Review: Playing With Fire by Amy Knupp

Format: E-bookplayingwithfire
Opens with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Texas Firefighters, Book 1
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Derek Severson
Heroine: Macey Locke
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 13, 2010
Started On: January 29, 2011
Finished On: January 30, 2011

This is a book that has been sitting in my to-be-read pile for what feels like ages now. I have always been intrigued by storylines where the hero is so blinded with grief for the woman he previously loved, whether it be the woman was his wife, fiance’ or  girlfriend; that he is immune or cannot see the woman who is meant to share his life who is standing right in front of him. These make for heartwarming and at times gut wrenching reads as it is the heroine who has to take the brunt of the sorrow and grief that is whirling inside of the hero with no way out. Playing with Fire is a recommendation I received I think from Amazon forums and my first Amy Knupp proved to be a surprisingly feel good read and I certainly won’t say no to reading another title from hers.

28 year old Derek Severson is grieving the death of his girl friend Julie who died in a fire that Derek was working on. Giving up fire fighting, the profession that he loves, Derek moves to San Amaro Island where his uncle Gus has grown too old to manage his bar The Shell Shack. Pouring drinks day in and day out from mid day till the wee hours of morning is how Derek manages to keep the mind numbing grief at bay and 5 months on Derek still isn’t ready to let go, move on and has no inclination of returning to fire fighting.

Macey Locke, Derek’s childhood friend since Macey had been 5 years old and their mothers had got together to manage a restaurant, has always had feelings for Derek which she has pretty much given up hope of ever being returned. It had been during college that Macey had first realized of her feelings and had in turn turned down all opportunities to date that had come her way. It had been seeing Derek fall crazy in love with Julie that had propelled Macey to do something as drastic as join the Peace Corps and spend two years in Thailand; a time during which Macey had turned from the shy girl she had been into a take-charge woman who is no longer afraid of confrontations.

Macey returns from Thailand and makes her way to San Amaro Island with the sole intention of helping Derek find himself once again so that he may be at peace with what has happened and be able to move on with his life. The Derek she finds at The Shell Shack is a shell of the man he used to be, anti-social, grumpy and tortured looking as hell with desolation surrounding him like an invisible cloak. Mercy has her work cut out for her as she slowly turns Derek’s world upside down in more ways than one, and in the process both Derek and Macey find love of the everlasting kind with each other which is by no means easily achieved with Derek fighting Macey and the feelings he suddenly finds himself with every step of the way.

I liked this Harlequin Super Romance from its beautiful cover to the hunky hero Derek who is desperately in need of some TLC and then some. The Macey who emerges from her time spent at the Peace Corps is an admirable one, one who doesn’t back down even when the going gets tough. I loved Macey and rooted for her and her mission from the very beginning. I liked how the process within which Derek lets go of his grief for Julie unfolds right in front of the readers eyes. It wasn’t an overnight process and I applauded Macey’s guts in facing this challenge head on and coming out the winner in the end. I found myself intrigued with cook that Derek hires for The Shell Shack, a Harley driving, anti-social woman named Andie who seems to me would make for a great story of her own.

The only thing that irked me was the fact that even though Derek had been preparing to leave to go back to Macey, it was in fact Macey who had come back to confront Derek and to let him know that she won’t be scared off that easily from him. Though I liked the ending, I just wish it had been Derek who had had to do the grovelling a little bit more to win over the love of his life.

Recommended for fans of Harlequin Super Romances and those who love a hero wallowing in grief finding love once again.

Favorite Quotes

Derek leaned in closer still and she could feel his breath on her lips. She didn’t dare move. She shouldn’t let  this happen, but she had wanted it for so many years …
The touch of his lips was like cool seawater on a hot day. Something she needed, something she’d longed for for so long she didn’t remember when she hadn’t. The softness of his mouth was such a contrast to the hard body pressed up against her, his gentleness so unexpected from a man who’d always lived life hard. Her insides pooled and her legs threatened to give out.

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

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Review: Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Format: E-bookSimplyirresistible
Read  with: Amazon Kindle

Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: A Lucky Harbor Novel, Book 1
Publisher: Forever
Hero: Jackson Cullen III (Jax Cullen)
Heroine: Madeline Annie Traeger (Maddie Moore)
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication:  October 1, 2010
Started On: January 26, 2011
Finished On: January 29, 2011

Ever since I read Shadow Hawk and didn’t like it as much as I expected to, I have been a little wary of picking up anything by Jill Shalvis and that’s the main reason why I have hesitated in getting a copy of her latest novel Simply Irresistible, the 1st book in the Lucky Harbor series. Now, I am so very glad that I let reviews from my friends on Goodreads who all loved this book to pieces convince me to give this title a go because I am slapping myself for being stupid enough to let such a yummylicious read go by for so long without an attempt to read it.

Simply Irresistible is a book that lives up to its title, yes, its simply irresistible and I found myself so engrossed in the world of Lucky Harbor, the small town life, the larger than life heroes, Jax Cullen who makes my knees go wobbly each and every time and the sisters who make this novel come vibrantly alive that I forgot to mark this book for quotes as I read along, something which I always do when I am reading a novel so that my review would be a complete one. That just goes to show how marvelous a tale Ms. Shalvis has spun with her new series and I can’t wait until the next one comes out in April of this year.

Jax Cullen is a hero who presents himself as a mass of contradictions and I so love myself a hero like him. At first he comes across as the bad boy hero who rides into the story on his bad-ass motorbike; but layer by layer his character unfolds to reveal the complex man he is behind the facade. Jax had grown up with his father when his parents marriage had failed and his father being a cutthroat lawyer by profession, their relationship had had no room for emotions. A grown up Jax had followed his father’s footsteps and had become a very expensive defense attorney for a huge law firm in Seattle, where winning cases at all costs had been the bottom line. His work there had earned him the name of Jackson Cullen III and it had taken Jax’s last case which had gone horribly wrong for him to quit his job and return to Lucky Harbor, the last place he remembers being happy. Now 5 years out of a profession that had sucked the very soul out of him, Jax is laid back, goes through life at his own pace and works doing what he loves; building and restoration. The mayor of Lucky Harbor for the second term Jax is not looking for a relationship after his fiance had walked out on him when he had walked out on his job; that is until beautiful and klutzy Maddie nearly runs him over in her car.

29 year old Maddie is broke and homeless when her late mother’s will brings her to Lucky Harbor. Maddie had been raised by her father who had been a movie-set designer ever since he had taken custody of her since Maddie had turned 5 years old. Having never had much contact with her flighty mother, Maddie is as surprised as her father and two half sisters Tara and Chloe to learn about her mother’s will which had bequeathed them Lucky Harbor Inn, in the hopes of bringing 3 of her children together even if she may not be around to see it. Maddie had earned the nickname of the Mouse from her mother and is a survivor of a physically and emotionally abusive relationship from her ex-boyfriend Alex, an angry, uptight and aggressive LA attorney who didn’t know how to control his temper. It had been Maddie’s retaliation towards Alex that had cost her her job and makes her swear off of men altogether until she runs into the very sexy and delectable Jax Cullen who makes her tingle in all the right places with his searing velvety gaze alone.

When their mother’s will brings them together, it is only Maddie who at first wants to make a go of things and work towards making the derelict Lucky Harbor Inn habitable once again. And that is how Jax Cullen and his tool belt comes into the scene, seducing Maddie of every good intention she has about swearing off of men until now. As Jax brings down the walls that surround Maddie’s heart, so develops a heartwarming relationship between 3 sisters who had not seen each other for the past 5 years. Amidst the small town life of Lucky Harbor, sexual awareness of the eyebrow singeing variety turns into a love so worth taking a chance on that I as a reader absolutely couldn’t have asked for more.

I liked:

  1. Jax Cullen. Every single time he walks in with his tool belt around him – needless to say I am a puddle of goo every time that happens and wouldn’t have it any other way. He has this way of seducing Maddie out of her noble intentions that left me breathless and wanting more of  where that came from. I loved him for his quiet intensity, his kindness, and the smoldering sensuality that leaps into the picture every time he walks in *fans self*. Jax can certainly master my ahem! baser emotions any day he chooses! ^_^
  2. Maddie. She is klutzy,  less than perfect and so down on herself when she comes to Lucky Harbor. But she has an inner strength that can definitely make her the Steel Magnolia, the title her mother has given to Tara the eldest of her 3 girls. Maddie’s determination to heal from the brutality of her relationship with Alex and how she is so irresistibly drawn towards Jax and his quiet determination and strength made me root for her big time!
  3. Loved the dialogues, each and every one of them whether it be between Jax and Maddie, or between Maddie, Tara and Chloe or Jax and his buddies. Several laugh-out moments in the conversations that makes this an excellent book to cure you from all your woes.
  4. Jax and his tool belt. There! Now I have said it. Can’t help but remember a guy on a show on Discovery Travel & Living who had a tool belt around him whilst he went about giving makeovers to people’s homes. Even then, my sole focus was on the tool belt. I guess that explains a bit on my fascination with the tool belt. ^_~
  5. I absolutely loved the relationship that develops between Maddie, Tara and Chloe. They are all so very different from one another but the affection and love they have towards each other is evident right from the very beginning. Though it is Tara’s story that will be coming out in April, I can’t help but want to read Chloe and Sawyer’s story. I have a mind that it’s going to be pretty darn explosive!! ^_^
  6. Loved the quotes from Phoebe Traeger at the beginning of each chapter. They were seriously thought provoking and at the same time gave me something to laugh out loud as I delved into each chapter.
  7. Jax’s lethal brand of seduction. I seriously, seriously could get used to it! *winks*

I disliked: None.

Favorite Quotes

Two, and even more unsettling, he smelled good – sexy and alluring. Closing her eyes, she felt her body tingle, brought to a hyper-awareness that felt almost foreign as something zinged through her.
Desire. Bone-melting desire.
When she opened her eyes again, he was even closer. His eyes weren’t the solid warm caramel she’d thought but had flecks of gold dancing in them, as well. She could have drowned in all that deliciousness.
Not a  bad way to go, she figured – death by lust.

Chloe stood there, a small smile on her lips as she peered past Maddie at the Jeep. “Who’s that?”
Maddie watched the brake lights of the Jeep as it vanished into the night. “Jax Cullen. And that’s all I know,” she said before Chloe could ask anything else.
Well, except that he had a voice that went down like smooth whiskey, a way of looking at her that tended to get her to say more than she should, and oh, yea, he kissed like heaven on earth.

With a sigh, she picked up her knitting instead of inhaling any more food and continued from where she’d left off last night. “In, wrap around,” she said to herself. “Pull out.”
“You know,” Chloe said licking some batter off her thumb. “The way you knit always sounds a little dirty. I bet if you knitted in earshot of a guy, you’d get laid for sure.”

The back door opened, and all three of them swiveled to look as Jax filled the doorway. He looked like sin on a stick in faded Levi’s, a long-sleeved graphic Henley, and – there went her pulse – that damn tool belt slung slow on his hips.

“Don’t take life too seriously. After all, none of us are getting out alive anyway.” – Phoebe Traeger

“Experience is something you get… after you need it.” – Phoebe Traeger

Recommended for anyone who loves a good contemporary romance that can play with all your emotions in a good way and leave you with a huge smile at the end should read this novel. A great beginning to a series which I am sure can only get better. A story that petted, stroked and fed each and every craving I have as a romance reader; I can’t recommend this novel highly enough!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard

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Review: Simple Need by Lissa Matthews

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Series: Ellora’s Cave Exotika Series
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Hero: Vinter
Heroine: Elise
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: November 1, 2009
Started On: January 27, 2011
Finished On: January 27, 2011

I’ve been in a sort of reading funk lately and haven’t been in the mood to read anything. Simple Need by Lissa Matthews has always been a novella that has caught my eye mainly because of its delicious cover and also because of its high reader ratings on Goodreads. So I thought to myself when this title cropped up again, why not give this a chance and see whether it can pull me out of this deep hole I seem to have dug myself into? Though the story didn’t manage to do just that, it still entertained me with a hero that is to die for; a bad boy hero any girl would love.

Since this is a pretty short story, everything is pretty much fast-paced. Vinter is the owner of the bar where Elise decides to drown her sorrows after being dumped by her current boyfriend who had done the deed via SMS, letting her know in the process that he had been a married man all along. Average looking at most with a body that is a bit fuller than what’s the rage, Elise is on her way to becoming drunk when Vinter steps in making all  her hormones go on full red-alert to the delicious man-candy he presents.

Vinter notices the buttoned-up Elise the moment she steps into his bar. Though his intention had only been to just converse with her and find out what was troubling her, the moment she flashes those emerald green eyes filled with longing at him, Vinter is a goner. The undeniable attraction that flares up between Elise and Vinter makes Vinter propose to Elise to let him make her forget every damn thing in her life apart from how Vinter is able to make her feel.

Thus starts out an all out sexual affair which leaves all of Elise’s senses reeling. Having always put aside her true nature and molding herself into what is the norm of the society has made her lose herself somewhere along the way. And it is under Vinter’s commanding fingers that she lets go and embrace her true sensual nature; a journey that leaves the reader tingling in all the right place. *wink*

The ending in this one is also a bit abrupt as it is the case with most of the novellas. Though I didn’t much care for the scene towards the end where Elise’s ex-boyfriend calls her up wanting to mend fences I suppose, I still liked this hot, hot and hot novella and would recommend it to those who love a good erotic contemporary novella with a hero who will just make your heart go aflutter and make all your good-girl genes cry out to claim him as your own.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Ellora’s Cave

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Review: Loving Mercy by Teresa Bodwell

Format: Paperback
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Book 1, Untitled Series
Publisher: Zebra Books
Hero: Thaddeus Buchanan
Heroine: Mercy Clarke
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 1, 2005
Started On: January 24, 2011
Finished On: January 25, 2011

Hanging out at bookstores is one of my favorite ways of passing the time. Take me to a mall, show me a huge bookstore with loads of books to salivate over and I promise you wouldn’t find anyone else happier than myself at that very moment. Since Maldives is such a drag for book lovers like myself, coming to India where bookstores are as frequent as their chai (tea) stalls, needless to say I am in book heaven at the moment. So when I stumbled across this book cover at a used bookstore, I picked it up on a whim, based on its cover alone and because the back synopsis promised this book to deliver a good American-Western romance.

27 year old Mercy Clarke is one of those determined heroines who love their independence, who has had a bad marriage with her now deceased husband Nate and wishes to remain single and shoulder all the responsibilities of her family’s cattle ranching business in Colorado. Six feet tall Mercy always feels as if she were a giraffe in a menagerie and refuses to open up her heart to the possibility of love. Mercy still sports her wedding ring two years on after her husband’s death and is still haunted by the memory of how things ended up with him before his death. With a father who has been disabled from the accident that killed her husband and a younger sister to take care of, Mercy is a woman who takes her responsibilities very seriously and is determined that she would keep the family ranch no matter how much it costs her to do so.

23 year old Thaddeus Buchanan (Thad) is an ex-veteran who served in the civil war, who had his whole family taken from him in a war that has made little sense to him always. His only living relative is his sister Clarisse who lives up in Colorado and Thad is determined to reach her and make a home for himself up in the Colorado mountains. Easy going and charming, Thad is more than 6 feel tall, broad shouldered, blond haired with azure eyes and has a killer dimple in his right cheek when he smiles.

It is Thad’s determination that he reach Colorado that ends him up in the company of the prickly as a thorn Mercy Clarke in the town of Albiene where Mercy travels to auction off her cattle to pay off the debt on her ranch. From the first encounter between Thad and Mercy, Thad is totally captivated by Mercy and her independent nature. Though Mercy would rather cut off an arm than admit that the handsome and charming Thad gets to her more than any man ever had in her life, Mercy is determined that nothing come out of her inconvenient attraction to a man who seems too easygoing to her. But things take a turn when Mercy realizes that Thad is in reality her best friend Clarisse’s younger brother and that alone makes her enter into an agreement to take Thad along for the ride.

It is during this journey that these two make to Colorado that feelings Mercy had thought that she would never ever feel again crop to the surface and makes her give in to the heady desire she feels for a man that she knows is totally not for her. Thad who wants marriage and a family of his own knows that Mercy doesn’t want that role in her life nevertheless finds himself at the mercy of his feelings for her. Amidst danger from men who are after the money that Mercy had made in the auction, these two discover within one another their better halves but a lot of internal battles are waged within themselves to finally conclude that their lives would not be complete without the other.

I am someone who always loves a good American-Western romance. However, I felt that this one didn’t deliver what I was looking for. Thad was a hero I could have liked, hell I could have loved him to bits if he were a bit more assertive and if he could have just stood up for what he felt half the time. I love an independent heroine as much as the next girl but Mercy tended to get on my nerves a bit during the first half of the story and later on redeemed herself by following up on what she felt for Thad. I loved the fact that this was a romance between an older heroine and a younger hero but that didn’t factor into much of the story. This could have been a really great story if it had hit all those spots which you crave to be petted and stroked as a reader. All in all not a bad read though I wouldn’t recommend anyone to sit and read through this book except if you like myself want to discover whether the underlying does justice to a drool-worthy cover.

Favorite Quotes

As sure as roses will have thorns, love will bring you pain.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Abe Books

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Review: Sinful by Charlotte Featherstone

Format: E-booksinful
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Harlequin Spice
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Matthew Wallingford
Heroine: Jane Rankin
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: May 1, 2010
Started On: January 22, 2011
Finished On: January 23, 2011

First of all, let me just take a few minutes of my reviewing time to just gaze at this wonderful cover and salivate over it to my heart’s content. This has got to be one of the most beautiful covers on a romance novel and yes of course it helps that Matthew is displayed in all his glory on the cover.

Sinful by Charlotte Featherstone is a book that seems to have got its fair share of mixed reviews from readers. Most have loved the book until the ending which left them totally stunned in disbelief because its rare for a romance novel to end as this one did, though I have come across one other book with an ending such as this one when I read A Stranger’s Wife by Maggie Osborne. I believe I belong in the latter group of those who actually LOVED the story as it was, maybe because I was prepared for the story’s ending to be a shocker which didn’t really shock me that much in the end. And it might also have something to do with the fact that I have had prior experience with this type of ending and whilst it may not be the ideal conclusion for a romance, it is certainly different which has its own charm as well.

Sinful stars one of the most cynical and jaded heroes I have come across in my reading life. The Earl of Wallingford, Matthew is cynical to the max and has no qualms about admitting to himself that he is an unconscionable rake with insatiable appetites who finds the facade of Victorian morality a mockery. Having had seen very little goodness in his life, Matthew is as tortured a hero as they come. A father who had never liked what Matthew had been even as a boy with a mother who had finally grown tired of her husband’s continued criticism because of her son, Matthew had watched his mother leave a forlorn and lonely boy behind to go with her lover only to a die a horrible death by accident. Stunningly masculine with a face that is exceedingly handsome which holds a beauty that’s dark and sensual, Matthew is an artist, a fact that his father continually mocks. Matthew expects every woman he comes across to have a price for being with him whether it be an emotional or physical one and is used to being the one who can always shock polite society with his untoward behavior. But beneath all this lies a soul so very tortured by what he went through since he turned 15 years old; the experience leaving him unable to bear anyone’s touch on himself even though depravity is Matthew’s middle name.

Enter the 27 year old spinsterish Jane Rankin with her curly red hair sporting spectacles that hides her deep green eyes and a top lip that had been scarred by the back of a man’s hand. A woman of suspect birth with an aristocrat for a father to whom Jane’s mother Lucy has been mistress to, at the age of 7, Jane’s father had kicked his mistress and illegitimate child out leaving them destitute and homeless. Jane at that tender age had resolved that she would never become any man’s mistress nor would she allow a man to dictate her life. And its a resolution that Jane has stuck by even when the going had got tough. Salvation had come in the form of Lady Blackwood who had saved her from the streets and given her a life. A lady’s companion by day and a nurse at the London College Hospital by night, Jane is firmly rooted in her resolve to remain independent though at odd times she yearns for a man’s touch and wants what true love could bring to her life.

These two souls that hide behind facades of their own making shaped up by their experiences when growing up meet by chance when Matthew is brought in as a patient to the hospital where Jane works. From the moment Matthew feels Jane’s fleeting touches and hears her angelic voice, its as if salvation has come calling for him to take him back to the shores of life. Though Matthew is unable to see his Jane’s face during his hospital stay, the white hot attraction that flares up between them is an all consuming one which left me totally breathless at times. Jane who has never had an untoward thought about any patient of hers finds herself yearning to touch the perfection that Matthew’s body is. Not knowing who he is apart from the fact that he could be royalty, a bond is forged between these two that each wants to fight but can’t help but give in to.

As Jane and Matthew’s relationship starts off on shaky grounds, so emerges a tale immersed in darkness with a few surprising twists towards the end. Matthew and Jane’s happily ever after certainly is not one served on a silver platter as Matthew’s dreaded father and stepmother contrive to keep these two apart and Jane with her avowal of becoming a respected member of the society certainly doesn’t give up the values that she has held close to her up until now. All this makes for a really good romance to sink into and the scorching passion between Matthew and Jane is so skillfully done that you can’t help but want more of where that came from.

I liked:

  1. THE COVER!! I just freaking love it! Kudos to the artist. Its such a beautiful cover art for a story that is beautiful and unique which the cover portrays so very well.
  2. Matthew Wallingford. Fans of tortured heroes are going to love him and I absolutely fell for him right from the very first chapter itself. At first when Matthew and Jane meets, I thought that all the hype about Matthew being a bad-ass was just all talk as Matthew seemed to swoon into this puddle of goo whenever Jane was around. But 28% into the story, I said hello to the Matthew I was looking for. The cynical and jaded Matthew who lashes out at the only woman who has been able to see through his facade into the loneliness carved and etched onto his soul; the only woman whose touch he craves more than life itself. The way he aches for Jane and her touch which seems to purify his soul and begins chipping away at the ice that shrouds his heart and his smoldering sensuality with his swoon-in-front-of-him good looks certainly makes Matthew one of the most delectable and unforgettable heroes ever.
  3. Jane Rankin. She starts out sounding prim, proper and spinsterish as well as plain. But around Matthew, Jane transforms into the sensual woman she is supposed to be, a woman who yearns to possess and be possessed by the man she loves. Under Matthew’s smoldering gaze, Jane transforms into a woman of immense beauty, her character and strength lending her a  beauty that glows right from the depth of her soul which makes her one of the most endearing heroines ever. I loved Jane for standing by her values, never letting them go until she had taken the time to decide what was right for her. And I loved Matthew for letting Jane go, so that she could come back on her own terms which made this book a winner for me.
  4. The sizzling sensuality of this story. It has the quality to leave the reader breathless, made me yearn for more and much more as the story moved along. I believe its a testament to Ms. Featherstone’s writing style that I loved each and every encounter that took place between Matthew and Jane.
  5. The epilogue which is available separately from the story. Though I didn’t find the ending available in the story itself lacking, the epilogue is a beautiful piece of work that is a fitting ending for a romance that holds readers enthralled all throughout the story. Loved knowing how things turned out for Matthew and Jane in the end.
  6. The reason I didn’t find the ending lacking in the story itself is because Ms. Featherstone certainly didn’t end up providing instant-formula solutions to the very huge obstacles that seemed to stand in the way of Jane and Matthew getting together. So in a way this story is more meaningful because of that and I think I loved this story just a little more just because of that!

I disliked: Can’t think of anything I would change within this story. Loved every single morsel of the story.

Favorite Quotes

She was too close, his brain warned, but his body overruled logical thought, and he wanted her closer, until her breasts were crushed against him, and his mouth was buried in her throat.
“Sir, release me.”
“Jane…” He released his hold and brought his hand up, connecting with what felt like a soft, plump cheek. She had ample time to retreat from him, but even with his blindness, he could see that she moved closer. “Jane,” he murmured again, not understanding this strange fascination with her name, or the sound of it coming from his mouth.

“Stay with me, Jane.” he mumbled hours later as he clasped her small hand to his chest.
“I cannot,” she replied quietly. “The dawn has arrived.”
“I despise the morning,” he murmured, tracing the satiny nails of her fingers with his fingertips. “I am a creature of darkness, whose element is night and shadows. I belong in the dark with the other sinful creatures.”
She caressed his cheek, and he did not flinch and shrink away in revulsion. Instead, he savored that gentle touch, eating it up like a starving man given a few scraps of bread.

Their fingertips touched and he felt as though he’d been punched in the middle. As their fingers entwined, he felt something that was at once welcoming yet terrifying. Looking down at their locked hands, he realized it was a sense of … completion. Instinct told him to block the feeling. But then she spoke, her voice causing a warmth to spread throughout his body.

His breath hissed through his lips and he dropped her wrist as if he had been burned. He felt trapped, suffocated. Retreat, his mind screamed. Run away from what she is suggesting. Yet he wanted her with such fierceness, he wanted to possess her, to take her and bend her to his will. His thoughts stopped, the war within ceased, and he came to her, taking her by the shoulders, shoving her up against the wall as he tore at the slender straps of her chemise.
“You do not know what you’re asking for,” he growled as he pressed his face into her unbound hair. It was wet, and the coolness did nothing to clear the fire that raged in him.

“You thought I believed you insignificant, but the truth is, I find you fascinating. You think I suppose you’re not pretty, but Jane,” he said, looking up, “I find you stunning. Your eyes … your imperfect mouth. It’s beautiful, and I want to paint you how I see you, sensual and womanly, dying to break free of an ideal that imprisons you.”

Staring at the window of his study, Matthew watched as the door of the carriage shut behind Jane. Their gazes met, and despite the fact that Jane had asked that he not see her off, he had not been able to resist one last look at the woman who had changed him, who’d awakened not only the man, but the heart inside him.
Jane… Resting his flattened palm on the glass, he tried to connect with her, if only for a fleeting second, I need your touch …
Despite the silence, Jane heard him and his desperate plea. Her own small hand, devoid of a glove, rested against the carriage window, holding him palm to palm, despite glass, brick and mortar. The sun chose that moment to shine, illuminating the copper curls that had escaped her bonnet, and the glistening trails of tears that slid down her pale cheeks.
Pressing his forehead to the cool glass, he held her gaze, her palm, his eyes pleading with her. Don’t go. Don’t leave me.

Recommended for:

  1. Fans of Charlotte Featherstone.
  2. Fans of historical romances who like their romances with a little more spice in it than usual.
  3. Fans of romances who would like a story that ends just a tad differently from your usual ones.

And the funny thing is, just as I sat down to write the review with music blaring from the headphones, the song Sweetest Sin by Jessica Simpson came up on my playlist which struck a chord deep within me which I somehow found to be perfect for this story. So I leave my review with a couple of lines from the lyrics for you all to enjoy.

Can you imagine us,
Making love…
The way you would feel the first time that we touched,
Can you think of it…
The way I dream of it,
I want you to see like im seeing you…
It’s a picture of perfection,
The vision of you and me…

Your lips upon my lips,
Can you just picture this …
Your finger tips on my finger tips,
Your skin upon my skin …
Would be the sweetest sin …

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

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Review: Reveal Me by Cari Quinn

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Unveiled, Book 1
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Hero: Carter Nicholas
Heroine: Alana MacGregor
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: January 19, 2011
Started On: January 21, 2011
Finished On: January 21, 2011

I first discovered Cari Quinn when I read and reviewed her book Personal Research on September last year. With the release of that novel, Cari Quinn certainly made it to my auto-buy list because her books are seriously way over the hot, hot zone packaged with a ton of emotion that I as a romance reader absolutely revel in. This short erotic quickie released from Ellora’s Cave includes everything that makes an erotica worth your time.

Alana MacGregor has a bit of a wild side to her nature which hides the sensitive and vulnerable woman inside of her. Someone who is always a bit restless and has issues with commitment and settling down in one place, its a miracle in itself that Alana has lasted as the photographer for The Edge, Roanoke Virginia’s leading newspaper for 11 months now though Alana knows photographing dildos is not what she should be doing with her obvious talent for photography.

Alana is a regular visitor of Kink-Aly, Maryland’s hottest sex club and it is there she runs smack-dab into the now hunky and gorgeous Carter Nicholas from high school who Alana had used to make her then boyfriend jealous regardless of the fact that Alana was aware that nerdy Carter had feelings for her. Caught at a vulnerable moment Alana does what she always does best – brazenly offer herself up to Carter who manages to rouse in her feelings which Alana has thought impossible till now. Their journey towards happily ever after is a hot and wild one any erotica fan would absolutely love!

I liked:

  1. The cover!! I will buy this one for the cover alone. I can stare at that back for hours to come, imagining running my hands up and down those muscles, kissing those little curves. So before I get carried away once again, definitely heart the cover on this one! ^_^
  2. Carter Nicholas. I have identified with the fact that Cari Quinn writes the sexiest “nerdy” heroes possible and Carter certainly lived up to all my expectations and then some. He is sexy, dynamite in bed and out of it *winks* and the best quality about him is the fact that he sees Alana for who she is, wants her for who she is and obviously cares for her and cherishes her in a major way. Total hottie!
  3. Alana MacGregor. At first I couldn’t help but be a little taken aback by her less-than-kind nature. But as I read along I understood what was driving her to be what she was before and she fully redeemed herself towards the end which makes her strong in my opinion. And she is a definite match for the much laid back Carter. Alana is the right mix to add a little spice and wickedness to Carter’s life.
  4. Definitely made me notice Alana’s best friend Kelly. Provoke Me is the title where Kelly finds her happily ever after and am eagerly awaiting an announcement for its release date. I know I am going to love her story as much as I did Alana and Carter’s.

I disliked: None.

Favorite Quotes

She closed the space between them and, forgoing subtlety, dove in for the mother of all kisses. Mmm. Heat punched into her – a quick, swift jab that left her reeling. She gasped and clutched his T-shirt, clamping her lips over his again before more sounds escaped. His tongue invaded her mouth, hot and all-consuming.
Want. Need. Bad.
Everything insider her opened and liquefied, her body seeking his warmth and the unyielding strength his muscles promised.

Recommended for:

1- Fans of erotic romances who love their stories hotter than wildfire.
2- Fans of Cari Quinn. You should definitely read this one!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo | Ellora’s Cave

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Review: One Reckless Summer by Toni Blake

Format: E-bookonerecklesssummer
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Destiny, Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Mick Brody
Heroine: Jenny Tolliver
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: June 1, 2009
Started On: January 17, 2011
Finished On: January 20, 2011

I have heard so many great things about the Destiny series by Toni Blake. When the latest book in the series was released this month and I saw the rave reviews the book received, I was determined that I would start on the Destiny series sometime soon and indulge. And indulge is what I did in this sultry and sinful summer romance that Ms. Blake brings to life with her vivid characterization and so very hot and tastefully done love scenes that a girl can’t help but salivate over from the  very beginning. Set in the small town of Destiny, Ohio, One Reckless Summer is a romance that exactly lives up to its title.

31 year old Jenny Tolliver returns back to her hometown after she obtains a divorce from her cheating husband who labels her as a 21st century June Cleaver. Jenny whose father Walter Tolliver is the police chief of Destiny and her mother Judy Tolliver who had been the one person in town everyone could count on in times of crisis who had died from cancer when Jenny had been 13 years old had certainly contributed towards Jenny becoming the good girl she has always been. Never one to break a rule except for the one her father had imposed on her on crossing the Blue Valley Lake alone, Jenny is tired of being labeled as nice and good by all those she knows. When she walks in on Terrence, her husband and the only man she had ever been with making out with her 21 year student teacher, it just breaks something inside of Jenny to know that Terrence finds her lacking and passionless though he had never voiced his discontentment before. Returning to Destiny had been her way of getting things into perspective and her hideaway to lick her wounds in private. What she doesn’t bargain on is running into the big, bad Mick Brody who all the good girls had stayed away from and nevertheless dreamed about and for Mick to rock her world in ways she never even imagined.

34 year old Mick Brody is the younger son of the Brody bunch whom the whole town of Destiny had always labeled as being the bad seeds in their otherwise quaint town. Growing up with two parents who had always been violent and had resented their children Wayne and Mick for their presence, neither Mick nor Wayne had ever known anything gentle or kind in their lives. Naturally Wayne had run in the bad crowds which Mick had taken to as well because he simply worshiped the ground his elder brother walked on. But the final straw had been when Wayne had been sent to prison for armed robbery which had made Mick take stock of his life and make things turn around. Leaving Destiny and starting work as a bricklayer and stonemason in Cincinnati had been Mick’s way of making something out of himself. But Mick quits everything and returns  back to his dreaded home to help his brother die after Wayne breaks out of prison after being diagnosed with a brain tumor with leukemia of the untreatable kind.

It is when Jenny’s restlessness after 2 days of returning home that has her trudging towards the hill on the Brody’s property to look at the stars as Jenny has a love for astronomy that she comes across an all grown up and a much more lethal version of Mick Brody. Having always been aware of Mick even when she had been 16 and Mick 19 years old, Jenny can’t say no to the lethal brand of passion that Mick unleashes in her; the good girl of Destiny. Sweaty and hot sex in the sweltering woods surrounding Mick’s property stuns Jenny so much that she is at a loss as to what to do about it. It certainly doesn’t help her curious nature when Mick refuses to let her on his property guarding  a secret so possessively that all Jenny’s instincts are on red-alert where Mick is concerned. But even that doesn’t stop her from indulging in off-the charts sex of the wall banging variety with Mick who sets all her senses afire. Mick is far from being untouched by at last tasting what has always been forbidden for him. Jenny touches something deep inside of him with her kindness and the raw passion that is unleashed every single time he touches her certainly makes things complicated for a man who doesn’t do long-term. The farthest thing on Jenny’s mind when she begins her one reckless summer affair with Mick is giving her heart, body and soul to a man who is as unlike from her as night and day. But the heart wants what it wants and before long Jenny is at war with herself on whether to give all of herself to Mick, a fight which she loses in such a delicious and heartwarming manner.

I liked:

  1. Mick Brody. Oh my God! The guy just oozes sexuality with his mere presence and heats things up to unbearable levels with Jenny. His character is such an oddly endearing mix; a man who wants to scare Jenny off with his bad and wolfish nature but unbearably drawn towards all the good qualities in Jenny as a moth towards flame. I loved me some Mick and he has a tendency to creep into my thoughts at the oddest moments and incite a shiver of the illicit kind a time or two. The best kind of yummy hero Mick really is! ^_^
  2. Jenny Tolliver. She is such an endearing and a heartwarming heroine. A woman who gave up her dreams to be with the man she got married to, Jenny doesn’t let her heartbreak and betrayal by her ex-husband color her feelings for Mick who is so very different from Terrence. And I just absolutely loved how Jenny found herself in the story, how she slowly changed into a woman who was aware of her lethal brand of charm and just adored how she took care of Mick when he needed it the most. Jenny is the kind of heroine who regardless of all the obstacles that stands in her way of true love nevertheless has the strength and courage to take the leap which makes her one of the most likable heroines.
  3. I loved how the small town life of Destiny didn’t interfere with the fiery passion and heartwarming romance of this novel. Sometimes it happens that when an author starts off a series with small town life involved in it, they tend to spend so much time developing the characters of the town that romance and the connection between the hero and heroine take a backseat till they are done. I loved how from the very beginning Jenny and Mick set the pages afire and continued to do so throughout the book. And Ms. Blake kept up the small town life at just the right level for a romance such as this one!
  4. This story played with all my emotions in such a good way. My heart went thud, thud, thud each and every single time Mick came into the picture. And it just broke my heart to read about Wayne and what Mick and Wayne both go through during the last moments of  Wayne’s life. Though those moments were heartbreaking, the thing that drew me in was the fact that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, joy to be found later and a happily ever after that just left me breathless at the very end.
  5. I just loved the side characters in this story as it unfolded. Sue Ann with her wonderfully quirky nature makes for one of the best characters in this book. I laughed out loud many a time reading the conversations that takes place between Sue Ann and Jenny which brings to mind how much fun I used to have with my best friend before she took off to work in a foreign country. And Jenny’s conversations with Miss Ellie; definitely a highlight of the novel.
  6. And oh good Lord! The love scenes – some of the hottest I have come across in a contemporary romance. And so realistically and vividly done that they tend to creep into my thoughts now and then. Toni Blake surely knows her stuff! ^_^
  7. Toni Blake’s writing style! I just flat-out love it!

Dislikes: Absolutely NONE!

Favorite Quotes

Again she wrestled, trying to get free even though she knew she couldn’t – and that was the dark temptation of the fight. It made everything okay as long as she tried to resist right? As long as she let both of them know she wasn’t the sort of girl who just have in to a stranger in the woods without a struggle.
A
little struggle, anyway.
Because when he spun her around, still holding tight to her, she ended up with her back pressed to his chest, her bottom plastered to his erection, her breath coming heated and labored, she lost the will to struggle anymore. He just felt too good. Too hard. Too everything. She let him hold her there, let him make her feel . . . captured, hot, ready.

She hadn’t been planning to have sex with him again anyway, but after being reminded that he was keeping some big, bad secret from her on his side of the lake – it was out of question.
“And did any of those things stop you in the woods?” Sue Ann asked.
Jenny replied pointing a threatening finger at her friend. “I was in a bad mood and he pissed me off.”
“And you really taught him a lesson by riding him to orgasm the way you did.”
Jenny let her mouth drop open and her eyes go wide. “Stop it already.”

She didn’t answer – too busy trembling inside. Her whole body ached for him. How had she gotten back in this position – aching for Mick Brody?
You asked him to dance, that’s how! Oh brother, she couldn’t believe she’d done that.
But she had. And now he was leaning forward, tentatively, as slowly as any boy on a first date, lowering his mouth to hers.
She sank into his kiss readily – there was no stopping it.

He never meant to kiss her, either, but before he knew it, his mouth was on hers, and her lips were so soft – everything on her was soft. He went hard in the space of a heartbeat as she kissed him back, kissed him back even now, even knowing his darkest secrets – and that made him kiss her even more hungrily.
Oh God – he needed her – bad. He hated admitting that to himself, but he knew it – he needed her now, to take all the rotten stuff away.
Shit, he’d let that happen too fast, way too fast – he wasn’t a guy who got attached to women often – but this was different. This was about slaking the pain, about finding a way to feel good when everything around him was bad. And Jenny made him feel damn good.

Recommended for:

  1. Fans of sinfully hot and good contemporary romances. You won’t be disappointed to read this one.
  2. Fans of Toni Blake who haven’t read the Destiny series yet. This book promises the start of a very good contemporary romance series which I am 100% convinced wouldn’t steer me wrong.

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

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