Review: Shameless by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookShameless.jpeg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The House of Rohan, #4
Publisher: MIRA
Hero: Benedick Francis Alistair Rohan
Heroine: Melisande Carstairs
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 21, 2011
Started On: April 6, 2014
Finished On: April 10, 2014

I believe I am in quite the predicament. Anne Stuart has ruined me. Yes, you heard me right. She has ruined me for practically every other author out there. Two or three books from random authors and that feeling of restlessness stirs inside of me, that craving to read something from an author I firmly believe would never fail me. And every single time I start a new book from her, there is this feeling of anticipation that courses through me, that feeling of rightness and contentment in knowing that Anne Stuart would never do me wrong. And with every book that I finish reading, depression hits, because I know that I would end up devouring most of her published books pretty soon and then I start wondering, where on Earth am I going to get my fix from when that day comes?

Shameless is the 4th and last published book in the delectable The House of Rohan series by Anne Stuart. Depravity is the name of the game for the Rohans, but then the only truly “depraved” character I encountered from this series turns out to be the one hero that wasn’t a Rohan; Lucien from the 3rd book Breathless. Even though Shameless could be read as a standalone, I would advice you to read at least Breathless first. Because certain aspects of the story would only make sense and also give you that deep feeling of happiness if you’ve read Lucien’s story first.

Shameless tells the tale of the sixth Viscount Rohan who has gone through one tragedy after the other that leads him to believe that he would be better off marrying someone who would just bear him children and look for his fix for carnal pleasure elsewhere. That is the intention with which Benedick returns to London and in turn gets gobsmacked by his encounter with the reformist who makes his head spin; Melisande Castairs widow of Sir Thomas Castairs.

Melisande’s charitable activities leaves her on the fringes of society, but Melisande is a determined woman if ever there was one, taking in the “soiled doves” and teaching them the way to a better life. At first Benedick is annoyed by the woman who single-handedly thwarts his attempt to appease the hunger that has not been slated in a long while. But then his fascination with Melisande is one Benedick is willing to ignore at all cost, until she turns up on his doorstep, seeking his help to dig deeper into the activities taking place in the “Heavenly Host”, a secret society of sorts that gets together to seek and slake all types of sexual needs. Though Benedick might not want to believe what Melisande has to say, his own brother’s elusiveness raises red flags all over the place and Benedick has little choice left but to investigate with the annoying Melisande at his heels, and perhaps seduce the woman along the way and walk away once his hunger for all things that is Melisande has been appeased.

While some die-hard fans of Anne Stuart had found Benedick to be too “mild” compared to the likes of gamma heroes that Anne Stuart creates in most of her books, I found Benedick to be just the right sort of rake for Melisande. Lucien turned out to be the darkest of heroes in this series, so perhaps Anne Stuart’s mind was on toning things down a bit from all the intensity that had gone down in the previous book.

As always, Anne Stuart kept the story alive and kicking in so many ways. There are the characters, each and everyone of whom contributes in some way to make the story the well rounded one it turned out to be. And then there is the trademark caustic wit of Anne Stuart that shines through in each and every dialog that happens in the story. I loved the conversations that took place between Melisande and Benedick, not to mention the constant parrying back and forth between Benedick and Lucien; Benedick always having the urge to throttle the very life out of Lucien.

I just flat-out adored Melisande. She’s like this deep bundle of energy and spirit, determined to right the world, one wrong at a time. The fact that she doesn’t seem to mind what the society may think of her and goes on brazenly working to achieve the things she believes in earned her major points! I rooted for her every step of the way and couldn’t get enough of the way that she cannot help herself over her want for a man who is so deliciously wrong for her in numerous ways. Her take charge attitude is one that I loved to bits, the way she just slams her way through into Benedick’s seemingly well ordered life and turns it completely upside down a reason that kept a smile on my face in a way that signaled my unabashed enjoyment for the story.

Ah, and then there is Benedick. Just like 99.99% of the heroes that Anne Stuart creates, Benedick won my heart through and through – it was just as simple as that. I loved the conflict his waspish tongue brought to the story, the angst and the turmoil that kept the story alive, not to mention that deep sexual pulse which brings that electrical vibe to the story that makes it hard to put down. This is where once again, I have to wish and ask out aloud; why cannot more authors embrace writing stories and heroes like Anne Stuart does? Too much to ask in a world where even romance books have to be politically right huh?

While there seemed to be a thread of a secondary romance in the story, namely between Brandon Rohan and Emma Cadbury, it seemed to just stop when things seemed to get interesting between them. And I can’t help but want to read Emma and Brandon’s story with a need that is almost crippling in its intensity! An internet search into the matter revealed that MIRA had not wanted any more stories into the Rohan series even though Anne Stuart had been of the mind to write Emma and Brandon’s story next. Oh the soul crushing disappointment of it all!

If all this constant rambling has given you anything after reading this review, it should be the fact that this story is one that I loved to bits and pieces. The fact that Miranda and Lucien seems to be making so many babies and seeing a “softer” side of Lucien; well, softer in the context of Lucien, was one additional bit about Shameless that had me smiling from deep within my heart. And if you don’t understand where I am going with this review, I will just lay it out for you; I recommend this as one of the most entertaining reads I’ve had the good fortune of reading this year. Don’t miss out on the last installment in this wonderful series!

Final Verdict: Anne Stuart’s mastery continues to amaze & Shameless just sets the fact in stone.

Favorite Quotes

He moved closer, brushing his face against her arm, breathing in her scent. Sun-warmed skin married with the roses and something indefinably female that stirred his senses. Danger, he reminded himself, his instincts well-honed. This was a very dangerous woman.
And then he fell asleep.

His smile was fleeting. “I’m an eminently reasonable man.” And before she realized what he was doing she was back in his arms and he was kissing her, openmouthed and hot and wet, no teasing approach, just raw, sexual demand that should have filled her with disgust and dismay.
Instead her stomach tightened, her heart raced, and the place between her legs grew hot and tingling.

She turned her face away from him, staring at the wall, trying to control her wayward body, envisioning it packed in ice, frozen. But the ice melted against him, and her body was soft and welcoming.
“What do you want?” he persisted, his breath hot against her ear, and his teeth closed lightly over the lobe, and she wanted to moan in pleasure. “What…do…you…want?”

She gave in. She had reached the end of her ability to fight him. “More,” she whispered.
And then all conscious thought vanished in a white haze as her body arched, rigid, as thousands upon thousands of tiny pinpricks shot through her, and she lost herself, the pleasure-pain exploding into a rich darkness she never wanted to leave. It was glorious. It was heaven.
It was disaster.

There was no escape, she didn’t want to escape, but she kept fighting, pushing it away.
“Stop it, Melisande,” he growled in her ear. “Take it. Claim it.”
“No,” she sobbed.
“Take it,” he said again, hard inside her, slamming into her so that the bed shook and her body trembled and she knew she would break apart, and she couldn’t stop, couldn’t stop shaking, couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop…

There was no time, no need for preparation. She was wet, he was hard, and he simply released himself from the breeches, lifting her up and bracing her against the wall before he thrust into her with a grunt of satisfaction, feeling her tight around him.
He wanted to slow down, afraid he might hurt her, but she dug her fingers into his shoulders. “No,” she whispered in his ear. “Don’t stop. I need you. Hard. I need you to take me. Harder.”

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

amazingread

Score Sheet Review: Savage Courtship by Susan Napier

Format: E-booksavagecourtship.jpeg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Benedict Savage
Heroine: Vanessa Flynn
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 1, 1995
Started On: April 5, 2014
Finished On: April 6, 2014

CATEGORY SCORE GRADE
The hero 80 A
The heroine 80 A
Story line 60 B
Emotional Intensity 75 B
Suck me in Factor 70 B
Heat & Sensuality 70 B
Conflicts 65 B
Writing Style 80 A
Quotable Factor 50 C
Ending 70 B
Overall Grade 70 B

Score Sheet Summary

Benedict Savage is a successful architect, going on 34 when that vague sense of dissatisfaction that has been plaguing him for quite sometime makes him seek refuge in Whitefield House, a property that he had inherited from an uncle who had left it to him, a property that had come along with his deceased uncle’s female butler Vanessa Flynn.

Finding a mystery woman in Benedict’s bed is what kick-starts the story, a woman who disappears by the next morning leaving Benedict flummoxed by the whole thing until he discovers who it is that had been gracing his bed that night. Thus follows a series of twists and turns, a lot of advancing on Benedict’s part and retreating on Vanessa’s part which culminates of course in a happily ever after.

Susan Napier has some very good Harlequin romances out there, in fact she is one of those Harlequin authors who is on my auto-buy list. The aspects that worked for me includes the hero; his intensity is hard not to take notice of. Then there is the novelty of a heroine who is taller than the hero in the story; as most romance readers know, that is something that rarely happens in a romance.

The sexual tension though was a vital presence in the story, I got a bit tired of the continuous back and forth drama that was happening and in the end skim read through chunks of the story later on. Recommended for die-hard fans of Harlequin romances.

Favorite Quotes

“Say it.’ He took off his glasses and threw them away in a gesture of reckless intent that made her heart pound.
‘All right, damn it—Ben!’ she retorted wildly. ‘There, I’ve said it. Ben, Ben, Ben—’
Her provocative chant was suddenly smothered. There was no tentativeness, none of the explorative gentleness that had characterized his last kiss. This time he was all aggressive, dominating male. The kiss was hot and hard, swallowing her anger and feeding it back to her piece by defiant piece.

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

favorableread

Pick of the Month & Giveaway: March 2014

Title: Waiting On You by Kristan Higginswaitingonyou

What made the book stand out:

  • A read that warranted 5-stars.
  • Great emotional depth.
  • Witty banter.
  • Lovable characters.
  • To-die-for hero!
  • Melt your panties variety sexual tension.
  • Humor of the stomach cramping kind. Yes, you laugh that much.
  • Angst! Oh god, yes the angst!

Basically, the book picked itself out of every single book I have read of late and jumped into the pick of the month wagon. End of story!

Giveaway! Giveaway! Giveaway!

As is customary with all my pick of the month posts (which have been quite sporadic in recent times), I have included a giveaway which hopefully would garner some attention. After all, who doesn’t love free stuff yeah?

Giveaway options:

  1. One e-copy of Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins; OR
  2. One paperback copy of Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins. This option is available for those countries to which Book Depository ships to; OR
  3. 10$ gift certificate; OR
  4. Any e-book or paperback you’ve been wanting, below the price of $10.00. Condition in #2 applies for paperback versions.

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open a page of the current book that you are reading. (If you are not reading a book at the moment, open a page of the book that’s nearest to you.) And give me 3 sentences from the page you open up. Mention the book title and author as well. And tell me whether you like what you have read so far!
  2. Specify which giveaway you are entering for.
  3. Leave a valid e-mail address for a way to contact you in case you are the winner!
  4. Help spread the word about the giveaway! Tweet and earn 5 extra entries, or recommend this post on Facebook & earn 5 extra entries. Post the URL of your tweet or recommendation post on Facebook in your comment.
  5. Like my page on Facebook to gain 5 extra more entries. If you are already a follower of my page, just state so and you would gain your 5 extra entries.
  6. Follow me on Twitter and gain 5 extra entries. If you already follow me, state so and you gain your extra 5 entries.

Giveaway Timings:

  • Giveaway begins: 00:00 hours, April 7, 2014 – Maldivian Time
  • Giveaway ends: 00:00 hours, April 8, 2014 – Maldivian Time
  • Maldivian Timezone: GMT+5

ARC Review: Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookherkindoftrouble.png
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Seth Anderson
Heroine: Vivian Walker
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 1, 2014
Started On: March 28, 2014
Finished On: April 5, 2014

Vivian Walker and Seth Anderson sets their eyes on each other the night of the rehearsal dinner of the wedding that had tied the knot between Vivian’s sister and Seth’s brother. Their attraction towards each other had been instantaneous, both understanding the other quite perfectly to come to the arrangement that their one single sexual encounter that night would remain just that – a one night stand that they would both enjoy and walk away from.

10 years down the road, Vivian is back home in Australia and runs into Seth, who has a baby on the way and doesn’t seem to be able to catch a break where life was concerned. Though Vivian knows that a relationship between her and Seth would be the last thing that can happen under the circumstances, neither of them can help when the force of the blazing hot attraction that had swept them away all those years back seems to be stronger than ever, the strength of which takes their breath away.

There is a striking balance between the heartbreaking variety of tragedy and the lighthearted factor in the story that worked really well for me. Seth has his work cut out for him when he has to face the sheer daunting prospect of parenthood all alone. The fact that his beautiful daughter would never know her fun loving and vivacious mother is a pain that chokes him with its intensity all throughout. And then there is that one spot of brightness through all that darkness, the unwavering strength and support from Vivian who steps up in a way that leaves Seth reeling with the sheer beauty of Vivian in the depths of her soul.

It is a catastrophic event that pushes Vivian and Seth together long enough for them to learn more about the other, which cements the connection that had been forged between them ten years back into something harder and tougher to brush aside. Every moment Vivian and Seth spend together sheds light on just how well they fit with each other, the understanding and respect that they have for the other. I loved how Seth and Vivian went out of their way to be there for each other when the going got tough, how they took care of one another and lent that crucial support during those tough moments that made their relationship essentially that much more beautiful. And one of the most impressing aspects to the story was the role reversal of the hero being the one saddled with single parenthood, trying to make things work and the heroine stepping in to save the day!

I’d definitely say that Sarah Mayberry has come back with a bang with Her Kind of Trouble, bringing along a massive dose of her variety of angst; and my goodness there is plenty of that to go around, and love and sensual connection of the kind that only she can bring into stories. For that reason alone and the fact that I loved the story from Seth and Vivian to everything in between is why I would recommend this to everyone who loves a good contemporary romance with good emotional depth to them.

Final Verdict: Should come with the warning “Tissues are required!”. A definite not to be missed by Sarah Mayberry!

Favorite Quotes

“These have to go,” he said, and she heard a rip as he tore her panties off.
A part of her wanted to laugh at how mad and desperate it all was—the cramped quarters, him tearing her clothes off, their harsh breathing. But then he found her with his thumb at the exact moment that he bit her nipple and she was too busy coming, her head dropping forward as she clutched at his shoulders, needing an anchor to keep her earthbound.

He moved over her, not saying a word, holding her gaze as he gripped himself and found her entrance. She lifted her hips to take him, and he slid in.
Yes.
He remembered this. How good she felt. How right. How on earth had he survived ten years without doing this again?

She tantalized them both with the potential, then plunged down onto him, biting her lip to stop herself from crying out.
It felt so good. So full. So hard and slick and right.
Seth arched off the bed, pulling a nipple into his mouth, the suction of his mouth so fierce, so forceful, it almost hurt.
Almost.

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

amazingread

Requested ARC Review: A Cold Dark Place by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookacolddarkplace
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Alex Parker
Heroine: Mallory Rooney
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: April 1, 2014
Started On: March 30, 2014
Finished On: April 2, 2014

A Cold Dark Place is the debut book in the Cold Justice series by the uber talented author of romantic suspense Toni Anderson. Few authors out there manage to keep my interest when it comes to romantic suspense and Toni Anderson is one of those authors who always manages to hit the vital spots by keeping the romance and suspense factor balanced, which is the secret to writing highly readable romantic suspense novels.

A Cold Dark Place is quite the fitting title to this novel. Alex Parker is a man who prefers the darkness to do what he is entrusted to do. Employed by an organization known as “The Gateway Project” that is so deeply hidden in the layered complexities of the US government, Alex is an assassin who enacts justice by killing the worst sort of scum. Counting down the days until he would be free of his promise that binds him to his employers, his job becomes doubly dangerous when he realizes that someone on the inside is out to make him and that someone is the deliciously enticing FBI Special Agent Mallory Rooney to whom his instant attraction makes her a more than dangerous “adversary”.

Mallory’s life mission for the past eighteen years has been to become smart enough and tough enough to find her twin sister’s abductor and bring him to justice. The pain that she lives through every single day, blaming herself for not being there for the one and only person with whom she had shared an inexplicable connection with is what drives her, even when she meets the same dead end, time and yet again. Though her experience in hunting killers and analyzing their behavior is limited, her sharp intelligence and observation skills ends her up in the BAU and in the direct sight of the man who would do everything in his power to claim her as a replacement for his lost love.

Alex doesn’t want the complication that starting anything up with Mallory would bring his way, but he is as helpless as she in the face of the strong web of desire that binds them together, that finds them entwined in the most delicious of embraces time and yet again. And when Alex finds out that the killer they are all hunting, whose violence had all of a sudden started to escalate, has his sights set on Mallory, there is no stopping him from vowing to protect her at all and any cost, even if it means continuing with the pretense and charade that would continue to keep Mallory in the dark when it comes to who he truly is.

Toni Anderson does a splendid job in telling this story; it is dark, creepy and keeps you guessing and questioning your emotions when it comes to everything that takes place in the span of this novel. Alex Parker himself is reason enough to fall in love with the story, his tortured soul was one that touched me on a deep level. Betrayal on a level that most people would never be strong enough to live with makes Alex the man he is, and though each kill chips away at his already battered soul, the honorable man that Alex is refuses to back down from paying the debt he owes to his employers.

It is the pain, drive and determination that keeps Mallory doggedly working to unearth what had happened to her sister that made me respect and love her character as much as I did Alex’s. The guilt that threatens to consume her would not have been easy to deal with. Alex in her life means Mallory learns to live a little, and stop feeling the survivor’s guilt and in return she reaches out to the scarred bits and pieces of Alex’s heart and soul and puts it back together, piece by piece, without even realizing the fact that they are both headed towards a love strong enough to consume them both.

It was the killer that kept me fascinated and riveted to the edge of my seat and I think that is exactly what Toni was aiming for when she created him. I sometimes wonder at the cruelty in this world that breeds killers of the likes found in this book, the inhumanity they suffer as children and the loss of their innocence at the hands of those that should protect them from the rest of the world. It is hard not to feel sad thinking about the person he could have been otherwise, but in equal doses I found myself horrified by the extent of his depravity and violent nature together with his uncanny ability to have kept fooling people for so long. Toni also makes the reader question whether the laws and agencies that be are really enough to ensure that justice is done. Perhaps vigilantism does serve its purpose with the swiftness of with which it brings the victims the closure they seek. A book that always makes you question what you know to be right and wrong and casts you into that place shadowed by the shades of grey is in my opinion a book well done.

Though the lack of an epilogue was felt, knowing that there would be another book in the series on the way definitely helps. Recommended for fans of Toni Anderson and fans of dark romantic suspense. You’d definitely love this one!

Final Verdict: Ties you up in knots; A Cold Dark Place makes for a riveting read!

Favorite Quotes

His lips were surprisingly soft, his mouth tasting of whiskey and beer and really hot man. Suddenly he took control of the kiss, diving deeper, tongue tangling with hers with a possession that made her insides turn molten. She found herself pressed up against the glass facade of the building, Alex’s one hand still buried deep in her pocket, the other cupping the back of her head.

“Too much?” His voice sounded nothing like him. He’d heard this version before, in that prison in Morocco. His inner animal tearing loose, but this time it was from pleasure not pain.
She shook her head and her nails dug into his shoulders. “More,” she demanded. Then she kissed his neck, bit down hard enough to make him laugh.
She could put her mark on him anytime.

She shook her head, squirming to get closer. “More,” she demanded and nibbled his jaw. Her nails scratched his back, digging into his skin with the sort of pain that aroused him more than he’d ever imagined possible. He wrapped his hand around her other leg and locked them both around his waist. And then every pulsing inch of him was embedded inside her, blasted by the velvet clench of wet heat.
“Okay?” he asked. Okay didn’t even begin to describe what he was feeling. He was pretty sure the word for it hadn’t been invented yet.
“Oh, yes.”

“Condom,” he said between gritted teeth.
Crap.
She jerked open the bedside drawer, relieved to find a box. Alex scrambled out of his jeans, covered and buried himself deep. She locked her legs around his hips and then there were no thoughts, just sensation and pleasure and slick bodies, striving to get as close as possible, striving for that place where nothing else mattered.”

Sated and satisfied, she began to drift off to sleep. “You’re a good man, Alex Parker.”
He kissed the top of her head. “No. But you make me feel like I could be.”

“I still miss her.” Her voice cracked.
He put his hands on her shoulders and squeezed. He could relate. He still missed his mother and his grandfather and his friends. But he knew they were dead and never coming back. You had to move on. “We’re supposed to miss them. That’’s their gift.”
Huge amber eyes met his. “Pain is a gift?”
He nodded. “It proves they meant something to us. That even years after losing them we still feel them. Here.”

With one hard thrust he was buried deep in her heat.
She wrapped her legs around his waist, nails bit into his flesh. “Harder.”
He drove into her, again and again, nothing but an animal who needed to satisfy a primal urge.

He took the condom from her fingers and covered himself. Eased her slowly over him and shifted her panties aside. He was big, aroused. She sank down just a little bit and he gritted his teeth. She looked down, the vision of him inside her, of the lace against pale skin, was such a turn on she came with a surprised shudder.

“We’re not dating, remember.” He thrust inside her and she sucked in a moan. “You didn’t go and do anything foolish like fall for me, did you, Mallory?” he asked.
Emotion welled up inside her. She shook her head and wrapped her legs around his hips. Watched his pupils dilate. “No, sir.”
“Good.” He swallowed. “Me either.”
But as she looked into his eyes she knew they were both lying and it felt dark and dangerous and wonderful.

Purchase Links: Amazon

greatread