Waiting on Wednesday: Blood Vow by J.R. Ward

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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

J.R. Ward's writing is addictive as hell and I'd probably read a grocery list if she published one, but the Black Dagger Brotherhood has a special place in my heart. Last year I was thrilled when I heard she was doing a spinoff series that would be paranormal romance. Not only did Blood Kiss, the first Black Dagger Legacy book, not disappoint, it was one of my top reads of 2015. So of course the second book, Blood Vow, is my Waiting on Wednesday pick this week. I cannot wait to see what Ms. Ward has in store for Axe, Elise, Rhage, and Mary!

Blood Vow Cover Title: Blood Vow
Series: Black Dagger Legacy, Book 2
Author: J.R. Ward
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: December 6, 2016
J.R. Ward Reading Order

Book Description (from Amazon):

The Black Dagger Brotherhood continues to train the best of the best to join them in the deadly battle against the Lessening Society. Among the new recruits, Axe proves to be a cunning and vicious fighter—and also a loner isolated because of personal tragedy. When an aristocratic female needs a bodyguard, Axe takes the job, though he’s unprepared for the animal attraction that flares between him and the one he is sworn to protect.

For Elise, who lost her first cousin to a grisly murder, Axe’s dangerous appeal is enticing—and possibly a distraction from her grief. But as they delve deeper into her cousin’s death, and their physical connection grows into so much more, Axe fears that the secrets he keeps and his tortured conscience will tear them apart.

Rhage, the Brother with the biggest heart, knows all about self-punishing, and he wants to help Axe reach his full potential. But when an unexpected arrival threatens Rhage and Mary’s new family, he finds himself back in the trenches again, fighting against a destiny that will destroy all he holds most dear.

As Axe’s past becomes known, and fate seems to be turning against Rhage, both males must reach deep—and pray that love, rather than anger, will be their lantern in the darkness.

Review: The Governess Was Wanton by Julia Kelly

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Governess Was Wanton by Julia Kelly
Series: Governess, Book 2
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Historical Romance The Governess Was Wanton Cover
ISBN: 9781501139345
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

Mary Woodward, a young veteran governess, has one job: guiding a young debutante through her first season in high society. And up until now, keeping her fous and avoiding temptation has been easy. But never before has the father of her young charge been as devilishly handsome as the single, wealthy Earl of Asten… Convinced to risk it all, Mary lets herself enjoy one night of magic at a masked ball in Asten’s arms, but will they both regret everything when the Earl learns her true identity?

Mary Woodward is a highly sought-after governess with a talent for guiding her charges through the season and promoting good matches. Eric Bromford, the fourth Earl of Asten, is a father at his wit’s end and desperate for Mary’s services. Eric isn’t your typical lord. He’s widower and a doting father who cares very much for his daughter’s happiness, education, and general well-being. He simply cannot understand why Eleanora is suddenly unhappy and picking fights with him, which is when Mary enters the picture. Mary is quick to spot the problem – or rather the people causing the problem – in the earl’s life, but that isn’t what makes things complicated. Rather, it’s the attraction she and Eric feel toward one another that threatens to turn both their worlds upside down. A romance between an earl and his daughter’s governess is a dangerous proposition, but some passions burn too hot to be ignored…

The Governess Was Wanton is a delightful historical romance with a Cinderella twist. This second book in Julia Kelly’s Governess series is fast-paced, sweet, and engaging, thanks mostly to the endearing lead characters.

It’s clear from the start that Mary and Eric make a great match. They’re both intelligent, hardworking, caring people and if it weren’t for the difference in their stations, no one would bat an eyelash at the two of them falling in love. But since this is 1850s London, the two of them are rocked by their initial physical attraction to one another. Eric is honorable to a fault and would never abuse his position of power by seducing Mary. For her part, Mary knows that to give into her desires would lead to her ruin. The sexual tension is electric, but it’s their growing emotional attachment and the way they come fully into their own in each other’s company that really sold me on their love story. Add in some fairytale villains and a lovely teenage fairy godmother and you have a solidly entertaining story. There may not be much that’s fresh or new about The Governess Was Wanton, but it is unquestionably entertaining. Ms. Kelly has a smooth writing style, the dialogue was excellent, and the characters made me smile more than once. I adored Mary and Eric’s romance from beginning to end and I’m looking forward to re-reading it in the near future.

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 in Review

Sunday, October 2, 2016

It's finally cooling down, and you know what that means... The season of curling up by the fire with a book is almost upon us. There have been some great books released recently and even more that sound like they'll be fantastic are on my radar for this fall :)

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

Reviews for upcoming releases:
- A Fool for You (Foolproof Love, Book 3) by Katee Robert (available 10/3/16)
- My Brown-Eyed Earl (Wayward Wallflowers, Book 1) by Anna Bennett (available 10/4/16)

All other new reviews:
- Blood Red Kiss by Kresley Cole, Larissa Ione, and Gena Showalter
- Playing It Cool (Sydney Smoke Rugby, Book 2) by Amy Andrews
- Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, Book 9) by Ilona Andrews
- Because I’m Watching (Virtue Falls, Book 3) by Christina Dodd
- The Governess Was Wicked (Governess, Book 1) by Julia Kelly
- The Goal (Off-Campus, Book 4) by Elle Kennedy
- The Trouble with Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay, Book 2) by Jill Shalvis

Upcoming reviews:
- The Conquering Dark (Crown & Key, Book 3) by Clay and Susan Griffith
- Skies of Steel (The Ether Chronicles, Book 3) by Zoƫ Archer
- The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 6) by Jennifer Ashley
- Wild Man (Dream Man, Book 2) by Kristen Ashley
- Paper and Fire (The Great Library, Book 2) by Rachel Caine
- The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, Book 1) by Genevieve Cogman
- The Masked City (The Invisible Library, Book 2) by Genevieve Cogman
- Wicked Ever After (Blud, Book 4) by Delilah S. Dawson
- How to Ravish a Rake (How to Series, Book 3) by Vicky Dreiling
- Finding Fraser by kc dyer
- Soul Weaver by Hailey Edwards
- Fire Bound (Sea Haven, Book 5) by Christine Feehan
- At Last by Addison Fox
- His Game, Her Rules by Charlene Groome
- Base Instincts (Demonica) by Larissa Ione
- The Volatile Amazon (Alliance of the Amazons, Book 4) by Sandy James
- Breathe (In Vino Veritas, Book 2) by Lauren Jameson
- Linger (In Vino Veritas, Book 3) by Lauren Jameson
- When the Rogue Returns (The Duke’s Men, Book 2) by Sabrina Jeffries
- The Art of Sinning (Sinful Suitors, Book 1) by Sabrina Jeffries
- Archer (Hard Body, Book 1) by Debra Kayn
- The Governess was Wanton (Governess, Book 2) by Julia Kelly
- The Governess Was Wild (Governess, Book 3) by Julia Kelly
- Before You Break (Between Breaths, Book 2) by Christina Lee
- There You Stand (Between Breaths, Book 5) by Christina Lee
- Yours All Along (Loving on the Edge, Book 6.5) by Roni Loren
- Break Me Down (Loving on the Edge, Book 8.5) by Roni Loren
- Den of Wolves (Blackthorn & Grim, Book 3) by Juliet Marillier
- Marry Me on Main Street (Cricket Creek, Book 11) by LuAnn McLane
- Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk, Book 1) by Bec McMaster
- Captive Prince (Captive Prince, Book 1) by C.S. Pacat
- Prince’s Gambit (Captive Prince, Book 2) by C.S. Pacat
- Kings Rising (Captive Prince, Book 3) by C.S. Pacat
- His Royal Secret (His Royal Secret, Book 1) by Lilah Pace
- His Royal Favorite (His Royal Secret, Book 2) by Lilah Pace
- Raw Desire by Kate Pearce
- Soul Sucker by Kate Pearce
- The Fifth Favor by Shelby Reed
- Laugh (Burnside, Book 2) by Mary Ann Rivers
- Beauty’s Kingdom (Sleeping Beauty, Book 4) by A. N. Roquelaure
- Archangel’s Heart (Rock Kiss, Book 9) by Nalini Singh
- Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss, Book 1) by Nalini Singh
- Fighting the Fall (Beyond the Cage, Book 2) by Jennifer Snow
- The Angels’ Share (The Bourbon Kings, Book 2) by J.R. Ward
- A Reluctant Betrothal (The Grantham Girls, Book 3) by Amanda Weaver
- Single Player (Slices of Pi, Book 3) by Elia Winters
- Takeover by Anna Zabo

Review: My Brown-Eyed Earl by Anna Bennett

My Brown-Eyed Earl by Anna Bennett
Series: Wayward Wallflowers, Book 1
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance My Brown-Eyed Earl Cover
ISBN: 9781250100900
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

William Ryder, Earl of Castleton, is at the end of his noble rope. Not only has he broken ties with his longtime mistress, his mother has publicly announced her wish for him to marry a suitable young lady―if only to help him raise the twins left in his care. Hiring a governess should solve some of Will’s problems…but when he meets the candidate in question, he finds himself in an entirely new predicament.

Miss Margaret Lacey is brainy, beautiful, and, once upon a time, Will’s betrothed. But she bowed out of the engagement―and, since then, has never been the same. A tragic accident robbed her of everything, and now, at age twenty-three, her marital prospects are slim to none. Penniless but not without pride, Meg convinces the vexingly handsome Will to hire her for the job. What neither of them could have expected from this arrangement, however, is an attraction that burns stronger than ever. Are these two lost souls finally ready to be schooled in the art of love?

My Brown-Eyed Earl is a cute historical romance with potential. Anna Bennett’s debut, and the first in the Wayward Wallflowers series, has some sweet and humorous moments, but ultimately it’s a story that I wanted to like a lot more than I actually did.

Will and Meg are both lovely characters with good dispositions and generally good hearts. They’re not perfect and they make mistakes, but they’re solidly likeable and endearingly vulnerable at times, as are Will’s two charges. Will is a man who needs more purpose in life than rebuilding the family fortune and Meg is a heroine who is determined to save her family from the poorhouse by getting a job as a governess. It’s easy to see right from the beginning that Will, Meg, and the two girls would make an adorable family, but pride, class difference, and social snobbery stand in their way. Still, Will is attracted to Meg from the start. He likes her strong will and sees beyond the ugly dresses she wears, and I liked him all the more for appreciating Meg for her modern outlook. The romance moves at a quick clip, in part due to Meg and Will’s history (though there is a continuity issue in the book that made me uncertain as to how much of a foundation their relationship had before the story began).

Ms. Bennett has a lively writing style that shows a lot of promise. However, I confess I had a hard time remembering either Meg, Will, or this story a couple of days after I finished the book because it felt like I’d seen everything in this story a hundred times before in other historical romances. I actually don’t mind formulaic romances as a rule – so long as it’s a good formula, which it is – but there needs to be something about the story that stands out. All that was unique and memorable to me was one funny (if unimportant) moment involving a ruined dress. What I did remember the most about My Brown-Eyed Earl was that I was routinely drawn out of the story by the numerous historical inaccuracies. I’m more than happy to suspend disbelief and ignore convention in historical romance, but if a story almost entirely ignores the social norms of the time and the consequences of flouting them for the sake of the plot, then it’s going to lose me. There’s also a dreadful villain and a Regency “mean girl” who were so two-dimensional it pained me. Yet even with all these issues, I liked Ms. Bennett’s style and I was intrigued by both Meg’s friend, Charlotte, and her sister Beth. So while My Brown-Eyed Earl wasn’t quite my cup of tea, I am interested in reading the next Wayward Wallflowers book, I Dared the Duke.

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: A Fool for You by Katee Robert

A Fool for You by Katee Robert
Series: Foolproof Love, Book 3
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance A Fool for You Cover
ISBN: 9781633757639
Release Date: October 3, 2016
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N

It’s been thirteen years since Hope Moore left Devil’s Falls, land of sexy cowboys and bad memories. Back for the weekend, she has no intention of seeing the man she never got over…or the two of them getting down and dirty. It's just a belated goodbye, right? No harm, no foul.

Until six weeks later, when her pregnancy test comes back positive…

Daniel Rodriguez hasn’t forgiven himself for how things went down with Hope all those years ago. He knows she’s better off without him, but when she shows up on his doorstep, panicking because she’s pregnant with his baby, he can't help seeing it as a chance to make up for the past.

Too bad Hope has no intention of going along with his plans.

Is love enough to battle the demons of the past? The answer isn’t an easy one in A Fool for You. Katee Robert wraps up her fantastic Foolproof Love trilogy with the couple everyone has been waiting for: Hope and Daniel.

Hope is a heroine who has suffered devastating loss: the death of her brother, a severe injury that shattered her dreams, and the abandonment of the man she loved when she needed him the most. She has not only survived, but has become a strong, self-aware woman that I respected. Though she loves Daniel still, she doesn’t let him or the ghosts of his past trample over her, but stands up for herself and her unborn child. Ms. Robert made it easy to root for Hope; you want her to get that elusive happily ever after because she’s a great heroine. Daniel has always been the love of Hope’s life, and even after moving on in the intervening thirteen years since she’s seen him, within a few minutes of their reunion all those old feelings come rushing back. An unexpected pregnancy throws them back together and makes them face issues that are long overdue. And though Hope and Daniel have explosive sexual chemistry, passion and even love aren’t necessarily enough to win the day.

Daniel himself is the biggest obstacle in A Fool for You. He’s trapped in the past, in the accident thirteen years ago that killed his best friend and permanently injured Hope. He’s wedded to his guilt, and I questioned whether or not he’d ever make peace with his past well enough to live a full life, never mind be the man Hope deserves. I liked watching Daniel slowly come back to life, but unfortunately his journey didn’t feel quite as satisfying as it should. He’s been living in the past for so long that his fixation on it and the setbacks he suffers are understandable. But the format of the story simply wasn’t long enough for his character arc to be satisfactorily resolved. With so much of the story focused on the erotic pull between Hope and Daniel, it felt like the book should be a bit longer to deal with the weighty emotional issues because the story had the potential to be great. Added to that, the resolution to the book’s central conflict felt abrupt (to the point that I actually double-checked to make sure somehow there wasn’t a glitch that deleted a few pages) and I wish there had been a bit more either in the main story itself or even in an epilogue to make me feel like Hope and Daniel had a solid future.

Even though I had a few issues with Daniel, I cannot deny that I found A Fool for You to be an addictive read. I couldn’t put it down and I loved getting to see past Foolproof Love heroes and heroines play strong supporting roles. So while I wasn’t crazy about A Fool for You like I was for the fantastic first two books, Foolproof Love and Fool Me Once, I still enjoyed it, 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.

Review: The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay, Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance The Trouble with Mistletoe Cover
ISBN: 9780062448040
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Source: Marketing Team
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

If she has her way…
Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her…

He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.
Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him…

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice…
Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let the mistletoe do its work…

The Trouble with Mistletoe is like a great batch of Christmas cookies: sweet, satisfying, and impossible to resist. Jill Shalvis ups the charm by a thousand in this second Heartbreaker Bay novel. Keane and Willa’s romance is both naughty and nice, has scene-stealing animals, fantastic friendships, and, best of all, Ms. Shalvis’s signature blend of humor and heart.

Willa has a huge heart and loves animals, the troubled “kids” she watches over, and her friends with abandon. She also has been hurt in the past and is worried about letting a man – particularly a man like Keane – break her already bruised heart. It’s easy to adore Willa because she’s likeable, joyful, and exudes warmth. She’s the kind of character you wish were real so you could have her as a friend. As for Keane, he made me melt. He’s one hot builder, but at first glance he looks like a bad bet for Willa. He doesn’t form attachments and doesn’t look like the kind of guy who would ever settle down. But when you peel back the layers of his character, you’re in for a surprise. Keane’s heart is just as big (and bruised) as Willa’s and the more I learned about him the harder I fell. He and Willa are a great match, but their fears, beliefs about themselves, and their visions of how life and love should be threaten to get into their way. It’s easy to get caught up in their story because Willa and Keane are appealing characters with excellent chemistry. Their love story is fast-paced, vibrant, sensual, and fun, making The Trouble with Mistletoe an excellent story to curl up by the fire with.

The Trouble with Mistletoe is the second book in the Heartbreaker Bay series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. Elle, Archer, Finn, Pru, Spence, and Haley – Willa’s close-knit circle of friends – all play major supporting roles and add a wealth of humor to this book. They bring the world of the story to life and add a lot of spark to the book, but they never take the focus off Willa and Keane, which I appreciated. All in all, I absolutely adored The Trouble with Mistletoe. It’s a feel-good holiday romance that’s sure to entertain all year ’round.

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

Review: The Goal by Elle Kennedy

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Goal by Elle Kennedy
Series: Off-Campus, Book 4
Publisher: Elle Kennedy
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance The Goal Cover
Release Date: September 26, 2016
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N
Elle Kennedy Reading Order

She’s good at achieving her goals…
College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated
Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

Tucker, a sexy-as-sin college hockey player with a heart of gold, meets his match in the brilliant, determined Sabrina in The Goal. Elle Kennedy is four-for-four in the Off-Campus series. Every single story has been fun, steamy, and utterly engrossing, and this book is no exception.

I defy you to read The Goal and not fall for Tucker. He’s a hero worthy of the name: warm, funny, protective, intelligent, and has a heart as big as Texas. I can’t count the number of times Tucker made me melt over the course of the story. He’s patient and kind and has gentlemanly manners plus a spectacularly dirty side. In other words, he’s the perfect hero, made even more so by the fact that Ms. Kennedy never made him seem like a cardboard picture of perfection. With a hero as endearing as Tucker, you have to have an excellent heroine to match him and Sabrina fits the bill perfectly. I absolutely adored Sabrina because she’s got a sharp mind, works so hard my heart broke for her, and has an unwavering focus on achieving her goals. She’s also flawed, deeply vulnerable, and only a man like Tucker could break down her walls.

Since it’s in the book blurb, it’s no spoiler to say that an unexpected pregnancy changes Tucker and Sabrina’s lives forever. Sabrina grew up in a horrible situation and is single-minded in her focus to reach her goals and find the security and success she craves. Finding herself pregnant threatens to bring everything crumbling down around her. What I loved about The Goal is – even though they’re both mature for their age – Sabrina and Tucker aren’t unrealistic and the choices they make and paths they take aren’t easy. I was cheering for them every step of the way, wanting them to beat the odds. This is a story of change, and it’s an exceptional one.

The Goal has a lot of heart and that’s what really drew me to the story. Of course, I also loved the sizzling heat between Sabrina and Tucker. Nobody writes a wicked hero quite like Elle Kennedy, and you can bet Tucker has a naughty side. He and Sabrina have explosive chemistry and the emotion and eroticism were perfectly balanced in this story.

The Goal is the fourth book in Ms. Kennedy’s Off-Campus series, and if you don’t mind major spoilers for the third book, The Score, you can read Tucker and Sabrina’s story as a standalone. That being said, you’re missing out if you skip The Deal, The Mistake, and The Score, because Tucker’s roommates and the women who love them are fantastic (and luckily for fans of the series, all play supporting roles in The Goal). I cannot say enough good things about Tucker and Sabrina’s book, and I fear spoiling the story if I go into any more detail. I will say that I was so captivated by this book that I was reading it late into the night until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, then finished it first thing when I woke up the next morning – Tucker and Sabrina are just that addictive. The Goal made me smile, sigh, and it definitely touched my heart. I highly recommend this story to any romance lover!

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.
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