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Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance
POV: First Person – Dual
Hero: Lazzaro Rosetti
Heroine: Mia Bianchi
Date of Publication: September 28, 2022
Started On: September 20, 2022
Finished On: September 23, 2022
“Come on, Mia. Show me how bad girls get off in the middle of the night.”
Having never read a Lilith Vincent novel did not stop me from requesting for an ARC of this steamy, taboo-as-it-gets romance when I encountered the author’s posts on the release of Brutal Intentions on Instagram. Being a lover of dark, edgy romances that pushes the conventional boundaries of male-female relationships, I felt right at home with this one. Even though in real life I would probably never be able to imagine something like this happening, much less supporting it, between the pages, 29 year old Lazzaro Rosetti (Laz) was just what this depraved heart of mine needed.
18 year old Mia Bianchi is used to being the invisible member of her dysfunctional family, bearing the brunt of and carrying the stain of her mother’s past mistakes. All of that changes the moment she lays eyes on Laz as he stands at the altar saying his I do’s to none other than Mia’s mother.
Laz is the youngest of his family, trying to get his hands on what is rightfully his to forge his own path in life. However, Laz finds himself forced into a marriage that is of not his choice, and as a result it is Miathat bears the the brunt of his anger over his lack of freedom to choose. At his heart, Laz is just as lost as Mia is in some ways, but even Laz through his depraved heart can see that Mia has got it much worse than he ever did.
The story is relentless from the very beginning, with Ms. Vincent never letting there be any respite from the heat and twisted nature of what unfolds between Mia and Laz. While Mia does try her best to steer clear from Laz, it is as if Laz has made it his life’s mission to torment her and make Mia face the inevitable truth when it comes to what is between them; the lust that roars to life that is unparalleled. There is no escape from being consumed by the fire that rages for either of them, and Laz to his credit, does not even try.
Navigating the treacherous nature of Mia’s family takes some doing, but it is Laz’s well placed intentions that makes for the climax of this newfound and fragile love that was careening towards the edge of the cliff from the onset. However, there is something to be said for the determination that defines both Laz and Mia even in the face of all the obstacles that stands in their way, which is one reason why their story was so satisfying when all was said and done.
I do not think I can begin to express all that this novel presented; there is just enough emotional development and backstory to the characters to make all of this real and relatable to the point where you root for the main protagonists against all odds. However, if you are the type to shy away from cheating in romance novels, this is definitely not the book for you – because there is plenty of cheating, assholery, and the kind of sex that makes you reach for your non-existent glass of cold water at your bedside table.
I will definitely be looking for more of Ms. Vincent’s books in the future. Her writing is flawless, even when writing a character that is rough around the edges like Laz, who does not care for the polished veneer that most people believe makes us civilized. With an increasing number of books published that tries to serve the appetites of the majority that likes their romances bland and safe to fit the current times, it is rare to meet authors like Ms. Vincent and I will doggedly be in pursuit of her new releases!
Recommended for those who love their romances on the frisky side, with an extra serving of taboo to really spice things up.
Final Verdict: Brutal Intentions at its heart is the kind of story that digs itself deep into those empty crevices of your soul that you never acknowledged existed.
[Mia] Heat and pleasure rise up and crash over me. My body flexes in Lazzaro’s strong arms as I hurtle beyond all conscious thought and straight into pure pleasure.
That was better than anything I’ve felt in my entire life.
I suck in a deep breath and open my eyes.
Lazzaro is awake and staring at me, his expression absolutely feral.
[Mia] “Do as you’re told, Mia. I’m not letting you up until you come again.”
Lazzaro thrusts hard against my ass through his sweats and his hot breath is on the back of my neck. The hottest man I’ve ever laid eyes on has me pinned in place, and my body craves to give him what he wants. His brutal assault on my senses forces a third orgasm from me.
I press my face into the pillow and moan, wishing it didn’t feel so good to be so thoroughly humiliated.
My stepfather raggedly breathes into my ear, “Good fucking girl.”
[Mia] “What a performance Giulia made over a broken leg. I don’t think she’d carry on the same way about you, do you?”
“Thanks for pointing that out,” I seethe.
“So do something about it.”
“Like what? I’m not going to pour red wine on Mom’s favorite dress because she loves Isabel more.”
He shrugs, but there’s a dark glimmer in his eyes. “There are better ways to take revenge.”
“I’m not going to suck your dick because my family hates me.”
A wicked smile hooks Laz’s mouth. My eyes are drawn to his scar as he saunters toward me. “You are going to suck my dick, but because you crave the feel of me bottoming out in your throat.”
[Mia] Wanting my stepdad is one thing.
Falling in love with him?
I pull myself out of his grip and back away.
“I can’t be your anything. I really like you, I care about you, I’m always thinking about you, but this isn’t right.”
The expression in his eyes flickers between anger and pain. “If you wanted to say the words that would make me back off, those aren’t it.” He moves toward me like a hunter stalking prey. “You like me? You care about me? That’s oxygen to me.”
[Mia] “You bad fucking girl.” Laz pulls me closer, takes my face in his hands, and kisses me hard, his tongue parting my lips. My heart is beating wildly as Laz perches me on the vanity and moves between my thighs, pulling them around his hips. He overwhelms me.
It’s the most intense kiss of my life.
[Laz] “Am I hurting you?” I ask through gritted teeth.
Mia sits up on her elbows and stares at herself. Stares at me driving into her with careful thrusts, edging my way deeper. Her pretty pussy is getting my shaft so wet.
She looks up at me with flushed cheeks and dilated eyes. “I think you were made for me, Laz.”
I relax a little and thrust deeper, and she moans in pleasure. I’m lost in those big eyes, my cock buried inside of her.
I think she’s fucking right.
[Laz] I picture Mia wearing a wedding dress with a pregnant belly, and my dick gets so hard.
I need to fuck her again.
And so, I do.
I pull back and slam into her again, short, hard thrusts.
“Laz,” Mia hisses. “What are you doing?”
“Hold still, baby, I’m not done with you.” I drag her down the bed, pull one of her legs over my shoulder and the other around my waist.
Mia’s breathless with desire and panic. “You shouldn’t—we can’t—”
All her protests are like a red flag to a bull. I can and I will.
[Mia] The drag and pull of his cock inside me is making me go insane. My clit is alive with sensation. There’s sweat on Laz’s chest and his eyes are dilated and dark. Suddenly, he clamps a hand around my throat and squeezes. I’m being pressed down into the seat, completely at his mercy. Trapped between his body and the leather.
Suddenly, everything rushes up, and I fly apart into a thousand shining pieces.
Laz is on the verge of coming when I return to earth. I reach around his cock, grab the skin of his ball sack, and twist.
He groans but doesn’t stop pounding me, and I feel him come as his rhythm stutters, his body flushes red, and his head tips back.
When he opens his eyes to catch his breath, he grins lazily at me. “You little hellcat.”
Purchase Links: Amazon
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Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Untitled Series, #2
Hero: Rafael Roza
Heroine: Vee Roza
Date of Publication: July 28, 2022
Started On: July 14, 2022
Finished On: August 03, 2022
The Night Blossoms by Leylah Attar is a novel that is closely tied to The Paper Swan that was published in 2015. While The Paper Swan was dark, gritty, and breathtaking, The Night Blossoms, like its main male lead is a different ball game altogether, which was spellbinding in a totally different way.
When Vee Roza’s husband Rafael goes missing after a heated argument between the two, never does Vee think that this would in fact be the pivotal event which brings the secrets that she hides to the forefront, test her to her very limits of endurance, and in the end show to the readers the strength of her character.
I went in expecting the kind of immersive experience that was The Paper Swan. Don’t get me wrong; this book was engrossing in the way Ms. Attar unfolded the layers to her characters and revealed all that was simmering underneath. While I would have loved for more darkness in the story, I did enjoy the tumultuous journey that was the Rozas’ before and even after they said their I do’s.
With The Night Blossoms, Ms. Attar shows to readers what resilience really means when it comes to relationships, especially after marriage. Vee and Rafael do not find each other under the most heartwarming circumstances; they both lead equally tough lives, especially during their most formative years. One would think that they would catch a break, but turns out, life wants to test their love to a point where most of us would just probably give up and walk away.
I loved Rafael – his character was one that shone through in many ways. Ms. Attar explores a fascinating trait in Rafael, something which I do not want to particularly reveal in my review. Understanding what it means to live with that sort of “gift” perhaps, is something beyond my capacity as I cannot imagine the impact something like that would have on one’s physical and mental well-being.
Rafael’s smartness is what got me – when he started talking about concepts of physics, I wanted to be sitting in his class, soaking all of it in. We would all be so lucky to have educators who are as enthusiastic as Rafael is when it comes to imparting knowledge that is akin to a gift given for life.
Vee’s character was a tougher nut to crack for various reasons, and I think Ms. Attar wanted it that way. Even when the story is told from Vee’s point of view, there is always a part of herself that she keeps in the shadows, as if penetrating her secrets would threaten her very existence. Her fears and insecurities were all too real and I felt them, which attests to the brilliance that is behind Ms. Attar’s writing.
Recommended for readers who love romantic suspense. You will have to read The Paper Swan first to have an appreciation for the characters, and if you like myself love dark romances, The Paper Swan is definitely a treat!
Final Verdict: The Night Blossoms is tale that captivates the reader on multiple fronts, of love of the kind that prevails and grows in strength through the worst life has to offer.
“Yvette? Did you hear what I s—”
Her kiss was breathless. Clasping her fingers behind his neck, she drew him close. The air expelled from Rafael’s lungs. He angled his mouth to taste her. His lips trailed to her throat, to the pulse under her skin. A wild surge of pleasure gripped him when her hand slipped under his waistband and untucked his shirt.
“Don’t fall in love. Not with me.”
“Why not? You’re smart and strong and determined. You can do anything you set your mind to.” He stroked her hair. “Why do you hate yourself so?”
Slipping out of reach, she gathered the blanket to her chest and sat. “You will too, when I tell you the truth.”
“Fine. Let’s have it.” He grinned.
Bit by bit, she revealed the details.
Bit by bit, Rafael’s world careened out of orbit.
Everything shifted. Everything changed.
By the time Yvette was done, nothing was the same again.
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Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Governess Chronicles, #2
Publisher: Sentra Press
Hero: Rhys Cadogan
Heroine: Isabelle Violette de Beaujeu
Date of Publication: July 07, 2022
Started On: July 05, 2022
Finished On: July 14, 2022
A Governess Should Never… Deny a Duke is the second installment in The Governess Chronicles by Emily Windsor. Even though this is part of a series, the story is perfectly readable as a standalone.
27 year old Isabelle Violette de Beaujeu is a governess with almost a decade of experience under her belt, having earned an impeccable reputation for herself. Her newest charge is the 15 year old niece of the Duke of Aberdare. Even though 34 year old Rhys Cadogan has a reputation for being mean, moody, and mysterious, it does not deter Isabelle from seeking the position, one more milestone towards making headway in her retirement funds.
From the get go, the Duke’s sheer masculinity takes Isabelle’s breathe away, or so it would have she tells herself, if she weren’t made of sterner stuff. Likewise, Rhys is drawn towards the spirit and fire that is evident when Isabelle loses that rigid control she exerts on herself.
However, a governess has no space to dream about frivolous things like love and desire, especially when it involves the likes of a Duke, who for all intents and purposes is on the hunt for a bride. What neither Rhys nor Isabelle realize is that when it comes right down to it, they are both two halves of one soul, drawn towards a shared future, irrespective of the circumstances that brought them together.
From one breathless encounter to heated stolen kisses, Isabelle comes to the realization of the kindness that is inherent in the Duke, the passion that he hides behind the at times aloof facade of his, and the dreams that he harbors for the kind of love that Isabelle herself yearns for but never hopes to find.
I loved this installment in the series and enjoyed both Rhys and Isabelle. Rhys is the kind of hero that is the right mix of tenderness and masculinity that sweeps you off your feet. His keen intelligence and his kindness draws the reader towards him like a moth to flame, and it is not just Isabelle that falls hopelessly in love with him.
Isabelle is the kind of heroine readers root for in every sense. With a past that still haunts her, Isabelle is someone who has lived true to her values and principles and made a name for herself in her profession. Even when the Duke tempts her so, Isabelle tries to tell herself that it is not for the likes of her, but alas, love does have a strange way of seeking one out when you are least looking for it.
The style of writing that Ms. Windsor brings to the genre is evocative, the portrayal of the yearning of both characters in this novel the kind that makes for an immersive reading experience, and the witty nature of the inner monologues and the dialogues which keeps the pages turning. The secondary characters added vibrancy to the story as it unfolded, many of whom I would definitely love to read more about.
Recommended for fans of Ms. Windsor and fans of beautifully spun historical romances!
Final Verdict: Delightful, sensual, and poignant; Ms. Windsor’s writing is powerful in the way it moves the reader!
I wait. I tremble. I yearn,
Yet to me she cometh not.
I lust. I languish. I burn!
Yet to me she cometh not.
His lips brushed.
Back and forth. Beguiling and mellow and supple and sinful.
The angel admonished one last time, prattling on about all those years of flawless reputation, but instead of dissuading Isabelle from this path of desire, it compelled her to be reckless. Yes, she had been all that was placid and perfect for so long, but she was tired. Tired of suppressing her accent, her upbringing, her nature, her temper, her very self.
So, she returned the duke’s kiss.
Abruptly, she was swung around, her spine meeting the panelled wall, and she was unsure why until he pressed his muscled frame as though he required more pressure, could not get close enough to her…
Now the assault came not from just his ravishing lips, or from his hands which grasped her face, securing her for his kiss, but his hips which recklessly thrust.
She knew he was heavily aroused, had read many a novel for knowledge, but even the most prurient tale failed to convey the sheer elation that surged.
Real, indulgent and utterly wicked.
“Beg pardon,” he muttered, hands tidying her bodice and attempting to push curls into their plait – a fruitless endeavour yet she welcomed it, savoured the sensation of being fussed over for once, till he claimed her wrist and kissed the pounding pulse. “Thank you. Thank you for… My mood was sombre tonight and you fetched light into it with your empathy and touch…Miss Beaujeu.”
She nodded. Knew tonight was at an end for Isabelle.
The clock chimed midnight.
“Good night, Your Grace.”
“Good night, Miss Beaujeu.”
He kissed her hand once more and she twisted away on legs that appeared to be filled with English custard.
He shivered. “You know when you speak in French, it causes the most uncontrollable urges within me.”
“Does it?” She brought her lips to his ear. “Je te désire, Monsieur le duc.”
With a grunt, he strode for the bed. “If you keep testing my limits, Miss Beaujeu, you will find yourself nude and splayed before you can take another breath.”
She laughed as he lowered her to the coverlet, followed her, his perfect mate as she arched beneath him.
His entire weight sank upon her, powerful and possessive, and her legs parted of their accord to accommodate.
Now the kiss grew reckless and tempestuous, both their bodies arching into one another.
With a growl, he reared, twisted off the bed and wrenched at the fall of his breeches, shoving them down. By the flame of the candle, Isabelle glimpsed muscled planes and masculine beauty and an arousal that should’ve scared her but that instead spurred her pulse to race.
He sank upon her again, but now with bare, heated skin, his body tight with sinew, blunt with need.
She leaned up as best she could, gasping as it forced him deeper. “Mon amour. Mon coeur…”
“Je t’aime pour l’éternité.”
With that, any pretence they were civilised creatures vanished as Rhys roared and abruptly arched, his hand grasping her hip as he bucked.
Isabelle sought to retain a grip unto sanity but it was a futile endeavour as his mouth devoured her breast, her throat, and his body demanded she yield also to this madness of desire.
“Love waits, still and swithe,
Love lingers, dusk and bright.
Love waits, it waits for thee,
For thee to fill my night.
So come to me, my soul,
Aside the pounding sea.
Come love and make me whole,
And ‘I’ shall become ‘We’.”
Purchase Links: Amazon
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Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Powers-Slater Studio, #1
Hero: Vaughan Slater
Heroine: Carolyn McKensie
Date of Publication: February 21, 1997
Started On: December 21, 2021
Finished On: December 30, 2021021
A Daughter’s Dilemma by Miranda Lee was my last read for the year 2021. It is February 2022, and it is only now I am able to get my last review for the year in place. I am a firm believer of the philosophy better late than never. Perhaps more applicable here than elsewhere in my life because I have a habit of always running behind on my review schedule.
My book list for 2021 veered in the direction of picking up older Harlequin romances to read because, at the cost of repeating myself, modern watered down versions of the heroes that I come across in books these days just makes me itch, and not in a good way at all. I feel bereft of the emotions that would otherwise run gamut through me when authors just get it all right, with a hero who is brusque, taciturn, and all those qualities that we hate to love and love to hate.
Miranda Lee in this way, is an author whose books teeter on 50-50 line; I either love them or am meh about them. Luckily, this one too passed muster, and I had an enjoyable time with the journey that was 34 year old Vaughan Slater and 24 year old Carolyn McKensie take to their happily ever after.
The story begins with Carolyn sending off her newly wedded mother on her honeymoon cruise, with a promise to her stepfather that she would do what was needed to ensure that their new home was ready to move into upon their return. However, Carolyn gets the shock of her life when she finds out that the architect hired by her stepfather is none other than Vaughan, who basically destroyed her mother all those years ago.
Carolyn’s mother raises her as a single parent, with her father having died even before she was born. All of that had caught up with her mother when Carolyn was fourteen years old, and since then, Carolyn had acted more as a mother than vice versa. Carolyn being fiercely protective of her mother is not ready to forgive and forget what Vaughan is responsible for; having seduced and discarded a woman who was much older than him.
Carolyn’s helpless reaction to the magnetism that Vaughan exudes is however the nail on the coffin so to speak, and even though she is determined not to give in, it proves too much of a challenge to turn away from the heat, especially with Vaughan feeling the same way. Consequently, the attraction between them gives way to passion of the kind that innocent Carolyn had never known, and before she knows it, her heart too is on the line.
But there looms dark clouds on the horizon, casting gloomy shadows on her newfound happiness that is all too fragile, especially when Carolyn has a hard time reconciling with the version of the events that Vaughan stands by and won’t let her shy away from. With Carolyn torn between the man who makes her senses reel and her heart soar, and her mother for whom she would practically do anything for, it is up to Carolyn to gather her courage and face the music, whatever tune it may be playing when all is said and done.
While I found Carolyn a bit tiresome at certain points, overall, I understood where she was coming from. I too would probably have been a bundle of nerves if I were in her place, believing that I have to choose between the love of my life and my own mother who sacrificed her youth to bring me up. That is a tough place to be in.
I loved Vaughan, for being as determined to make Carolyn stand up for what she wants, for giving her that needed push to step out of her comfort zone, without which she would probably have made the wrong choice and ended up being miserable, bitter, and lonely for the rest of her life.
Recommended for fans of Miranda Lee and fans of Harlequin romances.
Final Verdict: A Daughter’s Dilemma delves into what it is like to be caught between a rock and a hard place; it takes courage of the kind not many of us can muster to make that leap of faith.
For a few seconds longer he stared down at her. ‘Let’s see if I can’t help you make up your mind…’ And his mouth slowly descended.
How long later did it lift again? A minute? Two?
Carolyn had no idea, for instantly those soft sensual lips claimed hers she was catapulted into a world so erotic and exciting that all coherent thought rocketed to a distant planet. She clung to him, her lips parting soundlessly beneath the increasing pressure of his, letting his tongue slide forward into her mouth, letting him arouse her with it to a pitch she would never have believed possible from a kiss. The blood began swimming in her head and wave upon wave of heat flooded up through her body. When her knees threatened to buckle from under her, she slid her arms up tightly around his neck, her small hard breasts pressed flat against his wet chest.
Carolyn bit her bottom lip against the tumultuous pleasure he immediately evoked, her knuckles whitening around the railing as she felt him gradually work his way back down her body. Surely he didn’t mean to…to…
When he passed her navel, every internal muscle she owned contracted and held tightly. Her lips parted, as though ready for protest. But no protest came from her lips when he finally reached his destination. No protest at all. Only a shuddering sigh of sheer ecstasy. ‘Oh, yes,’ she moaned. ‘Yes…’
For a split second Carolyn felt a thrilling moment of peaking, of being suspended. And then she was spun into a wild avalanche of sensation that shattered her completely, the experience impossible to fully capture in words or even memory. Its sharpness caught at her breath, then forced sounds from her lips, soft sensual cries somewhere between sighs and moans. Her head tipped back, her lips panting apart, her back bending like a bow from the bed as she felt her flesh convulsing around Vaughan’s, felt her woman’s pull on his body, urging him to a mutual release.
When it came Carolyn was stunned, thinking the pleasure she’d just experienced was impossible to surpass. But nothing could eclipse the emotional and physical satisfaction of holding Vaughan and feeling him climax deep within her.
‘Tell me you love me too,’ he urged. ‘I want to hear you say it.’
Her heart leapt, but instinct warned her not to admit to such a thing. ‘No,’ she panted. ‘No…’
He muttered something and resumed his slow, steady rhythm, taking her inexorably towards the moment when will-power would cease to exist, when there was nothing but her body and his, teetering on the brink of ecstasy.
At this most crucial moment, Vaughan stopped once again, bringing a cry of sharp need from her gasping lungs. Her nails dug deeply in his back and her body urged him desperately to continue.
‘Tell me you love me, dammit,’ he demanded, holding her still beneath him in an iron grip.
She whipped her head from side to side till he captured her mouth with his own, grinding her head back into the soft pillow with a savage kiss.
‘Say it!’ he gasped when his mouth finally burst from hers. ‘Dear God, just say it this once!’
She was moved, more by the desperate note in his voice than his violent kiss, or the sexual edge on which she was hanging.
‘I love you,’ she cried huskily. ‘I’ve loved you all along.’
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Genre: Contemporary Romance
Hero: Michael Angellini
Heroine: Salome Twynan
Date of Publication: March 25, 1994
Started On: December 13, 2021
Finished On: December 17, 2021
A Date with Destiny by Miranda Lee is a category romance that was first published in 1994. The story begins when 24 year old Salome Twynan discovers that her ex-husband had once again added another item to her divorce settlement; a penthouse unit at McMahon’s Point. Salome had married young, at the age of nineteen to a 49 year old man, who had warned her that people would talk, judge, and slander her reputation upon their marriage. Salome had gone into the marriage with her eyes wide open, let her husband mold her into what he wanted, and when the divorce had come out of nowhere, Salome is devastated, and having tried and failed to see her ex-husband to get answers to the questions she has being futile slides her further into a depressive state.
When Salome turns up at the penthouse, she discovers that her neighbor is none other than Michael Angellini (Mike), one of Sydney’s most eligible bachelors, the wealthy owner of an exclusive Italian restaurant that Ralph had taken Salome to on many occasions during the course of their marriage. From the onset of their introduction, Salome and Mike had rubbed each other the wrong way, and the hostility had often meant Mike ignoring her or giving her scathing glances while Salome tried her utmost to be more flirty and appreciative of her husband in his presence.
Needless to say, the knowledge that Mike is going to be right next door is not information that settles well with Salome, especially when she discovers that underneath all her hostility lies recognition of Mike’s vitality as a man and the need he rouses in her. Salome has her hangups about casual sex which drives her up the wall when it comes to admitting to the fact that she indeed finds Mike desirable to the point of distraction.
I found the love that unfolded between Mike and Salome to be an entertaining, sweet, and sexy journey with a bit of angst tossed into the mix. It is apparent from Mike’s behavior that he finds Salome just as desirable, and would like nothing better than for Salome to give in for them to reach the height of their mutual pleasure in each other. But Salome is a stubborn as well as a reluctant heroine (but not to the point where it becomes annoying), and Mike has his work cut out for him in trying to make her see that for him, there is no other.
Recommended for those who love books by Miranda Lee.
Final Verdict: Intense heat and good characterizations renders A Date with Destiny to be a wonderful read!
‘You don’t want me to stop, do you?’ he said hoarsely.
‘No,’ she admitted, her voice shaking. ‘No…’
His raw groan stunned her. Clearly, he wanted her almost as much as she wanted him. Maybe he had always wanted her. No, no, a dim memory refuted. That’s not so. He said that wasn’t so.
His next kiss obliterated any further thought, and this time his mouth contained nothing but uncontrollable passion, a taking rather than a tempting. Salome met him halfway, their tongues joining together in a violently sensuous mating that could only be eclipsed in one way.
She could hear his breathing, as heavy and ragged as her own, hear his dark mutterings as he began working on the buttons of her jacket and blouse, then the tie at her neck. Cool air suddenly caressed bare breasts, a rash of goose-bumps temporarily sobering her. For a split second the appalling truth of what she was allowing came home to Salome but, before she could react, Mike’s mouth moved across her breasts and closed over one single, straining nipple.
A moan was torn from deep in her throat, the fingers of both her hands curling over to dig into her palms. ‘Oh, God!’ she whimpered. She jammed her fists down beside her on the case, but this only served to give her a lever with which to arch her back further upwards, pushing her flesh deeper and deeper into his mouth. Her head swam with dizzying pleasure, the blood in her veins surging hotly through her body.
‘What is it?’ Mike said sharply.
She expelled the breath she had been holding in a trembling gasp. ‘Nothing…nothing…’
‘Tell me,’ he urged, and drew her to him in a breathtakingly close embrace, his lips pressed feverishly to her forehead. ‘What is it that frightens you so about me? Why didn’t you want to let me finish making love to you earlier on? Why?‘
She shook her head frantically from side to side. ‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ she whispered hoarsely. ‘I can’t! It’s all too confusing.’
‘What’s confusing?’ he insisted, little knowing that the hot, stroking hands on her hair, her neck, her back, were the most confusing of all, because they kept bringing wave after wave of sensation that was slowly obliterating her capacity to reason. Surely she wouldn’t feel like this in any other man’s arms, would she? It didn’t seem possible. Yet…if it was only Michael Angellini who could do this to her, then what was it exactly she felt for him? Sexual infatuation? Obsession? Lust?
Salome refused to embrace the word ‘love’. Even if her feelings for Ralph had finally begun to die, her bruised, battered heart wasn’t ready, or capable, of loving another man yet, and certainly not a man who had nothing but contempt for her. Perhaps she was acting this way out of some sort of crazed revenge against the hurt perpetrated by her husband. Perhaps this was a rebound thing. She didn’t know any more.
‘Everything’s confusing,’ she groaned. ‘Me… this…you…’
She moaned her frustration and frantically pushed him away, ‘No, no!’ she cried.
He staggered back off the end of the bed, getting to his feet and staring down at her with eyes both wild and incredulous. ‘You must be mad! There’s no stopping now. No changing your mind. Look at me!’ And, with a single savage yank, he stripped off his pyjama-trousers, striking her speechless with the stark evidence of his desire.
Salome had never looked quite so blatantly at an aroused man before, certainly not one as well-endowed as Mike. Colour burnt in her cheeks, her heart thudding beneath her breasts. ‘I haven’t changed my mind,’ she burst forth, then hesitated, finding it hard to find the words. ‘I was wanting you. You!’ she cried. ‘Not…anything less…’
Finally he gasped away from her mouth and pressed hot lips to the smooth skin of her shoulder, the pulsating vein at the base of her throat, his hands running up and down the sides of her body. Her own hands were caressing the muscles in his back, but dug sharply inwards when he grabbed her hips, lifting them from the bed and thrusting even more deeply into her. Quite instinctively, her inner muscles squeezed tightly around his throbbing hardness, gripping and releasing him in a relentless rhythm. Any moment now…
There was a split second when she seemed to balance on a sharp edge, when her breathing stopped, and every muscle in her body strained to an aching stop. She heard him gasp for breath, felt his hands tightening around her. Then, with one final surge, he set them both free, and their mutual cries of release echoed in the night.
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Bellinger Sisters, #1
Hero: Brendan Taggart
Heroine: Piper Bellinger
Date of Publication: July 13, 2021
Started On: November 28, 2021
Finished On: December 14, 2021
It Happened One Summer, the debut book in the Bellinger Sisters series by Tessa Bailey features two main protagonists who are the complete opposite of each other, the journey they travel towards finding their other half in one another making for an enjoyable read.
The story begins with 28 year old Piper Bellinger being dumped by her current boyfriend in the midst of a party, a nightmare for someone like Piper who lives for the likes and comments on social media profiles. Piper considers her career to be partying and being seen in the right places. Her stepfather being loaded enough for her to afford the lifestyle she leads means that Piper had never really grown up, nor had she ever felt the need to.
Her delayed reaction to the breakup however turns out to be the last straw for her stepfather, and with the need to teach her a lesson driving him, Piper is “exiled” to her father’s hometown in Westport for three months. While everyone (including herself) expects her to fail to live up the requirements of her stay in Westport, Piper has no other avenues to turn to and it is thus she and her sister Hannah find themselves in the town where their deceased father is a revered hero of sorts, the last man of the Westport crew to die while hunting the almighty king crab on the Bering Sea.
From the instance that Piper walks into the bar which her her father owns the deed to, she clashes with Brendan Taggart, a man who seems to engulf her every sense from the get go. As a seaman and captain of Della Ray, the wheel of which he had taken over from his father-in-law, Brendan is a man who is a stickler for routine, never straying from his tight schedules and the regimented lifestyle which keeps him grounded. But all of that is shaken up by none other than Piper, who for the first time in seven long years makes him want to move on from his revered status as a widower.
While Brendan is a bit grumpy and gives Piper attitude at first, all of that changes with the realization of the extensive nature of his burgeoning feelings towards Piper. The lady herself, who has never really even considered putting down roots in a place other than a vibrant city with a nightlife to beckon her, finds herself swayed by the quaint charm that is small town life, where without even realizing, she makes herself an integral part of the small community.
But then again, the past has a way of rearing its ugly head when its least wanted, and that is exactly what happens, giving the story a healthy dose of angst to make things more well rounded towards the final stretch.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Piper and Brendan, each being unique and refreshing in a way that made them easily earn their rightful place in my heart. Queen of Smut, aka Ms. Bailey definitely delivers on THAT front, leaving readers with their scorched e-readers to contend with when all is said and done. Watching Piper embrace the wholesome version of herself was an added bonus which I loved!
I am definitely looking forward to the next installment in the series which is set to hit the book stands on the first of next month. No time like the present to get your hands on this one!
Final Verdict: With It Happened One Summer, Ms. Tessa Bailey weaves a complex character-driven story full of heart and the best kind of smut, rendering this unputdownnable!
One second he was holding the toolbox, the next it was on the ground and he was turning. Piper’s momentum brought her up against Brendan’s body, hard, and his boat captain forearm wrapped around her lower back, lifting her just enough that her toes brushed the concrete. And then he bowed her backward on that steel arm, stamping his mouth down onto hers in an epic kiss. It was like a movie poster, with the male lead curling his big, hunky body over the swooning, feminine lady and taking his fill.
What was she thinking? Her brain was clearly compromised—and it was no wonder. The mouth that found hers was tender and hungry, all at once. Worshipful, but restraining an appetite like she’d never encountered. As soon as their lips connected and held, her fingers curled into the neck of his T-shirt, and that arm at the small of her back levered her upright, flattening the fronts of their bodies, and oh God, he just devoured her.
That big body swayed closer, lines of strain appearing around his mouth. “Please . . .”
“You don’t have to beg,” Piper said, bringing the champagne flute to her breasts, tipping the glass and letting the champagne trickle out over one nipple, then the next, and Brendan started to pant. “Not for something we both want. Touch me, Brendan. Taste me. Please?”
“Christ, I have to.” He traced his mouth to her left nipple, pressed his bared teeth against it, before rubbing his tongue against the stiff bud, yanking her hips forward, the move arching her back so she had to use his hair for balance, taking two big handfuls. Her mouth was in an O, watching him savor her, manhandle her body. No games. Just need.
He stared hard at her juncture, the grip on her knees flexing, a curse issuing unsteadily from his mouth. “Yeah, I have to be an idiot leaving you without my attention for two weeks.”
She panted. “Are you calling me high maintenance?”
“Are you denying it?” He tugged aside the strip of material shielding her core, which thankfully she’d waxed clean as a whistle right before leaving LA. “Fuck me. You can be as high maintenance as you want, honey. But I’m the only one who does the maintenance.” He ran his thumb down the seam of her sex. “Understood?”
Piper nodded, as if in a trance.
His lips ghosted up her inner thigh, blunt fingers hooking in the sides of her panties. “Lift up,” he rumbled, nipping at her sensitive skin with his teeth. “Want them off.”
Oh great. His voice could get even deeper? It resonated all the way up to her clit, and she fell back on her elbows, inching her hips up enough for Brendan to peel the thong down her legs. She watched this man, who grew more exciting by the moment, expecting him to drop the underwear on the floor. He wrapped the thin black material around his shaft instead, pressing his mouth and nose up against her wetness, groaning as he choked himself up and down in a tight fist.
“Holy . . .” Piper breathed, momentarily blacking out.
“See this, baby?” He rubbed his mouth side to side, parting the damp folds of her femininity, that hand jerking roughly between his thighs. “You’re still getting me off, too.”
He all but fell on her, his face landing in the crook of her neck, his fist positioning his stiffness between her thighs, right over that uber-sensitive flesh. “One day soon, Piper, I’m going to fuck you so goddamn hard.” He alternated between dragging his swollen tip through her saturated folds and stroking himself. “Going to fuck the word ‘friend’ right out of your beautiful mouth. You’ll forget how to say anything but my name. Real quick, honey.”
Her clit hummed again, unbelievably, and that buzz of connection, of more promised pleasure had to be the reason she turned her head slightly, whispering in his ear, “Promise?”
With a strangled growl of her name, he hit his peak, shooting moisture onto her belly, his hand moving in a blur, his teeth bared against the side of her throat. “Piper. Piper.”
The moment their mouths collided, Brendan knew he’d made a mistake. He should have waited to kiss her until they were home in his bed, because the uncertainty of the last eleven days reared back and punched him. It did the same to Piper—he could feel it.
She gave a broken moan and opened her sweet mouth for him, her breath coming in short pants almost immediately, just like his. He’d barely slid his tongue between her lips when she gripped his shoulders, drew herself high against his chest, and slung her legs around his waist. And Jesus, he’d already been halfway to hard, but his cock surged against his fly now, swelling like a motherfucker when she settled the warm give of her sex on top of him, the drag of friction making him curse. Making him wish they were anywhere but a hospital hallway, half an hour from his house.
Lips seeking and wet, their kiss escalated to the point of no return again. They both wrestled with the waistband of her yoga pants, shoving them down past her hips, lower until she could kick them away. And then she was back to climbing him, her lithe thighs skimming up to his waist, his hips punching forward to get his cock up against her softness, pinning her to the wall in the process.
“Noticed we didn’t have to get any panties off,” he said in between kisses, finding her incredible ass with both hands and kneading her buns almost angrily, because Jesus, this thing drove him fucking crazy. “You drive here in my truck with a bare pussy, Piper?”
She bit his bottom lip, tugged. “Slept in your bed with it, too.”
“This bed isn’t strong enough to survive what I’m going to do to you,” Brendan growled against her mouth, capturing her lips again in a kiss fraught with male sexual frustration. It let her know in no uncertain terms that she was the source and he’d be exacting revenge.
Take it. Take it.
Without breaking contact with her mouth, Brendan’s hand wedged down between them and wrestled his zipper down, the desperation of his jerky movements exciting her like nothing else, dampening the folds between her legs. “Hurry,” she begged, biting at his lips. “Hurry.”
“Goddammit, Piper, you make me so fucking hard.”
“Tell me you’re wet. Tell me to put it in.”
“I’m so wet,” she moaned, lifting her hips, running the insides of her knees up and down his heaving rib cage. “I’m ready. I need you. Rough as you can.”
That full, smooth dome pressed up against her entrance, and she braced, one hand flying to his shoulder, the other to the wooden bunk rail. And still she wasn’t prepared for the savagery of that first thrust. With a hoarse roar, his hips drove Piper up the narrow bed, his thickness invading all available space within her, and without allowing her time to acclimate, he was already pumping feverishly, rocking the bed with staccato squeaks.
“Brendan,” she gasped. Then louder, “Brendan. You’re so good. It’s so good.”
“I’ll never lie in this bed again without having to jerk off.” His hand came up to frame her jaw, applying just enough pressure while looking her square in the eye that another rush of wetness coated her sex, aiding him in his destruction of her senses. “You love knowing that, don’t you? You love making me fucking crazy.”
She bit her lip and nodded. “Sure you want to be my boyfriend?”
“Yes,” he growled, and slammed into her, holding still, deep, his pained face dropping into the crook of her neck. “And don’t call me that right now or I’m going to come.”
Oh. Jesus. That confession sent a contracting ripple through Piper’s core, and she let out a strangled sob, her hands flying to Brendan’s ass inside his loosened jeans, fingernails sinking in and yanking him, scraping pathways into his flesh. “Oh my God. N-now. Now.”
She was panting as he rose, dropped his chest down onto her back and pushed his cock inside of her still-contracting pussy. “Mine,” he gritted, the tightness of her cinching his balls up painfully, firing every ounce of his blood with possessiveness. “I’m taking what’s mine now.”
A movement ahead of them on the bed reminded Brendan of the mirrored headboard, and he almost came, caught off guard by the erotic sight of her slack jaw and tits that bounced along with every pump of his hips. His body loomed behind her, damn near twice her size, his lips peeled back from his teeth like he might very well devour her whole.
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Beyond Bondage Series, #1
Hero: James Hunter
Heroine: Charlotte Bell
Date of Publication: November 30, 2015
Started On: August 10, 2021
Finished On: November 25, 2021
Degrees of Control by Eve Dangerfield is a novel first published in 2015. The story begins with Charlotte Bell attending her friend Sophia’s “low-key” engagement party, where her friends are trying to hook her up with a man who would understand needs of a closeted submissive such as Charlotte and deliver her from the bad breakup that has left a mark on her.
Charlotte is sort of biding her time until she has saved enough to return to Australia where she is from. The decision to follow her ex-boyfriend to America had turned out to be one that was foolhardy in hindsight, with Dale having subjected her to unwarranted jealousy which had only escalated over time for no good reason.
When James Hunter walks into the party, every single cell inside of Charlotte goes on red alert. Even with all her friends warning her that James is the kind of man-whore that she should steer clear from, the need that he rouses in her is all too great to be ignored.
Even though Charlotte knows that James and herself are as ill-matched as can be, the fact that neither of them are looking for anything long-term works at first. James makes reality of every sexual fantasy that she has harbored and makes the submissive in her crave the dominant in him all the more. But when emotions come to the forefront, it is a challenging road that is ahead for both, with Charlotte trying to understand the complexity behind the man that James is, so that they might at least have a shot of making things more longer term.
I loved Degrees of Control and thoroughly enjoyed the dynamics between Charlotte and James. Ms. Dangerfield is a master at delivering scorching hot scenes of passion, while at the same leaving us with tantalizing bits thought provoking elements that makes her books the stellar reads they are.
I fell in love with Charlotte and James from the onset – what is there not to love about a heroine who is kind, gorgeous, and smart, and a hero who is an alpha-hole of the best kind, who I knew would break my heart and patch it all up before all was said and done?
Recommended for those who love psychological depth with their smut! This one certainly delivers!
Final Verdict: With the perfect balance of panty-melting variety of kink and emotional depth with heart, Degrees of Control is a character-driven page-turner!
His thumb brushed over her clit and the whole world tipped sideways, a surge of energy burst at her center and her hips bucked against his stroking fingers. “James!”
Another dark chuckle. “Oh honey, you’re gonna feel so good around my cock.”
Charlie came then, she couldn’t help it, and as she came, she screamed.
“I love that look on your face,” he said. “All nervous but so fuckin’ eager, like you’re gonna cream your panties the second I lay a hand on you.”
He strode toward her and Charlie felt herself shrink beneath his much larger presence. James’ smirk grew wider. He pushed a strand of hair from her eyes, letting his hand linger on her neck. At his touch, she did indeed feel an answering clench in her cunt, sparks flickering deep within her belly. She pressed her thighs together, taking pleasure in the ache.
It was worth coming for this, just to know this kind of doomsday lust exists.
“Now the skirt.”
Charlie didn’t think she’d ever felt this exposed. Her hands lurched up to her hair, stroking it nervously before she reached for the fastener at the back of her pencil skirt. His hazel eyes bore into hers as he rubbed a palm across the front of his jeans, stroking the bulge that lay below. Charlie let Holly’s skirt pool around her ankles. Her panties were cheap but new. She hadn’t wanted to wear anything for him that she’d ever worn for Dale. James stared at the ornate love heart woven into her pink bikini briefs and she saw something wild flicker in his eyes.
“Turn around,” he snarled.
She did what she was told, her feet swaying slightly in the pumps.
“You wanna come, Charlotte?”
He ran his thumb over her swollen clit and Charlie almost choked on her tongue. “Yes.”
“Go on then, girl, come on me.”
That was all she needed. She rubbed her pussy on him, slick and insistent until warm, blessed orgasm surged over her like a tidal wave. She whimpered, welcoming the oblivion, and James seized her hips and sank her down on his length.
She writhed against his shaft, sunk so deep his pubic hair brushed against her engorged clit. As her inner muscles strained to accommodate him, her orgasm plateaued, igniting the tangled webs of nerves deep inside herself so that she shuddered and moaned. James smirked like a blond Satan. “Feel good, sweetheart? Good as you hoped?”
“Y-you tricked me, I wasn’t ready—”
He leaned closer, the position a million times more intense with his cock buried inside her. “Darlin’, you’ve been ready since you showed up in those fuck-me heels. Now be a good girl and get on your hands and knees.”
James’ hazel eyes closed, his hands clasped her hips. “Oh that’s so good, honey, ride me. Ride my dick.”
James’ head was thrown back and the line of his jaw was sharp as a blade. He was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen, she realized. Powerful and wild as the stallion on his ribs. James groaned, a strangled desperate sound. “Jesus, Charlotte, your pussy’s so goddamn tight, I’m gonna come.”
He seized a handful of her hair, driving himself against her. The brutality of his thrusts made her scrape her nails down his chest.
“Fuckin’ hell, I’m there. I’m fuckin’ there.” James went rigid, his hands biting into her hips, and he cursed long and loud as his cock pulsed inside her.
“Say something,” she whispered. “Please, say something.”
James lowered his mouth to her ear. “Scream my name, slut, scream it while you come on daddy’s dick.”
With a gush of slick warmth, her pussy convulsed around him. Her bound hands banged against the floor as she screamed his name so loudly, his ears rang. He slowed his pace, giving her a chance to recover.
Charlotte smiled and kissed his neck, his collarbone, any part of him she could get her mouth on. Gentle kisses that somehow got his motor running again. His balls tightened, the pressure built in his cock, but still he couldn’t get over the edge. James swore softly, plunging deeper and faster into her cunt. Charlotte’s eyes found his. She had a freckle inside her right iris, James realized, like an island floating in a sea of blue.
“It’s all right, James.” She sounded so quiet, so sure. “It feels so good, I promise. Come inside me. Come inside me. Let me feel you.”
She pressed her lips to his mouth and everything inside him clenched. At long, long last his climax tore through him like a tornado and all the tension in his body drained out of his balls.
Without breaking their eye contact she drew him back into her mouth. This time his shaft was slick and her lips slid down with ease.
Charlie pulled back until only her lips were pressed against the head of his cock, like a bizarrely chaste first-date kiss.
“God, darlin’, that mouth of yours…”
She drove down again, as deep as she could get without choking, gripping the base with one hand and stroking his tight sac with the other.
He ploughed into her with short, sharp thrusts, satisfying himself with her flesh. The warmth between their bodies was oppressive and her orgasm seemed to swell in the pressure, blowing out like an overheated balloon.
“Oh God, James, James, James.”
“You’re gonna cream, aren’t you, bitch?”
Charlie had never been so sure of anything. He could pull out and leave her empty and she’d still come.
James chuckled. “Even when I use you like a blow-up doll, you get off. Know why that is, Charlotte?” He whispered the words in her ear like it was a childhood secret, like a prayer. “Because you’re my whore.”
Charlie screamed so loud the sound ate up the world. James pumped, once, twice, three times, then went rigid behind her, swearing like a sailor. They shuddered like animals, riding out their climaxes until they were both completely drained.
“Hey there,” he said, smirking like the arrogant prick he was.
Didn’t he know he was ruining her with that lazy, insolent smile, with his tight abs and broad chest and his stupid square-jawed face? Who would she want to date after this? Who would ever want to be compared to him? He opened his mouth, possibly to offer another pointless greeting, and Charlie threw herself on him. She kissed him in punishment for making her wait this long, for destroying her chances of being content with some middling nice guy. She kissed the arrogant look right off his face.
Soon she forgot everything except the feel of his lips against hers. His hands drew her forward and she eagerly clambered into his lap. They consumed each other, rocking slightly in his office chair until she hoped that by “lunch” James meant “a covet fuck against my desk.”
“If I was you, I’d be coming right now, instead of bored.” His blasé attitude was somewhat undermined by the small wet stain seeping through the front of his briefs.
Charlie pulled his underwear halfway down his hard thighs. “We’ll see how boring I am, Mr. Hunter.”
She examined him, stroking lightly over his blood-swollen cock, and when his dick pulsed in her hands, she bent forward to trace every last pulsing vein with her tongue. Slowly.
“I know what you want, girl, and it’s not happening,” James warned.
“What’s not happening?”
“I ain’t gonna beg. You can tease me as much as you want and I’m just gonna lie here, silent as the grave.”
“Baby, I’m gonna go off. Come up here and sit on my face.”
“Please,” James said with what appeared to be the utmost sincerity. “Please, honey, I need to make you come. Put that pussy down on my face. I’ll stay tied up, I just have to get you off. Please.”
Charlie hesitated. “I’ll taste like lube from the condom…”
“I don’t give a fuck. I’ll do anything, Charlotte, just…please?”
She couldn’t battle her submissive urges any longer, she scrambled up the bed and positioned her legs on either side of his head.
“Fuck yeah.” James arched his neck and eagerly drew his tongue through her cunt. The noise he made, like a starving man tasting chocolate, turned her skin white-hot. “That’s it, girl, don’t move a fucking muscle. Lemme take care of you.”
She threw her head back so far her body was an arch, rutting her hips against his talented mouth. He sucked her harder, urging every last vibration out of her climax. When she finally pulled away, there was no trace of arrogance on James’ face, no cocky sense of achievement. “Get on me. Get on my dick right now.”
She climbed down his bound body and drew him inside her tingling, tortured flesh. He was close, she could feel it. She clamped herself around him and the aftershocks from her first climax throbbed to life.
“Use me, Charlotte.” James’ voice was harsh. “Ride my fucking cock.”
He’d opened his door on Tuesday night to find Charlotte in a trench coat. She removed it to reveal an outfit that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a pole dancer; black stockings, a tiny, ruffled skirt and a sheer, black corset. The sight of her sweet face contrasted by such slutty underwear completely blindsided him. Before he knew what was happening, Charlotte was on her knees, unbuckling his belt and giving him the slowest, hottest blowjob he could ever remember getting. She’d sucked him lightly, running her tongue down his shaft and over his sac so slow he could feel the come surging up his shaft. In the final throes, she’d wet a fingertip and sunk it in his ass. He’d come so hard sparks had popped behind his eyes.
She walked toward her bedroom with legs that felt like jelly. Rummaging through her lingerie she selected ruffled cream panties and a sheer babydoll negligee that cupped her breasts and flowed down to her hips like the world’s most inappropriate dress. Figuring she’d go all out, she applied lipstick and mascara and slipped on her black Mary Jane shoes. She inspected herself quickly in the mirror.
Nothing like a troll doll. Good.
When she emerged into the kitchen, James’ mouth flattened into a straight line. He beckoned her closer, eyes cataloguing every detail. As much as Charlie wanted his mouth to fall open, she’d learned that the more potent James’ reaction to her body was, the more it looked like anger. When he’d opened the door to find her in stripper clothes, he looked like he wanted to punch a hole in the wall.
“James, can you hold me down?”
“Anything you want. Anything.”
He seized her delicate wrists and pulled them over her head, pinning them with one hand. Charlotte’s inner muscles clamped around him, as though she was determined to draw the come up from his balls.
“Oh Lord. Tell me you’re close, sweetheart?”
Her eyes were wild. Desperate. “I’m so close, please keep going. I need you.”
I need you.
The words went straight to his dick, filling him with a strange spiraling warmth.
She pushed him onto his back and he let her, kissing her breasts as they went over. He felt her wet heat kiss the top of his dick and moaned.
“I swear, we don’t have to do this, baby.” He searched her eyes for reservation. There was none. Pushing aside any last doubts, James flexed his hips and slid himself inside her hot, bare cunt.
Oh my fucking God.
He wanted to die. He wanted to live and die in Charlotte’s pussy. She was warmer and tighter than anything he’d ever imagined, her wetness enveloping him in ways that felt both physical and not.
“Stay. Finish with me like this.”
She moved against him in short sweet strokes, her hair tumbling around her shoulders. The words he couldn’t say before tumbled out. “You’re so fucking beautiful, Charlotte. I love this, I love your body.”
Her response was to reach down and kiss him, pressing her entire body along his chest and bathing him in her scent. He sank back into the floor, dissolving into pure sensation. What they were doing was a million miles from fucking. It was that whiskey-warm feeling he’d gotten from taking her under the covers in her bedroom amplified to a thousand-fold. Every pressure point from his jaw to his toes was tingling.
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Hero: Matthew Connelly
Heroine: Jeannie MacPherson
Date of Publication: November 1985
Started On: November 14, 2021
Finished On: November 20, 2021
Rocky Road by Anne Stuart is a novel that was first published in 1985 from Harlequin. Republished recently on major e-book platforms, from the queen of romance who can seldom do wrong, comes the story of 40 year old Matthew Connelly, head of the detective squad of the Chicago police force and 33 year old Jeannie MacPherson, who is running from her own demons of a totally different variety.
When Jeannie tries the neighborly tactic of trying to welcome Matthew to Muscatoon Island where she has been residing in for the past two years, Jeannie is met with resistance of the kind that speaks of a man wanting to be left alone. Posing as a painter, but recovering from both physical and emotional wounds from the last case that Matthew was working on, he is determined that he would keep to himself through his recovery, even if Jeannie tempts him otherwise.
How these two tangle is quite invigorating at times, but ultimately, the story turned out to be a frustrating one for me. I always felt as if Jeannie was the one who was doing all the chasing and wooing when it comes to Matthew. Matthew is one of the most reluctant heroes I have come across of late and he made me grit my teeth from frustration because of his obstinate nature and with his emotions under control at every turn.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a controlled hero – to a point. A controlled hero is no fun unless the heroine has the effect of unraveling him and smashing through that iron clad will. But Matthew seems to be made of sterner stuff than most, and while I am all for heroines who choose to assert themselves and go after what they want, I found her ploys to get noticed by Matthew, while hilarious, to be a tad desperate at times.
Perhaps I would have been more appeased, had she cut her losses and removed herself from the situation that she found herself in and let Matthew come to her, when all was said and done. If he felt so deeply about her, that is something he could do as well in my opinion. Even the last scene does not really give the reader any sense of happiness if you ask me, because even towards the very end, the push and pull factor is controlled by none other than Matthew. In my opinion, Jeannie just settled for what Matthew was willing throw her way, because she was lost from the minute he limped into her life.
I would also have loved to learn more about Matthew’s past – the last case he worked on seemed to have done a number on him in every sense. I always felt as if Ms. Stuart had a purpose behind including tantalizing bits and pieces of the case, which perhaps could have been part of the larger plot, giving the story an edgier ending.
Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart who are looking to read her older books as refurbished titles.
Final Verdict: Rocky is the road that Jeannie travels when it comes to winning the affections of Matthew; there is no stone that she would leave unturned to win over her beloved!
He moved then, swiftly, gracefully, so fast that she couldn’t avoid him. “You forgot to kiss me good-bye,” he said, and pulled her into his arms, his mouth coming down on hers before she had a chance to duck.
One of his strong hands held the nape of her neck in a viselike grip, the other arm slid around her waist and pulled her up against him as he kissed her, a long, slow, erotic insult of a kiss. She’d opened her mouth to protest and he’d taken possession of it, with a deliberate, sexual kiss that brought her blood racing to her loins and flames of fury racing to her brain.
For a moment she forgot everything, forgot her doubts, her better judgment, her sense of self-preservation, and she twined her arms around his neck to kiss him back.
She was lost in the wonder of his mouth. In the dimness of the rocking cabin there was only the scent of his skin, the feel of his mouth, and the warm, wet, seeking pleasure of the mouth on hers. She wanted to get closer, closer to him; she wanted to climb inside his skin and kiss him from the inside out; she wanted to rip off her clothes and climb on top of him, to blot out the storm and her fears and her doubts and her loneliness that she never admitted existed. She wanted nothing but Matthew Connelly, and the demanding mouth on hers, the strong hands that were threading underneath her sweater to slide up her hot skin told her that he wanted her, too.
“Should I let you go?” His words came out on the breath of a sigh, and he was warm and strong and so very near.
“Yes,” she whispered, and raised her mouth to his, no longer able to fight it.
He wrapped her in his arms, pulling her into the haven of his body, and she went gladly, mindlessly, sinking against him with a sigh of pure delight. There was no question that this was dangerous and very wrong, no question that she was a fool. And no question that it no longer mattered. She kissed him, reaching up to him, and it was long and slow and deep, and finished the last shreds of common sense left to her. His tongue was hot and rough and wet in her mouth, bold and demanding, allowing her no pretensions. She couldn’t be kissed like that, return a kiss like that, and still pretend they weren’t headed directly for bed.
He was with her, the force of his thrusts pounding her into the bed, and the ancient springs creaked in protest, a protest they both ignored as she reached for him, with her arms, her hips, her heart and soul, dissolving against him in a damp tangle of arms and limbs and love.
“You aren’t going to get warm standing there glaring at me,” he observed.
Jeannie counted to ten mentally, then managed a smile as chilly as her icy flesh. “What do you suggest I do about it?” she demanded.
“You could come over here and get warm.”
She stared at him in amazement. “You think you could warm me Up?”
“Oh, I think between the two of us we could manage quite a conflagration,” he said, and the rough silk of his voice began to melt the ice around her heart. “Come here, Jeannie.”
Pride and common sense would have kept her rooted to her spot in the sand, but pride and common sense were at the bottom of the ocean.
She clung to him like a piece of rockweed clinging to a rocky shore, wrapping her arms and her body around him like tendril of kelp. Slowly the heat began to penetrate through her wet clothes, her salty skin, into her very bones, and then she was shivering with something other than cold, and he was shivering, too.
“I feel as if I’m kissing a mermaid,” he whispered against her ear.
She laughed against the solid warmth of his chest, a rusty, shaken sound. “You have been. Actually, I’m a siren, here to drown unsuspecting sailors.”
“But what if you can?” she said in a desperate whisper. “What if you can simply put it all behind you, forget about it?”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to do all summer, and so far I haven’t had much success.”
“But what if you could?” she persisted.
He looked down at her, lying against the pillows, her russet-colored hair black in the moonlight. “Then I’ll find you,” he said softly.
“And I’m expected to settle for that? A vague possibility?” Her voice wasn’t angry, only resigned and very, very sad.
“It’s all I can offer.”
She arched against him, the warmth in her turning into a fire. Her hands reached up to cradle his face, and she kissed him, long and deep, telling him without words how much she’d missed him, how much she loved him, how much she hated herself for hurting him. He answered her, his tongue a strong, driving force within the receptive warmth of her mouth, telling her he would never leave her again.
Slowly, carefully she let her hands slide down his arms, past his ribs, down the hard flatness of his stomach to touch him, hold him. His answering groan was reward enough, as he pressed himself into her willing hands, and she gentled and stroked him. His response was to delve deeper into her mysteries, the warm dampness of her telling him how much she needed him.
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Hero: Cullen Ayers
Heroine: Everly West
Date of Publication: October 14, 2021
Started On: November 07, 2021
Finished On: November 12, 2021
Previously published in the Tangled Sheets anthology as Spitfire, Burn for Me is the revised title with added content, released in October of last year. This is a dark romance and is not intended for readers who do not like heroes who push the boundaries beyond the popularly accepted limits in the genre.
32 year old Everly West is looking for a fresh start by seeking a teaching position at the Florence University. What had begun as part of Everly’s internship eight years back, requiring her to write an investigative piece on a local had ended up with a major human trafficking operation being uncovered, with George Ayers being convicted of the crime and sentenced to jail. The case had left its mark on Everly in a way that at times she herself cannot reconcile with.
Everly had spent the next eight years of her career trying to attain the same high to no avail. However, the staid teaching position that she takes up ends up being more than she bargained for, when on her first day of class, in walks 18 year old Cullen Ayers, the 10 year old boy now a grown man, whose life had irrevocably changed with his father being convicted.
Cullen’s hatred towards Everly is a palpable thing when they meet, with Cullen placing the blame on Everly’s shoulders for the shit show that his life had become since. Everly brings out the worst in him, the anger that he harbors is one that seethes, needing an outlet, a living being of sorts that resides in him refusing to be denied.
They say that there is a thin line between hatred and love, and perhaps that applies to the situation all too well. Because beneath all that anger, the attraction that simmers to life between Everly and Cullen is one that is like a live wire; touch it and you risk being burned.
What starts out for Cullen as a way to taunt Everly results in a passion that burns bright and hot between the two, and before Cullen knows it, Everly is in his blood, under his skin, and slowly making her way into his heart. For Everly, the fact that Cullen is her student and fourteen years younger are things that should matter, but she is tired of feeling like a dead woman walking, and with Cullen, she feels alive for the first time in years.
Burn for Me is not an easy read by any means. Cullen is a tough nut to crack, his hostility towards Everly reaching points of high where it almost feels like there is violence in the air that could do Everly physical harm. But Everly is no doormat heroine, and she gives as good as she gets, while seeing through to the belligerence that is part and parcel of who Cullen is.
But any fragile emotional bonds that is forged to life between the two is constantly under threat from the secrets that remain to be uncovered, with Everly ever so determined to get to the bottom of the story behind George Ayers, even if it means raising the ire of Cullen to new heights.
True to Sara Cate’s style, the story delivers a ton of angst, reverse age-gap protagonists, and heat of the kind that scorches your e-reader. I reveled in all of it and more, and applaud Ms. Cate for writing Cullen as he is; unapologetic, circumstances of life having molded him into a man hardened by life’s cruelties, but yearning for the touch of the one woman who drives him to the edge of violence over the possessiveness that takes hold of him.
Everly is a quieter force in the story, but just as potent. Cullen brings an edge to her life which she thrives in, the commanding way in which he treats her in the bedroom something that she has craved for, without even realizing the fact. All of this and more balances out their relationship, each giving the other what they need, which in the end made for a spellbinding read!
Recommended for those who love dark and edgy romances; Cullen is a force to be reckoned with in every single way!
Final Verdict: Cullen and Everly burns through the pages, scorching your fingertips, heart, and soul, leaving at times destruction in their wake, but always followed by love of the kind that is all consuming!
It occurs to me at that moment how much more I want to do with this new burst of energy—sick, twisted things I’ve never really thought about wanting before, and that thought has my cock getting surprisingly hard in my shorts.
“You belong to me now, Miss West. And if you even think about calling the police on me or telling Coach or the administration, you might as well slit your own throat because I won’t let you sleep a wink without wishing for death. Do we have an understanding?” I snap, my tone laced with hatred as I grit out each word.
Our eyes meet for a moment, and there is no more smug indignation in her eyes, just fear. Something passes between us. It’s subtle, and maybe I’m seeing something that’s not there, but it looks like fire in her eyes, like maybe I love this and she doesn’t hate it as much as she should. With her tear-soaked eyes still on mine, I force her mouth shut.
She whimpers again and does what she’s told.
“Good girl.” Then I wipe her tears with my thumb before shoving her away from me.
His mouth lands harshly on my lips. I’m too stunned to move. My hands are pressed against his chest, but not with enough force to actually push him off of me. In the recesses of my mind, I know if I really want him off, I can get away, but I don’t. I just let him kiss me.
His tongue slides between my lips, diving into my mouth like he owns me, and I guess at this point, he does. The metal on his tongue surprises me for a moment as it slides against mine. He lets out a low growl when the hand around my waist squeezes me closer, practically fusing my body with his.
“No, you are not my fucking mother, Everly. Don’t you ever compare yourself to my mother again. You will never be like her. She wasn’t a bitch like you.”
I let out a gasp and instantly try to pull away, but he grabs me hard by the back of the neck, squeezing so tightly that pain shoots all the way down my spine. “You’re hurting me,” I say with a whimper. Still, he doesn’t let up. Instead, he grabs my hand off the steering wheel and slams it against his crotch, and I lose the ability to breathe when I feel the rock-hard bulge in his shorts.
“Hurting you gets me hard, Everly. You see how fucked up I am?”
“What’s wrong, Everly? You’ve never heard of hate-sex? A revenge fuck. Angsty, depraved, and dirty as sin.”
My mouth goes dry, and I can’t respond.
“Is that what you want? Because that’s sure as fuck what I want, and that’s why that asshole will not touch you, understand?”
When his hands grip a handful of my hair, I shudder. Arousal warms my belly as he yanks my head backward. There was some reason why I shouldn’t do this.
The back of my skirt is lifted up to my ass as Cullen pushes his hips against mine, dry humping me from behind, and making me see stars with the way my arousal slams into me like a truck.
God, I want him to unzip his pants and just fuck me right here. I don’t even care that I could be caught, lose my job, and be in the headlines all over again, but for much worse reasons. I don’t care. The feel of his perfect cock entering me with force would be worth it. My body is on fire, flames licking at my belly as he grinds his impressive length against my ass.
“Fuck me,” I whisper, shamelessly. So fucking shamelessly. I should be the very definition of ashamed right now, but I’m not. I just don’t care.
“Cullen, please,” I beg, but he doesn’t give me what I crave. Instead, he teases me. Slipping his fingers through the folds, he slides a finger in roughly, making me cry out. Then, he pulls it out and spreads the moisture all over, pulling his hand out and touching his wet fingers to my lips.
“Taste yourself,” he whispers, and I do. It’s erotic and filthy and sends my heart racing, a strange new feeling sprouting in my stomach, like being turned on by something that also makes me feel wrong and dirty. It’s so much better.
“Show me now.”
With a hesitant expression on her face, she peels open her robe, giving me a view of her bra and panties before lowering the phone and spreading her knees. Peeling her thong aside, she aims the camera right at her beautiful pink pussy.
My breath comes out heavy and loud. “Touch it.”
“Cullen, no.” She’s putting up such a weak fight, it makes me laugh.
“Do it, Everly. I need to see you touch it.”
With the slightest huff, she obeys. Her fingers run through her lips, and I groan. I notice how her mouth opens, her breath hitching, and her eyes darkening in lust.
“Everly,” I whisper her name, the sound of it like satin on my lips.
Her heavily-hooded gaze stares back at me as she watches me stroke myself.
“I’m going to come soon,” she says in a high-pitched cry, and I bite my lip, loving the way her hand picks up speed and her chest stops moving.
“Come for me, baby,” I manage to groan out just as my balls tighten, the head of my cock swelling as my own orgasm rushes to the surface in a hurried chase.
He throws his bag into my trunk and drops into the seat next to me, but he doesn’t hesitate a moment before grabbing my face and pulling me to him for a bruising, violent kiss.
Time stops, and I let out a yelp just as he fuses his lips to mine. And he tastes good. Kissing Cullen is like visiting a private place all on your own, where there are no rules or witnesses. I don’t necessarily kiss him back, but when his tongue presses its way into my mouth, I let it. He nips at my lips as he consumes me, and I try to stop time. I don’t want to open my eyes and face his disdain for me anymore. I just want to exist in this kiss.
Her cheeks are flushed, her eyes hooded with lust, like it’s the only thought on her mind—need, want, lust. When we reach the master bathroom, she turns to flip on the shower before spinning back toward me to pull up my shirt.
It’s the first time she’s really taken control, letting herself express how much she wants me, and I like it. Everly wants me, and even though it’s not like she’s the first woman to want me, the attention warms a part of me that’s always felt cold and dead before.
While I’m staring at the mirror, she glides her hands along my abs and up to my pecs, skimming her fingers softly over my nipples, toying with the barbell through each one. And even though my skin is still covered in a thin sheen of sweat, she leans forward and kisses my chest.
A groan builds softly from the base of my chest, growing louder as her mouth finds my nipple and her teeth bite the piercing there.
Fuck, I’m not going to make it.
Spinning her around so her back is against me, I hold her tightly across the chest with one arm as I plunge my fingers in again. Writhing against me, she cries out as I stroke her relentlessly. I want her as close to coming as I can get her. Clutching onto my arm, she hangs from my hold as I zero in on her clit, rubbing it so hard I know she’s teetering somewhere between pain and pleasure.
“Cullen,” she gasps in a plea. She’s begging me for more.
My dick is pressed against her back, and I squeeze her closer. God, I want to fuck her so badly, but I can’t. I have to keep my head.
I put up a fight, crawling away, but he grabs me by the ankle, jerking me toward him. Letting out a scream laced with laughter, I push away from him, but he’s so much stronger than I am. Plus, I don’t really hate the idea of being at Cullen’s mercy, not anymore.
This thing between us has morphed from actual torment to superficial torment, like we’re playing the parts, fulfilling roles. He is my punisher, and I am welcoming my discipline.
He climbs onto the bed, covering my body with his. He wrestles my wrists from my chest and pins them above my head.
Looking into his eyes with a dare on my face, I say, “Don’t start something you can’t finish.”
He hears the challenge in my voice and smiles wickedly. “I don’t think you deserve to finish,” he growls, abruptly kissing my neck. His lips and teeth are both soft and rough, kissing and nibbling, making me squirm with the too-good and too-painful contradiction, which is really just Cullen in a nutshell, isn’t it? I want all of him and none of him at the same time.
He strokes my hair again.
He’s not forcing me, and I know I don’t have to, but I want to. So I lift my head and slowly pull down the elastic waistband of his pants and reach for his cock. I am not hurried or frantic as I slowly wrap my hand around him, watching his face for signs of pleasure when I squeeze. His eyes threaten to close as I stroke him once, then twice.
With my gaze on his, I shift closer, so I can run my tongue along his shaft. He moans and presses his fingers subtly against my head.
He wants more, and I want to give it to him.
I don’t even care that I’m not going to get off. I’ll do it just to watch the way he comes and to hear the sounds he makes as I unravel him piece by piece.
I don’t expect him to do what he does next, so I’m reaching for him when he drops to his knees and buries his face between my legs. The warmth of his wet mouth is intense, so intense, I let out a strangled cry as his tongue punches hard into me. It’s almost too much, but it’s him, and he’s touching me, and I let myself melt into that thought.
“Cullen,” I gasp, arching my back and burying my hands in his hair.
He moans, pressing his mouth harder against me, his tongue going deeper. Hooking his arms under my thighs, he practically fuses his lips to my body.
He’s on top of me in a heartbeat, devouring my mouth the way he was just devouring my sex, making me taste myself. Making me like it.
I feel his thick erection heavy on my belly as he kisses me. My eyes are squeezed shut, tears still streaming when I wrap my legs around him, inviting him in.
“You still want to fight me?” he mutters darkly against my mouth. “You still want to pretend you’re not mine?” When I try to shift my hips to meet his cock, he takes a hold of my face under my chin to keep me still. “Fucking open your eyes, Everly.”
Tell me you hate me now,” he grits out as he pulls back and slams in again. His hands clutch me hard, one behind my neck and the other around my waist.
“I hate you,” I whisper, as another batch of tears flow out of my eyes. I’m not sad or scared or hurt, but the intensity of the moment forces them out, and I can’t stop them now.
“I’m not used to relaxing around you.”
With my opposite hand, I grab a handful of her hair and pull her upright so my mouth is next to her ear. “Do you think I really want to hurt you?”
“You’re wrong. I want you to be my dirty little slut. I want to fuck your brains out and make you come so hard you see stars. Can I do that?”
She lets out a sweet little breath and nods. “Yes.”
“Come on, Cullen. You’re angry. Give me your anger. I can take it.”
His mouth slams against mine so hard, I’m sure it’ll bruise. It takes me by surprise, as he owns my mouth in a possessive, harsh kiss. Thrusting his tongue into my mouth, I remind my body to give up the fight, and he dominates me. I have to trust that he won’t take it too far. I have absolutely nothing to base that on, but I will do this for him.
When he bites my bottom lip, a shock of pain makes me panic, and I let out a whimper.
And he was right. It’s nothing like before. We’re not connecting on a deeper level or savoring the feel of each other. He’s fucking me hard without emotion.
No, there is emotion. It’s resentment and rage and dread. He’s fucking me in frustration, and like he said, this is for him, not me. Still, my body responds, purring under the almost violent, overwhelming motion of his thrusts.
“Harder,” I gasp before I catch myself. He picks up speed, filling the room with the sounds of our bodies slamming together. I don’t even cry out when sparks ignite every nerve in my body, throwing me into a silent fit of pleasure. I keep quiet, keeping my orgasm to myself.
Her back arches and she cries out. It’s a delicious sensation, but I need more. I need everything with her.
Kissing her collarbone, I lick up the water clinging to her skin from her neck to her earlobe. Every moment our bodies are fused makes me feel whole, like she is the piece I was missing.
“I want you to come inside me.” She tilts her hips, grinding herself on me. Her arms wrap around my neck, our lips pressed together as our bodies move in one fluid motion.
“Fuck, Everly…” I moan.
She pulls away from the kiss for a moment and stares up at me. “Give it to me, Cullen. Give me your pleasure.”
She winds her fingers in mine, clasping our hands firmly together as I thrust harder. When I feel myself shuddering and fighting it, she squeezes my hand even tighter.
With our mouths pressed together, I cry out, “I’m coming.” The climax spreads through my body, lasting forever as it clamps down and breaks me, shattering every fragment of who I am until there is nothing left.
Until I am nothing but hers.