Review: The Outsider by Penelope Williamson

Format: Paperbacktheoutsider
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Warner Vision
Hero: Johnny Cain
Heroine: Rachel Yoder
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 1997
Started On: November 24, 2010
Finished On: November 30, 2010

I came across The Outsider by Penelope Williamson as usual on a discussion forum on Amazon. The lone hero of the gun-slinging variety and the atypical setting of this romance won me over within seconds of reading the book synopsis. Since this book is not available anywhere in e-format *insert incoherent muttering and cursing at publisher here*, I found myself paying up US$ 22.95 *oh the horror!* for this book without any hesitation. It was only when I received this book that I found out that The Outsider had in fact being made into a movie in 2002 starring the hauntingly beautiful Naomi Watts and sinfully handsome Tim Daly. So this review is a first for me such that it comes right after I read and fell head over heels in love with the story and watched the movie right afterwards so this would end up being a sort of a mixed review between the book and the movie.

The first thing that caught my eye, even with the turn of the very first page was the quote at the very beginning, achingly beautiful in the way it was told that I knew that I would end up with a booklet of quotes from the story to include in my review. And I wasn’t far off the mark when I thought that but I have restrained myself to including those scenes that I really had no choice but to share with those who read my reviews because I have this need within myself to share the beauty that  this story is.

34 years old Rachel Yoder belongs to the Plain People of the straight and narrow path, who puts all their affairs in the hands of God and believe that He would take care of all their needs as long as they submit their will to Him. Its the way of the Plain People to support and aide their neighbors, for women to submit to their husbands, to turn away from violence and mayhem and to shun anyone who leaves their faith once they have submitted to it. Beautiful with mahogany hair and solemn gray eyes, Rachel is left widowed with her 9 year old son Benjo who suffers from stuttering (but oh he is so cute!!) when Benjamin Yoder, her husband of 17 years is brutally hanged by the outsiders hired by Fergus Hunter who owns the Circle H ranch and wants to drive away the Plain People with his cattle and beef rearing business going under mostly due to the bad decision making on his part. The outsiders are those who do not belong to the Plain People and follow their way of life and are deemed to be wicked and bring in with them a lifetime of debauchery and sins and consorting with the likes of them frowned upon. And when one cold Sunday morning during the last ragged days of a Montana winter, a tall outsider walks in on Rachel’s property and collapses right before her eyes bleeding all over from a gunshot wound, Rachel with all the goodness in her heart takes him into her home and nurses him back to health.

The outsider, Johnny Cain, with his black-brown hair, high sculptured cheekbones, long narrow nose and wide-spaced eyes with thick long lashes, and armed to the teeth with different types of guns, stirs up a kaleidoscope of feelings in Rachel. In a man that the Plain People see nothing but the very devil lurking inside of him, Rachel sees the beauty in his face, the haunted look in his otherwise cold blue eyes, the yearning that crosses his face for things better left unspoken as the desire to possess and be possessed rages like a wildfire through Rachel. She sees the scars and calluses on his hands, the shackle marks on his ankles with the whip beating marks on his back that hints of the price that Johnny has paid with his skin and blood that stirs the protective instincts inside of her and makes her think of just how much of his soul Johnny has lost in the process.

Regardless of the fact that plain only marry plain, Rachel yearns for her gunslinger Johnny with a fierceness deep within herself that doesn’t surprise her as she is the one who is witness to the complex man that Johnny actually is. With view points of other multifaceted characters thrown into the mix such as Noah Weaver, the man who wants to claim Rachel as his own, Moses Weaver son of Noah who is conflicted in his need to experience life on the wilder side, who at times think that the Plain way of life is not for him and the complex nature of the relationship described between Quentin Hunter, the half-breed son of Fergus Hunter and his wife Alisa Hunter makes this a book that is hard to put down. Though I resented the time spent on descriptions of their lives which meant time away from the heady magic that is Johnny and Rachel, I know that as a novel their character development lent a richer feel to the story in the end.

The movie of course as anyone who reads romances would know, would always fall short of our expectations. Maybe because this time I wasn’t expecting too much out of the movie knowing that a movie would NEVER be able to invoke the myriad of emotions that the story does, I loved the differences as well as the similarities with the book as I watched Tim Daly work his magic on Naomi Watts and her cute, cute son Benjo. The ending was different from the book and I have to say I loved both endings as they give the much needed happily ever after for Johnny Cain, a more tortured soul one would never find.

 

Likes:

  1. Johnny Cain. Now ain’t that obvious? *grin* It has been quite sometime since I have read a novel that doesn’t include the hero’s point of view on stuff at some point in the story. The relationship that unfolds between Johnny and Rachel is told mostly from Rachel’s point of view and those who observe the not so subtle connection between them that bursts forth against all odds. I almost wept when I read of his childhood at the hands of humans who are better off being labeled as animals with their savagery that had turned Johnny into the killing machine that he is.
  2. Rachel Yoder. Her  upbringing and way of life certainly makes her one of the most unique heroines that I have read about. From her beautiful nature inside and out to the music that she hears in her surroundings, I loved her gentle yet fierce nature when it comes to those whom she loves. I adored her for being wise and insightful enough to see beyond the facade of ruthlessness that is as much part of Johnny Cain as are the guns that he handles like an extension of his arm. And Rachel sealed the deal in acquiring one more fan when she gave up everything because the love she feels for the outsider causes her no shame and it is a love that is much more fierce than any sense of belonging she feels to the Plain People and their way of life, no matter how much the separation from the latter hurts her.
  3. Benjamin Yoder. As I said before though he is not alive even when the story begins, his character seen through Rachel’s eyes made me fall for him right from the very beginning which is a rare happenstance for me when it comes to a romance novel. I loved Benjamin because he had known what a precious gem that Rachel is and had loved, protected and cherished her in kind.
  4. I was totally captivated by the subtle and not so subtle indications to the attraction between Johnny and Rachel. The yearning that they have for the other which neither could deny especially made sweeter by the fact that Johnny’s desire is shown through his involuntary reactions to Rachel made this a world of sensual delights to sink into though if you are looking for any detailed lovemaking scenes in this one, you aren’t going to find it here.

His gaze riveted to her every move as she spread open Ben’s warranted Perfection razor and stropped the blade, moving it back and forth over the smooth leather. She tested its sharpness with the pad of her thumb, deliberately giving herself a little nick. She pulled a face and sucked on the wound. He swallowed hard.

Lucas (the town doctor) set his bag on an upturned nail keg, found the witch hazel cream, and rubbed it into Cain’s blistered palm. As he gripped the man’s wrist, he could feel that the pulse was fast, too fast.
Lucas looked up to find that Cain’s eyes were riveted on Rachel.
*swoons*

Dislikes:

As I mentioned before, though the stories of other characters that enriched the novel in terms of character development, I resented being away from the subtle world of magic that surrounds Johnny and Rachel. I wouldn’t have minded if it had just been them in the story, with just enough about the side characters to move the story along. But then again, I enjoyed The Outsider as it is, but nevertheless I did wish at times that I could just skim through some of the other side stories that picked up along the way.

Favorite Quotes

As she (Rachel) bent down to lower the wick in the lamp. her loose hair brushed over his chest and face. Se felt a tug on her hair and saw that he had tangled his fingers in a thick hank of it. In his eyes was a look of surprised bewilderment, but then his heavy eyelids closed as if against his will. He slid into sleep again, but not before letting go of her hair and wrapping his hand once more around the grip of his gun.

Her hair had been falling into her face all night, when it wasn’t been twisted into knots by the wind. She scolded herself for not pinning it up and covering it properly with a prayer cap. It had been prideful of her – and wicked, because she had done it for him.
“Rachel,”
Her name, coming at her out of the night and in such a tone of urgency, startled her so that the sheep hook went clattering to the ground.
He had come up close behind her, and as she whirled, her flying braid wrapped around his throat. He reached up, his long fingers tangling in the thick loose plait. His fingers tightened their grip, pulling her closer. His head dipped, and his lips parted slightly as if he would kiss her.
It was as if she had roped him, roped him with her hair.

She (Rachel) settled the sleeping lamb into the empty cracker box. “Those aren’t the sort of feelings I’m very good at inspiring, making him (Benjo) feel like a man.”
His unsettling eyes stared at her across the small space that separated them. His voice, when he spoke, was clotted and rough. “You’re good at it.”
And then time slowed and slowed and … stopped, as his hand came up. His fingers caressed her neck as they followed the length of her thick, loosely woven braid, down over her shoulder, down where the feathery, wispy ends of it curled around her breast. He was loosening and unraveling her hair.
His mouth was hard, so hard. But his fingers combing through her hair were gentle. She felt a strange seizing, deep in her heart – as if it, like the whole rest of the world, had ceased beating.

They stood close together but not too close, and they spoke not in whispers but plain, so anyone could hear. But Rachel’s eyes shone like morning dew. And her mouth smiled quick and sweet. And her whole body seemed to be leaning, straining to span the distance between them, as if all of her was saying to the outsider, Touch me, touch me, touch me.

Somehow they stopped walking and were facing each other. The wind fluttered her cap string. He took one in each hand and pulled them down until they were stretched taut, with his fingers barely brushing her breasts, and yet she felt his touch all the way to her toes.
He surprised her by starting to sing, a lilting song about a girl named Annie Laurie, filling in with la-di-das when he forgot the words, and at some time he had let go of her cap strings to take her hand, and he was now fitting his palm to hers, entwining their fingers, while his other hand had lifted her arm by the wrist and was draping it over his shoulder, and he was sliding his arm around her waist.
And they were dancing.

Recommended for: All fans of romance novels! This is one not to be missed.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | AbeBooks

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Review: Lipstick on His Collar by Inez Kelley

Format: E-booklipstickonhiscollar
Read with: Mobipocket Reader
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd
Hero: Bram Matthew Winters
Heroine: Kyra
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 9, 2010
Started On: November 27, 2010
Finished On: November 27, 2010

Lipstick on His Collar is my first Inez Kelley and it certainly won’t be my last. The first thing that caught my eye with this book was its fabulous cover. And upon reading the book synopsis, it took very little to convince me to put this book in my wishlist to purchase when its release date came up on the 23rd of this month.

Lipstick on His Collar is a very short novella, only 4 chapters in fact and makes for a very explosive and entertaining read. The story kicks off on the 3rd of July when ex-fireman and Emergency Communications Specialist of Respontech, Bram Matthew Winters finds himself in a small town, a usual occurrence with the amount of traveling he does as part of his job. When a woman wearing a red dress who looks hot enough to beckon a ship to its doom with her sensuality draws him to  her like no other, Bram says yes to his first one night stand ever, a night of decadent sex that leaves his mind reeling when come the next morning, the lady who had rocked his world and refused to divulge her name to him leaves him whilst he is still asleep.

Searching high and low for the woman whose name he doesn’t have a clue of, but who occupies all his thoughts regardless, Bram comes across the lady in question 6 months later, this time in another town, in a laundromat, the last place Bram would have expected to run into his mysterious woman who stirs his blood up with the merest glance. It is then that Bram finds out about the stalker variety ex-boyfriend of hers and the fear that he has put in her eyes which drives Bram insane with the need to protect what is his.

Stuff I liked:

  1. The fabulous and delicious cover of this book. I can spend ages just staring at that chiseled jaw and Bram’s oh-so luscious looking lips that can drive me to put lipstick on his collar any day! *wicked grin*
  2. Inez Kelley’s brand of hot loving! My God, did the pages sizzle even with the first couple of paragraphs. I found myself holding my breath in and found myself going stir crazy at moments with the seduction that took place right from the very beginning. I definitely want more from where that came from!! ^_~
  3. Bram Matthews Winters!! Can I order one for myself? Pretty please?? ^_^
  4. Liked the subtle fireman lingo in this novel and how it was related to the combustive passion between Bram and Kyra.

Stuff I didn’t like so much:

Like many who reviewed this book, I have to agree that resolving the issue of the stalker ex-boyfriend part seemed a bit rushed in the end. Yes, he proves to be a creepy villain but I wanted the issue to be fully resolved with a neat little bow on it before the story was through!

Recommended for:

  1. 1- Fans of Inez Kelley.
    2- Fans of short novellas that provide a sizzling world of sensuality that you can sink your teeth into!

Favorite Quotes

The twirling lights caressed her skin. His fingers and his tongue ached to follow. A tiny upturned nose combined with her almost-pointed ears to give her a wanton elfish look. The delicate line of her jaw begged to be licked. Her head rolled with the song, exposing the cream of her neck, and he unconsciously took a step toward her. A couple wrapped in an embrace circled between them, and he paused.
She opened her eyes and her gaze landed on him like a brush-fire. Hot met dry, and a spark flashed, exploded and raged through him. Intense and appreciative, unblinking and direct, she did not look away. There was no chance she had accidentally engaged his notice. The look was too conscious, too appraising. With a quick drop of long lashes, her gaze vanished then returned to snag his.

In three long strides, he stood in front of her. She was tall, the top of her head reaching his nose, her mouth not far from his. She tilted her head back, smiled and kept dancing. Green shouldn’t smolder but her eyes did. Bram forgot all about the possibility she had a partner—didn’t even consider she might slap him—and lowered his head. Her hips kept time with the sensual melody and her hands skated up his chest to circle his neck. For one long second he paused, drawing in her breath, tasting her desire as it mingled with his.
A feminine scent of citrus and sunshine wafted to his nose as she leaned close, nuzzling his cheek. Her kiss seared his bones. This was no gentle first kiss. It was a detonation of lust, yearning and passion like he’d never felt. Sexual combustion.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo | Samhain

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Review: A Baby for Emily by Ginna Gray

Format: E-bookababyforemily
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Silhouette Special Edition #1466
Publisher: Silhouette
Hero: Dillon Maguire
Heroine: Emily Collins Maguire
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: May 1, 2002
Started On: November 26, 2010
Finished On: November 26, 2010

I know not the reason why, but when I woke up this morning all of a sudden I started recalling this story that I had read a couple of years back. All I remembered was the fact that I had loved the hero in the book and that the book had been an emotional wrangler and that the heroine’s name was some Emily. Since I couldn’t recall the title or author properly I spent a couple of minutes searching for the book and thank god for the fact that I keep my e-book collection on my hard disk drive I was armed with this book in a couple of minutes, ready to sink myself into the heady world of romance that Ginna Gray has so beautifully created with this novel.

29 year old Emily Collins Maguire is shocked senseless when just hours after she and her husband Dr. Keith Wesley Maguire had learned that the in vitro treatment had been successful and that finally Emily was pregnant after going through every conceivable test on Earth for the past couple of years of their 7 year marriage to learn that her husband had died of smoke asphyxiation wrapped in the arms of his current mistress at their townhouse. Devastation doesn’t begin to cover it when the destitution with which Keith had left her in becomes clear as Keith’s countless affairs, the depth of his lies and betrayal in every aspect of their marriage comes to light. Pregnant, alone, broke and unemployed, Emily has no choice but to trust Dillon in the salvation that he offers her, not that she would take his pity or charity any day.

Dillon Maguire has loved Emily since that fateful day 7 years back when he had met Emily at the hospital where Keith worked as an oncologist. Emily who had grown up with a mother who had rarely been present with her wanderlust nature had showed up, deathly sick and diagnosed with breast cancer. The 21 year old Emily had taken a shine to Keith once he determinedly started his wooing process and before she knew it Emily had been married to a handsome and suave doctor who it seems wanted nothing more than for her to be his dutiful wife.

Dillon had grown up with a mother who fiercely resented his presence in her life, the truth of which comes to light much later in the novel. Keith had always been her favorite and Dillon had received whatever mothering and tender care from his neighbor and friend Jeremy’s mother Gert Shneider. And when Jeremy had been killed serving in the army when he had been nineteen, all of Gert’s mothering had solely become focused on Dillon. Dillon had always known that Keith viewed everything as a competition when it came to him and that he had been a little too late in masking his interest in Emily when he had first met her. All throughout their marriage Dillon had  tried his best to act cold and aloof towards the woman who undoubtedly had his love, an act which he pulls off too well when Emily at first tries to refuse his much needed help and care during the first couple of days after Keith’s death. But the secret that Dillon hides within himself is the one that could destroy everything he works so hard throughout the story to build between himself and Emily.

Likes:

  1. Dillon Maguire. If there is anyone who has read this story and not fallen for him then obviously there is something wrong with them! Dillon is manhood personified not just because of his intense and broody good looks and his multi-millionaire status or because of his tortured soul, those things do help, but it is because of how well he takes care of Emily regardless of the fact whether his love and feelings are welcomed by her or not that clinches the deal with Dillon. He puts each and every need of Emily above his, and I do not say this lightly and because of that very fact, my heart ached each and every time for the position Keith had put him in, even in death trying to cheat him from getting what he wants more than anything else in life.
  2. I loved the roller coaster of emotions that coursed through me when I lost myself in this story. Love and an overwhelming feeling of protectiveness towards Dillon, the need to slap Dillon’s mother senseless a time or two and then some, dislike towards Dillon’s elder sister Charlotte for her holier-than-thou attitude at times and a deep respect for Gert, the only woman in my opinion who truly deserves Dillon’s love and affection in this novel.
  3. The intense sexual tension in the story. Though this book doesn’t contain much of scenes of the bedroom variety, the slow awakening of senses that take place continuously in Emily was in fact much better than any hard and fast sex session could have been, though that wouldn’t have been unwelcome either! ^_^ But this drawn out tension between Dillon and Emily made me dizzy a couple of times and everything in me clamored for them to find joy in each other soon or I would have been the first to undergo self combustion in the Maldives! ^_~
  4. For some reason or the other, I can’t help but love the cover of this one. Just the scene of love, warmth and affection it represents touches something deep inside of me. ^_^

Dislikes:

  1. I don’t know why, maybe certain feminist readers may disagree with this but I thoroughly disliked Emily because of how she treated Dillon at the very end. I understand that what he did was not of the norm but Emily never even stopped to think for a second that it was Dillon, the Dillon who had been taking care of her, bestowing upon her his love for the past year or so and that she had never ever felt happier in her life and never more cherished than the time she had spent with Dillon, but the minute she learns of the dreaded truth regarding the paternity of her child, she is all fire and intense anger and goes as far to leave Dillon without even giving him the time to explain. My heart literally broke in two for the hurt that Emily puts Dillon through and in the end it is Gert who has to step in and knock some sense into Emily to make her suddenly realize that Dillon is not Keith and that he would never hurt her and that he had ACTUALLY been in love with her for the past 7 years. *rolls eyes in frustration* That’s why for me, Emily doesn’t really deserve Dillon’s love and unwavering loyalty and affection, because for me, a man like Dillon deserves more, much more than someone like Emily who can just walk away leaving a devastated man behind.
  2. I have to agree with the other readers who have taken the time to review this book. The ending was a bit abrupt and sort of leaves the reader hanging. I would have loved to see Emily do a bit of groveling on this one for a change!

Recommended for:

  1. Fans of Ginna Gray. Her writing style is addictive. You just want to keep on reading and subject yourself to the emotional intensity packed into this story.
  2. Those who loves their romance to play havoc with their emotions. This one certainly does that – in spades!

Favorite Quotes

Dillon’s gaze zeroed in on the distended mound beneath Emily’s blue maternity top.
His nostrils flared slightly as he drew in a bracing breath. He rubbed his palms on the legs of his jeans, then slowly reached out with his right hand. It hovered, not quite steady, the long callused fingers spread. Then, as gentle as thistledown, his hand settled onto Emily’s tummy.
She caught her breath. Tanned by hours in the sun, his skin was a deep bronze against the powder-blue maternity top and so large it practically covered her abdomen. Dillon’s gaze met hers for a second, but as though unable to resist, he looked back at the mound beneath his hand.
Emily closed her eyes and lay rigid as stone. She could barely breathe. Even though her maternity top the imprint of his hand seared her flesh like a branding iron. She could feel each individual finger, the broad palm, the incredible warmth.

Lazily his gaze trailed down her face. For the space of several heartbeats he stared at her lips, parted in surprise, and slowly, as though weighted with lead, his eyelids began to droop and his head tipped to one side.
Emily felt his breath feather across her face and excitement pounded though her. She could barely draw breath. Unconsciously, the tip of her tongue peeked out and swept over her suddenly dry lips. Through slitted lids fringed with sweeping black lashes, Dillon’s eyes glittered like blue diamonds.
Then he pulled her close, gathered her against his chest with both arms and pressed his lips  to hers.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | AbeBooks

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Review: Pure Temptation by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Format: E-bookpuretemptation
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Blaze #20
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Jeremiah MacDougal (Mac)
Heroine: Tess Blakely
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: July 1, 1999
Started On: November 22, 2010
Finished On: November 25, 2010

Anyone who visits my blog regularly would know that I am a huge fan of romances based on the theme “friends turn into lovers”. When I came across this tittle (I’ve kind of forgotten where exactly this title jumped up at me) I didn’t waste any time in getting myself a copy and plunging into the story. Since free time has been pretty scarce the past few days I managed to give my full attention to this story only today and really loved this Blaze from Ms. Thompson written in the 90’s.

Based in the small town of Copperville in Arizona, 26 year old Tess Blake and Jeremiah MacDougal (Mac) who is two years older than her have known each other and being best friends for the past 23 years of their lives. Tess, surrounded with her hulking 4 big brothers and their overwhelming overprotective natures yearns to experience life in the big cities, a dream that she and Mac had shared when they had been growing up. Now Tess is just a summer away from attaining her dream as her move to New York as a counselor for teenagers in a high school had been finalized. But there is just one teeny, tiny problem that Tess needs taken care of – lose her status as a virgin before the summer is through, easier said than done when her 4 brothers effectively scare off any suitable suitors who might have been up for the job ages back.

Mac, an only child though he dreams of getting away from Copperville, knows that he has a responsibility to his parents who had built their ranch from ground up as a legacy to their only child and son. Though the thought of Tess leaving ties Mac up all on the insides, the bombshell that Tess drops on him, requesting him to aide her in her “summer project” of the year as in find someone to divest her of her virginity practically chokes the very breathe out of Mac.

Mac knows that Tess, once her mind has been made up wouldn’t budge from a task and as soon as the words sex and Tess comes into the same sentence, rolling in satin sheets with her legs wrapped around him is all Mac can think about. And thinking about any other man taking the privilege of getting carnal knowledge of Tess just makes his skin crawl and Mac does the only thing a sane man in his position would do – offer his service as Tess’s hymen-breaker never knowing that all along Tess the woman who had been right under his nose his whole life had been the woman he had been waiting for to settle down with.

Likes:

  1. I loved Mac from the stetson on his head to his delectable toes and everything in between. His tenderness and the way he understands and puts first each and every desire of Tess is what made me fall in love with him. Even with his desire raging out of control for Tess, Mac shows her the sensual side of love as only a man in love can and in the process made my heart go flip-flop every time he came up in the story.
  2. Tess. She makes for a unique combination with her innocence (which doesn’t get on the nerves) and her blatant curiosity when it comes to her own sensuality which awakens around Mac. I loved the fact that she was willing to give up her dream of living it up in the city to just be able to share all her tomorrows with Mac which would be an adventure enough for her.
  3. I loved the subtle difference in the way the story unfolded in this one compared to most of the friends-turn-into-lovers stories that I have read. I loved how Ms. Thompson brought back bits and pieces of Tess and Mac’s shared childhood and their adventures together, lending their jump from friends to lovers much more depth than anything else could have. These insights makes this story one of the very best of this theme and I am so very glad I came across this delectable story by Ms. Thompson.
  4. Though Harlequin stories are pretty short, I liked the small town life descriptions within the story. There was no rush to just get Mac and Tess to do it already but rather the foundation of their relationship with each other and Tess’s family as well tidbits about the town folk and their nosy natures made this quite an interesting piece to read.
  5. I loved how this story made me laugh out loud, several times in fact, whilst reading. From the very beginning when I read Tess’s  notes on how she would divest herself of her virginity, I knew that I was in for a couple of good laughs with this one and I wasn’t disappointed.
  6. And oh yes, I loved the scene where Mac describes the one erotic dream that he had of Tess and himself and I loved how he couldn’t help but squeeze Tess’s hand without his own volition. Lying in his pickup, holding the hand of his best friend and looking up at the stars whilst he related his dream.. *sighs*

Dislikes: Errm.. the cover could use some improvement. Just saying! ^_^

Recommended for:

  1. Lovers of Harlequin Blaze stories.
  2. Those who love stories of the theme where friends turn into lovers or childhood friends turn into lovers.
  3. Fans of Vicki Lewis Thompson. If you haven’t already read this one, grab yourself a copy and indulge! I loved it!

Favorite Quotes

Summer Project: Lose Virginity
Goal one: Find knowledgeable candidate willing to deflower me.
Goal two: Swear the candidate to absolute secrecy.
Goal three: Get it on.

He gazed up at her. “Have you ever been lifted down from a pickup?”
“Not since I was six  years old. Once I could manage by myself, it seemed silly when I was perfectly capable of  – whoa!” She gasped as he took her by the waist and lifted her out of the truck. Instinctively she put her arms on his shoulders, which was a good move because her feet still dangled in midair.
Balancing her against his chest and looking into her eyes, he let her slide down in a slow, sensuous movement. Warmth rushed through her as friction of his body against hers gave her a complete and thoroughly arousing caress.

Tess had been forbidden fruit for so long that when Mac placed his mouth on hers, he half-expected a lightning bolt to strike him dead, instead, her velvet lips welcomed him so completely that he drew back, his heart racing. Damn, this was going to be good. Too good. A man could lose himself to a kiss like that. If he’d ever secretly wondered if she was a virgin because she wasn’t sensual, he’d been dead wrong. She was on fire.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo | Harlequin

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Review: Lucky’s Lady by Tami Hoag

Format: E-bookluckyslady
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Doucette, Book 2
Publisher: Bantam
Hero: Etienne Doucet (Lucky)
Heroine: Serena Sheridan
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: December 30, 2003
Started On: November 20, 2010
Finished On: November 24, 2010

This week has been totally crazy. After the 10 day break during which I practiced the art of doing nothing except sleep, eat and read, the time during which I met Bastien Toussaint (can you tell whether I love this guy or not? LOL!), the work week started on a crazy note. Added to that I am deep in pursuit on a place to do my Masters degree which I have kept on the back burner for quite some time now. So all in all, I left Lucky hanging far too long and managed to finish this one by staying up all night last night for which I am not even remotely feeling guilty about as Lucky managed to surpass each and every expectation I had of him from the very beginning of this delightful story.

Lucky’s Lady is not my first Tami Hoag. Her book Ashes to Ashes though classified as a Romantic Suspense which sort of falls flat on the romance area was my first Tami Hoag and since then I have never been tempted to read a book from Tami Hoag until I found myself in the midst of a discussion on Amazon where someone recommended this book as being one of the best books ever. Skeptical as I was I couldn’t resist picking this one up for which I am thankful for. This book has that perfect balance of romance and suspense that earns it the right to be labeled as a romantic suspense. Thanks to the rave reviews from various friends of mine on Goodreads such as Lady Jayne, Quinn, Melissa B and Shawna which played a major role in me taking the plunge into this romance based in Louisiana.

Etienne Doucet or Lucky as most people know him as, is one of the most deliciously sinful and heartthrob variety of hero ever. Right from the very first second he entered into the story all my senses went haywire and everything in me clamored to find out more about him. Ex-military, Lucky is a man who has suffered on many levels, who has been to the brink of taking his own life and beyond, taking his refuge in the beautifully mysterious Louisiana swamp he calls his home. Betrayal of the worst kind from the two women who he had dared to care for has left Lucky a man dangerously cynical of the fairer sex and certainly wants nothing to do with the classy Serena Sheridan when she walks into his life destroying every belief and all the walls he has put up around his emotions till now.

Serena Sheridan is classy, beautiful and totally different from her twin sister Shelby. Serena had been fifteen when her father, an only child had died leaving her and Shelby in the care of their grandfather and owner of Chanson Du Terre the Sheridan plantation. Serena’s mother had died long before that and  though Serena has always longed for a close relationship with her twin sister, it had never happened and Serena had upped and left for Charleston where she has made a whole new life for herself as a psychologist. Serena had been married for 4 years to a man for all the wrong reasons and the lack of sizzle in their life had led them to divorce amicably and Serena has resigned herself to believing that she is just one of those women who would never feel that deep passion in her life, until she locks horns with the sinful Cajun hero Lucky.

Someone as classy and beautiful as Serena would never have crossed paths with someone like Lucky who likes nothing better than letting others think the worst about him. It is when Serena returns home for a vacation to spend time with her grandfather and her sister and her family who were currently living at Chanson Du Terre that she finds out that her grandfather had gone into hiding deep into the swamp and it is her deep concern for him that drives Serena who has never set foot in the swamp due to an incident that took place 15 years back, to face her worst nightmare and go after her grandfather into the dark and dangerous swamp. With no one but Lucky left  to guide her to where her grandfather is in hiding Serena has no choice but to bear with the man who just makes all her senses come alive with one word in his drawling Cajun accent that literally makes her knees go weak.

What Serena finds out upon the explosive encounter with her grandfather leaves a sour taste in her mouth. Someone who doesn’t like how the mysterious and yet beautiful swamp which had been her home makes her feel, Serena is forced to make a choice on whether she would run back to her safe cocoon back in Charleston or whether she would stay on and fight the battle of her life against her only family whilst the greatest danger of all is the power that Lucky wields over her heart and emotions within such a short period of time. Filled with mind numbing sexual tension, I never wanted to put this book down ever since Lucky Doucet put his raw powerful frame into the picture.

Likes:

  1. Lucky Doucet, Lucky Doucet and Lucky Doucet! Can I say it one more time? Would it make it anymore obvious that the guy totally invaded and took control of my heart, body and soul whilst I was reading this book and then some? Sigh! I don’t think I can adequately describe the way he took absolute control of the story since he walked into the picture. From his sinfully good looks to the edge of his tortured soul, I loved every bit of him and then some more and couldn’t help but sigh and moon over those sexy and at times dirty French phrases he kept tossing into the story which made my knees go weak each and every time! And his total mastery in the bedroom!! OMG!! Should I go on? LOL! This was the one time that I wished that I was able to match his physique with someone real like my friend Jayne on Goodreads is able to. Jayne, wanna help me out here? ^_^
  2. Serena Sheridan. She is one classy kick-ass hero who manages to pull the whole thing off quite effectively. Her vulnerability coupled with her strength is what made me love her absolutely as the story unfolded. Her faith and love in Lucky as she discovers the person he is deep inside, the fact  that she is not intimidated by the total bad-ass act that Lucky pulls off quite effectively and the fact that she was strong enough to let Lucky go even though it had been the single hardest thing she had ever done sealed the deal for me with this heroine.
  3. Loved the sassy and sexy bantering between Serena and Lucky throughout the story.
  4. The super duper sexual tension in the book! My insides were on a total quivering session all of last night since Lucky picked up from where he left off. From the first no holds barred kiss to the give-it-all-you-have encounters between the two left me breathless and at times like a puddle of goo as Lucky took total control of my, ahem! baser emotions. *drool*
  5. Absolutely adored the way the story ended. At first as the story progressed, I thought, “Oh well! Here comes another bad-ass hero who is going to make a total fool of himself from the first sight of his woman” and boy was I ever so delightfully wrong! I just love it when the ultimate happily ever after (which of course is a foregone conclusion in a romance) nevertheless is NOT a foregone conclusion within the first couple of pages which is one of the reasons why I rate this as an A+ read and then some. This was a beautifully fitting ending if there ever was one! Sigh!

Dislikes: Absolument pas! (Absolutely none!) ^_^

Recommended for: Anyone who LOVES romances!

Favorite Quotes

What Serena had braced herself for she wasn’t sure, but it certainly wasn’t the man who filled the doorway. The impact of his sudden presence had the same effect as being hit with a shock wave – a phenomenon she had heretofore not believed in.
Her first impression was of raw power. Broad shoulders, bulging biceps. His chest, bare and gleaming with a sheen of sweat, was wide, and hard muscle beneath taut, tanned skin. The strong V of his torso narrowed to a slender waist, a stomach corrugated with muscle and dusted with black hair that disappeared beneath the low-riding waistband of faded green fatigue pants. She raised her eyes to his face and felt a shiver pass over her from head to toe, making her scalp tighten and her fingers tingle. He stared at her from under sleepy lids with large, unblinking amber eyes, eyes like a panthers.
Hmm!! Serena certainly wasn’t the only one who felt the shock wave! ^_^

“You’re not afraid of me?” he said arching a brow, the words barely audible. He leaned closer still. “Then mebbe this is what you’re afraid of.”
He closed the distance between them, touching his lips to her.
The heat was instantaneous. It burst through them and inside them, as bright and hot as the flare of the lamps on the table beside them. Serena sucked in a little gasp, drawing Lucky closer. He settled his mouth against hers, telling himself he wanted just a taste of her, nothing more, but fire swept through him, his blood scalding his veins. One taste. Just one taste … would never be enough.

“I don’t give a rat’s ass if you don’t believe it,” he said in a voice like smoke. “You wanna go diggin’ through your psych book for explanations, do it on your own time. I didn’t come here to get analyzed; I came here to get laid.”
His mouth swept down on hers, hard seeking to punish, but he was met with no resistance, no fear. She was soft and sweet, melting against him, and that undid his anger as nothing else could have.

She (Serena) looked up into his face and saw the torment there, the strain as he gave her his body and fought to withhold his soul. For an instant she could look into his eyes and feel the terrible struggle going on inside him, and it tore at her heart. There was no place here for reason or self-control. All she could give him was her love, no matter how foolish it seemed, no matter that she knew he wouldn’t want to take it, no matter that she was certain her heat would get broken in the end.

Je t’aime ma chérie (I love you my darling) ^_^

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

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Review: The Boss’s Valentine by Lynne Graham

Format: E-bookthebosssvalentine
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Presents
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Santino Aragone
Heroine: Poppy Hyacinth Bishop
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 15, 2008
Started On: November 19, 2010
Finished On: November 20, 2010

I stumbled upon this title whilst trolling for books on Goodreads. I have always been a fan of Lynne Graham as she is one of the authors who instilled in me the love for Harlequin romances, no matter how predictable most of them are. I have always loved heroes in Ms. Graham’s titles in the 90’s and always check out her new books to see whether she would deliver one of those angst-filled romances that used to be the highlight of my day back when I first started foraying into the world of Harlequin romances.

Santino Aragone, Italian and a hugely successful enterpreneur is the head of Aragone Systems where 21 year old Poppy Hyacinth Bishop lands her first job as a marketing assistant. Santino had been surprised when his late father had hired Poppy six months back against the advise of HR personnel just because he had felt sorry for her. Poppy with her explosive Titan corkscrew curls and her comical penchant for floral prints and insane diets with her shy and sunny smiles couldn’t be anymore different from Santino with his spectacular sleek Italian looks and never ending string of gorgeous women in his life. However that doesn’t stop the enthusiastic and bubbly Poppy from giving her heart to the one man she knows is far above her league and not even in her wildest dreams would she have imagined that Santino was even aware that she existed.

The Valentine’s day when it comes has never been a favorite time of celebration for Santino. And when he receives an outrageous Valentine’s day card with pink flowers on its cover with an elusive jasmine scent wafting from it, Santino knows that none other than Poppy could have sent it to him. A man who is used to being the one to bestow expensive gifts on his women is surprisingly touched deep inside his cynical heart by her loving gesture though Santino has no intention of following up on her gift because it has never been his style to mix business with pleasure.

But all these rigid rules come tumbling down when during a moment of weakness Santino finds himself at the receiving end of Poppy’s loving nature and before the night is through Santino has earth moving sex with a woman who has been saving herself for the right man to come along and sweep her off her feet.

A string of misunderstandings, mostly on Poppy’s part because she doesn’t feel deserving of Santino’s affections when her own parents found her rather lacking ends up in a period of separation during which Poppy finds out she is pregnant and gives birth to a beautiful baby daughter. When Santino comes across Poppy and his daughter, it is up to him to convince his beautiful blue eyed Poppy to give their relationship a chance as Santino knows deep inside that Poppy is his happily ever after.

Likes:

  1. I liked Santino Aragone. Of course who wouldn’t love a sleek good looking Italian who is not afraid to show his emotions unlike lots of heroes in Harlequin romances. I loved how a man who is so used to his black and white world suddenly finds himself arguing with his marketing manager on using pink of all colors in their sales charts and what not. Cracked me up a lot, this hero.
  2. Poppy. Her sunny nature makes it hard not to love her. I always love it when heroines bubbly and sunny in their nature manage to get under the skin of rigid multimillionaires or playboys who love their women fast and without external baggage along for the ride. I certainly felt for Poppy with her family issues when she had been growing up and rooted for her all the way.
  3. Thank God this didn’t turn out to be one of those romances where the heroine takes it into her mind to keep the consequences of their one night together to herself so that she can feel victimized in the end. I seriously do not like those kinds of romances because no matter what, the father deserves to know that he has fathered a child, unless of course he is of the serial killer/molester variety.
  4. Loved the humorous style of this story. Reminded me of my favorite Graham book, The Spanish Groom which cracks me up whenever I think about it.

Dislikes: None.

Favorite Quotes

“You’re good at this.” Poppy muttered, trembling with the most wicked amount of anticipation.
“Ought to be …” Santino treated her to a slashing irreverent grin that acknowledged his own experience and her eyes clung to his lean powerful face, her heart hammering. “But I’ve never got this close to a woman in the office before.”
“No?”
“Feels forbidden and .. fantastic.” Santino growled in a throaty purr of hunger.
Poppy quivered, every skin cell leaping, and when he brought his mouth down on hers, when he hauled her close, fantastic was in her opinion a serious understatement. She fell into that explosive kiss as though she had been waiting all her life for it.

Recommended for:

  1. Fans of Lynne Graham.
  2. Fans of Harlequin romances.

Purchase Links: Amazon 

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Review: Beg Me by Shiloh Walker

Format: E-bookbegme
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Drake Bennett
Heroine: Tania Sinclair
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: November 19, 2010
Started On: November 19, 2010
Finished On: November 20, 2010

Ever since Ms. Walker announced on Twitter that she had an upcoming contemporary erotic romance release titled “Beg Me” and that she was going to release it on Smashwords, I have been on tenterhooks so to say, awaiting eagerly for its release. One reason being that I love books by Ms. Walker as her titles ALWAYS deliver what they promise and also because regardless of the fact that I love all sorts of romances, contemporary romance is the genre I prefer above everything else. And so onto my review I go, of this very different title by Ms. Walker, which I couldn’t put down since I loaded it onto my Kindle around 2 hours back.

Tania Sinclair is a woman who is haunted by the death of her husband Kyle Sinclair, and 3 years on what devastates her more than anything else is the fact that Kyle’s identical twin brother Kent had ruined all of the good memories that she had stocked up on her beloved husband who had embraced the rough and kinky side of her that craves for the not your usual type of sex, but rather role playing of a bit more kinkier variety. It doesn’t help matters when her ex-mother-in-law Gail Sinclair blames her for the deaths of not one but two of her sons, something Tania would much rather prefer feeling than the emptiness that she had been living with since that fateful night two years back.

Sick and tired of being unable to enjoy what she wants to enjoy, Tania turns to the one man who she knows she can trust enough to deliver on all counts. Drake Bennett, Kyle’s best friend since childhood, someone who had come to mean a lot to Tania as well all through the years. Though Kyle nor Tania has a clue, Drake had fallen in love with his best friend’s girl when they had just been dating and Drake knows that his heart and soul would belong to Tania though he knows that she is far from getting over that nightmarish night that had put those deep shadows in her eyes.

When Tania proposes that Drake ease her back into the world of sensual delights and give her back the one thing that she craves more than anything else, Drake who can never  say no to the woman he loves gives in, knowing that if all Tania wants from him is just sex of the rough and kinky variety that she sometimes craves, his heart would just break into pieces when he would have to walk away from it all. But as Tania learns from Drake’s first touch itself, the feelings that he invokes even with a graze of his fingers on her skin creates total havoc on her senses and the answering need that she sees deep within Drake’s eyes acts as the most soothing healing balm of all on her tattered heart and soul.

As the title itself is testament enough, this story contains material that would prove offensive to certain readers. Role playing which includes playing out of rape fantasies take place within this story and so if you are the type of person who does not like such content in your erotica then this book is not for you.

Apart from this book being one of the most different books that I have read to date, I liked the “forbidden love” aspect of the story as in Drake loving and lusting after the wife of his best friend, but being honorable enough never to cross that line when Kyle had been around. And even when the playing field had evened out, Drake had bided his time until Tania had been the one to approach him and initiate things to take their platonic relationship to the next level. I absolutely loved Drake as the hero because even with all the intensely wicked role playing that was going on, he still managed to show his tenderness and love for Tania through his actions. The way Drake breaks down during the last couple of scenes just damn near broke my heart, and made me love him even more in the end.Though I enjoyed reading this highly unusual romance, I do wish that Ms. Walker had included some scenes of “normal” or rather tender love scenes between Drake and Tania that would have balanced out the story in the end.

I would recommend this for readers who can withstand their erotica with more than the usual rough and kinky sex, and for those who are fans of Ms. Walker’s contemporary erotic romances.

Kudos to Ms. Walker for pulling it off with a story such as this one, and I can’t help but wish for more contemporaries from her, which I keep bugging her about now and then on Twitter.

Favorite Quotes

“Can you make it so I can’t remember?”
His throat went tight, He could barely manage to breathe. Slipping out of his booth, he moved to sit next to her. She leaned against him with a sigh. “No, baby. I can’t. I would if I could, though. I’d take it all away if I could.”
She sniffled. Then she sighed and reached down, touching his inner forearm, tracing a fingernail over the skin there, along the lines of his tattoo. The stylized S. “You would, wouldn’t you, Superman?”
“Yeah.” He kissed her brow. “I’d undo the past three years for you if I could figure out a way.”
“How about you just keep holding me for a little while instead?”
“Yeah.” He breathed in the scent of her hair, felt the crack in his heart widen. “I can do that.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Smashwords

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