Blog Turns 3 Amidst A Coup D’état! + Giveaway!

Life has certainly taken a series of unexpected twists and turns this year, as I welcome the 3rd anniversary of MBR’s Realm of Romance. I would have never ever thought this to be possible, but let me tell you, yes, life sure can throw you curve balls when you least expect it to.

The title itself for this blog post would raise a multitude of questions for those who are not aware of what I am talking about. Well, I will explain the reason why such an eyebrow raising term as ‘coup d’état’ has been used in a context such as this one. For one thing, I wouldn’t want anyone to forget for a minute that the democracy that we all talk about, that the whole world supports and wishes it were part of their own country and culture has been hijacked from my beloved country, the Maldives. Democracy is no more, it has been torn to shreds, stepped and trodden upon by money hungry politicians, who couldn’t digest the fact that power indeed begins from the common man. Yes, it is the coup d’état that took place on the 7th of February 2012 here at the sunny side of life that I am talking about.

That was the day that forever changed my outlook of life. I never thought it would be possible to fall into such a deep depression, the mere thought of how the Police and the Military raped our votes, cast our say aside and made a decision for the 300,000+ people of this country by toppling the FIRST democratically elected President from power sending my thoughts in so many directions that it nearly drove me nuts. It was a sad day for the majority of the people who said no to the ousted dictator who ruled for 30 long years with an iron fist, the atrocities committed under his power one that would always remain a part of Maldivian history – if the people have the perseverance to stay on the course of what is right and not stray onto the other side at the mere whiff of a wad of cash.

So all in all, this year has not been a good year on the home front. I wish things were different, I wish for it with my whole heart. I wish for so many things right now that it would be impossible to list them down in a blog post of this nature. I wish peace and prosperity for the beautiful country of ours that has been seized and paralyzed by the very people that should protect and love her like there is no tomorrow. I wish for the ‘President’ who is supposedly in the driving seat to step down and make way for elections, to work towards undoing the damage that he has done by stabbing his partner, the President in the back that fateful day. I wish for the international community to pressure the Maldives and its ‘government’  to do the right thing by its people, to give the people their voice back, to give back the people what is rightfully theirs to begin with. At this point, my undying gratitude goes out to everyone who contributes towards the call for elections, to restore democracy, who fight day in and day out to give people back the power that belongs rightfully to them alone.

And on that note, I would like to do a little bit of squeeing over here because I have managed to take care of my baby for this long without fumbling it all up, and sniffle a bit because my baby is all but grown up! She is able to stand on her own two feet I would say and I would like to take this opportunity to thank every single one of you who visits, reads and finds something worthy of adding to their TBR mountain from the list of reviews here. And a huge shout out to the authors as well, who give me the opportunity to review their books before they hit the shelves, and for trusting me enough to do right by them. A huge smooch to all of you for the unwavering support through this trying and difficult time of my life!

And that brings me to the giveaway potion of the post! Of course, I wouldn’t even dream of holding a blogoversary celebration without a giveaway now would I?

So, to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of my baby, I’m giving away a Kindle Touch to one lucky commenter on this blog post! All you have to do is wish my baby a happy anniversary and then tell me the best book that you have read so far this year. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a romance. And yes, this giveaway is open internationally! So comment away! 

GIVEAWAY RULES:

  1. Giveaway is open internationally.
  2. Giveaway will be open from July 30, 2012 till 00:00 hours of August 07, 2012 Maldivian time. (GMT +5)
  3. To be eligible for entry, wish my baby a happy anniversary and then tell me the best book you have read so far this year! 
  4. Don’t forget to leave a VALID e-mail address behind as a way to contact you. 
  5. Help spread the word either via Twitter or Facebook or both and earn 5 extra entries each. And 5 extra entries  for those who like my FB page!

Best of luck everyone!

And happy anniversary smooches to my baby from her momma! xx

 

Review: Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-bookravishingtheheiress.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Fitzhugh Trilogy, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: George Edward Arthur Granville Fitzhugh (Fitz)
Heroine: Millicent Graves
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: July 3, 2012
Started On: July 20, 2012
Finished On: July 22, 2012

I have been meaning to get this review written for quite sometime now. Well, ever since I finished the book a couple of days back. I wanted to write the review when the essence of the story was fresh on my mind, when the feelings that coursed through me as I read through every single page of the book still lingered deep inside of me so that I could do the book the justice that it so deserves. But alas, life and its various blunders happened and here I am penning the review a few days later and yet, the remnants of a story that made me cry god honest real tears still lingers on and I wonder whether I would be able to read a story that even remotely compares to this one anytime soon.

I should have actually being prepared when I took on this book on a recommendation from Brie at Romance Around the Corner. That girl has an uncanny ability of recommending books that speaks to this twisted needy heart of mine and Ravishing the Heiress certainly did that and more. And I say I should have been prepared because my one encounter with Sherry Thomas and the way she writes came right after when I first started reviewing and stumbled across her book Not Quite a Husband. And man, was that a story that had my gut churning and my insides doing cartwheels all around. 

Ravishing the Heiress is the second book in the Fitzhugh Trilogy of which the first book I have not read. But I am definitely looking forward to the 3rd and final book in the series which is to come out on October this year. Sherry certainly leaves us with tantalizing glimpses into the story of Helena and Viscount Hastings not to feel otherwise and I for one cannot wait!

Its the year 1888 and Millicent Graves (Millie) is getting ready for the final phase of Operation Marry Well for which she has been preparing for all her life. Discipline, control and self-denial has always been part of her upbringing, love never a part of the equation for which she has been practicing for up till now. Millie has always been the obedient sort, the one who never makes any untoward waves, does as expected and retreats when need it be. And when at the tender age of 16 years she encounters the new Earl of Fitzhugh, her heart takes that undeniable leap and tumbles headlong into that unknown abyss called love which we all clamor for.

Earl Fitzhugh is 19 when he becomes an earl which hadn’t seemed that terrible at all at first. But when he knows of the situation which would require him to marry well in order to put the state of the affairs of his estate and financial woes of the family to rest, attaining earldom suddenly doesn’t seem like the best thing to happen, especially when it means giving up on the woman he has vowed that he would love for the rest of his life. Though Fitz knows its by no fault of Millie that she has to marry him, he can’t help but feel the deep throes of despair overtake him even at the mere thought of marrying her and living with a woman he doesn’t love for the rest of his life. But Millie offers him a way out, a reprieve that would give him a period of 8 years until the marriage would be consummated and that’s the only thought that gives him the slightest room to breathe as he prepares himself for an ordeal that seems like it would never ever end.

What Sherry Thomas takes us on is a journey filled with so many beautiful and poignant moments that I couldn’t help but have this huge huge lump in my throat at all times. There was a time or two when I thought that I was going to end up with a serious medical condition if it didn’t let up; but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. There is a beauty in the way Sherry writes her stories and brings her characters to life, a dreamlike quality to the love and emotions that she invokes in her readers and I for one was glad to be a part of it as I let myself be catapulted right along with Millie and Fitz in their journey towards happily ever after.

First comes along the friendship, borne out of the need to have a semblance of normalcy in their marriage. A bond forged out of Millie’s need to see the man she love shake the grief that weighs down on him from day one of their marriage. Their quest to put their estate to rights, to move ahead in their business affairs and day to day mundane activities brings them closer, Fitz coming to rely more on Millie than he would have ever envisioned. And then the 8 year milestone comes up and along with it comes the woman who has never been far from Fitz’s mind, the woman he has made a promise to himself and her that he would love for all eternity.

What Fitz takes on as completing his end of the deal or the bargain that they shook on 8 years back turns out to be the most anticipated event of his life, the feelings that course through him when he thinks of leaving Millie and what they have together giving him that odd ache in his heart which he doesn’t know how to identify as. It would take a whole box of tissues to get through the scene during which the final act takes place, all that pent up longing on Millie’s part acting as a sheer aphrodisiac for the reader, that iron-clad control of hers completely breaking apart under the tender assault of Fitz’s brand of seduction. As the scene progresses, the seducer in turn becomes the seduced and I would have to say that that would be one scene that would forever be permanently etched on my mind.

One would think that Fitz being the total clueless fool he is when it comes to Millie and the fact that he is forced to marry a woman he doesn’t love would make him an ogre, a man that would earn the disapproving frowns from the feminists all around. But nothing could be further from the truth as Fitz is a man who demands nothing lesser than the complete and utter love of the reader even though I would have loved to paint an arrow in bold red color and point it towards Millie a time or two. But his utter clueless nature when it comes to his wife whose heart remains a mystery to him is what makes the story so, so good, the angst so well delivered that I couldn’t have asked for more.

The only thing I found disappointing as the other readers is the fact that the ending seemed a trifle bit too rushed, the resolving of the main issue that had been holding back Fritz just a tad too ‘easy’ for my tastes. I wanted the best and only the best for both Fitz and Millie and especially Millie who earned my undying love throughout the story for her patience, perseverance and unselfish nature  though she is no doormat heroine.

If you are a fan of historical romances, if you want a story that would take you away on a breathtaking journey, if you want to be swept away by the sheer magic of words alone, pick this up and never look back. I guarantee you an amazing read that would make you cry buckets before you are through! Kudos to Sherry Thomas for another story that amazes and awes in equal doses. Some authors create magic – and Sherry is one of them.

Favorite Quotes

“Was unhappiness really so invisible? Or did people simply prefer to turn away, as if from lepers?”

“Rain came down in sheets. It had been a miserable spring. Already he despaired of ever again walking under an unclouded sky.”

“Perhaps unrequited love was like a specter in the house, a presence that brushed at the edge of senses, a heat in the dark, a shadow under the sun.”

He was summertime itself, young, luminous, lit from within by rekindled hopes and reawakened dreams. And every beggar along his path—herself included—could expect redoubled generosity and kindness.

It was the beginning of the end.
Or perhaps, it was only the end of something that was never meant to begin.

Even now her body yearned to be closer to him. She wanted to press her nose into his skin and inhale hungrily—he always smelled as if he’d just taken a walk across a sunny meadow. She wanted to rub her palm against his jaw to feel the beginning of stubbles. She wanted to slide her hands underneath his shirt and learn every single shape and texture, with the fierce dedication she’d once put into mastering the Grandes Études.

Some hopes were weeds, easy to eradicate with a yank and a pull. Some, however, were vines, fast growing, tenacious, and impossible to clear. As she played the music box again, alone in the drawing room, she began to realize that hers were of the latter kind.
She would never stop hoping.

But tonight, after the carriages left, there would be Millie, her scent like a breeze from their lavender field at the height of summer, her skin as smooth as the finest velvet.
Their eyes met. She flushed. Desire tumbled through him.

He kissed her on her ear, a kiss with the barest hint of moisture to it. She could not breath for the electricity of it, a violent spark of pleasure that shook and scarred. His fingers caressed her shoulders. His lips pressed into her exposed nape. Dark, hot sensations spiked into her.

Make no sounds. Do not, under any circumstances, make any sounds.
She faltered. A whimper of unutterable pleasure escaped her tightly clenched teeth.
Deep inside her, a dam that had been ceaselessly reinforced crumbled. Years upon years of pent-up desires flooded her. Suddenly she couldn’t care less that she must remain quiet and pliant.
She wanted. She wanted. She wanted.
She gripped him by the lapel and yanked him to her.

His climax began gathering again, rising toward a point of no return. He didn’t know if he could restrain himself this time: He was too close, too near to being overwhelmed.
She cried out, trembling exclamations.
He lost all control, his release hot, violent, and endless.

Then he made love to her not only as if he had never experienced lovemaking before, but no one had.

And in the depth of her eyes were all these years—seasons they’d known, paths they’d trod.
Slowly he entered her again. Everything reflected in her gaze: shyness, yearning, ripples of pleasure.
The pleasure turned fierce, then ferocious. He labored to draw breath. In the wash of her climax, she closed her eyes. He closed his own eyes and yielded to the moment.

Love without friendship is like a kite, aloft only when the winds are favorable. Friendship is what gives love its wings.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BoB | Kobo

amazingread

Review: Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookwithinreach
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin SuperRomance
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Michael Robinson
Heroine: Angie Bartlett
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 2012
Started On: July 2, 2012
Finished On: July 15, 2012

Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry focuses on one of my favorite tropes in romance. A widowed hero who finds love in the most angst-ridden situation one can find and thus Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry is a superb read and delivered exactly what I wanted in the right doses.

Michael loses his wife of 6 years to an undiagnosed congenital heart defect and devastation doesn’t even begin to cover what he goes through in the process of picking up the pieces of his life as his two kids demand that he be a pillar of strength rather than breaking down and digging himself a hole somewhere, which is exactly what he feels like doing. 

Angie Bartlett loses her best friend when Billie dies at the age of 32. Her vivacious friend whose zest for life and color, whose life was so abruptly cut off leaves Angie reeling from the loss of it all. And it takes her a timeout from the situation back at Billie’s household to realize the rapid escalation towards crisis it was veering off to.

Helping out in the process of moving forward means Angie finds herself spending a lot of time at Michael’s, and both start to face that unsettling discovery that there might be more to their feelings towards each other than just mere friendship. Angie feels as if she is betraying her best friend by feeling desire of such ferocity towards Michael. And Michael who has vowed never to forget nor love any other woman except Billie finds himself torn apart by the strength of his desire to possess and be possessed by the woman who is slowly driving him insane with want. Though Michael wants nothing more than to ignore the feelings that Angie invokes and bury his head in the sand, the answering need that flares to life in Angie’s eyes proves to be his undoing every single time.

Sarah is an author who certainly gets everything right when it comes to developing lovable characters. She has that uncanny ability to deliver characters that we the readers can relate to, characters who are flawed, yet comes with redeeming qualities that just makes them seem so real and larger than life. For me, both Angie and Michael’s characters were equally appealing. Angie in my opinion is kindness itself, and she earned my love from the very beginning of the novel. Angie might be reserved when it comes to being openly affectionate, but she has a mighty tender spot for Billie and her family and that shines throughout the story, even way before she starts developing feelings for Michael. I loved how Angie seemed to be able to give, expecting nothing in return, even when she knows that the ultimate conclusion of a relationship with Michael might mean irreversible heartbreak for her.

Michael is such a delicious hero. The way Sarah brought him to life through Angie’s eyes, those things about an attractive man that we all notice and take a second look at coupled together with that innate sense of fairness and kindness deep inside of him makes him one of the most drool-worthy heroes I have read this year. I love a man who is larger than life, and that is exactly how I envisioned Michael as I read along. And let me tell you, Michael might seem a bit hesitant when it comes to taking the “plunge” with Angie, but when he does, oh boy does he do it well! 

The only thing that disappointed me a bit was the lack of an epilogue. There was so much angst in the book that the lump in my throat refused to go away each time I picked up the book. Even from chapter 1 itself I knew that Within Reach was going to end up breaking my heart a bit, but then I trusted Sarah enough to put it back together. The ending itself wasn’t bad, but I wanted something to keep with me, something to dream about a bit during the moments of semi-wakefulness that I go through when I am right about to fall asleep. And I wanted just a bit more for Angie which I know might not convey the message that I want to, but I wanted to see Michael and Angie’s happily ever after, a happily ever after worthy of someone like Angie.

Nevertheless, Within Reach was an amazing read, and Sarah Mayberry is an author that always never fails to deliver.

Recommended highly to fans of Sarah Mayberry, fans of widowed hero themed romances that love a good angst-ridden read!

Favorite Quotes

He finished up then shed his clothes and climbed into bed. Turning onto his side, he closed his eyes. As always as he drifted toward sleep, there was a small, forgetful moment where he slid his hand over to touch Billie’s back, instinctively seeking reassurance as he hovered on the brink.
As always, he found nothing but cold sheets.
A few minutes after that, he fell asleep.

He wasn’t sure who moved first, her or him. There was the thunk of her bag sliding down her arm to hit the floor, followed by the muted clank of her keys a split-second later, then he was pulling her into his arms and she was lifting her face to kiss him.
She tasted of salt and fresh air and life and he spread his hands across the small of her back and pulled her closer, need an urgent tattoo drumming through his blood. She felt so good, so strong and supple, and they fit together perfectly.

Her legs started to tremble and together they went down to the rug. Angie lay spread before him like an impossible offering and every thought, every memory, every consideration dissolved and there was only the need to be inside her, to lose himself in the slick warmth of her, to feel alive and to feel pleasure.
He stretched on top of her and her legs spread to accept him. He gripped himself and found her entrance. He slid inside her, into tight, wet heat. And then he really did lose his mind.

She watched as Michael stripped and walked toward the bed, his erection standing proud. The bed dipped as he got in the other side. She rolled toward him, and he pulled her into his arms. His skin was cool against hers, making her nipples bead. She wrapped her arms around him and pressed herself against him, offering him her heat.
Offering him everything.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Harlequin

amazingread

Review: Still Lake by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookstillake
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Hero: Thomas Ingram Griffin
Heroine: Sophie Marlborough Davis
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 2002
Started On: June 22, 2012
Finished On: June 31, 2012

Its the summer of 1982 in Colby, Vermont and Thomas Ingram Griffin is arrested for the murders of three young women, all killed quite brutally. Years later, Griffin returns to Colby and poses as a John Smith to finally put his past to rest, to find out whether in fact it had really been him who had gone on a murdering spree that fateful night when his life had gone so horribly wrong.

30 year old Sophie moves to Colby, Vermont to live the life she has always wanted to and dreamed about. A homemaker and someone who loves the quiet serenity that the countryside provides, Sophie looks after her now forgetful mother Grace and half sister Marty who has an attitude of her own a mile wide. In the midst of Sophie’s hard work to restore Stonegate Farm to its former prestige and glory  to run her bed and breakfast, what Sophie doesn’t need is the enigmatic and mysterious man who claims to be John Smith to turn up next door and send her life spinning out of control.

I just loved, loved, loved Still Lake. I loved the 30 year old virgin Sophie who has her mind set about how she wants to live her life. Sophie is the type of heroine that I just adore. She is not the size six heroine who has everything going for her. Rather she seems real, she has a figure that practically drives Griffin out of his ever loving mind and I just loved how the sparks flew whenever Griffin and Sophie are together.

The banter between Griffin and Sophie is one of the most wonderful aspects of the story. It completely serves as foreplay for some of the scenes and gives the reader a laugh or two while Sophie tries to convince herself that she doesn’t need a man like John Smith to ruin her and send her emotions into a tailspin. And I loved how Griffin tries to convince himself that a woman like Sophie would be the most inappropriate addition to the life of a man like him. Griffin is so over the top hot that I found myself completely enraptured by his character, ready to lay myself down and plead him to carry me away. Oh well!

Grace and Marty certainly do add to the story with their rich characters and the little side romance that takes place warmed my heart. And the creepy stalkerific killer who is much closer to all of them than anyone of them ever realized makes Still Lake a definite page-turner!

I so loved the ending in Still Lake to bits. Left me with a huge-ass smile on my face for a long, long while!

If you are a fan of Anne Stuart and her uber hot-flash inducing heroes, Still Lake is a must read! Highly recommended!

Favorite Quotes

And she didn’t want to escape. She wanted to be kissed in the sunlight by a gorgeous man. She just wanted some other man, not this complicated creature who had more secrets than she could even begin to imagine.
But it didn’t matter what her brain wanted. Her body, her mouth, her soul wanted him, and she heard a quiet little sound of desire and knew that it had come from her.

At least it was dark. His eyes drifted down over her body, the ripe curves in the moonlight, and a dreamy expression crossed his face, just before he leaned forward and put his mouth against the side of her neck, tasting her hammering pulse.

He slid his hands under her butt and she could feel him pressing against her, hot and hard and sleek. And then he thrust inside, deep, fast, burying himself inside her, breaking past whatever trace of innocence she still had remaining.

It started slow and hit her with the force of a sledgehammer, a cataclysm of such power she could only hold on to him and let it happen. He went rigid against her, rock hard in her arms, and he probably muttered “oh, shit” again, but she was beyond hearing, lost in some mind-scattered cloud of inexpressible pleasure. She fell back, limp, awash in shimmering sensation, and she knew an odd, faint trace of regret that he’d used a condom. She’d wanted all of him inside her, a total giving, and he’d withheld something.

He half expected another argument. A struggle of some sort. Again, a surprise. She made that soft, hungry sound that had already emblazoned itself in his senses, she put her hands on his shoulders, and she kissed him back, her tongue sliding against his.

He touched her, and she came again at his touch, her mouth pulling at him.
He was beyond gentleness. He shoved her back against the blanket of clothes and moved between her legs.
He went in hard, fast, deep, only barely able to control himself. She wrapped her legs around his, and he reached down and pulled them higher, up around his hips, so that he was deeper still, and she was tight, clasping, milking him with the power of her climax, which was almost sweetly painful.

[…] “I want to wake up with you in the morning, I want to fight with you in the afternoon, and I want to make love on any and every available surface in this place. And then I want to do it all over again. Come upstairs with me, Sophie. I’ll keep you warm. I’ll keep the darkness away.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

fantasticread