ARC Review: The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

Format: E-bookthenextbestthing
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ethan Mirabelli
Heroine: Lucy Lang
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 27, 2013
Started On: August 26, 2013
Finished On: August 28, 2013

The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins, though I got it off of Netgalley as an ARC is not an altogether a new publication. This book was first published in 2010 and has been on my to-be-read pile for quite sometime now. And though I didn’t figure this fact out until I was about to begin reading this, it just made me wonder a little why Harlequin hadn’t listed this as a republication.

The Next Best Thing is a book that bears all the hallmarks of Kristan Higgins. There is humor of course, weird and laugh out loud variety of family antics to go around, a hero and heroine who for all intents and purpose spend most of the book apart and yet find their happily ever after towards the end and a dog or a cat to complement the picture. However, there is a slight difference when it comes to The Next Best Thing because the protagonists, i.e. Ethan and Lucy have been sleeping with each other even before the story begins.

The synopsis that goes with the story is a bit misleading to say the least, perhaps not to give the story away? Lucy is a widow, and  going on 5 plus years in her current status quo. The thought of moving on and finding someone else to share her life with stresses her to the point that the panic attacks that she has held at bay for sometime comes calling again, but the children that she wants to fill her life with urges her to seek a husband who would be an emotional risk-free investment on her part.

Having brought to an end her mostly weekend trysts with Ethan that has been going on for two years, Lucy tries to find that someone who meets all her criterion, all of them falling short of the mark for one reason or the other. Lucy doesn’t want the complication of even thinking of Ethan as a viable choice to share the rest of her life with, but time and yet again, it is Ethan that she misses like a proverbial ache in her heart, his companionship that she seeks when she has something worthy of sharing, and the combustive chemistry that they had shared that makes her want to rip her clothes off and get down and dirty with him every time she sees him.

Underneath the veneer of laugh-out-loud humor, The Next Best Thing is a story that waged an emotional warfare inside of me. I hated Lucy for what she continuously put Ethan through, all the while wondering how she could have been so clueless. But I guess given the circumstances and the pedestal upon which she had placed her dead husband, it was hard to see past that and see Ethan, the man who had always stood with her and beside her, unwavering in his support for her, no matter what. There was  this part of me that absolutely sympathized and empathized with what Lucy goes through. I have survived tragedy of the panic-inducing variety and I know what its like to battle with it every single day afterwards. And change, is definitely a trigger and that is exactly what Lucy is subjected to when she sets out to get out of the “rut” into which her life had fallen into after the death of her husband.

Ethan is a character to absolutely die for. Ethan and his emotions never making it to the forefront is one of the reasons why I tend to steer clear of books told in first person from just one character’s point of view. I would have dearly loved to see things from Ethan’s point of view, the heartache and desolateness that is part of him that was evident to see even when his point of view wasn’t part of the story. Simply put, I loved Ethan and everything to do with him, his unwavering courage in standing by and letting the woman he has loved ever since he set eyes on her find her way on her own terms telling in itself. A lesser man would have walked away to restore the pieces of his heart but Ethan sees it all through even if it must have broken him from inside out. The fact that he has always been considered “the next best thing”, even by his parents was heartbreaking to see. And Lucy not seeing it for so long just made my hands clench and unclench every single time such an incidence came up in the story.

Perhaps, I might not put Lucy into the category of heroines that I hated by the end of the story, but she certainly is someone who was difficult to fall in love with because of her blind devotion to the memory of a man who was less than perfect but made otherwise by those who had adored him to the point that the rest had just paled in comparison and faded into the background. I had a pebble the size of Mount Everest in my throat by the time I finished reading this in the wee hours of the morning. But every emotion wrangling bit towards the end was so worth it! So very worth it. And the epilogue tucked in at the end certainly went a long long way into soothing my ruffled feathers where Ethan is concerned.

Recommended for fans of Kristan Higgins, those who love romances with a large dose of humor and books that invoke a shitload of emotion from you!

Final Verdict: Worth every bit of emotion it wrenches out of you! Ethan is a must have on your bookshelf.

Favorite Quotes

His arms tighten around me, and the hangers rattle again as we knock against them, and now his lips are on my neck, the gentle scrape of his beard contrasting with the warm silkiness of his mouth. My knees soften in an almost painful rush. Then his mouth finds mine again, and the kiss is not so gentle this time…desperate, hungry, hot and forbidden and utterly welcome.

My hands move to his chest, and his skin is hot, practi- cally burning me through the cotton, and I can feel the hard thudding of his heart. Without thinking, I tug his shirt and slip my hands underneath.
“Lucy,” he mutters against my mouth. “Honey, wait.” But I just kiss him again and slide my hands against the smooth skin of his back, his ribs, and pull him closer, wanting him against me. He shifts so we’re closer, his mouth hot and hard. Waiting is forgotten.

Then he leans in closer so that our foreheads touch. “You sure, honey?” he asks
“Yes,” I whisper, and his mouth is on mine. His hand slides under my T-shirt and cups my breast, and my breath catches. He tastes so good, feels like heaven and I can’t believe I’ve waited so long for this. His mouth moves to my neck, a hot jolt shudders through me, and I sink into the bed, the sun hot on my skin, and give my- self away.
And I realize that despite my intentions, I’ve fallen in love after all.

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

amazingread

ARC Review: Personal Assets by Kelsey Browning

Format: E-bookpersonalassets
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Texas Nights, #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Cameron Kyle Wright
Heroine: Alice Ann Shelby
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: August 26, 2013
Started On: August 20, 2013
Finished On: August 26, 2013

Turned out being bad with Allie was so damned good.

Cameron Kyle Wright returns to his hometown of Shelbyville in Texas with a sense of homecoming, to start his own business, make a name for himself and perhaps find a woman to settle down with and start a family. But he is barely home before he runs into the all too delectable Alice Ann Shelby, the cossetted daughter of the most prestigious family in town.

Allie knows trouble of the good kind when she sees it. And the six foot of grumpy ruggedness that Cameron presents calls out to all her girly bits to stand up and take notice and perhaps have a go at him while they are at it. With a PHD in hand, Allie is the owner of a body image and sexuality counseling service in town aka a sex therapist, a business that is frowned upon by her father who had never in reality approved of anything she has done with her life.

When Allie proposes to Cameron a deal that includes all inclusive hot and mind-blowing sex whose by-product would be intense orgasms that would leave both of them begging for more, Cameron is hesitant to get down and dirty with a woman like Allie. For someone who wants and craves respect from his townsfolk, Cameron finds out that getting his dose of mind obliterating sex with Allie just might be worth all the hassle that she brings to the other aspects of his life as well.

With humor that begs one to laugh out loud; and I guarantee you that you wouldn’t be able to hold your laughter in even if you tried, Personal Assets by Kelsey Browning is a contemporary romance for those who love humor interlaced with every aspect of their romances. There’s plenty of heat to go around, with a cast of characters that holds their own and are appealing protagonists for the books that are certainly to follow in the Texas Nights series.

Cameron’s character is not one easily discernible when you first start out with the story. His character is revealed bit by bit and mostly towards the end of the story. Cameron is a giver at any cost, which is evident both in his actions in and out of bed. The way he totally and utterly focuses on pleasuring Allie is something to be savored, the way he wants to protects her even out of a misguided sense of responsibility one that is endearing and exasperating at the same time.

Allie has her work cut out for her when at first Cameron tries and resists her advances to take things slow. However, Allie on a mission is hell on wheels for any heterosexual male’s libido and that is how she wins him over together with other aspects of her character that comes out when she is with Cameron. The one thing she doesn’t factor into their supposedly meaningless trysts is the fact that her heart might become involved, that Cameron might be the one to get past the barriers and finally lay siege on her heart.

Recommended for those who love romances from authors like Jill Shalvis and Kristan Higgins. With heat of the panty melting variety, Personal Assets makes for a scorchingly great debut of the Texas Nights series.

Final Verdict: Humor, heat and heart makes for an unbeatable read!

Favorite Quotes

As he rolled to his side to rest his shaking arms, Cameron tried to ignore the way his heart was also pulsing, but not just from physical effort.
She’d asked for sex, plain and simple.
Whether she knew it or not, they’d already blown right past simple.

She kissed the base of his throat, and his chest rumbled against her breasts. He two-stepped them right off the dance floor and into a dark hallway. He gripped her hips in rough hands and lifted her, her thin bodice rubbing his chest, aligning their lips. He backed her against the wall and, within a single heartbeat, the kiss became a symphony of tangled tongues and mingled breaths. His arms tightened around her so she could barely inhale. They’d said barely a word, but their bodies were in deep communication.

Suddenly, he gripped her hips tighter and thrust into a sitting position so his face was even with her breasts. She wrapped her legs around his hips, leveraging him even deeper. He gave her a look that could’ve peeled the paint off one of his cars, burning and wild. Then his mouth was on her breast, surrounding, sucking, taking all of her inside his mouth.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Carina

greatread

Review: Skin Heat by Ava Gray

Format: E-bookskinheat
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Series: Skin, #3
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Zeke Noble
Heroine: Geneva Harper
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 4, 2011
Started On: August 9, 2013
Finished On: August 19, 2013

After more than a year’s hiatus since I read the 2nd book in this 4 book series by Ava Gray, I finally managed to delve into Skin Heat, the 3rd book in this delectable series featuring Zeke Nobel, a hero from the wrong side of town and Geneva Harper, the only daughter of the richest family in the town of Harper Creek.

Zeke is a changed man after his escape from those that had held him under captivity and tortured him until he had thought that he wouldn’t be able to carry on. Given his family history, Zeke is a man who keeps to himself and that alone forces himself to shoulder his burdens all alone and take one step at a time to bring at least some semblance to normalcy into his life.

Neva is the owner of Paws & Claws, a veterinarian, defiantly standing tall and proud in her quest to be true to what she wants in life and not what her parents want her to be. Though her choice of a career drives a wedge between her and her parents, Neva refuses to give up the one thing that gives her happiness.

When Zeke comes knocking on her clinic’s door looking for work, this marks the beginning of a relationship that grows slowly amidst a lot of misgivings on both Zeke and Neva’s part. Zeke because though he has yearned for Neva more than half of his life, knows deep down inside that Harpers and Nobles will never mix believes that he is not good enough for the likes of a woman who is as wonderful as Neva. Neva feels that being Zeke’s boss, she should not be the one who cannot keep her thoughts from straying into more sinful ventures when it comes to Zeke.

But the time Zeke and Neva spends together finally pushes their frayed control to the edge until the break brings with it a passion that refuses to be denied, no matter what. But then, there is a darkness that seems to hunt Neva, a killer on the loose whose victims bear a striking resemblance to her, with the web of danger around her closing in until it all comes down to who will win; her or the killer.

Though my memory might be faulty, Skin Heat seemed to deviate a bit from its usual pace and setup and seemed to offer a story that was a bit laid back when compared to the rest of 2 books in the series. Even then, Skin Heat is a book that invoked a lot of mixed reactions from me. The biggest one of which was related to the villain, who definitely turned out to be a surprise. His background and the life he had led as a child was one that haunted me while reading and I believe it is still haunting me even as I write the review. There is this hint of something almost desperate in his last thoughts before succumbing to death, a fact that I don’t think I will get over anytime soon.

Zeke makes for a heartbreaking hero. I loved him. Oh my god, how I loved the broken but yet strong man he is. There is a fire that burns in his soul that refuses to be tamped down though life hasn’t been all that great to him. And when the bastards who held him captive and tortured him for days changes something fundamental inside of him that renders him almost completely helpless if you judge the world through the modern standards people have to live up to, simply put it just broke my heart to read about him. Ava Gray did a marvelous job out of creating Zeke, and she has achieved what she set out to do, especially given the fact that I wouldn’t be able to forget him soon, if ever!

For more than half the story and beyond I thought that Neva would never be able to earn my wholehearted approval as she always seemed to be hesitating and reserving a piece of herself when it came to Zeke. But when push came to shove, she stepped up beautifully and replaced all that lingering doubt with love for the way she accepts Zeke and loves him and accepts him for who she is.

A review of Skin Heat would not be complete without mentioning the very interesting ABI agent Emil Hebert whose happily ever after I would definitely love to read!

Recommended for fans of the Skin series, fans of Ava Gray and fans of romantic suspense with a dash of paranormal in the mix.

Final Verdict: Skin Heat is a novel that has a haunting quality to it, and that alone is a testament to Ava Gray’s remarkable talent.

Favorite Quotes

“Take me,” she whispered.
A shudder rolled through him. He pounced on her. That was the only word for it. In one graceful leap he had her in his arms. He ripped his own shirt off her back, tore the fabric with his hands. A low growl escaped him as he buried his face in the curve of her neck. This time he used his teeth on her, not hard enough to break the skin, but fierce animal nips that made her want to fall back and give him her throat.

He entered her in one fierce thrust. Hard. Fast. His hands hurt a little, but it was a pain that made her lift up higher to push back against him. Her field of vision went white with the pleasure sparking through her. His low grunts of pleasure woke an answering atavistic need in her. Nothing mattered, nothing but this.

Neva came in a cascade of heat. Moaning, she swept a hand beneath and wet her fingers, riding them as she flicked her clit to another orgasm. Then she eased it outward and encircled his throbbing shaft. Squeezed.
“Mine,” she whispered. “I marked you. You smell like me.”
He gave a possessive growl and went with a raw groan, spurting hot from her hand all over her thigh.

Her contractions drove him over. His whole body tightened and he urged himself into her over and over, trying to imprint himself on her. Nobody else for you, ever. Only me. Just mine. Love you. Mine. The words melted into a kaleidoscope of cascading colors and feelings. He wrapped his arms around her while they both trembled. Tingles spilled through him, lighting him up from base of spine to base of skull. He’d never known anything like it.

“Spread for me.”
She almost came at his white-hot instruction and rose on her tiptoes, quivering from head to toe in anticipation. Zeke sank himself home in one long thrust; a satisfied growl tore free as he pumped into her, rough and hard. Neva tried to support herself on her arms, but they trembled. She couldn’t think, only feel.

Her whole body felt flushed and hungry. “Now? Please, now.”
His reply came when he hitched her up and sank into her. Neva locked her ankles behind his back, gloriously full. He made her feel soft and small and so cherished. She rolled her hips, tightening her muscles on his cock. Zeke moaned. He gripped her hips and thrust in long, deep strokes.
“Oh. More.”
“Mine,” he whispered.
“Always.”

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

awesomeread

ARC Review: First Temptation by Joan Swan

Format: E-bookfirsttemptation
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Covert Affairs, #1.5
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Taft Walker
Heroine: Zoe Brooks
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: August 19, 2013
Started On: August 16, 2013
Finished On: August 17, 2013

Supervisory Border Control Agent Zoe Brooks gets tangled up with Agent Taft Walker from the Counterterrorism unit of the Department of Homeland Security in a joint quest to bring down Mexican drug smugglers of the El Diablo cartel.

From the moment Taft and Zoe meet, sparks fly, regardless of the fact whether they both want it or not. Going undercover as the owners of a sex toy shop might be pushing Zoe’s comfort zone a bit more than she would like, and given the fact that her emotions are all over the place of recent, Zoe knows that she would have to up her game just that much more if she is going to prove her worth as a fresh undercover agent.

The lust that spirals forth, scorching and undeniable is one thing that both Taft and Zoe never factors into the equation in working together. Taft is sexy, confident and phobic of any sort of commitment beyond that of a night of pleasure but Zoe seems to push all his buttons in the right way that seems to make him panic and soothe him all at the same time.

While Zoe and Taft try to find their footing amidst the passion that refuses to be denied between them, the web of danger that surrounds them continues to thicken, with Zoe being the centerfold of all that danger. Though Taft would like nothing better than to protect her from harms way, how he reacts to the danger and the need to protect Zoe could mean the end of whatever it is that is between Zoe and himself before it is even given a chance to flourish.

This is my very first Joan Swan and I would have to say I liked her unabashed style of writing and the sex scenes that definitely stirred more than just Taft and Zoe. Taft and Zoe definitely cannot be blamed for having lackluster sex; they are practically all over each other and tends to find themselves in the most interesting spots to get it on!

Though everyone advices never to judge a book by its cover, I know most of us are guilty of just that and I requested for a galley of this because the cover hinted at the deliciousness that was bound to come. I am certainly glad that this novella gave me a bit of an insight into what Joan Swan can do and has definitely whetted my appetite enough to pick up more of her books to read.

Recommended for fans of romantic suspense with singeing passion that rocks you to your toes!

Final Verdict: Hot & wild; First Temptation certainly makes for a combustive prelude to the Covert Affairs series!

Favorite Quotes

She stretched, sliding her body along his slowly, feeling every swell and groove and plane before she pressed her lips to his. His mouth remained firm, chaste. His eyes remained open, but a clear new awareness burned hot.
She tugged on his neck, pulling their mouths flush, and licked his bottom lip. His hands fisted in the waistband of her slacks.
She gazed into those blazing golden eyes and pulled back just enough to whisper, “Are you on board, Walker, or not?”
He growled. Opened his mouth. Closed his eyes. And really kissed her.

Zoe used her arms to rock her body into his touch. “Taft…”
He bit her ear, then whispered, “I’m going to make you come, but we’re not done. Not even close. I’m only giving you relief. And prepping you for the next one. And the one after that. I’m going to keep going until you come so hard you scream.”
Zoe whimpered. She opened her eyes, unable to believe the sound had come from her own throat. Then Taft pressed two of those thick, practiced fingers inside her, and Zoe couldn’t focus on anything but the way he filled her.

Purchase Links: Amazon

greatread

Review: Bound by Marriage by Nalini Singh

Format: E-bookboundbymarriage
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Silhouette Desire
Hero: Gabriel Dumont
Heroine: Jess Randall
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 1, 2005
Started On: August 7, 2013
Finished On: August 9, 2013

I have been so engrossed with reading the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh that I have never even wondered whether Nalini has strayed into writing any other genres in the world of romance. So while I was doing some random searching on the Internet, imagine my surprise when this little number came up, and that too with the uber interesting marriage of convenience trope that can really make for superb reads!

Bound by Marriage takes place in New Zealand and is told from both the hero and heroine’s point of views in the third person. While wealthy rancher Gabriel Dumont and Jess Randall enter into a marriage of convenience knowing fully well what they both are getting into, neither of them factors in the searing passion that lights up the sheets between them and of course plays havoc with the general order of things or how they both perceive their joint lives would turn out to be.

Jess never thought that her heart would be capable of loving anyone else, much less a man like Gabriel who is so withdrawn that he opens up to her only when they are in bed together, him drawing out responses from her that she would never have thought possible. But even then the times that Gabriel does let her see that tender side of his, although it is very rarely with the situations that continue to develop and put further strains on their already fragile bond, Jess finds herself inexorably drawn towards the man she calls as her husband.

I seriously thought that I would have a hard time liking Gabriel by the time the book was half way through. Yes, he is that stubborn and set in his ways that if it weren’t for his emotions that are as much in turmoil as that of Jess’s I wouldn’t have thought that he felt anything for the woman he had married. But lo and behold, I should have trusted Nalini a bit more and waited for the bombshell when it hit and yes, I was blown away with the compassion and love that filled my heart for the little boy Gabriel had been when he had lost vital pieces of his heart in a way that they would never be regained.

For some readers, Jess might seem to be putting up with much more than they would have liked. But I think Gabriel needed someone just as equally stubborn as him, willing to give until those impenetrable shields of his that he wears around himself like an armor were all but shattered around him. I loved the ending, the glimpse into the man Gabriel later turns into, not completely tamed, no never that, but a man who is at least a little bit at peace with his past and smiling in the arms of the woman who loves him like there is no tomorrow.

Final Verdict: Sensual & heart wrenching; Silhouette Desire at its best!

Favorite Quotes

Gabriel’s hand was rough against her skin, the hand of a man who worked the land. But on her neck, his lips were almost velvet soft—a seductive contrast. She lost her breath as he closed his teeth over a pulse point, then released with exquisite deliberation, scraping those same strong teeth along the sensitive flesh.

“I’m damn glad you’re a rider, Jess,” he almost growled as he filled her, going so deep that she could feel his heartbeat in her body.
Not aware enough to understand what he was referring to, she squeezed intimate muscles around him in a reaction as old as time itself. Throwing back his head, he tightened his hold on her and began to move. His rhythm was fast, his strokes deep. She screamed and screamed as he pushed her over the edge in a tempest of hot breaths and powerful thrusts.
And when she fell, it was as a marked woman. Gabriel Dumont’s woman.

And then she heard the zipper being lowered.
Even that warning wasn’t enough. She screamed as he pushed into her. Hard. Fast. Deep. Her body accepted him, welcomed his driving thrusts, but he was merciless in the intensity of what he asked of her, pushing her so far that she lost all traces of civilization and surrendered to her most primal heart.

“So I did,” he murmured, reclaiming her lips even as his hand pushed aside the gusset of her panties to thrust two fingers deep into a body more than primed by the slow seduction. Pleasure erupted inside her almost instantaneously. Pulling away from the ravaging fury of his mouth, she threw back her head and rode his fingers, feeling herself clench and unclench with vicious strength.

Gabe’s arm came around her waist and his teeth scraped lightly over the sensitive skin of her neck. “Now, Jess. Now!”
She fractured under the command, everything female in her glorying in the wildness of that harsh masculine voice. At the last second, their eyes met in the mirror and Jess knew they’d crossed a line. The question was, what lay on the other side?

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

amazingread

Review: Blaze of Memory by Nalini Singh

Format: E-bookblazeofmemory.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Psy-Changeling, #7
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Devraj Santos
Heroine: Ekaterina Haas (Katya Haas)
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 3, 2009
Started On: August 5, 2013
Finished On: August 7, 2013

Nothing is stronger than the will of the human heart.

How anyone could have NOT LOVED the 7th book in the Psy-Changeling series is beyond me. I have seen well above 4 star average rating for almost every book or should I say all the books that I have read to date in this series on Goodreads. But Blaze of Memory has a 3.97 stars average rating which made me wonder whether Nalini had fallen short of the mark when she aimed to bring the story of Devraj Santos and Katya Haas to her fans. But in the end, it just went to show that relying completely on ratings to lead your way can sometimes backfire on you as I loved every single inch of this book and then some and wanted a little bit more being the greedy and voracious fan of the series that I am!

Devraj Santos (Dev) is the director of the Shine Foundation that seeks out the Forgotten, the generation of the first defectors from PsyNet when the protocol of Silence had first been put into place. The Shine Foundation seeks out kids who have “gifts” that they do not know how they ended up with, continually at danger if the Council were ever to find out their existence and move to eradicate them for the fear of loss of control as the most lethal race in the world. However recent events seem to have put cracks in the picture perfect world of the emotionless Psy as presented to the rest of the world and it is a continuing thread in all the books how the PsyNet seems to be slowly disintegrating and turning onto itself which makes for interesting reading in itself.

When Dev finds an utterly broken woman left on his doorstep for him to find, a female Psy who doesn’t remember who she is and how she got there though Dev knows that she might end up being the worst kind of threat to him and his foundation, he cannot help the protective instincts that surges forth with every single minute he spends in her company.

Katya Haas is a woman who has been violated in the worst manner possible and left to fulfill her destiny or die a slow and painful death which would strip her of even the little bit of tattered dignity that she has left. The one thing that Katya realizes from the onset is that the flawless Psy conditioning that should make her immune to the delicious appeal that Dev is on her senses has been effectively broken down and that she is no match for the chain of emotions that kickstarts deep inside of her when Dev is around.

Though trust is an element that is missing between Dev and Katya, the need that each rouses in the other is one that neither can turn their backs on. And as Katya tries to unravel the literally kicking time-bomb she is, Dev finds his heart, body and soul totally enamored by the enemy who could be his utter and complete destruction as the Psy Councilor playing puppet master to Katya wants.

Blaze of Memory proved to be nothing short of a fantastic read, the only thing I missed being the epilogue that Ms. Singh always tucks in at the end of each novel. But the Petrokov Family Archives which was presented throughout the story in the form of letters served to be an interesting facet into seeing how the Silence Protocol came about from someone who had witnessed it firsthand. And there was this bit towards the end of the story where Katya beseeches Dev to go visit his father which proved to be quite the emotion wrangling scene.

Dev might not be a shapeshifter, but he has his own set of skills that makes him just as lethal. Dev is just as finely honed as any sentinel in the DarkRiver or lieutenant in the SnowDancer pack of Changelings. His intensity and hardness both being features required of him with the job he had undertaken as the Director of a foundation that needs to make decisions that impacts the lives of so many people under his care. His salvation from letting the coldness totally rule over his emotions comes in the form of Katya, a woman he thinks to be broken in every fundamental way possible but surprises and amazes him with the strength she displays given the room to flourish.

Katya is the sort of heroine that any reader would fall in love with. Nalini has an innate talent in creating heroines who are tough, strong and yet with a core of femininity and vulnerability inside of them that makes them human and that much appealing. I felt for Katya with every single cell in my being, her immense strength in defying a master of mental combat one that had me enthralled and in awe by the time I was done.

The scenes of passion between Katya and Dev are scorching hot; Nalini certainly knows how to ratchet up the heat-o-meter when it comes to sizzling scenes of heated love making between her characters. The last couple of chapters are so intense that I felt like chewing my nails out in agitation and the tangle of hot emotions that coursed through me to see Dev and Katya nearly lose the precious and beautiful love that they had found with each other. If you are hesitating on picking up this wonderful wonderful book because of the slightly lower ratings when compared with the other books in the series, don’t. Blaze of Memory is just as spectacular and just as lethal on the senses.

Final Verdict: Like an inferno that rages out of control, Blaze of Memory is just as vivid and beautiful in its wildness. Definitely recommended!

Favorite Quotes

Heat.
Touch.
Life, electric in its fury…a kiss that demanded her participation.
Shuddering in surrender, she drowned in the scent of him. Wild and exotic. Dark and male.
A man who’d snarled at her, caged her… fed her.
“Dev.” Spoken against his lips, she was so loath to break contact.
His mouth took hers again before she could say anything more, his teeth sinking into her lower lip.

“I don’t understand,” she murmured, lifting her fingertips to touch kiss-swollen lips, “how my race could’ve ever given up such exquisite sensation.”
His cock pushed against the zipper of his pants, the metal threatening to turn him into a eunuch. “Katya.”
As a warning, it had no effect. Dropping her hand from her lips, she clenched it over her navel, as if soothing some inward ache. “I feel so … hungry, so hot, as if my skin is about to burst.”
He shuddered, voice lost.

Hands on her hips. Warm. A little rough. Perfect. She sucked in a breath, and when he lifted her, it was instinct to wrap her legs around his waist. He moved her until she—“Dev!” she screamed into his mouth as his still-covered cock pushed into her softness, parting her with possessive heat, the thin cotton of her panties no barrier.
His thumb smoothed over the crease of her thigh, inciting her to move impatiently . . . but that only rubbed her clitoris against him, further tightening the fist that was her body.

She couldn’t stop the strangely fluid movements of her body—part of her knew what to do, how to do it. “More,” she ordered, nipping at his ear.
“You’re too tight.”
“More.”
Groaning, he slid a second finger inside her and pumped once.
Twice. Pleasure and pain, a stretching ecstasy. Her arousal peaked, hovered there, waiting, waiting… His thumb brushed her clitoris.
Everything exploded.

“Katya,” he said against her ear, trying to draw breath, to not lose himself completely.
Her fingers thrust into his hair. “You feel so good.”
The simple statement, made in that erotically husky voice, stole what small fragments of control he’d had left. Putting one hand on her hip, he pinned her in place as he began to stroke in and out in a hard, steady rhythm that had her clawing at him.

He lifted her with a display of strength that stole her breath. “Legs around my waist.” It was a clipped order.
She obeyed immediately. He rewarded her by sliding into her in a single hard thrust. Her scream echoed off the walls as pleasure short-circuited her body. His hands gripped her bottom, holding her tightly in place as he moved in and out. She clawed at his shoulders, feeling herself hanging on the precipice.
“God damn it!” Dev’s body went taut against her and she knew he’d lost every bit of his steely control.
That was all it took.
Electricity rocked through her, as wild and as hot as the man who held her pinned to the wall in helpless surrender.

She tried to pull away, but only because it amplified the sensations. Dev knew. He used his body to hold her in place, even as his lips insisted she return every kiss, every little bite, every breath.
She gave him all she had.
And still he asked for more.
Melting, she ran the back of one foot over his calf, urging him closer. Her reward was the release of her hands, as his own slid down her back, pulling her up. Instinct had her putting her legs around him in a shockingly intimate embrace, the hottest part of her pressed to the hardest part of him.

“Katya, baby, stop.” It was a groan. “I can’t hold on if you do that.”
She raised her lips to his again, infusing her kiss with every ounce of passion in her. Shuddering, Dev gripped her hard on one hip. “I sure hope you’re ready, sweetheart.”
“Yes, yes!” Crying out as her body stretched around the hard thrust of his entry, she wrapped both legs around his waist. And then she let him lead.
He took her on a ride that eclipsed anything they’d ever before done. Wild, untamed, and vividly physical, they danced. The last thing Katya remembered was seeing Dev’s eyes shimmer gold.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Diesel

fantasticread

ARC Review: Picture Perfect Wedding by Fiona Lowe

Format: E-bookpictureperfectwedding.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Wedding Fever, #2
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Luke Anderson
Heroine: Erin Davis
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 12, 2013
Started On: August 4, 2013
Finished On: August 5, 2013

30 year old Luke Anderson is a dairyman, the owner of Lakeview Farm, a farm that has been in his family for generations. Though Luke has gone through the whole of his life preparing for the takeover of the business from his father, something akin to discontentment has settled deep in his gut and he is unsure of the hows and whys of it and how to shake it off.

Erin Davis is a photographer of high-end brides, someone who has a plan to take her from Point A to Point B. Not one to take unnecessary risks, Erin needs the award which will be hers if everything goes according to plan, the publicity the award is going to bring on which she is basing the future of the rest of her self-made career on. Standing in her way of achieving the picture perfect wedding is one delicious hunk of a farmer who gets her inner wanton self doing cartwheels and somersaults in her attempt to make him sit up and take notice.

When Erin turns up at Lakeview Farm, the one thought that rushes through Luke’s mind before turning to mush in the face of that sizzling attraction that flares to life between them is the fact that he has no time in his life for high maintenance city girls. Luke might want to turn his back on Erin and her beautiful green eyes that calls out to him on levels that he doesn’t even begin to understand, but he finds that the strange fascination that he has for Erin is hard to say no to. For Erin, Luke is the one temptation that she cannot resist, even when their summer affair heats up just more than her sheets at night.

Picture Perfect Wedding is the second book in the Wedding Fever series set in the small town of Whitetail, Wisconsin. I loved this instalment in the series from the characters to the fun antics that had me snorting and laughing out loud and also the secondary romance that unfolded between the town widower Nicole and the hot new fire chief Tony.

Luke and Eric are a delicious couple, both with their own misgivings about their future and their own battles to fight. Luke is a man who is undecided on what he wants to do to the farm, and it certainly doesn’t help matters when it brings problems raining down on his close-knit family and has his retired father breathing down his neck.

Erin falls in love with every aspect of the charming life that she sees happen every day in Whitetail. With a steady income burgeoning her bank balance for the first time in a long while, Erin finds herself to be in her element, all the while working towards photographing the perfect wedding which would change the course of her life. But beneath all that enthusiasm lies a heart that is scared beyond anything at the thought of tying herself down, opening her heart to pain and heartache that is certain to follow in the wake of every relationship.

I loved both Luke and Erin, Lukes stoicism something that truly made his character one thats fascinating. Put into the mix his family and two dogs plus the various well meaning members of the community, well you have a hell of a lot on your hands to juggle and its wonderful the way Fiona knows just what to do to keep the story flowing smoothly. I loved the sexual battle of wills that took place between Luke and Erin and of course I didn’t even expect Nicole to come out and show a side of herself that I wouldn’t have ever thought her capable of. The secondary romance that took place perfectly complemented and was in line with the primary story that was unfolding and though I would have loved to learn more about Tony, I found myself pretty much satisfied with the level of detail Fiona went into when it came to their romance.

If there is anything Fiona Lowe does exceptionally well, it is contemporary romances set in small towns and she writes them with so much heart that it is impossible not to lose yourself in the magic of it all.

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of small town romances.

Final Verdict: Picture Perfect Wedding comes to you with lots of sizzle, fun & heart. Not to be missed!

Favorite Quotes

With a puff of dissatisfaction that he was so slow to respond, she pulled her hand from his, rose on her toes, slid both her hands against his cheeks, angled his mouth and kissed him.
Her lips pressed against his and the slight scratch of his top lip grazed hers as she coaxed him to open his mouth to her. Chocolate, coffee and heat flowed through her, spinning currents of delight eddying through her, feeding her need for this man like oxygen fuels fire.

Her fingertip touched his and flames engulfed her. His large, strong hand closed around her wrist. She lunged toward him as his arms lifted her at the hips, and then her legs were wrapped around his waist, and she was burying herself against his chest. She was home. Her body, so taut with ragged need for so long, stilled for a heartbeat, suspended in bliss, and then primal energy thundered through her. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she lowered her mouth to his and kissed him.

His hands gripped her hips and he lifted her over him and then very slowly he lowered her down.
Her body, oh so very ready and desperate for him, opened easily, absorbing him bit by bit until she’d stretched to the limit and he completely filled her. The sensation was indescribable and she experienced the oddest feeling that she was going to cry, which made no sense because her body was on fire for him. Her throbbing muscles, which had ached for him, closed around him and need became fire driving her upward to seize the ultimate prize.

She smelled of vanilla and tasted of salt and he couldn’t get enough of the feel of her body. Reverently, he cupped her breasts in his hands, savoring the weight of them against his palm.
She gave a moan of pleasure and he felt her breasts tighten. He grinned. He’d never had a lover this responsive. Very slowly, he moved the pad of his thumbs across her nipples. Her body jerked and her eyes opened as wide as a cat’s. In the clear, green depths he clearly read desire—hot, molten need for him.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Carina | iBooks

amazingread