly took to exploring all those years ago. On the night of her cousin’s masquerade ball she meets a dashing corsair who tempts her in a way she hasn’t been tempted in a long time. Of course, it’s none other than Anthony Raines, Duke of Castleton, the man she loved and lost. It’s clear the attraction between them has never died, but is that enough for them to take a risk at opening their hearts for a second chance at love?

I love a good second chance romance so I was eager to dive into this story of a duke who wants to marry for love and the intrepid explorer he never got over. I liked that Diana was older than Anthony, that she was worldly and well-traveled, had an adventurous spirit, and knew her own mind. I also really liked that Anthony accepted and loved Diana for who she was, unreservedly and without any alpha male posturing. The two of them had a lot of promise and their sense of humor charmed me. However, partway through “One Wicked Winter Night” the story took a turn and I was flabbergasted by both Anthony and Diana’s stunning lack of maturity. I won’t spoil the story, but Anthony’s way of securing Diana’s attention was childish and her response to it was reckless and irresponsible. It left a sour taste in my mouth and the two of them didn’t have enough chemistry to overcome it. And because it was so distracting, I must point out that Mary Jo Putney’s overuse of exclamation points did not help her characters seem more mature (truly, the sheer quantity was alarming!). Still, fans of the Rogues Redeemed series (which I have not read) might enjoy this story more than I did. Previous heroes and heroines play strong supporting roles and that will undoubtedly mean more to people invested in the characters.


Seduction on a Snowy Night has its ups and downs with a bit of unevenness in tone in each of the stories. Being snowed in plays a part in each story and close quarters helped with the accelerated falling in love timelines the novella length necessitates. If you’re a fan of any of these authors it’s worth picking up this anthology. I particularly enjoyed Sabrina Jeffries’s “A Perfect Match,” but there’s something for every historical romance lover in Seduction on a Snowy Night.


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/2019/09/review-seduction-on-snowy-night-by.html

Review: No Judgments by Meg Cabot

No Judgments - Meg Cabot

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Real world issues meet fluffy romantic comedy in No Judgments. I wanted to like Meg Cabot’s first full-length Little Bridge Island book. And perhaps you can make a rom com set against the backdrop of a potentially devastating hurricane work, but it doesn’t in this story. In another setting, the quirky inhabitants of Little Bridge Island would be fun to read about and I did like most of them. Plus, any animal lover would be won over by the cuteness of the pets that threaten to steal the show (toothless Gary for the win).

Bree Beckham is the star of No Judgments and unfortunately she’s also its biggest weakness. She’s moved to Little Bridge Island for a fresh start and is determined to do everything on her own. This would be great, except Bree is, well, TSTL. She lacks basic common sense, makes poor decisions, is stubborn over the most ridiculous things, and honestly would not have survived this story if not for the rest of the cast. What Bree does have going for her is a big heart and a love of animals. Her take-charge attitude when it comes to seeing to abandoned pets’ needs warmed my heart. But it’s overshadowed by her often immature attitude and stunning lack of common sense. Her love interest is Drew Hartwell, her boss’s nephew and rumored town playboy. Drew is good looking and patient, but is kind of a cardboard hero. The thing that stands out the most about him is his love of dogs and his hilarious choice of dog names. Drew and Bree’s love story was pretty standard and enjoyable, but I can’t say it pulled me in.

There’s a lot going on in No Judgments and none of it is developed well. Sexual assault, family secrets, and mother issues are all thrown in and the way each of these storylines played out was unsatisfying. The first is the most frustrating of all because it’s a very real, relatable issue that is not handled well at all. And though it’s a minor moment overall, I really struggled with Bree’s characterization of an intellectually disabled young man as “slow.” It’s 2019 and we can expect authors to do better. There are also too many convenient coincidences in this book that make suspending disbelief an almost Herculean task. And as I mentioned before, the looming presence of a possible Category 5 hurricane doesn’t go with the fluffy tone of the book. The casual attitude and the way the characters ride through the storm are so wildly different from my experience, friends’ experiences, and what I’ve seen on the news, but I will admit I’m no expert so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

The animals are the best part of No Judgments and I can’t count the number of times they made me smile. The residents of Little Bridge Island were also so warm and welcoming (even Bree’s sometimes grumpy boss, Ed) that the town won me over and in a less dramatic setting they would have been a delight. Ms. Cabot’s writing did keep the story moving along at a quick clip and the secondary characters (human and animal) were charming enough to bump it up a star. But if you’re looking for a heroine you can root for, well-developed characters and plotlines, and a consistent tone throughout the story, you should probably look elsewhere.


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/2019/09/review-no-judgments-by-meg-cabot.html

Review: Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd

Strangers She Knows - Christina Dodd

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

The Cape Charade series comes to a thrilling conclusion in Strangers She Knows. Christina Dodd knows how to up the tension and I was seriously questioning how Kellen Adams, survivor and soldier she may be, would survive and protect her husband and daughter from the vicious and clever Mara Phillipi.

It has been three years since Kellen had a bullet removed from her brain and she’s still recovering and working on restoring a full range of motion to her hand. She’s not in peak condition when her husband, Max, suggests they head to a remote island off the California coast to hide out while the authorities hunt Mara. On top of that, her daughter Rae is in full pre-teen hormone swing, so a remote island with no technology isn’t always a peaceful place. Max is sure they’re safe on the island, but Kellen knows Mara better than anyone else. The serial killer will never stop hunting her and Kellen needs to be prepared.

The isolated locale and a very small number of unusual characters brings a tight, tense atmosphere to Strangers She Knows. I can’t say much about the book without spoiling it because the entertainment is watching the ongoing game of cat-and-mouse between Mara and Kellen unfold. I loved that Ms. Dodd didn’t make it easy, kept me guessing how things would work out, and didn’t make Kellen superhuman. She’s a strong yet vulnerable heroine with a big heart and powerful reasons to defeat the psychopath hunting her family. I devoured this book in a day because I had to know how it would end.

Strangers She Knows finishes the Cape Charade series perfectly. I highly recommend reading Dead Girl Running and What Doesn’t Kill Her before this book to get the history of the characters and the relationships. But even if you want to jump right in with this book, you’re sure to enjoy this tight, tense thriller.


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/2019/09/review-strangers-she-knows-by-christina.html

Walk of Shane

Walk of Shame (Love Unexpectedly) - Lauren Layne

This was a really cute, fluffy romance. Most of the book was fun and flirty with low drama. The end did have some manufactured drama that was really frustrating and some rushed sequences, but oh well. Georgie was a delight and despite the fact that he could be a jerk once in a while, I liked Andrew well enough that I was rooting for he and Georgie to get their happily ever after. Bonus points for the nods to Enchanted and double points to this book for not putting down the fairytale romance or sparkly, pretty things.

Unrelated to my rating, I listened to this on audio and I ADORED Susannah Jones's narration. She was perfect for Georgie and did a good job with Andrew. However, Joe Arden's narration wasn't for me and I kept stopping because of it.

Review: The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

The Harp of Kings (Warrior Bards #1) - Juliet Marillier

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Enter a world of warriors and bards, of mortal kings and uncanny creatures in The Harp of Kings. Juliet Marillier’s writing has a lyricism to it that never fails to draw me in and I found myself spellbound by this story.

Since childhood Liobhan has wanted to become one of the elite Swan Island warriors. Now she and her brother Brocc have that opportunity. As trainees, they wouldn’t normally be sent out on missions, but their skills as bards make them the perfect spies when the mystical Harp of Kings is stolen. Alongside two senior warriors and a fellow trainee, Dau, Liobhan and Brocc make their way to the kingdom of Breifne. There they must suss out secrets from courtiers and druids, fend off royal bullies, and uncover the machinations of Otherworld beings, all while learning to become a team and strengthen their weak spots.

Liobhan is a heroine who is easy to like. She’s vibrant, skilled, loyal, kindhearted, and hardworking. She’s also young, vocal, and sometimes reckless when she follows her heart, but I liked that she wasn’t perfect and I could see how she will continue to grow over the course of the series. Brocc too is an endearing character. He’s quieter than his sister, more aware of his fears, but his talent as a bard is unparalleled. Brocc is unknowingly on a journey to come into his own and his path is one I’m still thinking on days after finishing this book (for reasons I won’t spoil). As for the third main character, Dau isn’t immediately loveable. He comes off as arrogant and is determined to win a spot on Swan Island at all costs. I knew there had to be more to him, and Ms. Marillier did not disappoint. I loved peeling back the layers of Dau’s character. He’s the most complex and wounded of the three and there were times his story brought tears to my eyes. Though each of the three main characters has a satisfying story arc in The Harp of Kings, I look forward to seeing how they mature and progress and how their relationships change in the next book.

The Harp of Kings is the first book in the Warrior Bards series and can easily be read as a standalone, but if you like Ms. Marillier’s Blackthorn & Grim trilogy you’ll be delighted to find out this series is set in the same world. I’m a huge Blackthorn & Grim fan, so I must confess that as soon as I read the character list in the beginning of the book and discovered that Liobhan and Brocc were Blackthorn and Grim’s children I was automatically invested in their fates. I loved the nods to the prior trilogy and even though I enjoyed The Harp of Kings on its own merits I still desperately hope we travel to Winterfalls in future Warrior Bards books.

The Harp of Kings has intrigue, fights, magical quests, and otherworldly action aplenty. The pages of the book practically flew by and I hated it whenever I had to put it down. I finished this story a well-satisfied reader, but there is a bittersweet quality to it that makes me hope the wait for the next book won’t be too long.


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/2019/09/review-harp-of-kings-by-juliet-marillier.html

Review: Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women Book 1) - Evie Dunmore

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Evie Dunmore blends fact and fiction together beautifully in Bringing Down the Duke. Like a good many women throughout history, Annabelle Archer is a scholar with an unsupportive family. She’s dependent upon her cousin, who works her until she is about to drop. When the chance to attend Oxford on a scholarship arrives, Annabelle snatches it. In return for the scholarship, she must support the women’s suffrage movement. It sounds simple, but the reality of what suffragists were up against shows just how extraordinary these women were. Annabelle’s work for the cause throws her in the path of the Duke of Montgomery, a man who is considered to be cold as ice. Sebastian inherited a dukedom at the age of nineteen and the burden of responsibility and the role he has played in politics for so long has made him almost an automaton. Annabelle sparks something long buried in him and, likewise, he sparks long-buried passions in her.

The romance between Sebastian and Annabelle is slow to build, and I admit the beginning of the story dragged a bit until the characters and romance started to develop. But once it got going, I adored Bringing Down the Duke. Annabelle is no stranger to passion, but she is very aware of the risks it brings. And Sebastian, a duke with the ear of Queen Victoria, is a man who cannot afford to follow his heart. Class differences mean something in this book; they’re not trivial obstacles to be batted out of the way. As much as I was rooting for Sebastian and Annabelle, I enjoyed the dose of reality that threatens to keep them apart. I liked that they had to work for the happily ever after, that marriage between a duke and commoner wasn’t something they took for granted, and that reputations, unplanned pregnancies, and politics aren’t concerns to simply be tossed aside.

Bringing Down the Duke kicks off the League of Extraordinary Women series and introduces four very different, very interesting women who all have their own reasons for joining the suffragist movement. I adored Hattie, Catriona, and Lucie, and I cannot wait to see what Ms. Dunmore has in store for them. Between the fight for women’s rights and the admission of women at Oxford, there’s enough (incredibly interesting) history in Bringing Down the Duke to keep it grounded in reality while the romance has just enough fantasy to keep the book light on its feet.


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/2019/09/review-bringing-down-duke-by-evie.html

Review: The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken

The Blacksmith Queen (The Scarred Earth Saga #1) - G.A. Aiken

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

The Blacksmith Queen is a fantasy tale brimming with potential. A cheerful, caring blacksmith heroine, a staid but true centaur hero, witches and warriors, elves and dragons, battles and betrayal…there’s a lot in G.A. Aiken’s first entry in the Scarred Earth Saga that is of interest. With a bit more order, development, and breathing room this book really could have been engaging. Unfortunately, the actual story is choppy and overwrought.

Caid and Keeley have enjoyable chemistry, but their romance felt like an afterthought tacked on at the end, which was a pity. Keeley is a fun heroine who is loving, protective, and strong. She comes from a large and boisterous family and she tends to them all. Caid, in turn, is the calm in the story, a serious warrior who gives the audience a breather from the constant noise of the supporting cast. And the supporting cast does take up a lot of space in the book, but not in a way that felt organic to world building. There are dozens of viewpoint changes – not all of which felt necessary – and at times the plethora of oversized personalities detracted from the plot.

I admit I almost stopped reading The Blacksmith Queen because the first part of the book felt like a lot of flash and bang that didn’t have much substance. However, around the halfway point things take a turn and the book gets interesting, even if it doesn’t always make sense. I generally don’t put spoilers in my reviews, so unfortunately I have to be brief and vague. This is the kind of book where you just have to roll with whatever happens and believe the entire realm will agree with what they’re told without question or it all falls apart. For my part, the longer I think about it, the more I question the world and the barely-defined rules it operates on. Given their circumstances, there is no way the main villain could plot, arrange, and accomplish even half of what they did. The entire concept of the prophesy, the backing competing forces gain…none of it seems to hold weight. Even in fantasy literature, there needs to be a whisper of believability.

While reading The Blacksmith Queen I spent a lot of time feeling like Dennis in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. So why two stars instead of one? Well, for all its flaws there’s something compelling about this world. I want to learn more about the Scarred Earth centaurs, I want to see what happens to Keeley, and I want to discover what happens next in this bizarrely entertaining saga. So while I felt the story lacked development, what is there on the surface is interesting and holds enough promise that I want to learn more. And sometimes that’s enough.


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/2019/08/review-blacksmith-queen-by-ga-aiken.html