ARC Review: The Stranger by Kyra Davis

Format: E-bookthestrangerjustonenight
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Series: Just One Night, #1
Publisher: Pocket Star
Hero: Robert Dade
Heroine: Kasie Fitzgerald
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 21, 2013
Started On: January 18, 2013
Finished On: January 22, 2013

The Stranger by Kyra Davis is part 1 of a trilogy entitled Just One Night. Having never read anything prior to this by the author, I didn’t know what to expect from this book apart from the fact that it had received a mixed set of reviews even before its release date. I’m someone who always welcomes it when an author pushes beyond the normal “comfort zone” that is the haven of most romance writers. At this day and age when critics surround you from left and right and you have to cater to the whims of the general populace of romance readers, readers like myself who crave for something a bit different gets sidelined quite easily. So for me, The Stranger fit in quite nicely, a book that provoked me & perhaps made me empathize with the heroine, something that must have been really hard to do for majority of the readers of this book.

Kasie Fitzgerald is the good girl, the one who has always performed as expected and done everything according to the plans laid out in front of her. A Harvard graduate working at one of the most prestigious global consulting firms in the country, Kasie has almost everything going for her, a complete package when you take in her steady boyfriend of six years David Beasley. 

Kasie’s one night of indiscretion comes when she makes a visit to Vegas with her friend Simone in tow, Simone who seems to understand Kasie way better than she gives her credit for. And it is in Vegas that Kasie finds out that even the most innocent of caresses from the right person can shake you to your very core and turn your entire world upside down. It is in Vegas that Kasie finds the headiness of true passion, just how alive she feels when this stranger takes her in his arms to show her a world filled with sensuous pleasure that she has never thought to be possible.

Kasie leaves with the memories of her night of indiscretion knowing that she would never become that person ever again. She doesn’t realize how wrong she could be until the CEO of the new company that contracts her firm turns out to be none other than the mystery man from Vegas and it turns out neither Kasie nor the man himself is ready to let go after all.

I can understand why most romance readers would shy away from touching this book. The Stranger is a book that contains many aspects of cheating, not just one time, but time and yet again, and that too on the heroine’s part. But once you get to see Kasie’s character, step into her shoes and try to unravel her past which remains shrouded in a bit of mystery, one begins to realize that Kasie is not as clear cut as her character initially appears to be.

In my opinion, David, the man she has been with for so long has no inkling at all of what Kasie is all about. David puts her on this pedestal upon which Kasie sits, perfect in poise, never wavering in what he believes her to be. And Kasie has lived up to that image the entire period of their relationship until the night in Vegas, a night of undeniable passion that stirs up a side of Kasie that she never even thought existed inside of her.

How could it be possible that a man that she had shared just a few decadent hours of pleasure with could see through to every facet of her and understand her better than anyone else? How could it be possible that she craves for him like nothing else; that no amount of self criticism on her part gets her to do what’s right when the moment of reckoning comes and once again passion and red hot desire comes knocking at her door?

Kasie is a woman whose torn between doing what’s right and what her heart and body wants her to do, what they yearn for her to experience. And though I’d never encourage anyone to cheat on the person they are with, I can “understand” the reasons one might be tempted to do so. There are instances when things aren’t so clear cut as people who sit on the sidelines judging the entire time might think them to be. This is one reason why I refuse to judge people and their behavior, unless of course the person is a habitual liar and cheater, which then becomes an entirely different case altogether. 

What won’t work for many a romance reader turned out to be something I savored reading as Kyra doesn’t make any apologies or offers any unnecessary explanations to make Kasie appear angelic or to make it appear that what Kasie is doing cannot be considered as cheating. What made the book special for me is the fact that Kyra leaves the reader with enough bits and pieces of the puzzle to string them together to form a hazy picture of what Kasie is all about, what Kasie is capable of being and what’s holding her back. It delves into the psychology of a woman who has restrained herself from ever doing something that could be considered as abnormal behavior on her part, a woman who has always tried to do what’s ‘right’ according to the people who ‘control’ her life. 

Its at a pivotal point in the story that book 1 ends, and left me definitely wanting to find out more. For those who cannot look beyond the aspect of cheating that is certainly a huge part of this story, The Stranger is definitely not the novel for you. But for those like myself who love to read novels that explores areas beyond the normal comfort zones of romance novels, this one’s for you. I loved the fact that The Stranger invoked in me emotions that few books have the capability of doing and that it made me step up and THINK while reading for a change.

To sum up; gritty, honest & real. This is a trilogy worth a shot, if book 1 is anything to judge this series by.

Favorite Quotes

“Kasie,” he whispers. My name is the final caress I need. My free hand grabs the armrest of my chair and my hips push forward as I follow this dangerous path to its only possible conclusion. I hear him moan again. I know I’m not alone. I know what I’m doing, to him, to myself.
My body shakes as the orgasm comes with a convulsing and heartwrenching power. It’s the final chord of an erotic rhapsody that leaves me with the mingled emotions of satisfaction and endless longing.

“This is the last time,” I say one more time as I lean back against his desk and open my legs. “So let’s make it good.”
And in less than a second he’s on me. His mouth is crushed against mine as he pulls my hair, his hand reaches up my skirt, and I feel him roughly pull my panties aside before his fingers plunge inside of me. This time I don’t resist. His mouth tastes both bitter and sweet. His fingers start to move faster and I gently bite his lip and struggle to hold back my moans.

We choose our religion, our politics, our philosophies, and we see the world in a way that fits within those chosen confines. And if certain glaring facts don’t fit neatly into our belief systems, we just ignore them or see them differently. We make them fit even if it means we have to squeeze them into completely unnatural shapes.

“I don’t often invite people over,” he says. “I don’t entertain. But ever since Vegas, I’ve wanted to bring you here.”
“Why?” I ask. “You’be had me in your hotel room, your office, on the screen of your computer … why do you need me here?”
“Because,” he says, then pauses as he searches for an answer. “I’be been inside your walls,” he says slowly, “and this is the only way I can think of to bring you more fully inside of mine.”

And as he laughs I lower myself unto him.
And then the laughing stops … but not the smiles. As I ride him slowly then faster, his hands on my waist, my head thrown back, his eyes on my body, the smiles stay until the passion is so strong that our mouths stop working that way.
But the smile inside me never falters.
And I know without a doubt that his inner smile matches mine.

He kisses me on the forehead and I feel the completeness of his affection. As I watch him leave, I feel something else, too, something that springs from deep within me. I want it to be love.
But it feels a lot like obligation.
I was in Dave’s debt before, what with the job and his frequent kindnesses  But now that I’ve betrayed him, I owe him so much more, more than gifts or favors. I owe him happiness.

As he lowers me onto the bed, I forget. Dave, my work, my ideals …
… and I remember … the kisses, the taste of him, the feeling of him inside me.
I exhale as my shirt falls to the floor; my bra isn’t far behind. I gather the blankets beneath me into my fist as he grazes his teeth over one nipple, then the next.
Some feelings are almost too strong. They can’t be harnessed. Some desires can do nothing short of overwhelm.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-booktheothersideofus
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Oliver Garrett
Heroine: Mackenzie Williams
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 2, 2013
Started On: January 17, 2013
Finished On: January 18, 2013

Having a new Mayberry book come out is like receiving a surprise gift from a loved one. Having being away from the reading world for quite a while, I had almost forgotten about the Mayberry book that would be out early this year and discovering the fact that it was out already made my weekend! It has been so long since I have anticipated reading a book and got exactly what I bargained for when I made the purchase that in itself alone is enough to make me send a box load of smooches Mayberry’s way.

Oliver Garrett is on the verge of divorcing his wife Edie after 6 years of marriage. The way things had ended leaves Oliver reeling from the shock of betrayal and immense sense of loss, hurt and anger such that he doesn’t know how to overcome the constant voice of anger and frustration that is always at the back of his mind. It is to escape his tormented thoughts more than anything that he makes his way to the beach house of his late aunt with his dog Strudel in tow.

When Oliver introduces himself to his new neighbor Mackenzie Williams, his first impression of Mackenzie is hardly a favorable one, owing mostly to the standoffish manner in which Mackenzie treats his presence at her doorstep. Mackenzie is recovering from a horrific accident that had taken away from her everything that she had sacrificed her whole adult life for and getting back on her feet and re-entering the world that she had been forced to leave behind is what keeps her putting one foot in front of the other and pushing herself beyond her body’s limits.

Though Oliver and Mackenzie both want nothing to do with each other, Mackenzie’s dog Mr. Smith and Strudel both decide differently and it is through ‘misbehavior’ on their part that these two reluctant people are forced to interact with each other. And when disaster of a different kind comes calling, it is then that Oliver and Mackenzie discover that beneath their reluctance to be in each other’s company lies an attraction that is fiery, hot and undeniable coupled with many qualities that both of them find endearing in the other.

The Other Side of Us is by no means a light fluffy story of second chances and love that comes calling to make every single trouble fade away. Rather it is the story of two very real and relatable people who find each other at the lowest points of their lives, both of whom stumble upon a second chance at love; only if they are willing to trust each other and put in the effort to make it work, regardless of all the insurmountable twists and turns ahead of them.

I love how Mayberry brings her characters together, how she unravels the beauty of two people who are flawed, yet have all those redeeming qualities that makes you fall in love with them as you read along. Discovering each of Mayberry’s characters come to life is like unraveling a gift wrapped up in many layers, each layer giving away a hidden facet of its character that makes the gift that much more treasured. Likewise Oliver (be still my heart) is a hero that I fell in love with by the turn of the first page of the story. And yes, this is the unvarnished truth if you don’t believe me. Oliver is hard not to fall in love with. He has got the looks, the characteristics that makes a guy essentially alpha and endearing, both at the same time. And yes men of the world, you can be manly and alpha without becoming arseholes about the whole thing. And oh, how I loved his sense of humor, even his rambling thoughts at times giving me a reason to smile and grin in a way that just made his character that much more lovable!

Oliver hurts deep inside, though he might put up a facade of normalcy as much as he can for the benefit of the people around him. But when he is alone and when the thoughts of his marriage and the failure it had become starts haunting him, there is no escaping the emotions that blindsides him with a ferocity that continues to make him believe that he would never find a respite from it all. But slowly and surely, with Mackenzie entering into the realms of his thoughts, heart and life, Oliver starts to discover that there just might be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Mackenzie is the ambitious and driven sort of person who doesn’t let any obstacle stand in her way – not if she can help it. She had made huge sacrifices for her career along the way and being sidelined because she is not physically up for the challenge just makes her want to push herself that much harder and forgo the limits of endurance that her body is yet ready to handle. And then along comes Oliver, and with him arises the thoughts and possibilities of a future that is for a different version of Mackenzie, a Mackenzie that takes each day as it comes, a Mackenzie that starts to dream of a different path to walk upon, with Oliver right by her side.

It is beautiful the way Mayberry can put so much heart and emotion into a story that I sacrificed my weekend sleep hours for in order to reach the inevitable happily ever after for two people who deserve that and so much more. What I love about Mayberry is the fact that she continues to touch subjects that are difficult to explore, such as Mackenzie’s journey towards recovery, a very real nightmare that Mackenzie lives through each day. And at the very end, when Mackenzie pursues Oliver and turns up at his doorstep, that was when the waterworks began that had me reaching for the tissues at my bedside. If I had already not being head over feet in love with Mackenzie, I would have fallen for her like a ton of bricks then and there, because she understood Oliver and empathized with him on a level that is a crucial factor if any relationship is to survive.

If not for anything else, the fact that this is the one book that I have read in ages that had me coming back for more is reason enough to say this is an outstanding read. This is a story that reaffirms the reason why I love the romance genre so much! The Other Side of Us is a story of second chances, yes, but it also shows that love finds you, regardless of the circumstances one may be in, and that if you are to grab your chance of happiness; a little bit of faith, a whole lot of love and a bit of hard work would get you there eventually. Kudos to Mayberry, for you have done it yet again.

Highly recommended.

Favorite Quotes

Then he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers.
The world stood still. Her heart stuttered in her chest. She forgot to breathe. Then his mouth moved against hers and heat exploded in her belly and breasts and between her thighs. In that fraction of a second she knew how it would be between them – hot and wild and desperate.

He kissed her, his body shaking with barely controlled need. His hands covered her breasts, his fingers plucking at her nipples as he pressed his lips against hers. She’d never been so turned on in her life, every inch of her skin screaming to be in contact with his. Desire was an ache between her thighs, insatiable and demanding.

Mackenzie rode him with her eyes closed and her head tilted back. Her breasts rose and fell, rose and fell as her movements became increasingly urgent. Her watched her through half-closed eyes, his hands gliding over the warm silk of her skin, fighting the growing need to grab her hips and thrust into her soft, yielding warmth.
Finally it was too much for him and he gave in to instinct, driving himself into her, need an urgent tattoo in his blood. She gave a small, inarticulate cry, her head dropping forward, her hands clutching at his shoulders. He felt her pulse around him…and was gone.

“Once upon a time I used to think I was happy,” Oliver said after a moment of perfect silence.
She drew back a little so she could look into his eyes. “And now?”
“Now I know. Beyond the shadow of a doubt.”

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

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Review: Shadow Woman by Linda Howard

Format: E-bookshadowwoman
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: Xavier
Heroine: Lizette Henry
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 1, 2013
Started On: January 9, 2013
Finished On: January 15, 2013

I crave for a fix of Linda Howard like an addict craves for a fix of the drug that gives him a high. Dramatic? Yes. But its nothing but the truth. When I discovered books by Linda Howard, quite by chance I must say, I raced through them like a serial killer would race through a field of potential victims. Again, dramatic a description? But again, that is nothing but the truth. Linda Howard is an author I have an utmost admiration for, because she has written so many outstanding books and the recent decline in the popularity of her newer books has just made me sad enough to weep. What keeps the tears at bay is there is always the possibility of re-reading her entire collection when the mood hits, just so I can get my fix of Linda Howard once in a while, an author who has written romance as it should be, too many a time to count.

I decided to give Shadow Woman, Linda Howard’s latest novel a go because the reviews coming in had not been as bad as it had been for her previous two books which I skipped reading altogether. Yes, call me a coward, but I’d rather remember Linda Howard in all her glory than diminish what her stories have meant to me all through the years by reading books that would shed her talent in an unfavorable light. Nevertheless I did read Shadow Woman and I’d have to admit that disappointment did flow through me as the book made a steady decline in rating as I progressed into the story.

The premise of Shadow Woman is an exciting one. Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and discovers that the face in the mirror that is staring back at her is not hers. And the warning bells start ringing, throwing Lizzy into murky waters where she doesn’t know whether she can trust anyone to keep her safe from them whoever they may be. Unknown to Lizzy, or perhaps I should say unknown to Lizzy until that point in time, she has been under constant surveillance, a subject of massive interest to some very powerful people who hold the cards on whether she should continue to live or be terminated because the wealth of information if she were to remember could bring everything tumbling down.

As Lizzy awakens from the deep “slumber” she has been in for the past 3 years, remnants of her past come calling, in the form of flashbacks of memories and thought processes and behavior she’d never have thought herself to be capable of. And in her dreams comes a man she calls as X, the man who makes her hunger for what his touch does to her, for what they together create in those beautifully vivid dreams of the erotic variety.

When all hell breaks loose, it is Xavier who rides to Lizzy’s rescue, the man who has haunted her dreams since her memories started coming back, their past something shrouded in a mystery until Lizzy finds herself confronting that very past that makes her a loose end that needs to be dealt with.

Shadow Woman is a novel that has so much potential to it. What made it all the more heart wrenching to read was the fact that there were echoes of the old Linda Howard in bits and pieces of the story, mostly in the delicious dreams that Lizzy sees of herself and X, entwined in a lover’s embrace that could be called nothing but sensual and off the charts hot. In Xavier I found that Linda’s ability to create mouthwatering heroes that makes my heart beat faster still exists and yes, Xavier is a hero that was delicious in a lot of ways.

What did not work for me in Shadow Woman was the fact that the actual story got bogged down in too much descriptive detail that detracted from the pace and the suspense factor in the novel. I skipped large chunks of the story towards the latter part of the book, just because I wanted to find out the big secret and wanted to know how Xavier and Lizzy fair in the long run.

With enough bits and pieces of the old Linda Howard to entice, Shadow Woman turned out to be a favorable read for me which could have turned out to be an all out fantastic one if not for the details that kept getting in the way.

Recommended for die-hard fans of the author like myself. 

Favorite Quotes

Then she straightened, tossing her hair back, and turned to the mirror – and stared into the face of a stranger.

For a moment they just lay there on the big bed, chest to chest, legs intertwined, hearts pounding. They were eye to eye, and for a moment Lizette felt her breath catch. Good God, he was beautiful! Not pretty, there was nothing pretty about him, but seen with her heart he was … beautiful.

His touch firm, he dragged his fingertips through her cleft, found the soft, damp opening between her legs, and bit her in the curve between her neck and shoulder as at the same time he slid two big fingers deep into her. The heel of his rough palm pressed down hard on her clitoris, sending little lightning shocks all through her.
Her body bucked and shimmied under the triple onslaught. A breathless little cry slipped from her lips and she turned her face against the pillow, fighting to contain the sensation, and the sounds she was making.

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

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Requested ARC Review: Muscle For Hire by Lexxie Couper

Format: E-bookmuscleforhire
Read with: Adobe Reader for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd
Hero: Aslin Rhodes
Heroine: Rowan Hemsworth
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 29, 2013
Started On: January 4, 2013
Finished On: January 9, 2013

You’ve got to hand it Lexxie, she certainly knows how to make a girl sweat in all the right places when it comes to creating heroes of the panty-melting variety. Muscle for Hire is the story of the ultra-delicious bodyguard Aslin Rhodes whom readers of Nick Blackthorne’s story Love’s Rhythm must have already encountered. An ex-SAS commando, Aslin is British, and excels in the role of protection all too well, not surprising considering that being that is what he has done more than half of his life.

Rowan Hemsworth is a force to be reckoned with all on her own. Older sister of Chris Huntley, the star of hit sitcom Twice Too Many, Rowan considers it her duty to protect her younger brother from all sorts of ‘threats’ of the lethal kind and otherwise. Rowan has her own share of nightmares from the past, something she deals with by arming herself with the only weapon she knows to not let herself fall into a vulnerable position. Well versed in the art of self defense, Rowan is not at all pleased with Aslin and his presence in her brother’s life until danger comes calling to their very doorstep.

From the moment Aslin and Rowan meet, sparks fly and there is no denying the red hot attraction that leaps to life between them. Aslin who is at a loss as to how his life would map out in the future is shaken to his depths when the feisty Australian makes all of Aslin come to life. He does not have a clue as to how to make it work between him and Rowan apart from the fact that he wouldn’t be able to turn his back on what she makes him feel.

To say that Rowan has issues that she battles with on a daily basis would be an understatement. When Aslin with his off the chart sexy British accent and perfectly made body makes her body thrum and hum in desire of a scale that she has never yet encountered before, Rowan knows that she is in trouble of the deep shit variety. Aslin doesn’t factor into her life plan of looking after her brother and keeping him out of trouble of any sort that may brew, but then Aslin is not the type of man that one simply turns their back on and Rowan knows that even though backing out might give her a respite from the heat and some breathing space, there would always linger on the ache of unfulfilled desire and need that would haunt and taunt her in his absence.

Amidst the haze of wanton desire that surrounds these two, the danger that comes calling adds a bit of a tangible spice of a different variety to the story filled to the brim with scenes of the seat squirming variety when Aslin and Rowan go at each other. Their coming together is blistering hot, almost like the Australian weather is looking right now, a lot of wildness and heat; just perfect for two people like Aslin and Rowan, and of course, trademark Lexxie Couper!

I loved Aslin. After all, what woman in their right mind would turn away from the lethal weapon of seduction that he presents just by being himself? I am afraid I don’t come equipped with the kind of willpower that would allow me to remain unaffected and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And Rowan I must say is Aslin’s match in every single way. Its because she herself is a master in the art of self defense techniques that she understands Aslin on a level that is essential to Aslin’s makeup, to make things work on an emotional level between them. Likewise, it is Aslin’s past that enables him to look beyond Rowan’s hangups to be there for her in a way no one has in a long, long time.

For those who know what Lexxie can do with her erotic romances, I’m absolutely certain that you would not need any further urging on my part. But just in case, let me tell you, a British ex-SAS commando officer hot on the heels of a feisty Australian makes for all kinds of hot bouts of loving and that is reason enough to get yourself a copy. And I loved how the elements of suspense all came together and gave the book a well rounded edge to it that just made it all the more worthwhile a read. Recommended.

Favorite Quotes

Without a word, he rose to his feet and rounded the table to stand before her. Curling his fingers around her firmly toned upper arm, he hauled her off her feet with a single tug and captured her lips in a searing kiss.
He plundered her mouth straight away. He didn’t care they were in a public bar. He didn’t give a sodding rat’s arse. He wanted her. She wanted him. It was simple.

Their lips came together, hard and savage and brutal. The kiss was wild. He crushed her to his body and fucked her mouth with his tongue, her moans of rapture heating his lust. She clung to him, her fingernails scraping at the back of his neck as he drove her backward to the brick wall behind her.
She cried out, throwing her head back, wrapping her right leg around his thigh. He dragged his lips down the column of her throat, biting, sucking as he went. Her flesh was smooth and soft, velvet beneath his tongue, lips and teeth. He couldn’t get enough. He wanted to feel more of her. All of her.

She pressed her hips to his, rolled them, wanting to feel the solid steel of his erection trapped by his jeans grind against the curve of her sex. 
He growled into her mouth. That was the only word for it, a growl, animalistic and dominating. Her pussy turned to liquid need at the purely male sound. She raked her nails over his shoulder, knotted her fingers in the hair at his nape. He lashed his tongue against hers, his rigid cock pressing into her belly.
Her head swam. Her sex throbbed. She gave herself over to his control, the kiss igniting a need within her she could no longer ignore.

Before she could do anything – and with reflexes as fast as hers, she should have been able to do something – his hands came up to cup her face and he brushed his lips over hers.
She froze, the gentle beauty of the simple kiss stealing any ability in her to move.
When he straightened, her breath caught at the raw desire in his eyes. There was nothing arrogant, dominating, threatening or confusing about it. Just pure desire.

He deepened the kiss, taking possession of her mouth and pleasure. She couldn’t fight it, couldn’t fight him. She didn’t want to. Not anymore. Hell could rise up and damn them all, but Rowan wouldn’t care. As long as she was in Aslin’s strong arms, being kissed by him, worshipped by him.

He hissed in a breath, thrusting his hips forward.
Rowan’s pulse quickened. She slid her hands down his torso and her head swam at the sculpted shaped of his abs under her fingers. They were so hard, so defined. The man was the epitome of physical perfection. And she was going to fuck him.

A slight tug on her fly told her he’d done what she ached for him to do. As did the cool air flowing over her newly exposed p#ssy mound. He covered the curve of her mons with a rain of tiny kisses, workig her hotpants over her hips with his hands.
“M-my boots,” she whispered, shifting enough on the mattress to aide his removal of her shorts and thong.
“Can stay on,” he rumbled back, flicking his tongue over the sensitive area of flesh where her thigh became her groin. “They’re too fucking sexy to take off.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Samhain

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Review: Suspicious Ways by Lexxie Couper

Format: E-booksuspiciousways
Read with: Adobe Reader for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd
Hero: Jackson McKenzie
Heroine: Ali Graham
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: November 6, 2012
Started On: December 7, 2012
Finished On: January 4, 2013

Suspicious Ways by Lexxie Couper that came out on November of last year is according to my knowledge, Lexxie’s very first foray into the category of sensual romance of the non-erotic variety with a bit of suspense thrown into the mix to make things more interesting. And like the title of this story hints at, Suspicious Ways comes with a whole lot of suspicion attached to the relationship that fosters between the hero Jackson McKenzie and the heroine Ali Graham, mostly due to the volatility of how things had ended  between them in the past.

Ali had been 17 and Jackson 28 when they had first met, Jackson being the best friend and business partner of Ali’s father. With her father’s death, and the sudden loss of Jackson from her life in a way that had broken her heart and battered her to the depths of her very soul, Ali struggles to keep up with running her late father’s business With the Wind Charters. Life is tough for Ali as she works hard to make ends meet, to keep up with every twist and turn that life keeps throwing her way as she battles to keep the business afloat and make ends meet.

Four years later, and at the lowest point of Ali’s life, once again Jackson walks in, throwing all her emotions haywire, bringing to the surface all the resentment, hurt and feelings of betrayal that are still very much afresh on her mind at the way things had ended between them. Jackson doesn’t know half of what has been going on in Ali’s life as he had run, scared with the depth of his feelings towards a woman who shakes him to his very core and beyond. The sure fire attraction that he had felt for Ali when she had just been 17 years old had been a hard pill for someone like Jackson to swallow and though Ali had been on his mind 24/7 when he had been away, nothing would make him admit to the fact and his undeniable need for her.

But with an enemy from Jackson’s past making forays into Ali’s world, Jackson with jealousy burning on top of all the chaotic feelings that churns to life between him and Ali makes his move to stake claim on what he considers rightfully to be his, and all the while suspicion owing to the bitterness of how things had ended between them continues to make an already fraught situation that much more combustive, not to mention the sexual heat of the explosive variety that is never too far when Ali and Jackson are in each other’s company.

I loved everything about Suspicious Ways from the larger than life hero Jackson who practically melted me on the spot from all the heat that he generates when he is with Ali. The depth of his fiery feelings for the woman is enough to keep a warm fire burning in the depth of any woman’s soul and the way he expresses his want and desire for Ali was something I savored with everything in me. I loved just how angst-ridden the whole story was; I have always been a fan of a well created environment of angst in a romance. After all, if everything were to flow smoothly towards happily ever after, where’s the fun in that?

Ali is the type of heroine who wouldn’t stay around to deal with any sort of shit that is dealt to her. She is someone with a take-charge attitude that at times drives Jackson completely crazy, someone who isn’t afraid to go after what she wants and to get things done. Though her heart and emotions lie in tatters with the over the top alpha attitude Jackson projects at first, Ali knows that her want for him would always be an undeniable fact in her life. But slowly and surely Jackson and Ali learn to look past the darkness of the clouds of suspicion that lingers between them and takes that chance that would steer them towards the shores of happily ever after – only if they are willing to trust each other as much as they love each other given a second chance to make things work.

In my opinion, Lexxie’s foray into sensual romances of the non-erotic variety is a real hit as this read scorched up my reader and heated me up in ways sometimes the most explicit erotica fails to do. I loved, loved, loved the way Jackson and Ali could not get enough of each other and how the world around them always heats up to unbearable levels even when they are practically ready to shoot arrows at each other in pure sexual frustration mixed up with anger. My message to Lexxie; keep more of these stories coming; perhaps a story for Jackson’s brother who looks like he might have an interesting tale of his own to tell.

The only thing that could have made this story better is an ending that wasn’t rushed as much. If not for that, Suspicious Ways would have made for a fantastic read, not that it ain’t already awesome the way it is. If you are a fan of Lexxie like myself, grab yourself a copy and indulge; for if you are like me, you wouldn’t be able to get enough of Jackson and his oh so sexy way of seducing the woman he loves. And to Lexxie, thank you so much for the prezzie that you sent my way i.e. this book that rocked my world in every way. Highly recommended!

Favorite Quotes

For a frozen moment, he didn’t move, just gazed at her, his breath a soft caress on her lips. And then his mouth crushed hers, demanding and forceful. She struggled, but only for a second. He lashed his tongue at her lips before plunging into the wet depth of her mouth. He gripped her butt with strong fingers, squeezing and fondling her cheeks through the coarse denim of her shorts. A moan filled the air, low and raw, and it was only when Jack yanked her hips hard against his and groaned in return that Ali realized the sound had come from her.

Heat pooled between her thighs, wet and exquisite. Jack dragged the pad of his thumb over the aching point of her nipple and shots of concentrated pleasure stabbed straight to her soul. She sucked in a sharp breath, pushing harder against the burning rod of his arousal. Damn it, she wanted more.
And so did Jack. With savage speed, he grabbed at the collar of her shirt with both fists and tore the thin cotton material apart.

Hot, sure lips followed the line of her jaw, down her neck. She dropped her head, resting it on Jack’s shoulder as he flicked and teased the pulse under her ear with his tongue. Each little contact sent flutters of wet tension squirming through her, stabbing into the very centre of her existence. She wanted more. She wanted his flesh on hers. Heat threaded through her, consuming and demanding. Every time his lips seared her skin, she was marked. His and his alone. Every time the tip of his tongue touched her bare flesh, she lost another heartbeat to him.

She shifted and raised her right leg to wrap around his hip as she curled her fingers around his neck. There was a mutual thrust and he felt her sweet heat wrap around him, folding around his rigid length with tight, wet pressure. 
“Jesus, Ali,” he ground out. 
“Oh, Jack.” The gasp left Ali’s lips in a sharp breath and, before she could draw another, he thrust inside her again, his head filling with colors so intense he felt blinded. 
She was everywhere. She surrounded him.

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

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Score Sheet Review: Her Island Fantasy by Emma Jay

Format: E-bookherislandfantasy
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Series: Bridesmaids in Paradise, #2
Publisher: Self Published
Hero: Ian Viera
Heroine: Bailey Warwick
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: August 11, 2012
Started On: September 16, 2012
Finished On: December 18, 2012

 

CATEGORY SCORE GRADE
The hero 85 A
The heroine 85 A
Story line 85 A
Emotional Intensity 85 A
Suck me in Factor 85 A
Heat & Sensuality 85 A
Conflicts 85 A
Writing Style 95 A
Quotable Factor 60 A
Ending 70 B
Overall Grade 82 A

Score Sheet Summary

Emma Jay is an author who writes erotic romances that sizzles along your senses and embeds itself deep in your heart. Her Island Fantasy is a novella that is the 2nd book in the Bridesmaids in Paradise series which is loosely tied to and stems from the novel Two-Step Temptation which was my very first book by Emma Jay.

Ian Viera is a cop, and the brother of Eric, the hero from Two Step Temptation. Bailey Warwick is one of the bridesmaids in Eric and Haven’s wedding. Though Bailey had always had a crush on Ian, she had always shied away from doing anything about it because for one thing Ian had had a serious girlfriend and Bailey had always had issues with her confidence and self esteem. But all of that changes with the new look Bailey is sporting and the fact that Ian is single.

What starts out for both Ian and Bailey as a casual, no strings attached affair, mostly a rebound fling for Ian and for Bailey a chance to take control of her sex life and be in the driving seat for once; things turn into something way more than either of them imagined, giving the reader a pretty good time with the extra hot and spicy road that these two take towards their happily ever after. Recommended.

Favorite Quotes

“Christ,” he whispered, toying with her clit through the fabric. “Christ, you’re so wet.” He pumped his erection against her ass, then withdrew his hand. “You have the right to an orgasm,” he said, continuing his descent. “You have the right to scream my name when you come. You have the right to my mouth on your skin and my dick inside you.” He turned her so her back was against the wall, legs still spread, arms still over her head. “Anything you say can and will be held against you.”
“You,” she said shakily.
“What?” He blinked.
“I want you held against me.”

He shifted, just a moment, to sheath himself, and then he was in her, moving slowly, deliberately, holding himself off her so he could watch her, his lips in his familiar smile, but his eyes darker with some unidentified emotion. There was no urgency, just….rightness.
Perfection.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-booktemptingthebride
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Fitzhugh Trilogy #3
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: David Hillsborough, Viscount Hastings
Heroine: Helena Fitzhugh
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 2, 2012
Started On: December 14, 2012
Finished On: December 18, 2012

For someone who doesn’t read much of historical romances, Sherry Thomas is one author I’d always continue to make an exception for. Its because of the way she brings her characters to life and makes me fall irrevocably in love with the way she spins a web that continues to enchant me until I turn the very last page, all the while mourning the fact that the story couldn’t have gone on for just a little bit longer that will always have me going back for more.

The third and final book in the Fitzhugh trilogy is the story of Helena Fitzhugh, the youngest of the trio and the one who is considered to be the most ‘unconventional’ and ‘wild’ from the siblings. Viscount Hastings is the thorn in Helena’s side so to say from the tender young age in which they come across each other. Hastings who had fallen head over heels in love with Helena had always hidden behind a wall of obnoxious behavior, just so that Helena would never ever find out the depth of his feelings towards the only woman he has ever loved.

When Helena finds herself in a bit of a situation, which would be putting it mildly, it is Hastings that strides to her rescue which in turn forces her to accept his hand in marriage; not to save herself, but rather to save the shame that it would bring to her brother and sister if she were to do otherwise. Angered and frustrated beyond belief at the turn of events, not to mention the fact that a staggering kiss between her and Hastings that had shaken her to the depths of her very soul continues to taunt her, it would be an understatement to say that Helena does everything she can to show that she would not accept being married to Hastings that easily.

But as fate would have it, through a twisted turn of events, Hastings finds himself with a once in a lifetime opportunity to show Helena the side of him that he has kept hidden from her for far too long, the side of him that yearns to love Helena like there is no tomorrow and make up for his despicable behavior of the past. Though Hastings knows that his past could catch up with him at any moment, the answering glow in Helena’s eyes makes the temptation to carry on an irresistible one. And when the inevitable truth comes knocking on their door, it is only the memories of the new side of Hastings that Helena gets to see and remembers that saves the day for both of them in the end.

Its a thing of impossibility to read a novel by Sherry Thomas and not be invested in the outcome of the story and its characters. Likewise, Tempting the Bride had me salivating over Hastings and the effortless ease with which he seduces the very headstrong Helena. And the plus side was that unlike the previous story, the tables were turned in this one such that it is the hero that has been in love with the heroine for far too long, and it was the vulnerable side of Hastings that I fell in love with, time and yet again as I read along.

Helena is a heroine of one of a kind. She is the type of heroine who dares to cross the boundaries and tests society’s patience during an era when females who were anything less than demure were barely tolerated. And because she stays true to her character, I loved her and the layers of her character that continued to unfold throughout the story.

Though I felt again that the ending was a tad rushed in this story as well, I would still recommend Tempting the Bride for historical romance lovers because missing out on Sherry Thomas’ incredible writing is not something I would ever recommend. 

Favorite Quotes

Not all opportunities are created equal. Some are nothing but steps leading down toward catastrophe.

Their eyes met. Without hesitation he kissed her. His weight was solid. His hair—she didn’t know when her fingers had plunged into his hair—was cool and soft. And the hunger in his kiss…contrary to everything she knew, he made her feel as if he’d never kissed anyone before and never wanted to kiss anyone else.

This time he could no longer hold back his tears. And with them came words that he’d never been able to say to her his entire life. “I love you, Helena. I have always loved you. Wake up and let me prove it to you.”

He meant to do it properly, start slow and soft, and only gradually build toward the wildness that had always characterized their kisses. But the moment he touched his lips to hers, she locked one arm behind his neck, and all thoughts of leisure and gentleness leaped out the window.
He devoured her. And she, her tongue mobile and eager, devoured him in return. He pulled her out of her chair and pushed her against the edge of the vanity. She grabbed his hair and moaned, a sound of stark hunger—and it was all he could do not to push up her nightgown and sink into her then and there.

At her incendiary words, he drove deeper—far deeper—into her, unable to help himself.
“So,” she said, her fingers on his cheek, “now I’ve made you mine.”
He took her fingers in hand and kissed them one by one. “You made me yours long ago, but now you finally claimed me.”

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

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