Review: All of You by Rhian Cahill

Format: E-bookallofyou
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Noble Romance Publishing
Hero: Ryan Doherty
Heroine: Claire Jones
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: September 26, 2011
Started On: September 27, 2011
Finished On: September 27, 2011

Rhian Cahill is one of my go-to authors for highly sensual erotica that pleases all the senses. If you are a fan of erotica and have never heard of Rhian Cahill, you seriously don’t know what you are missing!

All of You by Rhian Cahill is a story from a favorite trope of mine. Where older heroines find their happily ever after with younger heroes which makes for very interesting reads.

29 year old Ryan Doherty has had the hots for his next door neighbor, 41 year old Claire Jones ever since he laid eyes on her. The only thing that stops him from making a move is not knowing whether or not Claire feels the same way about him.

Claire knows that she needs to stop making Ryan the centrefold of every delicious, erotic fantasy and dream she has had since Ryan moved in next door. But knowing that doesn’t seem to be helping in her efforts to put Ryan out of her mind. When her best friend comes up with the crazy notion that she should go for it with Ryan and wring every decadent pleasure that she can out of the encounter, Claire finds herself doing just that and more as Ryan pleasures her in ways that she has never thought possible.

Though short, Rhian still manages to tell a story that left me wanting more and desperately in need of a cold shower or two with the dirty-talking Ryan talking up a storm, upping the heat factor of a novella that already far exceeds the scorch meter.

Ryan is of the ultra-studtastic variety, living up to what I imagined him to be and then some. Apart from the way he can seduce Claire of all her inhibitions, the way he cares about her enough to want to protect her and cosset her and look after of her every want and need; well, there’s nothing more that’s needed to be said. Ryan is the ultimate younger hero that every woman should have; protective, dangerously sexy, charming and palpitation-inducing-hot that just makes him perfect hero material.

Claire served to be someone who had the guts at first to put aside everything else and concentrate on just being with a man who makes her feel safe, warm, loved and decadently sexy all in one. But when reality strikes and pierces through the bubble of happiness that she finds herself wrapped up in, she goes in the self-sacrificial-lamb routine which irked me for a bit. But then again, Claire does make up for all of it quite beautifully in the end which totally redeemed her in my eyes.

Hot enough to singe off more than just your eyebrows, with a hero that you would just clamor for to make him your own, All of You is a novella that once again proves Rhian’s ability to spin an erotic story well worth your time & money!

Favorite Quotes

Ryan’s nostrils flared, and his gaze came back to meet hers. The heat and lust swirling in the green orbs delivered another burst of heat to her body. Claire shivered.

The woman had him tied in knots. She hardly gave him the time of day, but all she had to do was breathe in his direction and his dick was raring to go, his body pounding with a need that consumed his every thought.

Sitting on the stool put her eye-level with his throat. The bob of his Adam’s apple as he swallowed tantalized her. What would he taste like if I licked him there? Her body swayed forward, and her tongue slipped out to run over her bottom lip.
Ryan groaned, and Claire’s world tilted.
His lips slammed onto hers. There were no gentle, getting to know you sweeps of his tongue. He thrust into her mouth, meeting no resistance as she gladly opened for him.

Claire squirmed under his close scrutiny—struggled to keep from covering herself with her hands.
“Don’t.” He reached out and touched her clenched fists with his fingers. “Don’t think you need to hide. You’re beautiful. Every inch of you.”
Bringing her gaze up to meet his, she saw the strength of conviction in his eyes.
Whether she thought herself worthy of him or not, he had already made his decision.
And that was all that mattered.

Like a drug, she entered his system and took over, delivering a jolt to every cell and obliterating all else. And like any addict, he took the fix, felt the euphoria and craved more.

Ryan took her mouth with his. Nibbled and licked until she opened for him. His tongue swept inside and tangled with hers. Bold strokes and hot slides stole her breath and drew moisture from her core. He touched her nowhere else, but she felt him in every inch of her body.

Purchase Links: Noble Romance

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Requested Review: Jockeys and Jewels by Bev Pettersen

Format: E-bookjockeysandjewels
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Westerhall
Hero: Kurt McKinnon
Heroine: Julie West
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 12, 2011
Started On: September 25, 2011
Finished On: September 28, 2011

Kurt MacKinnon is a horse trainer who handed over his resignation to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police eleven months back, refusing to let the lies and deception that ruled his life in undercover work drain him out any longer. But Kurt gets pulled back to do one more undercover job, to bring to justice the man/woman responsible for the murder of one of his trusted colleagues. Kurt’s knowledge about horses and his profession makes him the ultimate choice for the undercover mission that involves infiltrating a horse race track to find out the person responsible and to find the reason behind the murder.

23 year old Julie West is an apprentice jockey who dreams of becoming a jockey as revered and experienced as her mother had been. A suspect in Kurt’s investigation, Julie is not what Kurt expects her to be and from the first moment, it becomes hard for Kurt to be objective where Julie is concerned as her refreshing honesty about everything pulls him in far deeper than anyone else has in a long, long time.

Julie tries hard to keep things professional between herself and Kurt but finds herself unable to do so as Kurt’s charm and underlying kindhearted nature that peeks through makes him more and more irresistible. So finds Julie breaking the rules which had governed her adult life about mixing business with pleasure, all the while not knowing Kurt’s true agenda when it comes to her and the rest of her colleagues at the race track.

Blended with details about horses, racing and the life of a novice jockey who wants to make it big, together with the detecting and undercover work of a determined undercover agent, Jockeys and Jewels is a novel that proved to be an entertaining read. Because I am not someone who has much familiarity with horses since I live in a country where the only time we encounter a horse is when its on TV, I found myself fascinated with certain aspects of the horse racing world. Though I felt that there was a bit too much on the horse racing aspect at times, for someone who loves horses, racing and the world of jockeys with a bit of romance and suspense tossed right in, Jockeys and Jewels would be a gem of a read.

Kurt’s character comes off as the brooding hot variety and he has a hard time keeping his feelings in check when it comes to Julie. Kurt does prove in the end that he has no intention of letting Julie go because for the first time in his life, Kurt finds someone worthy of letting into his heart, body and soul as his mate for as long as he lives. Julie at first is skittish as a newborn colt when it comes to succumbing to the attraction that fires up between herself and Kurt from the very first moment. But as little  by little Kurt charms his way into her emotions and heart, Julie learns to let go, though she doesn’t have a clue as to the real reason behind Kurt’s appearance at the race track.

Bev Pettersen has got that innate talent of telling a good story which I know would only continue to improve with each publication.

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

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Review: Rendezvous with Revenge by Miranda Lee

Format: E-bookrendezvouswithrevenge
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Presents, #1967
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ethan Grant
Heroine: Abigail Rose-Maree Richmond
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 15, 2011
Started On: September 24, 2011
Finished On: September 24, 2011

After I read my last Miranda Lee, I found myself in a tizzy to find out more books by the author that might deliver the sort of stories that I fondly seem to recall having read from her even now. So, as usual, I found myself trolling Amazon to find what the all-knower-of-books had to recommend from Miranda Lee and found myself intrigued enough to buy myself a copy Rendezvous with Revenge. 

An orthopaedic surgeon in his thirties, Dr. Ethan Grant is a man cynical and weary of women who presume to show only one side of their nature, hiding their true form until it is too late to turn away from the inevitable disaster that follows; even when Ethan takes care to make things as casual in his relationships as possible. Dedicated to his profession above everything else, Ethan is the uber controlled type of hero that just makes the reader want to ruffle his feathers a bit, just to see what makes him tick!

25 year old Abigail Rose-Maree Richmond (Abby) has a sour viewpoint of anything to do with romance, love and happily ever after after her first and ex-boyfriend left her in a lurch that she would never ever forget. Determined to make it by herself, Abby juggles two jobs one of which is acting as Ethan’s secretary on each Friday of the week.

Six months on since she started working for the eye-catching Dr. Ethan Grant, Abby finds herrself between a rock and a hard place when Ethan issues her with an offer she knows she should say no to, but her heart and other baser emotions wants to say “Oh, hell yes!” to. When circumstances out of here control finds Abby saying yes to attending the medical conference acting as Ethan’s current beau, Abby finds herself wanting to throw caution to the wind and take a flying leap into Ethan’s arms to experience the fire that smolders in Ethan’s otherwise shuttered expression.

When Abby clues in on the real reason behind Ethan’s facade of taking her along as his girlfriend, Abby becomes more determined than ever to do everything in her power to eliminate each and every single memory that Ethan has of his ex-fiance, even if it means breaking her heart in the process.

While the first half of the book worked for me brilliantly, it was the second half of the book that I had a huge problem with. I was left bewildered with the abrupt change in the tone set for the second half of the book, the first half of which was spent with Ethan barely hinting at being attracted towards Abby. But lo and behold, without any hint whatsoever, Ethan turned into this cloying and sweet man that just made my head spin around, and not in a good way.

One aspect of this book that I loved; Miranda always knows how to deliver on the raw passion and desire that she generates between her heroes and heroines. And with Ethan and Abby she managed to do just that without being overly explicit which just made my senses hum.

I didn’t overly much like the ending. Though I was happy with the fact that both Ethan and Abby conversed like rational adults and told each other the stuff that was hanging between them that could have really caused serious conflicts between them, I couldn’t totally accept Ethan’s change of heart for what it was to be. All the proclamations of love towards the end just felt false to me. If the ending had been different, as in the tone of the novel had not changed so abruptly halfway through the book, this could have ended up being a great read. 

Though not what I expected, I would still classify Rendezvous with Revenge as a good read, a choice for a light read in between those heavy reads that requires all your brain cells to be on red alert.

Momentous Scenes: The moment Abby makes Ethan lose his legendary control during their first blazing sexual encounter. Shivers of the good kind hummed right through me!

Favorite Quotes

Her actions were instinctive—her hands reaching up to run feverishly over his stiffly held shoulders, then up his corded neck towards his suddenly taut face muscles. His mouth gasped open when she began to trace his lips boldly with her fingers. She didn’t hesitate, daringly inserting them into his mouth, sliding them back and forth along his wet tongue in an echo of what his body was doing inside hers.
‘Ethan,’ she moaned in her mad passion for him. ‘Oh, Ethan…’
He froze for a second, then shuddered violently, a raw, animal sound punched from his lungs.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo 

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Review: Lethal by Sandra Brown

Format: E-booklethal
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Leo Coburn
Heroine: Honor Rosemary Gillette
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 20, 2011
Started On: September 23, 2011
Finished On: September 24, 2011

It feels like its being ages since I have been invested in a story, its characters and its final outcome as much as I did when reading Lethal by Sandra Brown. And it has been quite sometime since I picked up a Sandra Brown, who always manages to keep the reader glued to the pages, whether it be because of the strong elemental connection she manages to make with the reader or because of the suspense element in her later novels that always manages to entice the reader to put everything else on hold and indulge.

Lee Coburn is a federal agent deep undercover going on 13 months when all hell breaks loose and he is forced to flee for his life after being implicated in the mass murder of 7 men which had initiated a nationwide man hunt for him. His destination is one that will either help him make or break the case of a wide ring of smugglers who dabbles in transportation of young girls to drugs to weaponary.

When widow Honor Gillette’s 4 year old daughter Emily discovers the wounded man outside of their home, Honor has no inkling that her whole life is about turn upside down when the dangerous man with menace emanating from his very pores makes her regret the impulse to check on him. But what Lee brings home to light makes Honor question the circumstances surrounding the seemingly innocent death of her husband Eddie two years back and place her trust in Lee to keep Honor and her daughter safe when everything familiar seems so murky in comparison. 

Lee with his ingrained mistrust for everyone tries hard to not be disarned by a pair of hazel-green eyes that entices and beckons at the same time. With everyone involved in the man hunt with unclear agendas of their own, Lee trudges his way through with the woman and her child in tow, knowing that anything else would mean a swift death for both of them which he just cannot fathom having on his conscience. And all the while, the awareness that singes through both Honor and Lee’s blood grows with every passing minute, practically making the very air between them electrifying.

Sandra Brown takes the reader on a harrowing journey told from multiple viewpoints, the story’s impact a much more profound one because of the fact. The villian when brought to light towards the end proved to be a shocker which is a testament to Ms. Brown’s ability to spin a well effectuated thriller.

Lacking in romance is this one not for the fans of Sandra Brown who enjoys the way she brings together her two main protagonists. Both Lee and Honor are reason enough to bow down to Ms. Brown’s superior talent when it comes to delivering on heroes and heroines a reader can relate to and characters that you want to open up your heart to.

Lee is the version of a dying breed of heroes that few authors have the gumption to write in the present times. Lethal and dangerous, Lee is a former Marine who had a tough childhood, whose days in the military had honed his skills of killing to the extent that he practically feels nothing until Emily and Honor both pierce through the fog of nothingness that has surrounded him all his adult life. With a delcious barbed wire tattoo on his bicep and a straightforwardness to his manner that is both exhilarating and alluring at the same time, Lee is a hero who raced towards my shelf of favorite heroes before I had the time to blink!

Honor is a worthy heroine for a man like Lee. A second grade school teacher who is a total babe in the woods when it comes to the likes of Lee, Honor nevertheless has a backbone of steel that propels her to make the right decisions even when everything else tells her otherwise. Her attraction when it comes to Lee is a visceral one that has her falling hard and fast before she even has the time to gather her wits around her.

Emily was just plain adorable I say and I think my heart just practically turned over during the 1st couple of chapters which brought to light her cherubic character. I knew then and there that if nothing else could get through to a hero of Lee’s calibre, Emily could with her innocent and trusting nature that can heal even the most wounded heart.

When it comes to the suspense aspect of the novel, it is how Ms. Brown manages to keep the reader on tenterhooks about her characters, wondering which one’s the ally and which one the foe that makes this one hard to put down. With the turn of one page, you think you have learnt a bit more about the characters that constantly keeps you on your toes. But then at the turn of the next page you realize that you might not know as much as you think you do, which makes this an instant page-turner!

My one teensy bit of disappointment stems from how the story ended, though there were elements that makes the reader draw the conclusion that there is a happily ever after in store for both Honor and Lee. But then again, I guess it was because of the ending that Lethal would remain in my heart for a long time, the riot of emotions that coursed through me at that very moment being one I wouldn’t be forgetting anytime soon.

A game of cat and mouse timed to perfection & flawless in its execution, Lethal by Sandra Brown is another winner by master storyteller Sandra Brown.

Momentous Scenes:

  • The moment Emily places a kiss on Lee’s cheek. Had me going all Aww! because of how much it affected the stoic Lee Coburn.
  • The moments during which Lee holds Honor in his arms, just wanting the moment to linger on, a first for him. Such a sweet and throat tightening moment.

Favorite Quotes

His entire aspect was menacing, starting with his chilling eyes and the pronounced bone structure of his face. He was tall and lean, but the skin on his arms was stretched over muscles that looked as taut as whipcord. The backs of his hands were bumpy with strong veins. His clothes and hair had snagged natural debris—twigs, sprigs of moss, small leaves. He seemed indifferent to all that, just as he did to the mud caked on his boots and the legs of his jeans. He smelled of the swamp, of sweat, of danger.

Doral asked if Coburn’s neighbors had been interviewed.
“By me personally,” Fred replied. “Everybody in the apartment complex knew him by sight. Women thought he was attractive in that certain kind of way.”
“What certain kind of way?”
“Wished they could fuck him, but considered him bad news.”
“That’s a ‘way’?”
“Of course that’s a ‘way.’ ”

She shook her head slowly. “I don’t believe you. You can’t be a cop.”
“Not a cop.”
“Federal agent?”
“FBI.”
“Even more unlikely.”
“J. Edgar rolls over in his grave every day, but that’s the way it is.”

And then he pressed into her. First his thighs, then his middle, his chest, and finally his mouth. She made a whimpering sound, but its definition was unclear even to her, until she realized that her arms had gone around him instinctually, and that she was clutching his back, his shoulders, her hands restless and greedy for the feel of him.
He kissed her openmouthed, using his tongue, and when she kissed back, she felt the hum that vibrated deep inside his chest. It was the kind of hungry sound she hadn’t heard in a long time. Masculine and carnal, it thrilled and aroused her.

Moving between her thighs, he stretched out above her, then thrust into her. Once. Because, as he did everything, he acted without hesitation or apology to claim her entirely. Her eyes went wide and her breath caught. Holding her gaze, he pressed himself deeper, barely easing back before pressing deep again.

(Coburn)“Honor.”
Gasping, she lowered her arm from over her eyes and looked into his face.
“Put your hands on me. Pretend this means something.”
With a whimper, she wrapped her arms around him and clutched his back, then slid her hands down over his ass and drew him even deeper into her. He groaned, buried his face in the hollow of her neck, and rocked his body against hers. An orgasm burst through her at the same time he came.
She pretended nothing.

The intensity of his expression caused her to tentatively ask, “What?”
“I’ve never been a big fan of the missionary position.”
Not quite sure how to respond to that, she said simply, “Oh.”
“I preferred making it any other way.”
“Why?”
“Because it didn’t have anything to do with getting off.”
“What didn’t?”
“Looking into the woman’s face.” He murmured the statement as though puzzled by it.
Her throat grew tight. She reached up and stroked his cheek. “You wanted to look into mine?”

(Honor)“You had told me that if you didn’t return within a few minutes of ten o’clock, I was to drive away and get as far from Tambour as possible. So, for all you knew, that’s what I had done. After nearly dying in that explosion, with a burn on your shoulder, and your hair singed, you could have run in any given direction in order to get away, but you didn’t. When you found me on the railroad tracks, you were racing back to the garage. To me.”
He didn’t say anything, but his jaw tensed.
She smiled and moved closer to him, aligning her body along his. “You don’t have to give me flowers, Coburn. You don’t even have to hold me.” She laid her head on his chest just below his chin. Her hand curved around his neck. “Let me hold you.”

He had to admit: She’d got to him. This demure second-grade schoolteacher, who’d been faithful to her husband, but who had fucked him with the same fervor with which she’d fought him two days ago, had crawled under his mean ol’ hide.

If he turned his hand into her and began stroking her there, she would wake up smiling and drowsy and ready for him again.
They would kiss. Erotically. Her mouth would be so damn enticing, he’d dip into it again and again to gather the taste that was now familiar to him. He would touch his tongue to her nipples, and she’d rub her thumb around the tip of his cock and feel that he was about to burst, and then he’d be inside her, moving.
Or maybe not. Maybe he would do something he’d never done with a woman. Maybe he would just… be. […]
No, maybe this time, he would just savor being joined to another person as tightly as two people could be. He would savor being joined with Honor.

ARC Review: How a Cowboy Stole Her Heart by Donna Alward

Format: E-bookhowacowboystoleherheart
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Romance, #4270
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Clay Gregory
Heroine: Megan Briggs
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 1, 2011
Started On: September 21, 2011
Finished On: September 22, 2011

I have identified with the fact that Donna Alward writes romances that practically seeps with bittersweet emotions until towards the very end which of course delivers the reader with a happily ever after that is that much sweeter because of the fact. Though not highly sensual in nature, Donna Alward still manages to deliver sexual tension of the toe curling variety amidst all the deeper and messy emotions she makes her characters confront, and that is one reason why I would continue to read her books.

How a Cowboy Stole Her Heart is deceptive in the way its title and blurb are presented. Deceptive I say because I delved into the story expecting a light and fluffy read which would make me feel on top of the world towards the end. However, from page one, you learn that Megan Briggs (Meg) is a survivor of breast cancer, having had one of her breasts removed because of the ravaging disease. She had left her hometown in Larch Valley behind to pursue her treatment and a year on, she is back home determined that she would put away her silly dreams that features her rugged and sexy cowboy neighbor who happens to be her brother’s best friend.

The last time Clay Gregory had talked to Meg it had ended up in a huge verbal confrontation that had concluded in them going their separate ways; Meg for her treatment and Clay to resume his day-to-day life unable to face the fact that someone he cares deeply about has to go through the very same thing that had killed his father and torn his family apart. Clay is a man who holds true to his belief that love and marriage are facets of life better left untouched and is determined that none of that would ever have a place in his life.

When Clay encounters a recovered Meg, she is so much different from the sweet woman he remembers. This Meg stares at him with eyes full of fire, defiance and the will to live her life on her terms stamped all over her face. And  though Clay feels small stirrings of something akin to desire for Meg the stubborn little chit who had always stuck like glue to him when he was growing up, Clay has no intention of acting on any of those feelings that makes him squirm, that is until Meg does a number on him at his aunt Stacy’s wedding which has Clay rapidly reaching out for his crumbling iron-clad control.

Though Meg tries to crush the tendrils of hope that unfurl whenever she is around Clay, the constant misunderstandings that leap out due to their different attitudes towards life and the stuff that scares them both makes it inevitable that a relationship between herself and Clay would never survive the many a tough times that may come ahead. But with Clay equally determined to prove otherwise, it is a battle of wills these two embark upon which makes their ultimate surrender that much more meaningful.

I have to admit that even though there were parts of the story that worked for me such as the tendrils of sexual tension between Meg and Clay that was delicious and heady as they come, to the side characters such as Jen and Tara who all seem to have quite interesting stories of their own to tell, there were certain elements within the story that didn’t quite make the cut for me. I didn’t quite warm up to either Clay or Meg though there are bits and pieces in their characters that makes them endearing and appealing at times. I can’t quite put my finger on why it was so with Clay but with Meg it was the way she wanted to prevent anything from happening between her and Clay because she didn’t want to put Clay through the emotional turmoil of a remission of the cancer which is always a possibility with cancer survivors. The way she makes the decision for Clay without even contemplating the rapidly changing feelings between them didn’t seem to sit with me quite that well.

Even then, I found myself pulled in with the constant whirlwind of emotions that courses through Meg as she tries and walks ahead into a future that is an uncertain one. But her determination and courage through it all just amazed me and I was rooting for her all the way through those moments. Light hearted and fluffy is certainly not what this romance is about, but engrossing and a good deal of emotion it certainly delivers and I would recommend this one for fans of Donna Alward.

Momentous Scenes

  • The moment Clay lays eyes on the altogether made over Meg whose beauty and lure at that moment just shocks him to the very core! *Sigh!*
  • The first kiss. Sizzling hot!

Favorite Quotes

She unlocked the door, but before she could turn the knob his hand covered hers. She turned and froze.
“Clay,” she warned, but it was too late.
His arm came around her, lifted her feet clear off the floor as he kissed her: hot, demanding, and all encompassing.
His mouth was soft, hot and devastating. Megan let the shock ripple deliciously through her as she clutched his shoulders. There was a small thunk as the house key dropped to the step. Even through the layers of his tuxedo and her coat Meg felt the hardness of his body against her.

ARC Review: The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin

Format: E-bookthedragonandthepearl
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Harlequin Historical Publisher Series
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Li Tao
Heroine: Ling Suin
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 21, 2011
Started On: September 20, 2011
Finished On: September 20, 2011

No true fan of romance can read Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin and escape without wanting to find out more about General Li Tao. And Jeannie Lin certainly doesn’t disappoint fans of her ultra unique historical romances set in the Tang Dynasty, China with this installment. Towards the end of my review for Butterfly Swords I mentioned my utter and at times reluctant fascination with Li Tao who served to be at first the villian and then somehow turned the tables around on me. Little did I know that Li Tao’s character was one that intrigued the author herself so much that she just had to write his story, a fact for which I am eternally grateful.

It is 759 AD and a period of political upheaval in China during which time the military governors known as the jiedushi, commanded their own regional forces independent of the Emperor’s army. It is during this period of turmoil that Lady Ling Suin, an accomplished courtesan who had been favored by the previous emperor finds herself being taken away from her home by none other than one of the most feared generals in China, General Li Tao.

Li Tao’s only intention at first is to remove her from harm’s way though he cannot deny the lure of her beauty anymore than he can deny the rising sun. Though every elegant move on Ling Suin’s part speaks of seduction and half truths that hides the real woman inside, Li Tao cannot help but be ensnared by the desire that races through him for a woman who could prove to be as lethal as that a sword plunged deep into his heart.

Both Li Tao and Ling Suin’s characters are shaped up by less than ideal childhoods, one having grown up on the streets fending for himself whilst the other had been bartered off for a pretty coin for the family’s next meal. Being the Emperor’s concubine for fifteen years meant that Ling Suin was resigned to a life of loneliness until death comes calling. But in Li Tao’s embrace, Ling Suin finds a man who would bend heaven and earth for the taste of a woman whose legend precedes her, the reality of it all when it comes to light manages to not only send Li Tao but the reader as well into a tailspin.

Once again, I am rendered speechless by Jeannie Lin’s ability to create such a riveting and poignant story, her ability to create strong and endearing characters that just demands nothing less but one’s total surrender as the reader. The way Jeannie spins her story weaving one word with another to create sheer magic that just pulls in the reader amazes me. And the tone she sets throughout is so in tune with the time period and the culture of a race shrouded in so much mystery that one cannot help but want to learn more.

Li Tao is a wonderful hero. The silent, tattooed, merciless assassin variety that I can sit around and dream about all day long. A man who thinks honor is no part of him when he wears it like his own skin, inseparable from the essence of who he is. His reluctant fascination with Ling Sui which penetrates through the emptiness that shrouds his heart is one of the most fascinating aspects of the story, his interactions with Ling Suin an intricately woven dance that serves many a time as the most sensual forms of foreplay on which Jeannie certainly delivers.

Ling Suin serves to be his exact opposite, and yet the similarities between them astounds as well as you read along. Having being forced to use her wits, her beauty and seductive viles for so long, Ling Suin at first knows not what to expect from a man who surrounds himself with men of the highest calibre, loyal to the bone and yet remains a lone wolf who doesn’t even realize the fact. Even though every survival instinct within her tells her to step away and leave Li Tao’s alluring form behind, she cannot help but yearn fiercely for the emotions that courses through her whenever Li Tao takes her in his arms. And it is not long before their arrangement brings forth emotions and feelings neither expects to feel for the other and it is a wonderful, wonderful way to pass the time by being a part of their journey towards happily ever after.

I loved how Li Tao and Ling Suin’s pasts are shared with the reader throughout, making both of them more appealing with each flashback. The sensuality and sexual tension between Li Tao and Ling Suin is off the charts hot, and underneath all that taut sensuality, Jeannie manages to tell a tale of political treachery and war not unlike what we see in the world today.

If you haven’t already read a Jeannie Lin book, you should definitely remedy the fact, especially if you are a fan of historical romances in exotic and unusual settings. This is as exotic and unusual as they come and one thing is for sure; none can fault Jeannie’s way with the words that captures you right from the very start. And I would recommend that if you are planning on reading The Dragon and the Pearl, better start off with The Butterfly Swords; just to embrace and enjoy the full impact of Li Tao’s character, which otherwise you might miss out on!

Truly remarkable and utterly fascinating, this one makes a beeline towards my favorites shelf for 2011.

Favorite Quotes

Li Tao had caught a single glimpse of her the first time he had been to the palace. The hunger that had gripped him had been immediate and all-consuming. He had been a young man then and had hungered for many things: acclaim, respect and power. The sight of her now, more than a decade later, stirred nothing but a faint echo of that forgotten desire.

She expected the descent of his mouth, but never would have anticipated the gentleness of the kiss. Her lips parted as his explored hers. His fingertips lifted to her cheek in an undemanding, but undeniably possessive caress. She nearly allowed her eyes to fall closed. She almost yielded against the heat and pressure and the slow stir of his mouth. Instead she dug her nails sharply into the flesh of her palms. She fastened her eyes on to his, permitting the kiss, but never surrendering.

She played with her eyes closed. He closed his own eyes, joining her in the darkness. She had said the song depicted a battle, but nothing of the sort came to mind, no lofty images of horses and banners waving or battalions clashing over hills. Only darkness and a pure sound that filled him, creeping into spaces he hadn’t known were empty.

The heat of his body surrounded her, overwhelming her. Suddenly his hold on her shifted. One arm captured her waist to drag her against his chest before his mouth descended on hers.
Heat and pleasure coursed through her at once, fierce and wild and uncompromising. She fell boneless against him, winding her arms around his neck dizzily, drinking in the salted taste of his mouth.

He pushed harder, deeper into her, his thrusts taking on a restrained violence as if he needed to give her as much of him as she could take.
He took on an almost desperate rhythm, digging his fingers into her hips. She was rising again, chasing after him. At the height of it, the man above her disappeared. All that was left were the sensations he pulled from deep within her, the heady, spiced scent of him and the laboured pant of his breath in her ear.

ARC Review: Altered Destiny by Shawna Thomas

Format: E-bookaltereddestiny
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Series: Standalone
Sensuality: 3
Hero: Jaden
Heroine: Selia
Date of Publication: September 19, 2011
Started On: September 16, 2011
Finished On: September 18, 2011

Altered Destiny by Shawna Thomas is a novel that is going to be well received by fans of urban-fantasy romances with a bit of adventure tossed right into the mix. Though fantasy romances aren’t that high on my favorites list in the world of romance, even with the first couple of chapters Shawna Thomas managed to reel me in and hold my attention until it was difficult for me to imagine anything else but the wondrous world which she has spun so well in this novel.

There are the good old-fashioned humans and a race known as the Svistra whose savagery and notorious thirst for blood and pillaging keeps the humans awake at night. 20 year old Selia lives on the Outskirts and is the owner of the tavern that her mother left behind upon her death 5 years back. Though well versed in the art of defending herself, when it comes to love and desire, Selia is an innocent all the way. 

When Selia rescues a man being beaten to death only to find out that he is a Svistra, the uncomplicated life that she has known till then changes completely, plunging her into a world filled with uncertainty, treachery, man’s thirst for vengeance and war and last but not the least the possibility of finding ever lasting love in the last place she expects to find it.

When Jaden’s golden gaze lands on his savior little does he know that the fearless woman who stands before him would come to mean everything to him. Having turned his back on his own race because his ideas didn’t mesh with that of his father who is the leader of the Svistra, Jaden makes his way through the many different terrains that makes up their world until his journey brings him to the Outskirts and Selia with her gentle giant of a companion Oren. 

Never having being one to turn away a man or animal in need, the forced intimacy that caring for an injured brings to light the fact that humans may not have the complete picture when it comes o the Svistra. Jaden proves to be the opposite of what Selia has believed to be of the Svistra until now and when time and time again Jaden proves his loyalty, honesty and integrity in boundless different ways, Selia is no match to her heart’s yearning for a man whose mere presence alone is enough to send her whole world into a tailspin.

Jaden might want to do the honorable thing and stay away when it comes to Selia but his heart’s yearning for a woman who seals her fate unknowingly by joining him in the most scared manner possible is one that refuses to be denied. But Jaden knows that without going back and facing those whom he has left behind and winning over the treacherous ruler who leads the whole Svistra clans towards endless war, there would never be a peaceful future for either the humans or the Svistra.

Opening up a world that has so many intriguing aspects to it that I couldn’t help but want even a crudely drawn map of where everything was situated, Altered Destiny tells the tale of brave men and a woman willing to fight for what they believe in. Jaden’s character is an alluring one, one who made my heart yearn for him and of course love him because he has that inner strength that lets him be true to himself and what he believes in. Jaden’s honesty and integrity is what drew me most towards his character, and the way he is possessive of Selia even when he believes he has nothing of substance to offer her made my heart go pitter patter.

Selia is a wonderful heroine whom I loved from the instance she couldn’t turn her back on a wounded man. Even knowing that caring for a Svistra would end up in herself paying for it in blood doesn’t stop her from doing what’s right. The slow awakening of Selia’s senses when it comes to Jaden is something to be savored. And a heroine who doesn’t believe in being coy and has no qualms about being herself is one that always earns my wholehearted approval. Worthy of a mention is her relationship with Oren, a man gentle as he is huge, a character who will remain with me for a long time even after I am done with the book. His simplistic view on life, right and wrong proved to be quite refreshing in a novel that practically seeps with half truths and the treachery that goes right along with the hunger for ultimate power.

Though there were certain aspects of the novel such as the occasional swear words which just felt out of place with the whole tone set for the rest of the story and the fact that the final showdown between Jaden and his brother never fully materialized in the novel, I still enjoyed this immensely and would definitely recommend this to fans of the genre.

One character from the story that I would love a future book to be based on, if Ms. Thomas ever thinks of writing a sequel is Nathan. If Jaden had not been in the picture, I would have completely given myself over to him. And even with Jaden in the picture, his character nevertheless proved to be a compelling one, which is telling in itself how remarkable a talent Ms. Thomas has when it comes to creating her characters.