ARC Review: Sempre by J.M. Darhower

Format: E-booksempre
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Forever Series, #1
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Carmine Marcello DeMarco
Heroine: Haven Isadora
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 29, 2012
Started On: February 22, 2014
Finished On: February 26, 2014

Sempre is book 1 in the Forever Series by J. M. Darhower. The story begins when Haven Isadora is just seven years old, present at a “child auction” of sorts where no act of violence seems to be taboo for the people who hold several young girls captive. The opening act of this book is horrific in the sense that it opens up the world of modern day child slavery and the unspeakable acts these children are forced to perform in order to survive.

Story continues 10 years down the line, when Haven is “rescued” from the clutches that holds her a captive by a Dr. Vincent DeMarco who whisks her away to his home which marks the beginning of the sort of life that Haven has never dared to dream of for someone like herself. And when she comes across Vincent’s youngest son Carmine, the connection that forges between these two is instant and electrifying.

Carmine is the epitome of bad boy hero, angry and sullen at the world with a ton of attitude. Carmine exists by doing everything else but what is expected of him, partying and sleeping around just for the heck of it. Though Haven stirs his interest, Carmine finds it hard to tone down his abrasiveness which has been a part of him for so long. But as time goes on and a bond is forged between these two unlikely souls, there is no stopping the love that unfurls in their hearts.

Both Haven and Carmine have no idea what life has in store for them. With Carmine more or less destined to follow in his father’s footsteps by being “obliged” to belong to the Mafia family, it is a tough future that awaits both of them. Vincent was the hero in my eyes, the man who tries so hard to keep his children away from a life that is filled with treachery and one in which the soul is never ever free from the darkness that taints it once you become one of the Family.

Having never watched or read much on stories involving the Mafia though I had picked up bits and pieces on the lives they lead along the way, I don’t think I actually had any clue as to just how much power the head of the Family holds on the rest of the members. There is a “code of ethics” that the Family lives by, once crossed one has to face the dire consequences or die trying to flee from whats coming. Vincent was the truly enigmatic character in this novel that actually stirred my interest, the mix of Jekyll and Hyde in him making him one of the most contrasting characters I have come across of late. Vincent tries to do right by his children, though its far from easy. While one side of Vincent finds it as easy as breathing to give free reign to the ruthless killer in him, there is the other side that heals and saves lives, the one part of his life that gives him solace and peace to the soul, be it even for a little while. The fact that Vincent could look beyond the anger, hurt and pain of his past to take Haven under his care was something that deeply moved me.

While Haven’s character impressed me with her ability and strength to overcome the countless horrors she had been subjected to while growing up, Haven herself doesn’t know her true power in the hierarchy of the Family, a secret if found would be worth shedding the blood of the many the Family wouldn’t hesitate to take out. I liked Carmine’s character well enough, but I found his emotions to be all over the place, sometimes rightfully so. But in the maturity aspect, Haven wins hands down, not surprising given spoilt life Carmine had led till then. However, Carmine does turn himself around for the woman he loves more than his own life, a love that turns out to be the pivotal reason behind the basis of the next book in the series.

Though I am not wowed enough to pick up the second book, nevertheless, Sempre did provide me with an entertaining read, albeit a trifle bit of a long one, some pages of which I skipped as I reached towards the end of the book. Perhaps I am right in avoiding young adult romances, the few I have read haven’t really impressed me all that much. But if you are a lover of new adult romances with the interesting facet of being part of the Mafia thrown in, then I would recommend that you pick this up. It just might be what you’re looking for.

Final Verdict: An intriguing mix of romance & the politics that govern the lives of those indebted to the Mafia.

Favorite Quotes

Yanking her to him, he eagerly kissed her without another thought.
It was passionate and messy, seventeen years worth of kisses rolled into one stolen embrace. Haven kissed him back, her lips parting as they moved with his. Running her hand along the back of his head, she laced her fingers in the hair by his neck as she trembled, but whether from nerves or excitement, Carmine wasn’t sure.

Love was the fluttering in her tummy whenever Carmine was near, the twinkle in his eyes when he laughed, the heat in her body from his words. Love was happy. Love was safe. Love was green.
Love was him—the beautifully flawed boy who made her glow. He stared at her, those words hanging in the air between them.

“I didn’t hear you come out of your room.”
“You aren’t the only one who knows how to be quiet, Ninja.”
She replaced the book on the shelf. “Hmm, well, maybe we should get you a bell.”
“Hey, at least I don’t almost give you heart attacks. You used to startle the hell out of me. I thought for sure you’d need to give me CPR a few times.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Don’t be so sure. You make my heart race every time you come near me.”
He strolled over to where she stood and leaned down to kiss her. He nipped at her bottom lip as he pulled back, pressing his palm against her chest. “How’s the heart?”
“Feels like it’s going to explode.”

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

favorableread

ARC Review: The Place I Belong by Inez Kelley

Format: E-booktheplaceibelong
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Country Roads, #2
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Jonah Alcott
Heroine: Zureyden Castellano
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 24, 2014
Started On: February 21, 2014
Finished On: February 22, 2014

The Place I Belong is the wonderful second installment of Inez Kelley’s Country Roads series. While I enjoyed the first book in the series, i.e. Take Me Home, I flat-out loved what the second book in this series had to offer.

Jonah Alcott is the man responsible for the PR at Hawkins Hardwood, a lumbar company in West Virginia. Jonah is charming, persuasive and confident in his abilities and believes in the good that Hawkins Hardwood does in the industry. His latest foe turns out to be as vivacious as she is stubborn, a woman who drives him to distraction in every single way possible.

Zureyden Castellano (Zury) hates seeing the beloved land that she calls home castrated in the name of profits. Her fight to keep the wild beauty of the land intact is a personal one, one borne out of knowing early on in her childhood where exactly in this world she belonged. Butting heads with the altogether too sexy for his own good Jonah was supposed to be just that, proving her point and walking away with the rights of the Black Cherry Canyon taken from Hawkins Hardwood which would guarantee the land wouldn’t be despoiled by those who seem to see nothing but big fat wads of cash in profits that would be reaped from the land.

But as Jonah and Zury spends time together, both of them realize that under all the frustration that they both harbor in making the other see the light, lies a simmering attraction that surpasses anything they have ever felt before. While Jonah prefers his dalliances with the opposite sex commitment free, Zury is the type who would never be completely happy with a casual romp and someone who would always seek more from her relationships. But even with their different outlooks, Zury and Jonah find that turning away from the wild sexual energy and the connection forged between them is something neither is capable of doing.

As these two gravitate more and more towards each other, Hawkins Hardwood falls under the target of an Eco-terrorist group that believes no boundaries exist when it comes to ensuring that nature thrive, at any cost. Whether Jonah would be able to convince Zury of who the real bad guys are in time and salvage the connection that grows between them is the question as the man behind the group, who has got practically nothing to lose, closes in on his intended target, all in the name of saving Zury’s beloved land.

What made The Place I Belong stand out for me were the different threads in the story interwoven cleverly together to give a highly readable tale of undeniable passion, love and the sizzle of danger. Jonah is a hero that I adored from his altogether gorgeous frame, either suited up or in casuals; that one scene during which Zury practically inhales Jonah in all his suited up glory one that is etched on my mind even now. What you see is not what you get when you take in Jonah’s character. The darkness in his past is one that boils to the surface proving to Zury just how wrong she had been in assuming Jonah to be just another pretty face when they had first made acquaintance.

While Jonah deserves endless drooling sessions with his lethal frame reminding me of none other than Gabriel Aubrey, Zury turned out to be a swell heroine who earned my wholehearted love and approval. Zury is the type of woman who is passionate about what she believes in and works actively to protect what she is passionate about. The fact that she was woman enough to admit to her faulty thinking made me love her even more, and Zury standing up in defense of the man she loves was one of those moments that I could have hugged her myself.

The bit that I loved most when it came to Zury and Jonah turns out to be the fact that even with all their differences and the countless arguments that they get into with each other, they never seem to hurt each other with their words. That is admirable to me on so many levels, not many people can pull that off with such vast differences in thinking without ending up bitter about one thing or the other. Cannot wait for Webb’s story to come out later this year!

I would urge readers to take a look at The Place I Belong not because its just a fabulous romance, but because the story is so very much more than that and offers quite the fascinating character in Jonah. Definitely recommended.

Final Verdict:  Inez Kelley whips a tornado through your emotions with The Place I Belong, leaving no part of your heart untouched.

Favorite Quotes

It was over ninety degrees in the sun but his hands were far hotter as they skimmed over her stomach, up her rib cage, over the cups of her bra to palm one aching mound. A nip to her neck caused her to gasp his name, to draw his scent mingled with summer wind into her lungs. He licked under her jaw and dragged his mouth along her skin to her ear. “Tell me you want this.”
She wanted it. She wanted it so badly her heartbeat surged and the juncture between her thighs went hot and soft. It was wrong, complicated and potentially stupid, but she didn’t want him to stop.

All intelligent thought evaporated as his fingers rolled her stiffened nipple through the cup of her bra. “More.”
“Oh, thank fuck.” A shudder worked up his spine and he took her mouth with a frantic strength. Long firm fingers dug into her ass as he rocked her hips into his, into the hardness behind his zipper. Pure feminine power filled her. She traced her short nails down his back, delighting in his low groan. Rolling her hips pressed her center against his growing erection, and his groan turned to a hungry growl. Her body flushed, softening and growing damp.

“Is that all you needed?”
He’d spoken into the phone but his attention was firmly locked on her as she strolled toward him, swinging her hips with a deliberate rhythm. He froze, standing perfectly still as she worked the knot out of his tie. The silk whispered against his shirt as she tugged it free, looping it around her own neck. His chest rose more quickly, his warm breath feathering over her brow as she started slipping open the buttons of his vest. Tongue touching her lip, she raised her chin to look into his eyes. Another button slid free.

The flavor of his skin burst onto her tongue as she licked. The unique scent of him filled her nose and she nuzzled, drawing in more of that heady fragrance. Recognition clicked. Summer wind, he smelled of summer wind racing through the trees. It was so erotic, she let the tip of her nose circle just below his ear. A soft growl rumbled in his chest.

Beneath the broadcloth, she found the real man, the man she’d discovered in the cabin, all rigid muscle and harnessed passion. His chest hair prickled her cheek and nose but she couldn’t stop from nuzzling just above his solar plexus. Strong hands curled around her shoulders, pulling her closer, inviting more touch, more taste. Her nipples hardened and her breasts grew achy. An emptiness pulsed between her legs.

Her hands slid up his arms, clinging to his shoulders. One hand gripped the back of his hair, fisting it and forcing his kiss to deepen. Powerful arms wrapped around her, fitting her to his body. One huge palm skimmed down her back, over her hips, and palmed her ass. It forced her hips tighter to his and she wantonly rocked into him. His soft moan flavored the kiss. The tall grasses bent, cushioning them as he lowered her to the ground.

She wasn’t very busty but his look of pure reverence made her feel beautiful. One long lean finger stroked along the bottom curve then moved higher, circling the budded nipple. He repeated the motion with his tongue, flicking out with just the tip. A noise broke from her lips, hunger surging, and he sealed his sucking mouth around the crest.
White lights popped behind her eyelids as she melted into his caress. The crisp hair on his chest tickled against her belly as he moved to the other breast, kissing, nibbling, sucking, drawing her deeper into a haze of lust.

“That’s it. Open for me. Let me touch you.”
He didn’t know how open she was. More than her body lay exposed beneath him. Her heart and soul were bare and his for the taking. Words whispered from her mouth, every wrenching expression of love, every flowery vow and every hopeful longing spilled out. Just not in a language he understood. But it was enough for now. She had said them, unfettered and without fear.

“Oh God, Zury, you take me so good.”
One rough palm slid down her thigh to grip behind her knee. He raised her leg, bringing it along his hip. The slight change seated him deeper and she went wild. She raked his back and clutched at his shoulders, wanting, needing him closer, deeper. Jonah answered, ramming into her, retreating, returning with as much force. No civility softened his strokes. He was pure and raw and hungry and she loved it.

He moaned her name as his rhythm reached a frenetic tempo. A single chant circled her brain. Te amo. Te amo. Te amo. I love you. I love you. I love you.
An animalistic roar powered from him as he sank deeper than before and let go. He surged inside her, swelling and throbbing, and her body responded, shuddering in release. Together, they hung in the misty middle ground for ages, then drifted down as one.

She basked in a woman’s power to enthrall. “Right now, who do you belong to?”
His wet hair was mussed, framing his eyes with jagged edges. A wild, feral hunger carved his face into sharp lines and his fingertips bit deliciously into her hips. “You. I belong to you.”
She took no mercy, sinking downward in one swift lunge. His mouth fell open, his fingertips digging hard into her skin as his belly clenched.

Prickly chest hairs chafed her back as he brought his mouth to her nape. He tugged her hips up then sank inside, the force driving her into the mattress. “Now, you belong to me. Say my name.”
“Yes. Yours, Jonah. Harder.” She spread her legs and arched her hips, opening her body to him, pushing back into his every thrust. His hips slapped the flesh of her ass with a punishing rhythm. Sliding his hands down her arms, he laced their fingers and rocked.

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

fantasticread

ARC Review: The Darkest Joy by Marata Eros

Format: E-bookthedarkestjoy
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Series: The Darkest Joy, #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Hero: Chance Taylor
Heroine: Brooke Elizabeth Starr
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 18, 2014
Started On: February 17, 2014
Finished On: February 21, 2014

The Darkest Joy is my second novel by Marata Eros. I absolutely loved what she brought to the table with her novel A Terrible Love, a story that I adored on so many levels. With that in mind, I requested for a galley of The Darkest Joy from netgalley, its premise and setting one that intrigued me when I read the blurb. And everything seemed to go really well, especially with the opening chapter introducing the reader to a wealth of horror when Brooke’s family is slaughtered while she listens in on as the whole nightmare unfolds.

Five months later, the investigation into the brutal killing behind her family’s death still remains to be solved and Brooke is running, running from the darkness of the memories and the guilt that threatens to swallow her as a whole. Moving to Homer, Alaska seems to be a farthest that she can go to bury herself under the cloak of anonymity, where no one would ask her the pressing questions which she needs to get away from, questions that haunt and plague her even as she flees the guilt ravaging her heart and soul.

When Brooke meets her employer Chance Taylor, it is at first the music he strums effortlessly from his guitar that pierces her to her very soul, reaching deep into the frozen cold that has protected her from her baser emotions for the past couple of months. Leaving her prospective future as a pianist, one who has had a future at the Juilliard well behind her had seemed like a wise choice up till the moment Chance invades her soul and etches a place for himself in her heart.

Chance is the love and leave them type personified, his one true and only love being the sea, the passion for which is satisfied by his occupation as a deep sea fisherman. But the minute Brooke enters the picture, everything Chance has believed in up till then ceases to exist until all he can think, feel and want is Brooke in every single way he can have her. But Brooke’s fear and guilt for a past that cannot be changed, together with a killer that seems to be nowhere near to stopping the litter of bodies that keep mounting proves to be the obstacle that seems to stand in the way of the joy that could be theirs if only Brooke were willing to make peace with the past and move on.

The Darkest Joy is a story that disappointed me on many levels. The opening chapter was the only good thing about this novel, the level of detail that went on to showcase Brooke’s life in Alaska in the chapters that followed sometimes getting so tedious to the point that I skim read large chunks of the novel to pick out the story that should have flowed smoothly otherwise. I found the whole thing with Brooke denying herself the closure that was required, especially turning her back on the authorities trying their hardest to keep her up to date on the developments of the case unbelievable at times. I can understand survivor’s guilt, the fact that someone might want to bury themselves right in the ground with their loved ones when tragedy strikes, but I couldn’t understand Brooke not being moved enough to actually WANT to seek justice for the death of her entire family.

I found Chance to be at odds with what his character was portrayed to be at the beginning of the story. Having lived practically most of his life in Homer, Alaska, everyone who knows him attests to his love em’ and leave em’ lifestyle. But throughout the story, Chance seemed too besotted with Brooke to really live up to any of the traits revealed to be the background of his character. I can understand a man changing for the right woman though it seldom happens in real life, but going against every single facet of his character for Brooke that soon just seemed highly unlikely to me.

When the villain was finally revealed, the surprise came from the fact that it all seemed so hard to take in, the fact that there seemed to be several gaps missing in the tale of how the villain had come to be as portrayed in the story. I believe that the novel could have done away with more than half the story and added more relevant chapters to keep the story flowing in a direction that would have captivated the reader rather than just portraying the sense of guilt that plagues Brooke, keeping her bound with an inability to let go and move on.

The only thing positive for me about the novel was the at times beautiful writing that came to light in bits and pieces as the story progressed. The Marata Eros I remember from my one single experience with her prose is one who writes beautifully well and reaches deep into your heart to invoke emotions that cannot be otherwise. And that was practically the only thing that kept me turning the pages even when I wanted to give up and label this a DNF. But all that being said, you just might find this to be your cup of tea while it didn’t meet any or all of my expectations when I picked it up. Recommended for fans of the author and fans of new adult romances.

Favorite Quotes

But those eyes, those haunted eyes, they’re burned into my brain. Her sadness has caught me like the fish I net. I’ve hit her hook without even knowing I’m in the ocean; saving her has reeled me in inextricably.
And I don’t even know her name.

He looks up and our gazes meet. Chance Taylor steals my breath. His open smile melts me.
I walk toward him.
It feels like a death march.

I feel the tip of him at my entrance, and his knees split my legs farther apart even as he enters me slowly, each hot inch sinking deeper, and I let out a hoarse cry, pressing myself back against him. My hips rise and he puts a staying hand on the back of my head and the other at the small of my back, pinning me in place, and I whimper in surrender.

Then he’s fully inside me with a single thrust and I scream my pleasure into his quiet house, absorbed by all that wood and I come until I can’t breathe. The pulses of my orgasm radiate through my tingling body and wash over Chance, grabbing at him as he grows impossibly harder, his own release crashes into him as he pours himself into me.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

averageread

Review: Burn For Me by Cynthia Eden

Format: E-bookburnforme
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Phoenix Fire, #1
Publisher: Brava
Hero: Cain O’Connor
Heroine: Eve Bradley
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 28 , 2014
Started On: February 13, 2014
Finished On: February 16, 2014

She was Eve . . . his Eve.

Having never sampled Cynthia Eden’s paranormal romances before, I sort of expected the same sort of intense writing that she puts into her romantic suspense novels. And yes, while the intensity was there, her paranormal romance or rather this particular novel tended to have a different “voice” to it and rightly so when all sorts of emotions and events are explosive on an altogether different scale when you consider the nature of the characters that would exist in a paranormal romance.

The first book in the Phoenix Fire series, Burn for Me tells the story of Subject Thirteen, aka Cain O’Connor, a man whose ability is being exploited by keeping him caged, under lock and key. When Eve Bradley at first enters the Genesis Facility posing as a research assistant to uncover the truth to the facility and the man behind the operations, she doesn’t contemplate on meeting a man whose very gaze burns right through her.

Escape from the facility comes at a cost, the cost of running for their lives as the hunt intensifies and reaches a national level with little or no way out for either of them. With each avenue that might provide Eve with away to clear up their names and bring the truth behind the nefarious experimentation and exploitation of the paranormal beings that have been happening for far too long, Eve starts to realize that when one has deep pockets extending its way to the top layer of the government, there is little choice for the victims caught in the midst.

Cain burns for Eve in a way that he has never burned for any other. The fact that he is dangerous is one that seems to be lost on Eve, the only woman who is able to handle him and accept him the way he is. Eve has the ability to reach deep inside of him, even when he is lost and in the throes of the darkness that seems to engulf him time and yet again. Rather than minding the darkness of his cravings and his total lack of control when it comes her, Eve seems to revel in the fact and want more. That in itself is a novelty for a man like Cain whose very existence is one that would always be up for exploitation by those hungry for power.

With Burn for Me, Cynthia Eden introduces a world of shape shifters and vampires, one that has an interesting premise to it. While Cain was the dark hero personified, Eve tended to be the one whose thoughts alone had the ability to make me smile. Eve has the sort of character that finds humor in even the most difficult predicaments, and there were a lot of them as the story progressed on its way. The one thing that stood out for me in Cain’s character was his uber possessiveness when it comes to Eve, even when one half of him refuses to accept the fact that he is enamored with a woman who just might be his undoing.

Though Burn for Me didn’t woo me on a scale Cynthia’s romantic suspense novels do, I believe I am intrigued enough to know more of this world and of course the story of the wolf shifter and the tortured vampire seems like they’d offer great stories to indulge in. Recommended for those who love Cynthia Eden’s paranormal romances.

Final Verdict: Eve and Cain’s intensity together burns through the pages!

Favorite Quotes

He didn’t let her make it to the bed. Two more steps, and he pounced. The room spun around her. She blinked, then found herself flat on the mattress. Her legs were parted, dangling over the edge of the bed, and Cain was between them.
“Need to taste . . . have to . . .”
He put his mouth against her. A mouth that was just as warm as the rest of him. Not burning. Heated just . . . right. His tongue licked over her clit. His fingers slid into her. He tasted.
She came.
But he didn’t stop.

“I’ve been waiting for you . . .”
She blinked, then shook her head, sure that she’d misunderstood. He couldn’t have just said those words. They didn’t make any sense but . . .
I feel like I’ve been waiting for him, too.

“Eve?”
“Yes . . .” Her whisper. “Cain, come in . . .”
He thrust into her and she forgot everything else. Her legs wrapped around his hips. Eve arched up against him. She’d never been filled this way before. Completely. Totally. This wasn’t just sex.
Possession.
Heat.
Need.
Pleasure.

His gaze met hers, and she saw the danger in his stare. “Even hell can’t make me forget some things.” His hand rose to her mouth. “I came back . . . wanting your taste again.”
Eve swallowed. “Cain?”
“I opened my eyes”—he pulled away from her and stood with his back to her—“saw you and thought . . .”
What? What had he thought?
“Mine,” Cain growled out the one word.

Rough. Hard. Fast. He drove into her again and again. Her sex closed around him, holding tight, and his cock seemed to swell more inside her, stretching her with delicious pleasure.
His hands were on her hips. Holding her. Lifting her. Getting her to take more of him. More.
The climax hit her, slamming through her, and Eve screamed.

The rush of pleasure built fast. No gentle peak. A tidal wave that flooded over her and took her breath.
It didn’t stop. He didn’t stop. More. More. He rolled her over on the bed. Lifted her onto her knees. Surrounded her with his body and his heat and his power and—
Took.
Deeper. Harder.

He lifted her higher. Positioned her so that his mouth hovered right over her sex
Then he took her. His tongue thrust into her sex and she jerked against him. Good. Her taste filled his mouth. Cream. Woman. Sweet and rich and perfect on his tongue.

He erupted inside her, driving into her and shuddering with the force of a release that gutted him. A pleasure that ripped past the fire and the hell and touched the man caged inside him.
“Eve.” Her name broke from him.
She came around him, shuddering, her sex gripping him and greedily taking the last of his orgasm.

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

favorableread

Review: Scream For Me by Cynthia Eden

Format: E-bookscreamforme
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: For Me, #3
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Kyle McKenzie
Heroine: Dr. Cadence Hollow
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 4, 2014
Started On: February 12, 2014
Finished On: February 13, 2014

Its being a while since I’ve read a good romantic suspense novel and Scream For Me, the 3rd book in Cynthia Eden’s For Me series seemed to be a good place to start. I actually had no idea that Scream For Me belonged to a series of books; I just received an email from Amazon on its release this month since I’ve purchased Cynthia’s books before. Either way, even though there was a time or two while I was reading that I thought to myself I should have checked whether this was a standalone before purchasing, Scream For Me had the ability to wipe out every other thought from my mind and make me focus on the developing story.

Dr. Cadence Hollow is an FBI agent who specializes in serial killers. Her “talent” lies in thinking like the victim, going through the motions the victim would’ve undergone under the circumstances. Kyle McKenzie is Cadence’s partner, a sexy and dangerous agent that makes Cadence wish for things that could never be. Cadence had been unimpressed at first when Kyle had been assigned as her partner, but as time had gone on and Kyle had proved himself, Cadence had come to realize that when it comes to Kyle, there are many enticing layers to him that she wants to explore, even if it might not be whats best for both of them.

Their latest case takes them to Paradox, Alabama, where a woman has been snatched from her car which was left stranded in a lonely highway. For Kyle, the case is personal on a level that would have him taken off of it, except for the determination that drives him to find the killer. Cadence might not want to believe Kyle and the connection that he at first makes with a similar abduction that had happened a long time back, but when the clues start to pile up and the bodies too in its wake, Cadence is left with no choice but to find the killer who had spent so much time doing what he does and had managed to slip under the radar for so very long.

What the killer wants is to play a game, a game to draw Kyle into a web of destruction that would ultimately destroy him. And with the clock ticking and the pressure on, Kyle finds himself edging more and more towards the vortex into which the killer wants him sliding into, the only thing holding him back being the fiery connection he has with his partner, a connection that forgoes the professional level into personal, a connection that he wants to expand and work on without any walls of pretense between them.

Scream for Me is a quintessential Cynthia Eden when it comes to romantic suspense. Her stories are always intense, both in the suspense and romance aspect and Scream for Me had all the ingredients that made this a worthy read. I especially loved how good the suspense was in the novel, enough to make me switch back on the reading light to light up the room even though I was reading from my iPad. Yes, the killer was that creepy to instill that sort of fear inside of me and I would say that alone tells enough the story on just how good a tale Cynthia weaved with this novel.

Though the sex was insanely hot as is usual when it comes to Cynthia’s novels, I did feel that the deeper connection that should have existed between Cadence and Kyle was a bit off in this story. Somehow I just didn’t get the feeling that there were the feelings of the variety of deep abiding love between them. Don’t get me wrong, Kyle has enough singe to him to light the whole room up with that dangerous vibe to him hot enough to put the heat on. Perhaps my point of contention stems from the story’s intensity in every aspect not giving Kyle and Cadence enough leeway to have a moment to slow down and take it all in. Or perhaps it could be a result of not having read the two books prior to this one. Either way, I wanted something more for Kyle and Cadence which somehow did not materialize. Or it could also have been the fact that both Kyle and Cadence’s pasts were left untouched even though there were references to that which if delved deeper could have changed how I felt about their connection.

Recommended for fans of Cynthia Eden and fans of intense romantic suspense novels.

Final verdict: Nail biting suspense guaranteed!

Favorite Quotes

His tongue thrust into her mouth. She gasped in surprise, and he took the sweet breath away from her. She’d stiffened in his arms.
No, Cadence. No. Want me, need me, as much as I do you.
Her hands locked around his shoulders. Her nails bit into his skin.
She kissed him back with a wild desperation of desire and passion that matched his.

He bent toward her. Wanted her mouth again. He’d been denied it for too long. “I think if I don’t have you tonight, I might go insane.” She’d been what got him through the darkness.
Her hand tugged away from his. “Go get your shower, McKenzie. Maybe it will cool you off.” She turned for the door.
He didn’t move. “Since I’ve been burning alive for you from the day we met, I doubt a shower is going to help much.”

He licked and wanted more. She was gasping now, pushing her hips against him, and he wasn’t stopping. He wanted deeper. Wanted more.
Wanted everything Cadence had. Everything she’d ever have.
Her nails sank into his shoulders. He liked the sting of pain.
He liked it even better when she came against his mouth, gasping his name.

He ditched his jeans and had his cock at the entrance of her body in seconds.
All that wet heat. Just waiting for him.
He held his body still, even though all he wanted was so close. “No going back,” he told her. The words were a promise. A warning.
He thrust into her and was lost.

“This is a mistake,” she whispered.
“Then it’s the best fucking mistake I’ve ever made.”
She smiled then.
His heart stopped.

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookDepo

awesomeread

Review: Hidden Honor by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookhiddenhonor
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: MIRA
Hero: Peter de Montselm
Heroine: Elizabeth of Bredon
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 2004
Started On: February 7, 2014
Finished On: February 11, 2014

“… he was a man who embraced pain as a means to salvation …”

Sometimes I wonder what it is that I am going to do when I run out of books by Anne Stuart to fall back on when I run into that “dry spot” in my reading where nothing seems to please me, except for the ruthless brand of heroes that only Anne Stuart seems to be able to get away with publishing.

Hidden Honor is going to be a difficult novel to review without giving away spoilers. As the title denotes, there are hidden elements to the story that makes it the enticing read it is. Hidden Honor tells the story of 17 year old Elizabeth who has made up her mind that her future lies at the Shrine of Saint Anne where she is going to devote her life to serving God. Life has taught Elizabeth to be totally unimpressed by what men and their kind have to offer and she can’t wait to leave home and embrace the future that awaits her.

Tall, skinny and red haired with pale skin to match, Elizabeth has lived her whole life believing herself to hold no qualities that would entice any man, much less the Prince of England to take notice of her. If only she didn’t have to travel with him to her destination, him seeking penance for all the vile acts some of which had ended in deaths if rumors about him were to be believed. But the minute Elizabeth meets the Prince, its as if a different woman buds to life inside of her, a woman who wants to touch, to seek, be held and do all those things with a man that Elizabeth had never dared to even dream of before.

Peter is a man who has a tormented soul that seeks penance and atonement for the sins that he has committed in the past. The temptation that someone like Elizabeth offers is something at first that he cannot accept and something he finds that he cannot resist either, no matter however much he tries. And when murder and mayhem comes seeking the small procession making its way towards the Shrine of Saint Anne, Peter finds himself in a position that makes it impossible for both him and Elizabeth to resist the fire that burns hotter and brighter with each passing moment in each others company.

Going hand in hand with Elizabeth and Peter’s story is a secondary romance that blooms into life that gives the story a sweet edge to it and a respite from the whirlwind of emotions that Elizabeth and Peter’s love gives the reader. Peter is the quintessential Anne Stuart hero, albeit a bit toned down from her most ruthless version of heroes to be found in her ICE series. I loved Peter; of course its hard not to fall in love with the lean, lethal and uber hot heroes that only Anne Stuart can create. A tad ruthless and a whole lot of reluctant to have anything to do with Elizabeth apart from protecting her is what Peter is all about and that made for a delicious combination.

Elizabeth made for a good match for Peter. A bit naive when it comes to the affairs between men and women, Elizabeth is worldly in almost every other aspect of life having had to look out for herself while growing up. Her desire to belong to the convent stems from her need to belong, something that had sorely lacked in her life up till that point. The minute that Peter comes into her life however, she begins to question her lifelong dream of joining the convent, a life that looks more and more unsuited for someone of her temperament.

The only thing more that I wished for when all was said and done was, you guessed right, an epilogue that would have let me sigh and moon over Peter and Elizabeth just a little while longer. Recommended!

Final Verdict: With sizzling sexual tension, Anne Stuart delivers a scrumptious read worthy of your time!

Favorite Quotes

She tried to buck, but his strong hands held her captive. She tried to push at his shoulders but she had no strength. She could only grip the blanket beneath her once more as her legs curled up and her head fell back and her body exploded.

She tried to kick him again, and he had no choice but to pin her against the tree with his entire body. Making her fully aware of the state of his arousal.
She looked up at him mid-spate, shocked and suddenly stopped fighting him. He leaned his forehead against hers. “Sweet scold,” he whispered. “My foul-tempered angel, I’ll never get my fill of you. But I have no choice—I have to take you back there. And the more I touch you, the harder it gets.”

He couldn’t help it. He shoved the robe she was wearing aside, pulled his up and lifted her, bracing her against the tree as he filled her with one deep thrust.
She came immediately, tightening around him with a hoarse cry, putting her mouth against his, kissing him as she rode him.

She surged up, then sank down on him, riding him, riding the wave of pleasure, and when the peak came she sank her teeth into his shoulder and bit him, hard, through the heavy fabric.
The sharp pain was the finishing touch, and he let go, pressing her against the rough bark of the tree, filling her with his seed, shocked at the way her body clung to his, drawing him in deeper, jealous of every bit of him.

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

greatread

Review: The Devil’s Waltz by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookthedevilswaltz
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: MIRA
Hero: Christian Richard Benedict de Crecy Montcalm
Heroine: Honorable Miss Annelise Kempton
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 1, 2006
Started On: February 5, 2014
Finished On: February 7, 2014

The Devil’s Waltz by Anne Stuart is a romance that offers a bit of a toned down version of the usual variety of heroes that Anne Stuart creates. For someone who pretty much adores the version of anti-heroes as some might label the heroes in Stuart’s books, the toned down version wasn’t any less appealing to me, perhaps because the story still carries the essential elements necessary to draw all sorts of emotions from the reader.

Honorable Miss Annelise Kempton is almost 30 years old and unmarried. Rendered penniless with the death of her father, Annelise moves from one household to another, offering her services for bed and board because to work for a living for someone of her standing was practically frowned upon. Her latest mission so to say lands her in the household of that of Josiah Chippah, a self-made man who wants the marriage of his beautiful daughter to achieve his goal of belonging to elite of the society.

Annelise’s charge is hellbent on marrying Christian Montcalm, the worst of rakes one could come across. Penniless to the point of being destitute, Christian has his sights set on the woman who would bring all the wealth that he requires to put his life back in order, not that he cares much about the sort of thing. The only obstacle in his path seems to be the infuriating woman that is Annelise, a woman who stirs his interest in a way it hasn’t been stirred in a long time, or ever.

Annelise takes her responsibility towards her charge seriously, but the things Christian makes her think of and want to do should not be the thoughts that should run through a woman who has accepted the fact that she would forever be a spinster and that no man, especially a man as beautiful as Christian would want her. With each drugging kiss that Christian lays on her, Annelise’s resolve to stay away from his charming self dissolves at her feet until she is practically laid bare with her naked longing for a man who would never be suitable for a woman like her.

Interwoven into the tale of heat, passion and love between Annelise and Christian lies the story of a nefarious villain who is willing to do everything in his power to get what he wants, even if it is by committing murder in cold blood. The Devil’s Waltz has one of the most beautiful epilogues that I have come across in an Anne Stuart novel. Like it always happens to me in epilogues in Stuart’s books, I had to read and re-read the epilogue until I was satisfied enough to close my eyes and go to sleep, even though it was the wee hours of the morning by then.

The Devil’s Waltz reaffirms my belief that reformed rakes make the best of husbands. And just like the heroes of the caliber that only Stuart can create, Christian had all those essential bits that makes a hero swoon worthy minus the dark edge that seems to be off putting to certain readers of romance. If you have never read an Anne Stuart and would love to read one, I suggest you go with this one. It definitely has the sort of hero that you can get down with, and a heroine you would equally adore. Not to mention the witty banter that is an integral part of the story which made me laugh at several places throughout the read. Recommended!

Final Verdict: Decadent and delicious!

Favorite Quotes

He was sound asleep, his long legs stretched out in front of him, the blessed fire blazing, an empty bottle of wine by his side. He hadn’t been shaved recently, and he looked rumpled, dissolute and beautiful. Like a fallen angel. She moved to stand in front of him and pointed the pistol directly at his heart.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” he murmured, and then he opened his extraordinary eyes. “It’s always unwise to shoot the man you’re in love with.”

She reached behind his head, caught his long hair in her hand, and offered her cheek to him, closing her eyes.
He laughed. “I don’t think so, my love.” And he swept her into his arms, pulling her tight against his strong body, and put his hungry mouth on hers.
He tasted like wine and hot sweet sin.

She wasn’t expecting it, wasn’t prepared for it. This was no lazy seduction, no charming flirtation. This was carnal, deep and shattering, and before she realized it he’d pushed her up against the wall, holding her there as he kissed her, and the feeling was so powerful she felt as if she might explode. His hand covered her breast, barely restrained by the antique chemise, and she could feel her nipples tighten against him, feel a wash of something totally foreign and good sweep over her body, until she was both hot and cold, trembling, wanting to weep, wanting to slap him, wanting to rip the white lace from her body and place his mouth where his hand was.

He put his mouth close to hers, just a moment away from kissing her, and her impossibly fast heartbeat raced ever stronger against his fingers.
“Shall I ruin you, dragon?” he whispered, aching for her. “Or shall I send you on your way?”

He tugged at his loosely tied cravat, sending it sailing. He ripped at his own buttons, opening his shirt and reaching for his breeches, when he stopped. “One last warning, love. This is no fairy-tale business, no pretty dream. It’s real. It’s dark and messy and for you, painful. In the beginning, at least. You’ll end up hating me.”
“Don’t worry about it, Christian,” she said. “I already hate you.”

“Chérie, I am going to die if I don’t finish,” he whispered in a hoarse groan. And the words, as if by instinct, were in French.
“Then finish me,” she whispered in the same language.

Her body convulsed and she tried to cry out, but nothing came from her throat but a strangled cry. She was out of control, lost, gone somewhere that she hadn’t known existed, and the only thing with her was Christian, his arms around her, shaking as hard as she was as he spilled himself deep inside her.

He was dressed, or at least halfway there. He had his breeches on, and his shirt was half-buttoned. He must have finally run out of things to do with her, she thought dazedly. So why, when she looked at him, did her body still shiver in longing?

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

awesomeread