Review: Her Last Chance by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookherlastchance
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Untitled Series, #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Marshall Hayes
Heroine: Josephine Maxwell
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 23, 2013
Started On: January 26, 2014
Finished On: January 28, 2014

Toni Anderson is an author who landed on my auto-buy list after reading my second book from hers, i.e. Dark Waters that served to give everything that makes a Toni Anderson a worthy read. There are very few authors who can combine elements of romance and suspense with creepy enough villains to make you look over your shoulders even while reading, and Toni Anderson is one of them for me.

Her Last Chance is the second book in an untitled series, I say untitled because I couldn’t find the name of the “series” that ties this book to the first one, Her Sanctuary which was published in 2009. My impatience to read Her Last Chance saw me skipping the first book, something I regretted a wee bit when I delved into this one because I somehow seemed to miss out on a large chunk of the “relationship” that had forged between the protagonists in this novel.

Josephine Maxwell (Josie) is being hunted by the killer who had left without taking her life almost 20 years back. A serial killer whose thirst for inflicting pain and scarring his victims leaves the law enforcement including the FBI reeling to uncover every single clue they must in order to stop the nefarious killer from taking any more lives. Within Josephine’s memories of her encounter with the killer all those years ago lies the crucial clues that could finally lead them to the killer whose thirst for death, violence and spillage of blood of his victims seems to be escalating exponentially.

Special Agent in Charge Marshall Hayes who is in charge of the Forgeries and Fine Arts Division has a hard time putting the image of the woman who had stamped herself on his very soul from their very short and fiery acquaintance a couple of months back out of his head. The fact that a woman who is the antithesis of everything that he believes in and has worked more than half of his life to uphold irks Marshall and the irony of being in love with a woman whose only strong feeling towards him is the despise she feels towards him is one that is not lost on Marshall.

All of Marshall’s feelings towards Josephine explodes in his face when faced with the news of the attack on her, and nothing and absolutely nothing stops the determination with which Marshall steps forward to protect Josephine at any cost. With the frustration of trying to keep Josephine in line while his work brings forth its own challenges, Marshall practically has his work cut out for him trying to make Josephine see that for him there would never be any woman who would entice him and call out to his soul like she does.

I must say that the suspense element Her Last Chance was top-notch. It kept me guessing, on tenterhooks, willing the killer to reveal his identity when all the while he was right there close enough to scent out if dots had only connected before. Toni has definitely mastered the art of spinning a tale that is hard to put down, especially for a good crime story lover like myself and I must say that Toni is an author you should definitely look out for if you are a fan of the genre.

When it comes to the characters, of course Marshall is the one that I fell in love with, wholeheartedly. The core values that he believes in that never shatters even when the going gets tough was one aspect of his character that I was immensely drawn towards. There exists few people like him in the real world and though the obstacles in his way are many, the need to do the right thing, the zeal to find justice even when everything else points in the other direction was the aspect of his character that I totally fell for. Of course it doesn’t hurt the man when he is obscenely good looking, well-mannered and protective to a fault when it comes to Josephine. The power that emanates from him, the way he can just stride into a room and have everyone come to his attention is a part of his character that practically leaped out of the pages for me. In short, his character was done well enough to leave a girl wanting more.

Now Josephine was a tough nut to crack so to speak. She has led a tough life, and I think part of what makes her character tick was lost on me, perhaps owing to the fact that I skipped out on reading the first book in the series. I found Josephine a bit irritating at times, but then I also understood where she was coming from, her insecurities making her lash out at the one good thing that has happened to her in all her life. While the sizzle between Josephine and Marshall was kept real, I felt a wee bit disappointed when Toni skipped out on giving readers a full fledged scene of passion between the two. Nevertheless the story worked on many other levels which mostly made up for an aspect perhaps only readers like myself would point out.

Final Verdict: Top notch suspense that keeps the reader guessing till the very end.

Favorite Quotes

His lips released hers, cruised her neck, her ear. Shivers danced along her skin, heat thrumming along her veins like liquid craving. He lifted her off the ground and she wrapped her legs around his hips, his erection rubbing against her center, feeling so amazing she wanted even closer. He braced her against the wall. The unrelenting hardness at her back felt good against her spine. Solid and reliable while the rest of her world crashed around her.

“I want you. I always want you even though you drive me crazy.” His breath blistered her ear, his hand rough on her breast, playing with her nipples, making her damp. Making her tremble with desire. He ground against her and she wished he was inside her, filling her as she cascaded over that inexplicable edge, lights flashing, sirens blazing, crying out with astonishment.

“I haven’t been with anyone since you…since we…had sex. You’ve ruined me for anyone else.” There was a raw honesty in his tone that froze her to the spot.
“That was six months ago.”
His smile was pained. “I know. I can’t get you out of my head.”

“I love the way the light moves through the picture.” His other hand slipped lower, the coolness of her dress spilling over his wrist. Blonde hair trailed over his shoulder as she tilted her head to the side and he tasted the pulse hammering in her throat.
“I like the light too…” She gasped when he slipped his finger inside her. She was hot as Hades, as smooth as Chinese silk.

The distance between them was just a few yards, but stepping toward him felt like crossing the galaxy. Feeling his heat, running her hands up through his crisp dark hair, she drew his mouth down to hers. Kissed him with a fierceness that bordered on possession.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo | Smashwords

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Review: A Rose at Midnight by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookaroseatmidnight
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Nicholas Blackthorne
Heroine: Citizeness Ghislaine de Lorgny
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 28, 1993
Started On: January 18, 2014
Finished On: January 23, 2014

I picked up A Rose at Midnight by Anne Stuart in my attempt to make my way slowly back to earth, after riding the high of reading Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh. I tend to need some time to come to terms with the fact that I might not be able to come across a book that would give me such a high in the near future and most of the time is struck with the need to read a book from an author that would certainly entertain me if nothing else. And this historical set in the 1800’s did just that, in the end leaving me a bit contemplative too, which is something that tends to happen often after I finish reading an Anne Stuart romance.

Ghislaine de Lorgny’s mission in life for the past couple of years has been a simple one. She has been biding her time until she meets the man who would die at her hands, the man who turned his back on her and never looked back, the man who had broken her heart and let her be crushed in every single way left thereafter until the fire for revenge and need for vengeance had become what had kept Ghislaine going. Opportunity comes calling when the man himself comes to the home in which Ghislaine resides in, giving her the perfect chance to exact her revenge even if it means she’d have to leave the life that she’d made for herself in the past couple of years.

Nicholas Blackthorne is a man who possesses the blackest of reputations. With no scruples seemingly whatsoever, Nicholas lives his life as he pleases, the bleakness inside of his soul hidden by the depth of depravity that he shows to the rest of the world. When Ghislaine comes into his life once again, Nicholas does the unpredictable thing and carries her off with him, seemingly to teach her a lesson that she would never forget, all the while refusing to acknowledge just how much of his black soul is already possessed by the woman in question.

A Rose at Midnight might not be an easy read for some people, but then that is one reason why I love novels by Anne Stuart. There is a sensuality to her ruthless heroes that is indescribable, the way in which she can redeem even the most unlikely heroes one that always would keep me going back for more. Nicholas seemed like a hero who would never find his footing as someone who would redeem himself enough to win the affections of Ghislaine, but then Anne Stuart’s characters are hardly that straightforward and Nicholas was definitely no exception.

The life that Ghislaine had undergone during the uprising in France, the way she had lost her family and everything dear to her, not to mention how she had been defiled in the most vile manner while hatred had borne in her heart for the man who had been in the next room served to be reason enough for the rough and tough journey of the heart that Ghislaine takes towards love and peace of her soul. Acceptance of her feelings for the complex man that Nicholas is takes a lot of doing and I understood every single bit of turmoil, hatred, anger and deep sense of betrayal that she felt in the process. I would say that it would take a woman of immense courage to let go and embrace love, a love so fierce and powerful that even the darkness that had invaded her soul a long time back was no match for the sheer potency of it all.

I also loved the secondary romance tucked into this dark and gritty story which somehow seemed to lighten up the pages a bit. I loved Lady Ellen’s inquisitive, forward and at times clueless nature when it comes to the love of her life aka Honorable Sir Antony Wilton-Greening. Their courtship which takes place in their pursuit of Ghislaine and Nicholas seemed to make the darker emotions this novel seemed to generate easier to bear and I have to say I loved every single minute of their journey towards a beautiful and well deserved happily ever after.

Time and yet again, Anne Stuart astounds me with her creativity (even when I should know better by now), her characters and the way she unabashedly writes the best alpha heroes out there one that earns her the highest of ranks in my list of favorite authors. And every single time, with very few exceptions of course, I have always ended each book with the deepest sigh from within my soul, knowing that I couldn’t have asked for more!

Final Verdict: A Rose at Midnight is magnificent, the intricacy of this multi-layered tale is not to be missed!

Favorite Quotes

She could have withstood a brutal assault, his mouth grinding against her. She could have withstood a rough rape of her mouth, and she was fully prepared to disappear into that quiet place in her mind where no one could reach her.
But she was unprepared for the softness of his lips against hers. The damnable gentleness as he brushed his mouth against hers, feathering it lightly, so lightly that it was a caress. And she hadn’t been caressed in more than a decade.

“Just a kiss, love,” he said, putting his fingers under her chin and tilting her head up to meet his mouth. She held very still as his lips tasted hers, but he could feel the faint tremor that ran through her small, strong body, and he wondered idly what caused it. Hatred? Or desire?

Her body was stiff at first, and then slowly grew more pliant, her hips tilting up against his with the light encouragement of his hand at the small of her back, her perfect breasts through the thin layers of clothing pressing against his chest. He could hear the lazy buzz of bees in the background, the distant song of birds, and the wind rustled through the leaves overhead as he kissed her, until she was shaking, until he was shaking, until he wanted to push her down in the sweet-smelling grass and tear away her clothes and his, until he wanted to find comfort in the sweet danger of her body.

“It will be rape,” she said in a wild fury.
“No,” he said. “It won’t.”
She survived the fierce possession of his kiss. She survived his overpowering strength, as he pulled her to the bed, pushing her down and covering her flailing limbs with his strong body. She survived the touch of his hands on her breasts, the feel of his arousal against her stomach. But she couldn’t survive the sudden gentleness, the slow start of heat in her belly, the warmth in her breasts, the damnable yearning that blossomed in her heart.

She felt as if she were floating, lost in the feel of his lips on hers, the shocking intimacy of his tongue in her mouth, more intimate than anything she’d endured during her enforced couplings. She wanted to dissolve, to lose herself in the seductive wonder of his mouth possessing hers. She wanted it never to stop, to last forever in a billowing cloud of passion without end.

He’d told her she was beautiful, his precious child, his angel in a dark night. He’d told her she was his soul, his life and breath, and the heat of his desire.
And, God help him, he’d told her the worst thing of all. He’d told her that he loved her. And even now, he wasn’t quite sure if he’d lied.

“Don’t fight it, my angel,” he whispered, his voice a mockery. “I’m not going to finish with you until you come.”
She whimpered then, and hated herself for doing so. He covered her mouth with his, and like a fool she kissed him back, as his hair fell around them both, curtaining them in darkness. He reached down and caught her hips, pulling her up against him, and then his body went rigid in her arms, and she felt the flooding of a great warmth, one that for the first time was answered with her own warmth.

“You have two choices, Ghislaine. You must either kill me or love me. Make your decision.”
He watched her grip tighten on the knife, and he wondered whether this time she would do it.
He reached her, standing in front of her, his tom, bloodstained shirt barely covering his chest, and waited.
“Oh, my God,” she said in a broken voice. And she dropped the knife with a noisy clatter, and flung herself into his arms.

He caught her shoulders, pulling her up close against him, and this time he kissed her, hard and deep, a kiss she answered. Her dress ripped as he tore it off her; his breeches ripped as she tore them open. She touched him, felt the silken strength of him, and he groaned, deep in his throat, pushing against her hands.

He stared at her in mute frustration. “All right, I love you, damn it,” he snapped. “Does that satisfy you?”
She considered it. “It’s a start. But you’ll definitely need more practice. You haven’t learned the proper intonation. You need—” He silenced her, efficiently and swiftly, his mouth covering hers.
When he lifted his head they were both breathless. “I love you,” he said again, this time a little more softly.
She smiled up at him. “Much better,” she whispered.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Requested ARC Review: Molly Gets Her Man by Julie Rowe

Format: E-bookmollygetsherman
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Entangled
Hero: Grey Wilson
Heroine: Molly McLaren
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 27, 2014
Started On: January 23, 2014
Finished On: January 26, 2014

Seemingly ditzy Molly McLaren is a translator who is out of a job working as a hairdresser until something more suited for her talents comes along. Trouble finds her when she overhears a plot to kill off a prominent public figure from one of her customers. The next thing Molly knows, she is on the run for her life from mobsters as well as corrupt government officials, all of whom have one thing in mind; get rid of the witness who could foil their plans of murder.

Molly’s knight in shining armor comes in the form of Grey Wilson, her brother’s best friend, sporting a bum leg and a grouchy attitude not to mention his larger than life size that momentarily puts Molly in a place where she doesn’t want to be. Trust comes hard for both Molly and Grey, who have both been hurt in the past. Grey is working on a “mission” to prove himself and earn back his stellar reputation as a cop while Molly would like nothing better than to forget the nightmare she is living in and find herself the sort of job that she is exceptionally good at.

Molly and Grey are as different as night and day. Equipped with a bombshell of a figure, people tend to mistake Molly for less than intelligent while beneath the flighty exterior lies a woman with exceptional capabilities when it comes to languages. Grey is the direct opposite of Molly, the lesser he has to talk, the better. And somehow, all the tension wrought moments these two undergo together forges a connection between two people who otherwise might never have found each other. And suddenly just one night of decadent passion in Grey’s arms is not enough for Molly. However, for them to have even a remote chance at a shared future, first they’d have to stop everyone who is hellbent on putting them both six feet under no matter what.

I liked the overall premise of the story, the big, strong and stoic hero whose rough, tough and gruff exterior hides a gentle man. And of course the heroine who would turn his life upside down turns out to be a woman who practically makes an art out of talking which of course gave the story its own moments of hilarity. Though I liked the story well enough, I did feel that certain parts of the story were rushed through, like the back stories of both Molly and Grey, both of which I would have loved to read more about. Julie Rowe is an author who shows promise in the romantic suspense genre and I would definitely love to see more of her work lining the shelves in the future.

Final Verdict: Favorable combination of laughter, heat & non-stop action.

Favorite Quotes

“Molly? You’re awake, right?”
“Yes,” she whispered, putting her hand over his and pressing it harder against her breast. “Yes.”
He slid his other arm down farther to wrap around her hip, and he rubbed himself against her bottom in a long, slow, suggestive slide. “Be sure.”
“I want this,” she managed to say. “I want you.”
He leaned away so he could roll her onto her back and cover her with his body. His lips travelled from her neck to her ear to her lips. “Jesus Christ, the things you say.”

“I want to make you howl,” he growled in her ear.
“I will, oh God, please. Do something. I’m dying here.” When she started to sob, he pulled out slowly and thrust back in.
She climaxed on the second thrust, but he didn’t let her come down from the high. No, he kept her there, hovering in heaven for so long she wondered if someone could die of pleasure overload.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | ARe

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Review: Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh

Format: E-bookheartofobsidian
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal/Futuristic Romance
Series: Psy-Changeling, #12
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Kaleb Krychek
Heroine: Sahara Kyriakus
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: June 4, 2013
Started On: January 14, 2014
Finished On: January 18, 2014

With Heart of Obsidian, Nalini Singh has outdone every single book in the Psy-Changeling series, giving fans a whole new meaning to the term explosive, which renders this book the best addition to the series so far. One of the reasons that I think the story worked so well was the fact that Nalini decided to take a step back from the Changelings and focus on the intriguing world of Psy for a change. Added to it is the fact that Heart of Obsidian is the book that presents the most pivotal turning point in the series to date, thus it is no wonder that Heart of Obsidian practically turns the pages by itself with the sheer scale of entertainment it has to offer.

Kaleb Krychek, cardinal telekinetic is the man who had risen to power and attained his place in the Council at the young age of 27, the youngest to have secured a position as such. The sheer, raw and unadulterated power that he holds inside of him is one that kept me in awe from beginning till end, the scale of it one that I don’t think I would ever be able to completely wrap my head around. The plans he has for his race, a race that assumed Silence almost 100 years back to keep the madness at bay is one that only he is privy to. And all the while, Kaleb’s search for the woman who is the deepest flaw in his Silence had continued until finally, 7 years on, Sahara Kyriakus is found and returned to her rightful place beside him.

This spellbinding novel is the culmination of so many events that has continued to happen since the beginning of the series, the fact that Silence wasn’t what the Psy had assumed it would turn out to be made altogether more evident by a faction of the race who demands absolute Silence which would allow them ultimate control of the minds of every Psy. For them, it is absolute Silence or nothing else, even if it means the destruction of their whole race altogether.

Kaleb is an enigma, a man who makes your heart race, just because. Brought up as the protege of one the most evil of the Psy, no one knows for certain where Kaleb stands. The darkness that walks right along with him or rather inside of him is one that he had embraced a long time back, knowing that he’d been forged in the darkness, with his hands tainted in blood, his soul leeched dry of whatever emotions that would have made him even remotely hesitant in executing the plan he has in mind to take over the reins of a race that has been left floundering with their leaders in conflict with one another.

Kaleb’s most fascinating aspect turns out to be his “obsession” with Sahara, a term he would not have used to describe his relentless search for the woman for whom he would destroy everything and anyone who stands in his way and paint the world in blood red if required. Sahara when he finally finds her, is merely a shell of the 16 year old Sahara that was snatched away from his world, a woman who holds inside of her the sort of power that is enough make a man an Emperor, a power that in the wrong hands could be exploited for just that.

Kaleb’s plans for Sahara and that of the fate of the world takes an about turn when the Sahara he had known starts to return to him bit by bit, completely undoing his every intention and destroying every notion that he has held about himself when it comes to intimacies of the heart, body, mind and soul. With every searing kiss that is exchanged, Kaleb knows that its only a matter of time before Sahara realizes the darkness that swirls deep inside of him, ready to consume him and the rest of the world, if he were reach out and embrace the totality of it.

The things I loved about the Heart of Obsidian are many, and I am finding this review equally hard to write because I am afraid that I might not be able to do justice to the sheer pleasure reading this novel brought for me. I absolutely adored just how into each other both Kaleb and Sahara were; there were no pretenses to be had, no holding back and it worked beautifully for them with their entwined past making the connection between them that much more real. The heat and fire between Kaleb and Sahara was actually what I wanted for Hawke and Sienna, which unfortunately failed to materialize, the deep abiding connection between them something that I would carry in my heart always.

The telepathic dirty talk between Sahara and Kaleb was one that was enticing and arousing in equal doses, the scenes of passion between them hot enough to flatten down entire buildings with the raw power of it all. Beneath the icy cold exterior that is Kaleb lies the darkest of passions and deepest of desires, centered around just one woman who could bring him down to his very knees, the woman who would always be the game changer when it comes to him. Sahara’s adoration, love and deep seated protectiveness for all that is Kaleb was what made me fall in love with her, totally and irrevocably and I just might have to go ahead and say that I don’t think that I have ever fallen in love with a heroine that hard and fast. I definitely cannot wait to find out what Nalini is planning next for this incredible world that she has created, a world that is as enthralling as the stories that she spins around it.

Most absolutely recommended for everyone who loves romances, dark heroes, passions that run deep and obsessions that brings to light the most abiding of love.

Final Verdict: Stupendous in every single aspect, Heart of Obsidian is nothing short of a spectacular work of art!

Favorite Quotes

She couldn’t look away from him, his skin a sun gold that belied the cool lack of expression on his face. If he’d kept his distance, she might have resisted the temptation that had been riding her since the bedroom . . . but he crossed over to her, didn’t say a word when she ran her fingers over the tensile warmth of him, her nipples tight points against the thin fabric of her sleeveless lilac shirt.
His own hand was big, warm against her cheek as he cupped her jaw. “Don’t be afraid of me, Sahara.” Bending his head, he spoke with his lips against hers, the contact igniting a thousand tiny lightning strikes in her blood. “I’d line the streets with bodies before I’d ever hurt you.”

“I,” he murmured, “can never permit her freedom. She would find a way to harm you.”
Sahara’s eyes were haunted when they met his. “Am I so important to you?”
“Yes,” he said. “You’re everything.” The entire reason for his existence.

The caress felt raw, unpracticed, but no less addicting for it. The realization that he’d done this act with no other, that it was as new a pleasure to him as it was to her, was heroin in her bloodstream, a shocking punch of sensation, the world a study in passionate red. Stretching her body upward, her weight balanced on her toes, she kissed him with a wild desperation that lacked any sense of finesse.

Kaleb wasn’t cold now, his skin hot enough to burn, the arm he’d braced over her head trapping her in a prison she had no desire to escape. Thrusting her hands into his hair, she held him to her, sinking her teeth into his lower lip in a feral act of passion that should’ve shocked her.
It didn’t. Not in the madness.

A pause before he shifted to face her, one of his hands lightly cupping the side of her jaw, his eyes a black inferno. “I want more.”
Caught off guard at the realization that his arousal hadn’t been tempered by the interruption, Sahara’s lips parted in a gasp. Kaleb took the silent invitation, his mouth on hers as he pressed her back to the glass, his erection pushing into her abdomen in hard demand. Moaning, she sucked on his tongue as his hand came up to cover her breast . . . and the world turned to shards of glass, the windows exploding in a glittering shower of deadly snow.

Gripping her jaw in silent answer, he braced himself with his free arm beside her head, and then he branded her mouth with his own. You are mine. It was a statement telepathed along the private pathway that had formed years ago. Mine to touch. Mine to look at. Mine.

Sliding a hand from under her back, he gripped one breast with a firmness that felt like a brand and lowered his mouth to her flesh again. Her mind went red, her back arching as if to thrust her breast farther into his mouth. Kaleb, I need—
Tell me. Another scrape of teeth that scattered her neurons, her nails clawing the earth, crushed grass under her palms.
Touch me, please. I can’t—
Here? He cupped her between the thighs in a raw intimacy, pushing up with the heel of his hand.
And the world splintered.

“Teach me what feels good on your body.” She ached to kiss and pet him as he was doing her, burned to see those cardinal eyes drenched in the same storm that had sucked her under.
Watching you orgasm gives me extreme pleasure, was Kaleb’s unvarnished answer as his lips sought hers once more. Feeling you sticky and damp against my tongue, my fingers, your body soft under mine, your aroused nipples rubbing against my chest, that’s what feels good.

Sahara screamed, her body clenching around Kaleb’s in an orgasm that felt as if it would tear her to pieces . . . and that was when Kaleb’s control snapped. There was nothing practiced about the way he pounded deep into her over and over again, nothing restrained about the way he wrenched her head to the side to kiss and suck at her throat, nothing calculated about the way he bent her thigh upward then pushed it wide to facilitate a deeper taking.
It was primitive; it was rough; it was spectacular.

Kaleb came in violent silence, his breath harsh against her ear and his body rigid. The hot wet of his possession as his semen pulsed inside her made her erotically abused muscles spasm again, clenching tight around him. Jerking, he raised his head, eyes of obsidian holding her own as he drew back one final time, then thrust deep past her clenching muscles.
“Mine. You are mine.”
They were the last words Sahara heard before Kaleb’s kiss tore her apart, his body locked with her own as they fell.

“Make me yours, Kaleb.”
The throaty request, falling from lips plump and wet, snapped the ring of black ice. Slipping his hand under her thigh after repositioning his own, he spread her further and, tearing away her panties with a negligible use of his Tk, pushed inside her. She was tight. He was slow, deliberate. Moaning, Sahara dug her nails into his nape, her breasts flushed, her nipples lush beads he wanted to roll against his tongue.

“Kaleb!” Sahara convulsed around his erection, her entire body shaking with the strength of her orgasm.
Kaleb had intended to continue the slow pace that was an exercise in erotic control, but his brain short-circuited at the possessive clenching of Sahara’s intimate muscles. Pushing her onto her front, her face turned sideways on the pillow, he fisted one hand tightly in her hair and slammed into her in a brutally deep and fast rhythm, her body tight and slick and of the woman who was and had always been his. It felt like madness, creeping red on the horizon.

Punching her fist on the pillow, Sahara undulated her lower body toward him. Move!
The feminine demand was the only thing he needed to hear. Pounding into her, he saw her fingers clench tight on the sheets, her lips part on a breathless cry, and then she was coming around him once more, the pulses harder, more viciously possessive. Caught in the vise of her pleasure, his back arched as white lightning tore through his spine.
The bed slammed back to the ground.
Hard.
So did every other item in the room.

Sahara’s fingers tightened on his arm. “You’re mine.” Simple, quiet words that were a punch to the chest. “I will fight for you, today, tomorrow, and all the tomorrows to come.”

“You do not let that monster destroy the life we are going to have together. You are mine, not his. You have always been mine.”
The claiming was so absolute, it dared him to fight. Kaleb had no intention of doing so. Shuddering, he crushed her to him. “Yes,” he said, battling the rage because if he gave in to it, he would lose Sahara. “I’m yours. I will always be yours.”
Her lips on his jaw, on his cheek, her love fierce. “Remember that. Each action, every action you take, it has my name on it.”

“Kaleb.”
He flipped her onto her back on that breathless moan, making sure she never touched the wood. Her legs locked around his hips, her arms around his neck, her passion as wild as the rain that had turned hard, pounding against his back. Taking her mouth, tasting her with his tongue, he broke the kiss to thrust in and out of her in a driving rhythm, the water dripping off his lashes to hit her cheeks.
“Everything, Kaleb,” she gasped, her nails the sweetest pain on his shoulders, “give me everything.”

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

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Review: Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookshadowloveras
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Hero: Alexander MacDowell
Heroine: Carolyn Smith
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: December 31, 2013
Started On: January 14, 2014
Finished On: January 14, 2014

It is always a downright delight to find a novel that you have missed out on from an absolute favorite author of yours. Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart was first published in the year of 1999 and somehow during my voracious hunt through Anne Stuart’s contemporary romantic suspense novels, I seem to have missed out on reading this one. It was when I saw this novel up for grabs on Netgalley that made me realize my grievous “error” in missing out on this. But then again, I can’t complain too much because discovering veritable treasures like this one is the reason why I love reading so much!

Shadow Lover delivers exactly the sort of novel that only Anne Stuart can. With enough twists and turns to the story to make your head spin and the way she brings the story to life with her quintessential bad boy heroes that readers like myself can never get enough of, Shadow Lover brings to life the very reason why Anne Stuart continues to amaze and wow me, practically with every single book I have read of hers to date.

Almost eighteen years to the day he had left never to be heard from since, Alexander MacDowell returns home, seemingly to ease the passage for his mother, Sally’s imminent death. It is only Carolyn Smith, the only MacDowell who isn’t essentially a MacDowell by birth that seems to harbor suspicions about the man claiming to be Alex. And of course Carolyn has good enough reason to be suspicious when she had witnessed Alex’s murder with her very own eyes that fateful night when everything had gone so awfully awry.

In a family laden with secrets, Caroline seems to be the only one who remains unaffected, the only one who seems to have a strong sense of morality and conscience. Caroline’s only wish is to be completely free of the MacDowell’s family once Sally dies, the woman who had unofficially adopted her into the family and loved her as much as she is capable of loving and showing affection towards another.

While Caroline’s sense of mistrust runs deep when it comes to the charming Alex who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Alex that she remembers and dreams of, she can’t help but be fascinated with all that he makes her feel, the feelings of violent passions that he rouses in her far more disturbing to her peace of mind than anything else. Caroline is determined that she would protect Sally at any cost, even if it means holding her tongue from lashing out with the truth which would certainly have dire consequences.

It is only a master like Anne Stuart that can pull off a novel of mystery as intriguing as this one, the seemingly innocent enough plot filled with so many unforeseeable twists and turns that the reader is taken along on a journey that certainly gets the brain cells revving. And then there is the heat factor involved when it comes to Anne Stuart. The way she brings her hero and heroine alive in essentially every single one of her novels, the mistrust and at times hatred born out of the volatile feelings that they harbor towards one another and later on the spillage of the fierce passion serves to be one of the best aspects to her stories.

I can definitely go on and on about the elements that worked for me in the story to make it one that has earned its rightful place in my “Favorites” shelf, but you’ve got to read it yourself to determine just how enthralling a tale that Anne Stuart can weave. There is just something about her heroes with their lean and strong bodies and of course slender hands of veritable strength that just gets my blood pumping. And I would give up just about anything to meet one of  these heroes in real life.

Final Verdict: Anne Stuart fills every single page with her exquisite mastery. Most highly and definitely recommended.

Favorite Quotes

Her hands had somehow ended up around his neck, her fingers entwined in his long hair. She closed her eyes—she didn’t want to look at him, didn’t want to acknowledge the foolishness of what she was doing. She kissed him, clumsily, and he made a low, growling noise in the back of his throat, one of sheer animal arousal.
The sound made her wet.
He must have known. He slid his hands down and caught her hips, lifting her almost effortlessly, pulling her legs around his waist as he started toward the bed.

“You sure you want me to stop?”
She stared up at him, unable to say a word. She was hot, trembling, shaking with a need more powerful than any she’d ever known. He touched her lip, and his fingers had blood on them. “You bit your lip,” he said. “Bite mine.” And he covered her mouth with his.

“Slowly, Carolyn,” he whispered, pushing her back against the pillows. “No need to rush, we have all the time in the world.”
“No,” she said in a strangled voice. She opened her eyes, and she could see the firelight flickering over their bodies, dark, pagan, magical. “Don’t make me . . . beg.”
He slid his hands up her legs, pulling them apart. “Oh, angel, I don’t want you to beg,” he whispered. “I want to be the one to beg you.”

Her breath was coming in strangled gasps, and she could feel sweat and tears pour down her face. She gripped his shoulders so tightly her hands were numb, and everything was centered around his inexorable invasion, like nothing she had ever felt before.
It was too much, more than she could stand, and she tried to pull away, but he caught her hips with his hands, pinning her against the mattress. “Take me, Carolyn,” he whispered. “You know you can. Don’t be afraid of me. Take me.”

“I thought you weren’t going to touch me until I asked you?” she said in a furious whisper.
“Ask me.” He pushed the shirt from her shoulders, then reached for the waistband of her jeans.
“Go to hell,” she said, and kicked him in the shins.
He caught her face in his hands, holding it still, tilting her mouth up to his. “Ask me,” he said again, his mouth hovering inches from hers.
She stopped struggling. Her face was wet with tears, she looked lost and broken and so damned sweet.
“For what?” she whispered.
“For anything you want.”

“You ran away the last time,” he whispered against her mouth. “Are you going to run away again?”
“No.”
“Even though I’m a cheat and a liar and a con man and a thief?”
“Are you?”
“Do you care?”
“No,” she said in a fierce little voice. “I want you. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you are—none of it matters. I need you.”

“I’m afraid,” she said in a very quiet voice.
“I know you are. And I can’t figure out why. We’ve already done it once and you didn’t suffer any Victorian trauma. You know I won’t force you, you know I won’t hurt you. What’s the problem?”
She stood very still. “I’m afraid I’ll fall in love with you.”
He didn’t know what to say to that. And then a faint, reluctant smile curved his mouth. “Well, you can’t say I haven’t been doing everything I can to keep that from happening.”

“I was in love with the real Alex.”
He could only hope she couldn’t see his reaction. “You were thirteen when he left,” he said roughly. “Thirteen-year-old girls don’t know anything about love. And he was a selfish, spoiled brat who didn’t care who he hurt.”
“I loved him.”
He wanted her to stop saying that. He wanted her to say it again.

He wanted her whether she wanted him or not, but he wasn’t going to make a move.
He didn’t need to. She crossed the room, and before he realized what she was planning to do she sank to her knees in front of him and took him in her mouth.

“Turn over,” he said. “I want you that way.”
He half expected her to object. She didn’t. She did what he wanted, and her strangled cry of pleasure when he pushed back inside her almost finished him.
He wanted, needed to make it last. To take her every way he could think of, and more, so there would be no more secrets between them, no more lies.

She was even tighter from this angle, and he tried to think of something else, to slow himself down, but he couldn’t, all he could think and feel and hear was Carolyn, the soft, desperate little cries she was making, the rich scent of sex in the air, the silky smoothness of her back, the deep, clenching tightness of her.
He reached between her legs and touched her, and she exploded, her scream no longer muffled, a sobbing cry of complete surrender and savage, ultimate pleasure.
And he gave himself up to it, filling her with everything he had left, pouring into her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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ARC Review: Guardian For Hire by Christine Bell

Format: E-bookguardianforhire
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: For Hire, #2
Publisher: Entangled: Indulgence
Hero: Gavin McClintock
Heroine: Sarabeth Lucking
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 13, 2014
Started On: January 14, 2014
Finished On: January 14, 2014

Guardian for Hire by Christine Bell is book 2 in the For Hire series, which I assure you can be read as a standalone. I myself never read book 1, i.e. Wife for Hire, and though the back story that makes up Guardian for Hire is more or less tied to events that take place in book 1, the story turned out to be easy one to follow.

Dr. Sarabeth Lucking (Sara) finds her well ordered life upended in more ways than one with her former colleagues being killed off one by one for no apparent reason other than the scandal that had rocked her former place of employment which had been shut down after the demise of her notorious employer. A psychologist with her practice in tatters, Sara comes from privileged upbringing though she has not much to show in terms of familial affection.

Gavin McClintock is the owner of the security consultant firm McClintock and Saunders and former military. Gavin takes on protection of Sara as a favor to his friend and gets more than he bargains for in the process. The tightly laced up Sara whom he would have had no problems keeping at arms length turns out to be just once facet to her character that she is forced to put up with to live up to the image that is expected of her. But under the most trying circumstances of her life, the layers of perfected pretense that Sara has lived with all her life comes tumbling down and Gavin can’t help but be enchanted by the woman that is beneath all that polished exterior.

Sara blames her burgeoning feelings for Gavin on the situation that she has been thrust into, having to rely on Gavin for her protection and wellbeing. Always having done the proper thing all throughout her life, Sara is ill equipped to handle a man like Gavin, much less her fantasies of the carnal nature when it comes to what exactly she would like him to do to her.

Guardian for Hire is highly readable, the thread of humor intrinsically woven into the storyline a facet to the story that made it an enjoyable 200+ pages. The first couple of pages where Sara is featured gives a totally different picture of who she actually is throughout the rest of the book, the second version of her which I loved overly much. The situation at the diner had me going off into peals of laughter and while at times I felt bad for Sara because of her naivete where certain things were concerned, it nevertheless made for great reading.

Gavin is the type of ex-military hero that all romance readers love to read about. With a tough exterior built around the fact that he had practically survived a hellish childhood not to mention his military background, Gavin too is taken aback by the strong feelings that are protective and carnal in nature when it comes to Sara. And as the noose of danger tightens around Sara, threatening her life, Gavin is forced to face the fact that when it comes to the millionaire heiress, Gavin’s heart is a foregone conclusion.

Though I loved the idea of Gavin as a hero, I had a bit of a hard time accepting the way that it had always been Sara that had taken the steps forward in their “relationship”. Although the epilogue did appease me somewhat, I still felt that Gavin too could have at least met Sara halfway when it had come to professing what had been in each others hearts by the time their time together had come to a forced conclusion.

Recommended for those who love ex-military heroes pitted against intelligent and brain smart heroines.

Final Verdict: Christine Bell weaves a highly readable story of suspense, heat and humor!

Favorite Quotes

“You feel so good,” she murmured, clawing at his back to keep herself aloft. Her fingernails dug into his skin, and she could already spy angry red marks along his shoulder blades. It only seemed to excite him more, though, and what little restraint he had left disappeared. He slammed her body against the wall, nearly knocking the wind out of her. His love was greedy, rough, and gripping, and nothing had ever felt so good.

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

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ARC Review: His Convict Wife by Lena Dowling

Format: E-bookhisconvictwife
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Hero: Samuel Biggs
Heroine: Colleen Mary Malone
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 1, 2013
Started On: January 13, 2014
Finished On: January 13, 2014

His Convict Wife by Lena Dowling is loosely tied to The Convict’s Bounty Bride published in March of 2013. His Convict Wife tells the story of quite the unusual couple, a recently widowed Samuel Biggs who makes his way to Australia to make a new life for himself and a convict bride.

It is during a moment of desperation that Colleen makes an attempt to impress upon Samuel to take her away from the hell she has to live in, not because she is looking out for herself but rather for the baby that she carries in her womb, whom she would not be able to keep if she were to live out the rest of her sentence in prison.

Samuel wants to stay true to the memory of his beloved wife but Colleen proves to be someone who is much more than the person she seems to be, something that makes it tough for Samuel to ignore her and designate her to the safe role of the companion that he wants her to be. Colleen sets out with one goal in her mind when she starts to seduce her husband with every trick she had learnt at the whore house, that is to secure a father’s love for her child. But what Colleen in the end gets is more than what she bargains for as feelings she had never encountered before makes themselves known, something that becomes harder to ignore as the days pass on.

Although I believe that the premise of the story and the characters were quite adequate for the story, I just felt that there were loose ends that needed to be tied up to make the story more wholesome than it ended up being. I liked Colleen’s character, her gumption and her attitude even under the most trying of circumstances. The life that she had been subjected to would have made a bitter woman out of someone with lesser character and I would say the woman she turned out to be earned her my admiration in spades.

Samuel was a bit tough for me to fall for. I felt that he was a bit too rigid at times, too judgmental of everyone and everything. The conflict that pushes Samuel and Colleen apart was one that was understandable at first but I felt that everyone involved didn’t truly get the closure they deserved. Perhaps it was the author’s way of keeping the story realistic because it is seldom in life that anyone gets the proper sense of closure from events that take place. However, I believe that perhaps an epilogue or a chapter that shows the couple somewhere down the line in the future would have appeased readers like myself, knowing that all that the couple had gone through had not been in vain.

One thing that I did like was the subtle heat that existed between Samuel and Colleen. The aspect of Colleen being way more experienced in carnal pleasures was a bit of a novelty when most novels that we come across tends to tell stories where the hero is the one who has a mountain of experience when it comes to women.

Though The Convict Wife could’ve been much better, I still managed to enjoy what the story had to offer. Recommended for those who love romance novels in an Australian setting.

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

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