ARC Review: The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins

Format: E-booktheperfectmatch
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Blue Heron, #2
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Thomas Jude Barlow
Heroine: Honor Grace Holland
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 29, 2013
Started On: October 28, 2013
Finished On: October 29, 2013

A Kristan Higgins book is like that favorite dogeared pillow that you hug yourself to sleep with, it is just like having that cup of coffee you have been craving for all day long; yes a Kristan Higgins definitely raises your spirits, gives you a ton of stuff to laugh about and also leaves you with that glow of being satisfied from a well spun romance that few authors manage to deliver time and yet again.

The Perfect Match is the second book in the Blue Heron series, the first one which I seemed to have missed out on. Honor Grace Holland is 35 year old, celebrating her birthday with a pap smear when her doctor has “the talk” with her which propels her to take action to save her dying eggs which would definitely mean the end of the road on her dream of having her own family someday. A botched up marriage proposal and a cat fight later, Honor is very much determined to get back on track for she is a woman who gets things done if nothing else.

Thomas Jude Barlow (Tom Barlow) is from Britain, has a wicked and wild accent that drives the ladies crazy and a professor of mechanical engineering. Tom is desperate for a way to stay in the US when a twisted sequence of events brings Honor and him together. A very hot and memorable night of sex together, Honor proposes a way out for him which would tie them both together in a marriage of convenience. Although neither Honor nor Tom believes that they are on the right track, both of them agree to a relationship that seems more difficult to make into a reality than it should have been.

Honor has her reservations about letting her heart get away from her a second time round. Having her heart crushed by the man whom she had loved and yearned for for the past 17 years is a bit too much and Honor knows deep down where it matters that Tom with his wicked smile, those deep gray eyes and panty melting accent of his not to mention the smokin’ hot body which makes her melt practically anywhere is hazardous to her heart. And of course there is the way that Tom doggedly keeps trying to win the affections of the one person who turns him away time and yet again, the reason he is marrying Honor for which practically makes falling for him that much easier.

Tom reserves a huge part of himself from the world, has a part of his heart sealed off which would never see the light of day if he has anything to say about it. Though Honor tugs at certain places in the left region of his chest which seems to have been left hollow for far too long, Tom knows that he has nothing in reality to offer to a woman like Honor who deserves so much more than a jail sentence for helping him out in time of his need. But every kiss they exchange tends to break down a little bit of the walls that Tom has built around his heart, Honor’s honest, and giving nature crumbles his resistance away until Tom has no choice left but to run away from himself when it all gets to be too much.

The Perfect Match was right about just perfect in every way. I loved the fact that this was told in third person and included both Honor and Tom’s points of view, something you usually miss out on when you read a Kristan Higgins because she mostly tends to write in the first person, mainly from the heroines point of view. I loved Honor’s larger than life family, each and every character in the story lending a rich vividness to the story that kept me turning the pages. It wasn’t just Honor and Tom’s story that kept me glued to my e-reader every spare minute I could find, but rather the whole brood that comes together that created a magic that totally washed over me and kept me enthralled till I turned the very last page.

Honor is one of the most swell heroines. You have to read the book to understand what I mean. Best way to describe her is to say that she is the one that keeps everything firmly glued together in her family and the whole story, the one who continues to give in that gentle way of hers, a woman who stands up that much quicker than she falls down; because life certainly does punch her in the face a time or two, hard enough to really knock her flat on her face. Enter Tom who is all kinds of sexy and appealing that half of his students tends to be women who just wants a piece of him, a man with whom she clicks right from the very start turning the sensible Honor into a woman of sensual cravings that is so unlike her.

I loved the fact that Kristan included more romance in this novel than any other novel I’ve read from her to-date. In most of her stories, the heroes and heroines tend to spend a lot of time apart before they do come together eventually. But The Perfect Match I think struck just the right balance and gave just enough amount of steam and romance to keep me all warm, happy and aglow with the wonderfulness of it all.

Along with the laughter, Kristan certainly knows how to deliver the gut wrenching emotional aspect that practically gobsmacked me with all those tears my eyes refused to shed and the throat tightening which went on for quite a while. Wait, I think I’m still suffering from some of that. Sigh, which practically means that I had one hell of a time reading The Perfect Match and so would you. So just find yourself a copy and take a peek. If nothing else you’d get a couple of unforgettable laughs and a happy jiggle in parts of your body better left unsaid here, just from the sheer experience that is Tom Barlow.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Laugh out loud funny, sexy and full of heart. Kristan Higgins is an incomparable force in the genre.

Favorite Quotes

She didn’t realize she’d launched herself at him until she was kissing him, and hell, it’d been what, almost two minutes, possibly more, since he’d last kissed her, and she missed it. He landed on his back with an ooph, but she didn’t really care.
“Hallo, what have we here?” he murmured, and she kissed him again, sliding her tongue against his, dying to kiss him, taste him, feel him.

She tugged his shirt from his waistband and slid her hands up his back, feeling thick muscle and hot skin, and pulled his shirt over his head. Something metal brushed against her—a medallion, dangling from a silver chain around his neck.
He pulled back a bit, looking down at her. His own breath was ragged, and though his face had been gentle earlier, he now looked somewhat…fearsome. Down Under clenched at the word.

He tossed down the scrunchy and kissed her. Hard. “You fucking terrified me,” he muttered, and kissed her again, this time more gently.
She was alive. She was safe. She was wet and naked and warm.
Then, before he took her right here in the shower, he left, streaming water, sopping wet.
Because the last thing he wanted was to feel all this.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo | iTunes | Harlequin

[xrr rating = 4.75/5]

Caliber SEAL: FANTASTIC READ!

Requested Review: Waiting for Jo by S.R. Bradshaw

Format: E-bookwaitingforjoe
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Josephine O’Shea Trilogy, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: William Bennett
Heroine: Josephine O’Shea
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 28, 2013
Started On: October 23, 2013
Finished On: October 23, 2013

Josephine O’Shea (Jo) is smart and beautiful who seemingly has everything going for her. Apart from her crappy boss at work and the snazzy boyfriend James that had broken up with her a couple of months back and of course the stalker who wouldn’t quit, Jo seems to lead a charmed life. But as we all know, appearances can certainly be deceiving.

When Jo is summoned by her ex-boyfriend for drinks, this being the ex that she still has feelings for, it would have been a crime to go and see him without a few expectations of her own. But they are pretty much nipped in the bud when all that James offers her is a position at his law firm together with a couple of mixed signals that leaves her more confused than ever. It also marks the beginning of her relationship with William (Will) who makes for an interesting addition to the story that certainly stirs things up in more ways than one.

Waiting for Jo is written in the first person and told entirely from Jo’s point of view. Jo is a confused character at best, someone who faces the dilemma of choosing between two guys, one the ex who doesn’t seemingly really care what happens to her, and Will the one who goes out of his way to care for her wellbeing from the very beginning of their acquaintance even before their relationship turns into something more.

Mostly while reading romances, I have almost always felt like hitting the hero on the head a time or two to make him see the error of his ways and show him what is right in front of him. And of late I think I have come across many heroines of that variety too and Jo seems to fit the bill quite well. I felt like waving a red flag in front of her and showing her just how wrong she was in dillydallying between James and Will without really trying to stick it out with the guy who in actuality really cared about her. There are elements that would be considered as cheating in this story, so readers who find that to be a factor needs to take that into consideration before reading this one.

The stalker when revealed managed to surprise me and turned out to be someone that I dismissed initially as the person who could have been putting in all that effort to scare Jo out of her wits and submit her to the stalker’s every whim. Goes to show that when it comes to people you can never truly know what they are capable of.

I don’t know what Ms. Bradshaw has in store for Jo and Will as she tossed in a quite cool epilogue to finish off book 1 of this trilogy and it seemed like Will and Jo were truly on their way for the long haul. We shall see when book 2 comes out.

Final Verdict: Book one of the Josephine O’Shea trilogy delivers suspense and drama with a tinge of heat!

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Smashwords

[xrr rating = 3.5/5]

Caliber SEAL: FAVORABLE READ!

ARC Review: Driving Her Wild by Meg Maguire

Format: E-bookdrivingherwild
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Wilinski’s, #3
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Patrick Doherty
Heroine: Steph Healy
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 22, 2013
Started On: October 21, 2013
Finished On: October 22, 2013

She punched the button for the lobby.
And when the door slid open again, there he was.
The exactly wrong sort of man, with that smile that made her feel so damn right.

Meg Maguire is an author who writes the not so your usual variety of romances for tropes that you might have read a time or two. In Driving Her Wild, retired cage fighter Steph Haley makes her way to the Wilinski’s Fight Academy, taking those first steps towards a future that she has already mapped out for herself. It certainly doesn’t include the blue-eyed Patrick Doherty kissing her senseless and making mincemeat out of her well laid plans towards a financially secure future with a sophisticated man who would make her feel like a lady rather than just a casual tumble between the sheets to scratch an itch.

Patrick is good with his hands when it comes to carpentry but not so much when it comes to doing electrical jobs which is what he does to keep his head above water in these economically uncertain times. And when Patrick comes across the sexy Steph with that glint in her eyes from all the bodily harm that comes her way due to Patrick’s clumsiness whenever she’s around, Patrick knows that he has found that essential ingredient that has been missing from his life for over more than a year.

Steph is driven and knows what she wants and denies to herself her need for Patrick’s overly capable hands roaming all over her body, inciting pleasure of the likes she’s never had, all  because she believes in her head that Patrick doesn’t fit the mould that she has clearly made out for what her perfect partner would be like when she nails him. But every man she comes across in her perfectly well ordered dating life doesn’t come close to giving her the zing and the connection that springs forth between the two of them. And without Steph somehow being aware of it, Patrick worms his way into her heart and shows her that sometimes what seems like the the worst fit for you just might end up being the one.

To be honest, I actually didn’t know what to make of Steph’s character. Yes, she is strong, physically and emotionally and knows what she wants. Patrick on the other hand seemed mellow when compared to Steph and perhaps that’s what makes them tick together. However, Patrick has no qualms about being a bit bossy as required in the bedroom which is what Steph seemed to want out of that aspect of their relationship.

Patrick might be what you call a beta hero in the sense he doesn’t go macho all over the place, but rather it is his sweetness and open honesty that wins him the bonus points, not to mention his good looks that earns him a second glance from women. Patrick is open about his feelings as they come, there is not even an ounce of pretense and the fact that he doesn’t resort to the games that people play when they do not know how to navigate the treacherous waters of what we call the beginnings of a relationship. But what Patrick wants, he too goes after, perhaps not with as much tenacity as Steph does, but nevertheless as effective or more so when it comes to winning the affections of the woman who makes him feel alive after so very long.

Steph’s misgivings about Patrick and the lack of security that their joint lives would have stems from her childhood, but somehow there seemed to be another factor which involved a cousin who made her feel insecure throughout her adolescence years. Though that in essence provided the pivotal turn in the relationship between Patrick and Stephy, somehow I failed to see how that contributed to making the story any richer or how it made the developing feelings between the two any more real than it was prior to that. Not a bad read but certain bits and pieces in the story just didn’t work for me while the rest worked very well.

Recommended for fans of Meg Maguire and fans of the series.

Final Verdict: With a bite of sexy, Meg Maguire delivers a beta hero that you’d adore!

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

[xrr rating = 3.5/5]

Caliber SEAL: FAVORABLE READ!

ARC Review: What The Bride Didn’t Know by Kelly Hunter

Format: E-bookwhatthebridedidntknow
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The West Family
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Adrian Sinclair
Heroine: Lena Aurelia West
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 22, 2013
Started On: October 19, 2013
Finished On: October 21, 2013

What the Bride Didn’t Know by Kelly Hunter is a novel from the Harlequin’s KISS line, novels that are fraught with sexual tension of the sizzling kind that melts you on the inside. Thankfully, this one didn’t just create the sexual tension, but delivered on it to appease readers like myself just enough so that we would finish the book with a smile on our face rather than a frown which would have been the case otherwise.

Adrian Sinclair or Trig as he is known as is Lena’s next door neighbor and they have a history that spans both their childhoods and beyond. Though Trig has always had a thing for Lena, and that is to put it mildly; the one thing that has held him back is the fear that Lena might not want the same thing when it comes to him. Of course there is also the fact that Trig is best friends with Lena’s older brother Jared which means that there is the darned bro code to adhere to as well.

Fast forward their relationship to a couple of years down the line and the dynamics of the relationship between Trig and Lena seems to have shifted, Lena having been injured while on a mission and Trig taking on the task of sticking to Lena’s side no matter what. It is Lena’s sheer dogged determination to search for her brother that finds both Lena and Trig in Istanbul facing a situation that neither Trig nor Lena ever thought they would find themselves in.

When a series of events ends up in Lena suffering from temporary memory loss that renders her to believe that she is married to Trig, well lets say all hell breaks loose between these two as both Trig and Lena tries to do things right by what they believe, Lena hellbent on seducing her seemingly reluctant husband and Trig trying his darnedest not to take advantage of the fraught situation they both have landed in.

What the Bride Didn’t Know has a lot of elements that made it the swell read it turned out to be. There is that undeniable thread of humor interwoven into the fabric of the story that made the book hard to put down. I kept smiling through even what you would call the most serious situations in the book because Kelly demanded no less with characters like Trig and Lena who have both got that sarcastic humor thing down to a pat.

Trig is an adorable hero, and I am certain Trig would skin anyone who dares say that out aloud. He is the larger than life variety of hero whose gentleness might be found at odds with his size, but that is what in effect makes Trig such an endearing hero. His love for Lena is as unwavering in strength and as immovable as he is in his determination to stick to Lena even when the going gets tough. And that in essence proved to me even without the whole story seeing its way through, the sheer beauty of Trig’s love for the woman whom his heart had claimed as his a long, long time back.

Lena’s character prior to her amnesia wasn’t one I liked overly much. She was prickly, overly sensitive, and I could understand her reasons for it because she had always been someone who could keep up with Trig and her brother no matter the circumstances. While I am leery of most books that resort to using the amnesia plot to bring the hero and heroine together, I found that this one had a fresh twist to it in the sense that Trig doesn’t try to use the lack of memories on Lena’s part to show her just how good they can be together. In fact, Trig goes out of his way to not get into any situations that would in the end slap him on his face once Lena gets back her memory and that to me showed that Trig was an honorable man, a man who would wait out an eternity if it means convincing the love of his life to share their tomorrows might not prove to be a piece of cake once she is in a sound frame of mind.

I especially loved the honest conversations that to took place between Lena and Trig, especially Lena who might never have resorted to opening herself up to that extent where Trig or anyone else is concerned. I believe that the lapse in her memories truly gave her the opportunity to face her fears and insecurities and really heal from the emotional scars left behind by the physical injuries her body had suffered and gave Trig a fighting chance in proving to her that when it comes to Lena he would always be there for her, no questions asked.

The bit that cinched the deal for me? The epilogue that made everything come together. Because everyone knows I am a sucker for a good epilogue!

Recommended for those who love sizzling sexual tension, an adorable and sexy hero and a gutsy heroine who makes you smile all throughout.

Final Verdict: Loved the snazzy humor and the sizzle! No wonder Trig and Lena makes for such a fantastic duo.

Favorite Quotes

Trig smiled at that and she reached forward and covered his hand with her own. ‘Don’t give up on me.’
‘Never.’
This was why she’d married this man.
‘I feel as if I’m in a place where I don’t have to run to keep up any more,’ she confessed. ‘I can’t run any more. Best I can do is hold my ground and stumble along, and you know what? You’re still there for me, and my family is still there, because it was never about me keeping up. It was about me believing that I belonged and I do believe that now. I’m happy now. I married you, which I have to say is probably the smartest thing I’ve ever done.’

‘You love this room,’ he said with a crooked smile as she rose from the table, caught hold of his hand and tugged him towards the pianola.‘I really do. It’s a little bit beautiful, a whole lot fascinating, and kind of cracked when you look up close. I’m hoping it might be the way you see me. Because, newfound sense of belonging or not, I’m still trying to figure out what you see in me.’

He had a thing about her hair, winding his hands in it as he grasped her head and deepened the kiss. He had a thing for wrapping his arms around her, one hand between her shoulder blades and the other palming her buttocks. He had a thing about kisses, deep and dirty.

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

[xrr rating = 4.25/5]

Caliber SEAL: AWESOME READ!

Review: Meant to be Married by Ruth Wind

Format: E-bookmeanttobemarried
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Men of the Land
Publisher: Harlequin Treasury
Hero: Elias de Jesus Salimento Santiago
Heroine: Sarah Greenwood
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 15, 2011
Started On: October 18, 2013
Finished On: October 18, 2013

‘Absence is to love what air is to fire. If it is small, it soon goes out. If it is great, it burns stronger.’

Ruth Wind is an author who has an amazing way with words. It is evident in the style of writing that she uses to bring her stories alive with the different nuances and colors that makes her books the vibrantly haunting reads that they are.

Meant to be Married is the story of the love affair between Elias Santiago and Sarah Greenwood, a love that had blossomed from friendship between two people whose families have been warring for decades. Their love had been an all consuming one that had left them with no room but to give it their all. But then Sarah’s father wouldn’t have his only child marrying one of the enemy and that is how these two find themselves torn apart from each other until 12 years later Sarah returns home which once again stirs up things between them.

Elias is a proud man, his pride evident in the way he holds his head high, has made a name for himself and proved himself a successful man capable of a lot more than people would have given him credit for. And when Sarah strolls back into town, the well ordered life that Elias had been living for a long while now comes crashing down at his feet, awakening all those emotions that had made him the adolescent who had been drunk on the love that had pretty much devoured them both.

Elias might want to enact his revenge on the man who had almost ruined his life 12 years back by using Sarah as the tool to achieve that, but that is not exactly how things turn out when both Sarah and Elias realize that for both of them, the other had been what had in actuality made their lives complete. But for them to have even the slightest chance at happiness, Sarah would have to stop running from her past and Elias would have to let go of his pride in order to go through that final stage of acceptance and love that would lead them through the rest of their lives.

While I loved Elias as a hero, I found that even towards the end he was a bit too stiff and unrelenting for me to really believe that Sarah and the love he has for her had won over the fire of hatred that has burned through him for far too long. Sarah had a way of running from everything that made things overwhelming for her and not without reason too, but at least she tried to do what no one else has had the courage to do; to heal the rift between the two families by finding out the actual truth about what had happened a long, long time ago.

All in all, I wouldn’t say that this is a bad read but rather a story that failed have that wow factor because I couldn’t really believe that in the end Elias would accept the truth and move on based on the history of the enmity between the families. Perhaps an epilogue would have done wonders to convince readers like myself who remains a wee bit skeptical even after the happily ever after.

Recommended for fans of Harlequin romances and fans of Ruth Wind.

Final Verdict: Ruth Wind is an author who takes you deep into the heart of any book she writes.

Favorite Quotes

 It was Eli who stood there, his hair dripping, his face wet. The white cotton shirt stuck to his chest and arms, transparent against his dark skin, and his eyes burned as he stared at her.
A bolt of pure, undiluted hunger filled her, rushing through every cell, making her body ache. She might even have made a little sound, part fear, part need.
Without a word, he came in, put his cold hands on her face and kissed her.

“His clothes were wet, but they warmed as he pressed into her, warmed with the heat of his flesh and the heat of her own, and Sarah arched into him, put her arms around him, pulled him closer overwhelmed at her need to absorb the taste of Elias, remembered and not remembered, darker than it had been, seasoned with years and lost dreams and a thousand moments of yearning.

She held him fiercely as he met his release, and clasped his head between her hands and whispered his name, over and over.
Elias. Elias. Elias.
And then she was set free, her soul tangling with his, as she soared into the completeness that she had found only with him. She held him as tightly as she could, her arms and her legs wrapping him close, wanting to somehow make him part of her, so he could never be torn from her again.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Harlequin

[xrr rating = 3.75/5]

Caliber SEAL: GOOD READ!

Requested Review: Choosing Chase by Julie Raust

Format: E-bookchoosingchase
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Series: Old Enough to Love You, #1
Publisher: Self Published
Hero: Chase Cole
Heroine: Teresa
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: August 12, 2013
Started On: September 26, 2013
Finished On: October 17, 2013

Choosing Chase is a novella in the Old Enough to Love You series that features a sexy as sin hero who is younger than the heroine, who embarks on a mission to make her see once and for all that he is the one for her.

Teresa has had it with relationships when she had been widowed and left behind by a husband who had not found her to be his number one priority towards the latter part of their marriage. Bit by bit, Teresa’s confidence had eroded away under his callous disregard until Teresa had all but convinced herself that nobody would want her as she is, much less a man like Chase who could practically choose anyone to be his life partner.

Chase and Teresa has been friends for over two years, the whole period during which Chase has been biding his time to find his way through the armor that holds Teresa’s heart in an ironclad grip that doesn’t show any signs of relenting. But Chase is a man who has two years worth of determination fueled more so by the frustration he has suffered both sexual and otherwise when it comes to Teresa. And when the opportunity presents itself for Chase to make his case, oh boy, does he make his case, Chase does so with an enthusiasm that makes it an impossibility for Teresa to walk away.

Julie Raust is a new to me author and the one reason I accepted her request for a review is the fact that the trope of friends turning to lovers is one of my favorites. Though a new voice in the genre, Julie managed to draw me into the story that unfolded all the while giving enough tidbits about Teresa and Chase’s entwined past to keep the emotional aspect of the story real which went a long way into making the sexual connection between Chase and Teresa seem tangible and worthwhile.

Sounds like the next book in the series is going to have a lot of fireworks in the mix with two of Chase and Teresa’s friends being the main protagonists. Recommended for those who love erotic romances. This one’s short enough to wet your appetite for whats to come.

Final Verdict: Choosing Chase has the ingredients that makes an erotic romance a worthy read!

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

[xrr rating = 3.75/5]

Caliber SEAL: GOOD READ!

Review: Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh

Format: E-bookkissofsnow
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Series: Psy-Changeling, #10
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Hawke Snow
Heroine: Sienna Lauren
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: May 31, 2011
Started On: October 13, 2013
Finished On: October 16, 2013

So, you ask me, how does it feel to have reached and read Hawke’s story, the 10th book in the wondrous Psy-Changeling series; the main reason for me starting on this journey being to actually read Hawke and Sienna’s story which was pretty much sensationalized by the whole Goodreads community. Well, perhaps I might be a victim of my own expectations and all the sensationalism because I must say I was just a trifle bit disappointed with the story not because it wasn’t as exciting as the Psy-Changeling books always are, but rather because I felt that Hawke and Sienna was somehow shortchanged because of the gravity of everything else that was happening in the story.

Hawke is the Alpha of SnowDancer wolf changeling pack and is a man determined in the face of his fate. A fate that he believes wouldn’t ever ease the deep aching loneliness in his soul left by the death of the woman who would have been his mate for life. No matter how much Sienna Lauren might tempt him and call out to his inner wolf to come out and take a bite, consequences be damned, Hawke calls on the reserves of his icy and legendary control to stay strong in the face of temptation.

Two months after Indigo and Drew’s story takes place, the politics that governs the world inhabited by Psy, Changelings and humans keep changing, and not for the better in certain aspects. The Changelings call on all their reserves and up their vigilance when it comes to Psy because they all know that with the Psy council split into halves, its only a matter of time that war breaks out with the Changelings being the main focus of the war that Psy will wage in order to attain a world inhabited by pure Psy.

Sienna has known from the day that she and her family defected from the PsyNet and sought the protection of the SnowDancer Alpha that there would be no other man for her. Hawke might see her as a child but Sienna’s childhood has left her with many a scar and experienced so much more than even an adult might be subjected to during their entire lifetime. Sienna is an X-Psy meant for one purpose alone; destruction. With the ferocity of the power that Sienna always juggles in her hands, Sienna knows that her emotional well being is a key factor in controlling and keeping the destruction at bay. What Sienna doesn’t realize is that for an X-Psy, there does come a point of no return when there would be nothing left but to give in to the deadliness that she lives with every second of each day.

There are so many elements to the Psy-Changeling stories that makes them what they are; an entertaining and one hell of a read. Juggling all these aspects of the story together with Hawke and Sienna, who in their own rights are just as complex and multi-faceted must have been something and once again made for a great read in my opinion. However, both Hawke and Sienna have been waiting for their story for 9 whole books; Sienna had to grow up age wise enough for Hawke to not feel like he is the worst kind of pervert. On top of that there’s the issue of Hawke’s belief that he wouldn’t be ever able to give Sienna everything that she deserves and that would be the whole of him with nothing held back.

At first, I loved the way Hawke’s resistance came tumbling down, bit by bit when it became clear to him that his wolf wasn’t backing down on this one. The many an exasperating situation Hawke finds himself in because of Sienna and her antics to live her life as she pleased ends up being fraught with so much tension one minute and the next so tender and wistful that one cannot help but feel all the longing held deep in check on both sides. And I absolutely adored how Sienna seemed to be able to match Hawke in intelligence and wit, giving her all those qualities that makes her the perfect life partner for Hawke apart from the almost visceral need that burns bright between them.

However, in my opinion, there was too much holding back on Hawke’s part when it came to the final combustive culmination on Hawke and Sienna’s relationship. There were so many interruptions into the interludes that took place between Sienna and Hawke and I know that it built up the frustration not just between Hawke and Sienna but the readers as well. I expected fireworks, explosions and Hawke to live up to his legendary prowess as the Alpha of the pack and give me some seriously panty-melting variety of combustive scenes of passion. But what I got instead was tenderness and love in spades, which is not a bad thing but I would say it does take away one essential aspect of Hawke from him; his wildness that is held deep in check because he is the one that holds his Pack together. I wanted him to be able to let go and lose that legendary control of his that had kept him from reaching out to Sienna and taking her up against a wall or any flat surface they  could get to because lets face it, Changelings are by nature sensual creatures. But perhaps, Nalini toned the whole thing down for Sienna because her “fragility” when it comes to her power and the darkness that consumes her is one that needed to be handled with utmost care for the story to have been what it was.

More than Hawke and Sienna’s courtship, I was more revered actually by the secondary romance that unfurled between Sienna’s uncle Walker and the SnowDancer healer Lara. Walker who has never let himself accept the fact that when it comes to Lara his feelings run deep and in a direction that it has never steered before made for riveting reading. Lara is a gentle soul with a spine of steel to back it up. She is the healer who gives her heart and soul into caring for people when they are in need of it the most. Not much of a dominant, Lara knows in her heart that taking a step back from Walker who doesn’t seem to want to pursue what is between them would be the best thing for her. But Walker surprises her with those little things that he does in showing just how much in fact that he does care and in the end I loved how the legendary cool of Walker broke down under the gentle playfulness and love that Lara gives him in spades. I think sometimes Lara and Walker’s story acted as a balm to the reader’s soul to take a step back from all the intensity this novel was in every other aspect.

I’m almost sad that I now have only just two books to read in the series and would have to wait with the rest of the fans of this legendary series for the next book that is scheduled to come out in June of 2014. That is going to be a long wait I suppose if I do manage to get the time to squeeze in the other two books before then. I’m almost jealous of those who haven’t yet discovered the wonderfulness of this series, those who are yet going to find out just how talented Nalini is in keeping the reader engrossed from page one till the end. As always I must say, Nalini is a talent not to be missed in a genre that already has so many great authors. It is a tough job to stand out and do that exceptionally well with each book she publishes. And to the readers who are just starting out on the series or a halfway tempted to skip to Hawke’s story, I tell you just as Nalini told me, don’t. It’d certainly be worth the wait to see how the world and the lives of everyone shapes up in the rest of the stories.

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of Hawke! You just might end up with lesser misgivings that I did after reading because I seem to be in the minority with those who think that Hawke’s story lacked that something which would have made it a stupendous read. But even then, this as any novel in the series is awesomely well done and I cannot recommend this book and the entire series highly enough!

Final Verdict: Hawke and Sienna; an explosive combination that sets the whole series afire.

Favorite Quotes

It took every ounce of will he had to drop her arm, to not accept the unintended invitation and take them both to the floor in a tangle of skin and heat. But he couldn’t stop himself from running the knuckles of one hand down her throat as he stepped away, his gut tight, his body so damn hard he might as well have been made of steel. He moved until he was in prime position to watch her, and then he waited. She did nothing for a long, still moment, and he thought she would deny him this.
But then Sienna began to move.
And his wolf stopped pacing.

“Did you ever play?” Hawke’s voice so rough, his body so muscular and overwhelming.
She had never felt more feminine, never felt more like a sexual creature. “No.”
A pause. “Sienna—”
“No,” she said. “No more questions. Not tonight.” She wanted to dance with him, be a woman in the arms of a man who made every part of her awaken in a hunger she’d never expected to feel and who, for this magical moment, was hers.
His jaw, heavy with stubble, rubbed against her temple again as he shifted his hold to press her closer. Then, as the music played, as the night grew softer and quieter, they danced.

“It was easier to believe that my shot at mating died with Rissa than to risk that kind of pain again.” Thrusting his hand into her hair, he shook his head. “Except I never had a prayer when it came to you. You’re in my every breath and every thought, intertwined so deep inside me that love’s not a strong enough word—you have my devotion, your name branded on my soul, my wolf yours to command. A hundred years? It’ll never be enough. I want eternity.”

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[xrr rating = 4.25/5]

Caliber SEAL: AWESOME READ!