Review: The One in My Heart by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-booktheoneinmyheart
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Bennett Oliver Stuart Somerset
Heroine: Evangeline Canterbury
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: April 20, 2015
Started On: August 22, 2015
Finished On: August 28, 2015

“Praise the Lord,” he murmured, slipping off my undies, “for a woman who can bring me to my knees.”

The One in My Heart is Sherry Thomas’ first foray into the world of contemporary romance. Written in the first person, The One in My Heart is a novel that firmly entrenches itself in the reader’s heart as you go deeper into the story. If you have read any of my reviews on Ms. Thomas’ historical romances, you’d know that I always praise her for her ability to write stories in such poetic prose – there is no other way to describe what her words does to you. They just flow through you, become one with you, as if you have been waiting your whole life for those words to come to you.

The One in My Heart starts on a dark stormy night, when Evangeline Canterbury, while walking home, altogether too depressed for words, runs into the enigmatic, charming and handsome Dr. Bennett Oliver Stuart Somerset. What happens in the next couple of hours is a connection of the instantaneous variety, the kind that sears through the walls of reserved indifference on the part of Evangeline.

Months later, Evangeline encounters the good doctor again, only to be persuaded to help him in a scheme to get back into the good graces of his family, a family he had walked away from in the pursuit of the only woman who had owned his heart. Evangeline knows that when it comes to Bennett, that her heart is in serious jeopardy of falling, and falling hard. The one thing Evangeline has always evaded is getting too close to anyone who could hurt her because life had taught her that in abundance.

What follows is as delicious as it is heartbreaking and reaffirming. Ms. Thomas takes you on a journey of the type that is not easy to forget, that just consumes you as a whole. I couldn’t get enough of Evangeline and Bennett once I got into the story, nor would my stomach settle down from the nervous anticipation of the ultimate destruction of their non-relationship relationship when it happened. A good romance is one where all your emotions are involved and there is no holding back. And Ms. Thomas delivered just that with The One in My Heart.

The One in My Heart has a bit of a slow start to it. But 2-3 chapters in, and bam, you are hooked, line & sinker & there’s no turning back. The infamous Sherry Thomas magic was present in spades in this one. Being her first & only contemporary romance to-date, I’d say Ms. Thomas definitely has had zero issues in transitioning from the historical genre to the contemporary. A job well done, I must heartily admit.

One thing that surprised me though, was the first person take of the story. None of her historical romances are told in the first person, & yet Ms. Thomas made this work too. Though I truly wanted to get inside the mind of the charmingly sexy Bennett, Ms. Thomas did an excellent job of making the reader not feel too cheated out on in that aspect.When Bennett laid out his side of the story, when everything clicked so well in that a-ha! moment, that was when I truly felt my heart quake inside my chest.

Bennett totally invaded my heart & soul, ravaged my mind & left it all muddled with all the effortless charm and sexy he brought to the story. If there’s anything that makes a girl salivate over a romance is a hero presented well, a hero that can turn your half-hearted “no” to a complete “Oh my God yes!” in a heartbeat. When Bennett pushed Evangeline against the wall and had his way with her, this just mere hours after their first encounter, well, that was my “you had me at hello” moment when it came to him. With his penchant for older women & tendency to fall in love at first sight, well, lets just say that Bennett can turn up on my doorstep any day with just his trench coat on & nothing else. Well, a girl can always dream, can’t she? A hero who is so beautifully portrayed as you sink deeper into the story, that you can’t help but sigh endlessly over his character. Yes ladies, Bennett is that salivation worthy!

Evangeline was the tough cookie in this novel. But she was just as endearing, especially with her high wall of reinforced steel guarding her vulnerabilities & emotions, adept at playing dodge with the messier aspects of relationships. Evangeline actually prefers her existence the way it is, but then Bennett had to enter into it, entice her into saying yes to being his fake girlfriend and before she knew it, she’d fallen head over heels for the man. The fact that Bennett loved Evangeline too much to not let her hide behind barriers, to shake her out of the contentment she seeks in never showing her true self to anyone, made me love him just more. Evangeline’s attempts to thwart all efforts by Bennett to let him in was heartbreaking to watch, but I think that was exactly the jolt she needed to really face her past, exorcise the ghosts and move on.

Loved the secondary characters, the little tidbits about them that made the story that much better & enticing. I could’ve kept on reading and reading about Bennett & Evangeline, but like everything else that is good and beautiful, the end did come. A beautifully fitting end to an otherwise golf-sized-lumps-in-your throat variety of story. Icing on the cake was the fact that this story is very loosely tied to one of the most emotional historical romances from Ms. Thomas that I’ve read & reviewed to date; Private Arrangements. I continually find myself amazed at Ms. Thomas’ ability to make the unworkable work. Private Arrangements has such a storyline. The One in My Heart has the other woman done to a T, but yet, it doesn’t leave you feeling like the heroine got second helpings when it came to the hero, nor did it paint his first love as a villainous harlot that you absolutely had to hate. Absolute genius is Sherry Thomas!

Ms. Thomas definitely proved to be a quick study when it came to her first contemporary romance. Nothing short of splendid! Absolutely worth your time. Highly recommended.

Final Verdict: Beautiful in its prose & darkly emotional; The One in My Heart will completely & utterly ruin you!

Favorite Quotes

I panted, the sound primal. Animal.
He pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it aside, revealing a runner’s build: strong shoulders, slim waist, beautifully cut abdomen.
I closed my eyes for a moment, overcome by lust. When I opened them again, it was to the sight of my hand on his upper arm. And then I did something that surprised me: I leaned in and nipped his shoulder.
He grunted. I found myself pressed hard against the wall, his hand between my thighs. For a moment I thought he’d be rough, but he touched me lightly, delicious little caresses at just the right places.
“Yes,” I whimpered. “Yes.”

“You see this?” he asked as he laid me down on the chaise. “When I come back from thirty hours in the hospital, I don’t even bother going up to the bedroom. I just sleep right here. But before I go to sleep I masturbate, and I think about you—under me, over me, and maybe bent over the armrest. Every time, without fail.”
I was unbelievably turned on.
He yanked off my boots. Reaching under my skirt, he peeled away my tights and my underwear. Now he undressed, smoothed on a condom, and pushed my skirt up around my waist. Then, in one motion, he was all the way inside me.

“Do you know why I think of you?” He spoke directly into my ear. “You make me come instantly. I put my hand on myself, picture you naked, and I come like a fourteen-year-old.”
The pleasure of his body was volcanic. The pleasure of his words was a conflagration. I was already on the verge when he said, “I come so fast that sometimes I have to masturbate one more time. And when I do that, I imagine fucking you all night long.”
My orgasm was a bullet to the head, a shocking starburst. His was similarly thorough and ferocious. But he didn’t stop. He kept going, kissing my face, my throat, my breasts, until I was trembling again.
Until together we fell over the edge again.

He pulled the sweater over my head and did the same for the camisole I wore underneath, exposing my bra. And then he pushed down my skirt and tights to reveal a pair of matching underpants. They were both basic black—I hadn’t wanted to look as if I’d planned to be disrobed.
“Praise the Lord,” he murmured, slipping off my undies, “for a woman who can bring me to my knees.”

“Do you know you have the perfect face for a nun—as if you have only prayers on your mind? And then there are those times when it all changes, and you look pornographically turned on.”
He pried open my legs and caressed the places I’d tried to conceal from him. Pleasure flooded me.
“Do I look like that now?” I heard myself ask, my voice raspy.
It was his turn to sound unsteady. “Yes.”
He went down on me. And it felt so good, I had to bite down on my lower lip to not sound as aroused as I felt. But by the time he brought me to my third orgasm, I had given up any and all attempt to be quiet and contained.
Then he was inside me, huge and hard. And just like that, I was again pornographically turned on.

“You. I masturbate to you.”
At this he resumed that wonderful cadence that gave me so much pleasure. “Keep talking.”
“I imagine…” I panted. “I imagine running into you unexpectedly, somewhere out of town.”
“Somewhere like Munich?”
I quaked inside. “Maybe.”
“And then?”
“And then you pull me into your hotel room, lock the door, and fuck me.”
“Do I fuck you all night?” His voice was rough, demanding.
I closed my eyes even tighter. “Yes.”
He rammed into me. “But you never called. And you never texted.”
And I came like an asteroid striking ground.

“You know what I want?” His voice turned raspy. “I want to fuck you before I go to work. And I want to fuck you right after I come back home.”
I might have ripped apart his vest. I definitely heard shirt studs pinging into the headboard. Keep talking. Keep telling me how much you want me.
And don’t ever stop.
“I want to see you naked against a wall again. I want to see the way you look at me. You have such hungry eyes.”

He bit my earlobe. “Do you know what I really want?”
“What?” I gasped.
“I want to fuck you bareback. Every inch of me, feeling every inch of you.”
Damn him. Those words made me peak again—violently. At least he joined me this time, his orgasm equally untrammeled.

He gripped the back of the chaise, his teeth gritted. “God, Eva.”
I braced my hands on his shoulders. “This is what you want, isn’t it? To fuck me bareback?”
For a minute only the sounds of our heavy, ungovernable breaths filled the air as my hips lifted and lowered, merging with him again and again.
Then he wrapped his arms around me and brought me close to him. “Yes, this is what I’ve always wanted, to make love to you with nothing between us.”
And I was lost.
We were both lost.

Unhurriedly he kissed me everywhere. Without any haste he entered me. We kissed, our bodies joined, and went on kissing, until slow-simmering pleasures again more turned needy and frantic.
“I love the taste of your lips,” he whispered in my ear. “I love the texture of your skin. I love the sound of your breaths. “
And then: “I love everything about…about this moment.”
The orgasm that ensued was the most intense one yet.

“In Henry V, King Henry says to Kate, ‘You have witchcraft in your lips,’”
Bennett murmured sleepily. “Do you know where you have witchcraft, Eva?”
“Do tell,” I answered archly, expecting him to heap praise on my private parts.
He pressed a kiss into my shoulder. “In your eyes.”

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ARC Review: The Replacement Wife by Rowena Wiseman

Format: E-bookthereplacementwife
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Impulse Australia
Hero: Luke
Heroine: Luisa
Sensuality: 1
Date of Publication: September 1, 2015
Started On: August 25, 2015
Finished On: August 26, 2015

I truly became his the day he sent me a line from a John Donne poem: more than kisses, letters mingle souls.

Rowena Wiseman’s The Replacement Wife, though it might come off as a humorous chic lit sort of story by its description is hardly that. I guess this is my first Contemporary Fiction novel too, and though there is a humorous tinge to the layout of the story, it delves with an issue that few authors will write so candidly about. Adultery. Straying from your partner. Why people begin to look for a way out when a long term relationship or marriage turns dull and passionless.

Luisa and Luke have been married for almost 12 years. With their son Max in tow, Luisa and Luke’s life is a typical page out of how long term relationships can go wrong, without one even realizing that its happening. Luisa receives the wake up call when she meets Jarvis, one of her long ago crushes. One thing leads to another and before long, Luisa and Jarvis have professed their love for each other.

Though Luisa doesn’t allow the physical aspect of hers and Jarvis’ relationship to proceed, emotionally, she cheats on Luke in every foreseeable manner. And then Luisa comes up with the perfect plan. Find her husband a woman he would fall in love with and then she would finally be able to move on with Jarvis, with zero guilt.

After many a hilarious antic by Luisa, when her plan finally kicks off, the consequences of her actions certainly brings forth the kind of emotions she thought she would no longer feel towards her husband. With a bittersweet ending to it, The Replacement Wife definitely is not for the judgmental, the ones who think that the perfect mates are angels sent from heaven.

I applaud Rowena Wiseman for putting this story out there. It must not have been easy to write, because even though this book is highly readable, the material in it is one that pricks and pokes at you, makes you think along lines that you would never want to, unless you are someone who is willing to push the boundaries, all the time. Looking at some of the reviews already up on Goodreads, some readers admit that this book actually made them uncomfortable. So no surprises that this book has received low ratings from them.

Like I said, this book is not for everyone. Luisa and Luke’s relationship or the lack of one, when it comes to light, is sort of heartbreaking. Theirs is a passionless existence. The mundaneness of life had broken their relationship well and good. Luisa’s emotional and sexual needs remain unseen to. Luke remains adamant that he is a good husband, just that Luisa wants it all – things that he has no inclination now to give.

I couldn’t bring myself to hate Luisa for what she did. I understood her. I felt for her. I actually felt bad for her because a passionless relationship is hard for someone who wants more. Who yearns for that spark in their lives. For Luke, it is just the opposite. He is content with what he has with Luisa and Max. This is a question I’ve asked on occasion. If you have never truly tasted the volatility and beauty of passion, how do you judge someone who has, for wanting that?

Luisa believes that Jarvis is that man for her. The man who would sweep her off her feet, fulfill her physical and emotional needs. It was painful to see her ask from Luke, to see her try and provoke him into feeling something. Anything. And when Luisa’s plan works and gives that jolt to Luke, their marriage becomes infused with the energy that had been missing from it for so long, and that is when Luisa comes to the realization that she had lost it all.

Perhaps in the end, Luisa got what she deserved. While Luke got the better end of the deal if you ask me, I liked the story for its ability to make me think. Think hard. About life choices, about how much work it is to actually keep any relationship, let alone a marriage alive, especially after kids enter the picture.

Luke wasn’t a bad husband per se. But the fact that he couldn’t muster any enthusiasm to reach out to his wife, to realize just how bad things were in their relationship, that signals just how dead he was inside as well. I don’t think many would appreciate the candid honesty of Rowena’s voice in this novel. I loved it. It was definitely refreshing to see the side of ‘relationships’ that most authors would definitely not want to write about.

No one likes reading about adultery, unless it comes with a ton of forbidden fruit material with it. But I believe Rowena Wiseman’s take on the issue is insightful, to say the least. If you are squeamish about stories that deal with cheating, this is definitely not for you. But if you’d like to read something that would make you think and view the world just a tad more realistically, give The Replacement Wife a try. It just might teach you a thing or two.

Final Verdict: Honest & at times brutal in its depiction, digs deep into why we stray when we stray.

Favorite Quotes

I sat on the single chair and watched him, wondering how we had drifted so far from each other. He was like a business partner living in my house. He liked us to make all of the decisions about Max together; it was parenting by committee. I couldn’t buy a new winter quilt for Max without getting Luke’s sign-off on the warmth rating and choice of material first. He liked input into the choice of washing detergent, the ply of the toilet paper, the home-cooked meals for the week. We talked about all of these things, but we no longer talked about ourselves: about our hopes, our dreams, our passions, our fears. We had nothing left between us as people. We were just decision-makers.

I thought about Ben, who’d had an affair on Trish two years ago, and how much I’d despised him, how I’d thought Ben was such a low-life bastard. But now I felt like maybe I understood Ben’s perspective. I realised that people don’t make decisions to have an affair lightly; it happens with a lot of angst and soul-searching. Perhaps I should have applauded Ben’s bravery, his sense of adventure and inability to settle for an unsatisfying long-term relationship. So many people settle for misery; you hear of those couples that break up after thirty years of an unhappy marriage, after the kids move out of home. Those are the people who deserve our damnation, not the ones who are brave enough to make a great escape before their breasts go as flat as roadkill.

He said he’d wait for me; I could take my time. He said he knew that we were born to be together, that it would happen when the time was right, and if it wasn’t right yet he would wait.
Sometimes he didn’t say much at all, he simply sent me a link to a song, a quote from a book he was reading, an image of a work he was sketching. I truly became his the day he sent me a line from a John Donne poem: more than kisses, letters mingle souls.

I was an editor, in love with words, and his words had been the most precious I had ever read. They had transcended reality, dug a hole in my head, and planted seeds of what my life could be like with someone who could write such words. But could that someone ever have lived those words fully with me? Probably not.
I ran my fingers over those scattered pieces of gold tinsel on the ground. They had dropped off, become detached, lost their shine, gotten splattered by mud. Those fallen pieces of tinsel were me. I rescued two strands and put them in my handbag.

Last week I saw a new sculpture of Jarvis’s in the Venice Biennale on It was a red tinsel zombie, smaller than usual. In front of the zombie were large silver letters, Emily Floyd-style, saying More than kisses, letters mingle souls. My heart tumbled in dirty laundry. Perhaps I had meant something to him after all? Maybe he did remember everything, too? Maybe this was his way of reaching out to me? But then I saw a small 3D word to the side of the work, a reference. I zoomed in to see what it said. Instead of John Donne, it was the word Done. It was his last goodbye to me. And silver scissors snipped me free from the golden tinsel I’d been hanging onto for years.

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Review: Friction by Sandra Brown

Format: E-bookfriction
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Crawford Hunt
Heroine: Holly Spencer
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: August 18, 2015
Started On: August 19, 2015
Finished On: August 22, 2015

“You don’t have a claim.”
His eyes narrowed. “I kinda do.” He started walking toward her, and for each step forward he took, she took one back until she came up against her desk. “That unreasonable, unrefined fuck on your sofa gave me a claim.”

Sandra Brown is one of those authors that I always look forward to reading. Since Ms. Brown publishes just one novel a year of late, her stories have become that much more coveted. Because in a genre that is overburdened with stories that don’t really make the cut, Ms. Brown still manages to deliver highly readable ones, worth every penny they cost you.

Texas Ranger Crawford Hunt is pursuing the battle of his life, i.e. the battle for custody of his daughter Georgia. On the day of the verdict, like a nightmare that you can’t wake up from, a lone gunman bursts into the courtroom, firing his weapon, not giving much of a consideration at who might be hit. Acting on instinct, Crawford saves Judge Holly Spencer’s life, the woman who actually stands between him and the custody of his daughter.

Unwillingly, Crawford is drawn to the investigation surrounding the lone gunman, a hero to the public owing to his fearlessness, a person of interest to the lead investigators on the case, all because of a personal grudge with Crawford. To make matters more complex, Crawford and Holly’s reaction to one another definitely goes beyond a matter of “conflict of interest”, made that much more vexing by Holly’s campaign for renewal of judgeship.

With a multifaceted cast of secondary characters that gives the story an added richness, Ms. Brown throws all your senses haywire, the mystery behind the shooting turning taking more puzzling turns as the clock ticks. I had my theories about where the story was headed. Whether Holly was the target as initially thought to be or not. It’s always a delight when an author juggles multiple characters with fascinating aspects to them that gives a story that ultimate grandeur making it unputdownable. I like a book that makes my brain whirl around, trying to put the pieces together and Friction did that for me. 

Holly and Crawford’s reaction to one another was the coup de grâce for me. All of it was nothing short of hot and all consuming! From the very first time these two get together; and I was ready to throw iPad at the wall thinking Ms. Brown had cheated out on us by just referring to the brazenly hot quickie, I was a goner. Holly the judge whose job makes her see things in black and white and the big bad Texas ranger who always colors in between the black and white and operates with his own set of rules. Both are characters you fall in love with from the very start and that’s how you convince readers of the fact that they belong together, even though they seemingly have nothing in common and have insurmountable odds stacked against them. Ms. Brown is a wizard at delivering just the right touch, where its needed.

Crawford deserves a few lines of his own if you ask me. So effing hot. No two ways about it. Just the kind of hero that Ms. Brown is famous for delivering, in almost all her stories. Tall, grey eyed, commanding, handsome and the list goes on; Ms. Brown creates heroes of the kind that you fantasize over, over & over again. Crawford’s brand of seduction works – works so well that I definitely craved for more! Georgia’s character too deserves a mention. Adorable is the word I would use to describe her and I believe no reader would be left untouched by the charm her character delivers to the story.

Fear not if you think that Friction might have the sort of ending the story Lethal did. Friction delivers a well rounded ending to a tale that had my gut churning from all the nervous anticipation, not to mention the moments of fear upon facing the sheer evil that drove Crawford to the lengths he had to go to. In other words Ms. Brown, splendid, as always.

Definitely recommended. For fans of suspense with that bite of romance, commanding heroes & long lasting love that defies everything!

Final Verdict: With Friction, Sandra reasserts her mastery in a genre that she continues to dominate!

Favorite Quotes

“No problem. Better now?”
She nodded and when she did, her forehead brushed against his chest and then rested there. His hands stilled on her shoulders, then moved to encircle her neck, his fingertips gently kneading the back of it. She set her hands at his waist and leaned into him. A deep inhale caused her whole body to shudder.
“Shh.” He hugged her closer and sent his fingers up into her hair until he was cupping the back of her head in his hand. His other slid down her back and began stroking her spine. On one downward trip, it slid past the small of her back and settled on the curve of her hip. And stayed there.
Suddenly neither of them was breathing.
After what seemed an endless time of absolute stillness, she tilted her head up.
Crawford looked down into her brimming green eyes and thought, Oh fuck.

“I’m as much to blame for that as you.”
“That’s not what you said earlier tonight. You suggested I’d had an ulterior motive.”
“That was wrong of me. I know you didn’t plan it. I know you regret what we did.”
“Hell I do,” he growled. “I only regret what we didn’t.” Keeping his hands on the wall, he pressed into her softness with unmistakable implication, bending his head, and claiming her mouth with his.
For crissake, we didn’t even kiss, he’d said.
He rectified that now, fiercely and possessively, and she let him.

She smiled. “You made rather obvious your aversion to him.”
“What gave me away?”
“You stormed off without a word to anyone.”
He looked angry, then chagrined, then angry again. “He sailed in and acted like he owned you.”
“He hugged me.”
“He held you.”
“What’s the difference?”
“Where he put his hands.”
“He and I were together for a long time. We’re familiar.”
“He’s familiar, reasonable, and refined. But I’ve got a caveman mentality. When he put his hands on you, I wanted to rip out his throat. Mine are the only hands I want touching you.”
“You don’t have a claim.”
His eyes narrowed. “I kinda do.” He started walking toward her, and for each step forward he took, she took one back until she came up against her desk. “That unreasonable, unrefined fuck on your sofa gave me a claim.”

“This plan to ‘cancel it,’” he said, “how’s that working for you?”
“Not very well.”
He placed the heels of his hands on her hip bones and curved his fingers around her bottom. “For me either.”
In a hushed voice, she said, “I wish I still had it to look forward to.”
His eyes searched hers. “Do you remember it the way I do?”
“How do you remember it?”
“To tell you, I’d have to get really graphic.”
“Blushing terms?”
“Gutter terms.” He leaned in closer and whispered, “Wanna hear how tight you were?”
She closed her eyes momentarily. “Crawford.”

In a shockingly short time, she was gathering fistfuls of his shirt, then her hands moved up to his shoulders, where they held on, her fingers digging into the firm muscles. Her back arched and held in a silent plea for one more stroke…one more glide…one more… And she came.
The instant he felt her helpless clenching, he surrendered to his own climax. The intensity of it caused his arms to collapse. He settled heavily on top of her, pulsing inside her, his breath hot and damp against her neck as he groaned, “Christ, christ.”

The moaned admonishment was so halfhearted, he continued, kissing his way past her collarbone to her breast. He nuzzled the tip through the damp cloth of her t-shirt.
She exhaled a sharp breath. “I woke up this morning dreaming about it.”
He gently cupped her other breast. “Good dream?”
“Sinfully good.”
“Holly Spencer, bad girl.”
“I think you must be right. The dream was exactly as it happened. I was eager, and you were very…decisive.”
The smile he felt in his heart never quite reached his lips because they were lowering to hers. “I had to be inside you. Just had to be.”

It wasn’t until she groaned his name that he obliged her, but tantalizingly, applying his tongue so softly, so exquisitely that her breaths evolved into moans, and her body drew up tight. Attuned to her, he centered the caresses, concentrated them into ever-shrinking spirals, until the sensations painted onto her coalesced into a burst of pleasure so intense, she couldn’t contain it.
He levered himself up and, with one strong thrust, he was inside her, appeasing her craving to be stretched, filled. He trapped her orgasmic cries inside a kiss and then let her drift down and rest while he sipped at her earlobes, her eyelids, her lips.

He was stingy with the pressure of his thumb on the outside, drawing out the pleasure, holding off until she released a low keening, and then he curled his fingers forward inside her, creating a gentle squeeze between the two pressure points.
She clamped her lower lip between her teeth. Her back arched as she raised her hips and ground against his hand. Into her ear, he poured a litany of love words, sexy words, dirty words. Finally she coasted down, and her lazy eyes fluttered open.
He laid a soft, tender kiss on her lips. “Beautiful.”
“You are.” She reached up and pushed her fingers into his hair. “And much sweeter than you let on.”
“Me, sweet?”
“Hmm. With your daughter. With me.” She outlined the shape of his lips with her fingertip. “You’re not so tough.”
“Say things like that, you’ll ruin my reputation.”

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Review: Partners in Crime by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookpartnersincrime
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Anne Stuart’s Bad Boys, #4
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Alexander Caldicott
Heroine: Jane Dexter
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 5, 2015
Started On: August 17, 2015
Finished On: August 17, 2015

Anne Stuart books are a treasure I keep, to indulge in between books, or whenever I hit a reading stump because there is no other author who scratches the reading itch as well as Anne Stuart does. Book 4 in her Bad Boy series, Partners in Crime is actually quite mellow compared to most of her stories. I wouldn’t label Alexander Caldicott (Sandy) as a bad boy. Nevertheless, in true Anne Stuart style, Sandy gives the sexy to the story in a way you can’t get enough of.

An erroneous caption in a newspaper leaves small town librarian Jane Dexter with the belief that Sandy is one of the shadiest criminals in the country, capable of committing the crime that she wants. When Jane knocks on the door of Sandy’s motel room, he can barely muster enough interest in her, that is before she opens her mouth, demanding him that he commit arson for her. Sandy’s view of Jane the minute he opens the motel door is definitely interesting enough to highlight.

“She was short, and he liked tall women. She had mousy brown hair, and he was partial to blondes. Her eyes were brown, too, and partially obscured by wire-rimmed glasses that gave her a faintly startled look. Her mouth was too generous, and so was her nose, and her clothes were drab, boring, the sort of things worn by a Midwestern librarian. She couldn’t have been much older than thirty, or much younger, either. He stood in the doorway, looking down at her, trying to summon up at least an ounce of polite interest.”

Jane believes that its just her rotten luck that the man who stirs in her a carnal interest of the type she had never felt before turns out to be the man who could actually fulfill her needs when it comes to committing crimes of the kind that could get her locked up for good. However, that doesn’t deter Jane from seeking him out and making a play to entice Sandy into working for her. Jane’s view of Sandy is just as fascinating as Sandy’s view of her, worthy of a mention.

“He was tall, a bit over six feet, and beautifully coordinated. His shoulders were just broad enough, his legs long, his hands, from what she could see from a distance, were well shaped. His hair was blond, probably lightened from hours on the deck of a yacht or racing around a tennis court, and his remaining tan set off features that were just this side of perfection. She hadn’t gotten close enough to see his eyes, but she knew they had to be perfect Aryan blue. His mouth was thin but sexy, his teeth very white, his cheekbones and jaw chiseled. He even had a perfect nose, damn him.”

When Jane turns up on Sandy’s doorstep, for the first time in weeks, hell, for the first time in months, Sandy feels alive, invigorated about the next day and what’s to come. Life had been losing all meaning for him of late, his career not giving him that jolt of satisfaction, his life seemingly a benign existence that he just wakes up to face every morning.

The adventure that Jane and Sandy embark upon is a hilarious one. True to Anne Stuart’s legendary style, the dialogues between Sandy and Jane are laugh out loud worthy at times. No two ways about it. Jane’s snarky attitude entices Sandy to get into her mind, to explore the curves that she hides behind the drab suits, the persona that she hides behind lest anyone take enough notice of her.

Sandy continues to live the lie that Jane believes him to be, and all along, these two fall in love, a love based on a lie that could have devastating consequences if and when Jane were to find out. But then again, Anne Stuart writes characters of the type that do not wallow in what cannot be changed and the ending with tiny bites of surprising aspects to it, gave the story a well rounded edge to it.

Like I said earlier on, I wouldn’t describe Sandy as the dark bad boys of the type that Anne Stuart is well known in the romance genre for. Sandy is sexy, smart, with a core of goodness and integrity to him that shines through as he tries to divert Jane from her bloodthirsty mission by any means possible. That doesn’t mean that Sandy doesn’t bring along the vitality to the story as required. He does that, in spades and I believe he was the right fit for the story under the circumstances. But then again, I keep envisioning a bit of an edgier Sandy, someone who forces Jane out of her shell with the “cruelty” that only heroes of that nature are capable of. Alas, that wasn’t meant to be in Partners in Crime.

Jane is a character who had come from one of those families that aren’t actually trying to be cruel, but ends up being just that towards one of their children. Jane had learnt long ago to expect her dues and move on. Never in a hundred years would she have expected to fall for a seedy criminal, but that is exactly what she thinks she has fallen for, in the process of committing the only crime she had ever wanted to commit in her straight and narrow life.

Sandy brings to Jane’s life, the color that had been missing in it. The sensations that she had never gotten to experience with another. The kind of feelings that she had always shunned because she thought they weren’t for someone like her. To find it with Sandy, to accept it, well, that’s the fun part of the story.

Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart. If you want one of her darker heroes, this won’t do any good. But nevertheless it does provide the sort of storytelling that only Anne Stuart can deliver.

Final Verdict: A bit more mellow than the usual, but just as sexy. Just as good!

Favorite Quotes

The feel of his hand on her breast, even through the lacy bra, shocked and aroused her. His mouth was on hers, wet, hot, seeking, his tongue and lips taking complete, unquestioning control of her and overwhelming any ounce of restraint she might have had. Too many emotions were batting at her, too much adrenaline, too much stimulation. She snaked her arms around his neck, pressed her breast against his hand and kissed him back, wanting nothing more than his mouth on hers, that desperate, erotic claiming that was shaking her to the very marrow of her bones.

“What would you call home?”
“The second floor of a run-down Victorian house in Baraboo, Wisconsin. I used to live in a boxy apartment but it drove me crazy.”
“Somehow I don’t see you as a Victorian.”
“Don’t you? I’ve been called prudish in my time.” She knew her voice sounded raw, but she hoped he wouldn’t notice.
Sandy noticed everything. “Who called you prudish? Your ex-husband?”
“Does he have anything to do with your Victorian lifestyle?”
Jane sighed. “I wish you wouldn’t be so damned nosy. Why don’t we change the subject?”
“Lovely weather,” he said obediently enough.

He was darkness, powerful, sexual, wiping out the terrors of the night and the anguish of loss and betrayal, he was life and heat and desire, and he was everything she ever needed.

He rolled onto his back, taking her with him, and she was on fire, her hands desperate for the feel of his flesh beneath her, her mouth bold with deep, hurried kisses. He put his mouth on her breasts, and she arched her back like a cat in the intensity of her reaction, he slid his hand between her thighs and she shattered at his first gentle touch.
“Easy,” he whispered. “Easy now.” But she couldn’t, wouldn’t slow down. She was shaking all over, covered with a fine film of sweat, shivering and helpless as her needs raged out of control, unable to even say the words to beg him.

With a moan of fear and anticipation she sank down, guided by his hands on her hips, until he filled her. She let out a muffled cry at the unexpected feel of him, and the hands on her hips held her still, giving her time to accustom herself to his invasion. She bowed her head for a moment, absorbing the impact, and then she opened her eyes to meet his fierce gaze.
“I still don’t trust you,” she whispered, not giving an inch.
He grinned then, and his fingers dug into her hips as he slowly withdrew. “It doesn’t matter.” And he arched up, deep within her.

He reached down and held her hips, striving with unquestionable intent, and his mouth covered hers, his tongue in her mouth, a dual invasion. She was crying, she knew she was, she could feel her face wet with tears, but all she could feel was the man within her body, carrying her places she hadn’t even dreamed existed.
Suddenly his body tensed, and he lifted his head, his eyes glittering down into hers with a fierce intensity. She could feel the life, the love pumping into her, and then everything shattered around her, dissolving into a maelstrom of sensation and dark, dangerous release.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo


Review: Forgotten by Maggie Shayne

Format: E-bookforgotten
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Series: Shayne’s Supernaturals, #1
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ashville Allan Coye
Heroine: Josephine Belinda Bradshaw
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 21, 2012
Started On: August 6, 2015
Finished On: August 8, 2015

I love romances that involve two people who think they are ill suited for one another. I know that that’s not just me. There’s so much fun that happens before they do realize that their ultimate partner lies in one another. Add to that a twist paranormal, as in the heroine being a psychic, well that’s just the icing on the cake for me.

It’s being a long time since I read and re-read Linda Howard’s Dream Man. Ever since, I’ve always looked out for any other stories that would bring forth as much emotion as that particular tale did for me. Forgotten by Maggie Shayne filled that need somewhat, and for that and more, I enjoyed the story that unfolded, so very much.

Ashville Allan Coye (Ash), is lying on a hospital bed, pretending that an accident he’d met with had resulted in him landing with a bout of amnesia, when Josephine Belinda Bradshaw (Joey) walks into his hospital room and announces that she’s his somewhat newly wedded wife.

Ash had been pursuing the story behind The Syracuse Slasher when the accident happened and when Joey walks in and drops the obviously false news of his marital status, Ash is hard pressed to find out what it is exactly that this woman who drives a Harley and is as far removed from every condition he has jotted down for the future missus to meet is up to.

Joey’s psychic abilities are more of a pain to her than something she rejoices in. For one thing, it gets her labeled as a crackpot or worse. For another, her ability at times is not the most cooperative, especially when she wants to help people who could be in mortal danger. With Ash, Joey is determined to stick by his side and hopefully save him from becoming another victim of The Syracuse Slasher together with a different agenda of her own that involves her own family.

Ash and Joey’s connection to one another stems from the sizzling attraction that flares between them from the get go. Ash who deals with issues stemming from growing up with a drunken whore of a mother, his inability to trust a woman to do right by him makes him question his attraction towards Joey. Joey has her own issues to deal with, her lack of trust when it comes to the opposite sex, given the philandering ways of her father. Or so she believes it to be.

Amidst increasing danger to both their selves, Ash and Joey find in each other, a partner they’d be willing to spend their life with, if only the ramifications of coming clean with the whole charade on both sides would give them a fighting chance at what they have between them. Added to the mix, is a killer whose mad enough to go on a rampage, just to feed the delusion that keeps the hunger for the kills at bay.

Maggie Shayne does a splendid job of bringing to life Ash & Joey, two characters whom you fall in love with & root for from the onset. Ash is the journalist, who sees everything in provable facts and figures. And Joey is the woman who shakes up everything he believes in, even what he had perceived as would be the best fit for him when it comes to a life partner.

With a couple of twists thrown in for good measure, Maggie Shayne delivers a story worth sinking into. Loved it.

Final Verdict: Romance, heat & murder. What more can this twisted mind of mine ask for?

Favorite Quotes

To change the subject, she waved a hand to indicate the room they were in, a sparse area with cement floors and white walls littered with exercise equipment “This is my torture chamber, as you can see. There’s a bathroom through here, and that other door leads to the basement”
His gaze lingered on the weight bench and narrowed. “You pump iron?”
“You disapprove?”
“It’s unfeminine.”
“The results aren’t.”
He looked her over thoroughly, his gaze traveling a deliberately slow path over her. For the first time in her life, Joey felt uncomfortable in skintight pants and a skimpy bustier. “I’ll let you know,” he quipped.”

His tongue swept into her mouth like a loving caress, touching her in a probing search as if he were an explorer, the first to enter there. She felt as if he were tasting her, and liking what he found as his tongue dipped and danced around her mouth. She began to shake.
It shocked her. She tried to analyze it. She wasn’t shivering with cold, or with fear. Her arms curled tighter around his neck. Her body pressed harder against his, and her fingers threaded into his hair. This was good. Whatever this was, it was incredibly good. When he withdrew his tongue, she thrust her own into his mouth. But hers was hungrier, more demanding, and she felt him shudder in response.

He stood utterly still for a moment fighting the demon that drove him to turn her around, to look at her, to touch her. It was a hard battle, harder because it was one he didn’t want to win. But he stiffened his resolve and reached past her for the T-shirt. As she gripped the bed for support, he pulled it over her head, holding it in place while she inserted one arm, then the other. And it really was accidental that the backs of his fingers brushed over her breasts as he pulled the shirt down over her body.
He felt her shudder, though. He lifted her hair out of the shirt’s collar, and then he held it aside and lowered his lips to the back of her neck. He didn’t think about doing it, wasn’t even aware he was going to until his lips brushed over her nape. He heard the breath escape from her in a rush, and he felt something akin to pain squeeze his chest.

“Ah, God, Joey.” It was a whisper, hoarse, as if he were in some kind of pain. His hand drifted downward, over her chin, her throat. His fingertips skimmed her breast, then his palm closed over it.
She closed her eyes and let her head fall back in reaction to his touch. His hand slid over the curve of her waist, around to the small of her back, and he drew her to him. Free hand driving into her hair, he brought her face level again, and then he kissed her.

His head angled. His lips slid over her face, and he nibbled at her jaw, then moved lower, the damp warmth of his mouth bathing her neck and the hollow below her ear. Her heart raced, drowning out the sounds of traffic below. Her senses filled with him, with wanting him, needing him.
He bent her backward and took one breast into his mouth. Her hands on his shoulders tightened, and she felt the shudder that ran through him. He suckled her, making her gasp for breaths that wouldn’t seem to come.

He pushed her, and he pulled her. Played with her as if she were a puppet on a string, driving her to the edge of madness only to let her hang there, begging for fulfillment in the language of her body. She writhed beneath him, longing for it, mindless in her need.
Then he gave her what she craved, quickening his pace, deepening his invasion into her body, driving into her as she felt his need grow to equal her own.
And then she exploded.

She blinked at him, her eyes wide and wonder filled. “I’m so afraid of this,” she whispered.
“Of wanting me?” He slipped his hands beneath her shirt and ran his palms over the warm, smooth curve of her back.
“Of… of needing you.”
He closed his eyes at the impact of her words. “I know.”
“It’s overpowering. It’s getting worse all the time, and I—”
“And I can’t do anything to stop it,” he finished for her. “I’m not sure I want to stop it.”

He picked her up, hands on the backs of her parted thighs, carefully avoiding the bandaged wound. He lowered her over his arousal. Her tightness was like a hand, gripping, squeezing. He held her hips and moved her up and down over him. She clung to him, feeding on his mouth as if she were starved for it. Her breasts, their nipples pebble hard, brushed over his chest, driving him insane.

He kissed her jaw, her throat Her head tipped back as he bit and suckled her neck. He pushed her back still farther, and she arched to give him access to her breasts. Those dark peaks strained toward him, silently begging for attention. He laved them with his tongue, going at one after the other like a man possessed. Her body moved faster, harder, taking him more deeply into her with each thrust. He bit her nipples, tugged at them, sucked them mercilessly, until she was trembling and biting her lip to keep quiet.

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


ARC Review: If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

Format: E-bookifyouonlyknew
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: MIRA
Hero: Leo Killian
Heroine: Jenny Tate
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 25, 2015
Started On: August 10, 2015
Finished On: August 14, 2015

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins comes after a seemingly long wait since her last novel. I’ve been scouring through Netgalley, and even tweeted to Ms. Higgins go find out when her next book was going to be released. And as luck would have it, I found this up on Netgalley after finding out its release date and since then have been on tenterhooks, all giddy of course, because that’s what happens when you have a book that you’d love to really sink your teeth into, waiting for you.

If You Only Knew, like most stories by Kristan Higgins, is told in the first person. The difference perhaps is that it tells the story of two people, Jenny and Rachel, two sisters, their love lives or the lack of, their struggles which reaches out to you and the emotions that practically whip your insides to a frenzy. Kristan takes your emotions or rather your soul on a roller coaster ride, makes it reach heights that you never thought possible with the way this story plays with your emotions.

Wedding dress designer Jenny Tate is ready to leave the big city life behind and move back to her hometown, and perhaps in the process learn to let go of her ex-husband whom she has never truly managed to divorce from her heart. The “jovial” relations she has with him and his newly wedded wife, though told with the sort of humor that makes it easy to laugh through the heartache, is more than relatable.

Jenny’s sister Rachel struggling for perfection with the handful that is her triplets, finds her seemingly picture perfect marriage in a rut when she opens a sext message that had been meant for her husband. Unable to face the reality of reconciling with the truth, Rachel goes out of her way to make things work with her husband, showing to us all that even though we promise ourselves that we would never be that woman who hangs around with the guy who hurts us beyond repair, walking away from a marriage or a relationship, especially when kids are involved, is one of the hardest decisions you would ever have to make.

Jenny has this quirky factor to her character that makes her go into daydream mode every time she eyes someone remotely potentially partner worthy. That’s the exact same thing that happens to her when she first encounters her landlord Leo Killian, his pain filled eyes and don’t-get-too-close-to-me attitude acting like a siren’s call that beckons her heart. Jenny’s journey towards happily ever after is not an easy one, but worth all the pain in the end.

Kristan spins a tale that makes you cry god honest tears as you read through the struggles and the turns the lives of Jenny and Rachel takes along the way. The second guessing, the doubts that creeps into you along the way, the self recrimination during the darkest moments of your life, they are all dealt with in this masterpiece with the sort of flair that only an author like Kristan can pull off.

Leo’s character is equally haunting, the secrets he hides in his soul coming to light towards the very end of the novel. Teaching beautiful music to a handful of youngsters, Leo would rather keep to himself, live by himself, than allow someone into his life, to open up his heart for the kind of heartbreak he never wants to subject himself to, ever again. Just like the music that lives inside the musical prodigy that is one of his students, If You Only Knew hits every note perfectly; sometimes it gets messy, ugly and ties you up in knots. But the whole of it together just takes your breathe away. 

The high you feel from reading a good novel is difficult to come down from. It also makes picking your next read that much more difficult because a story like this comes along, if at all, more rarely than you would think. I have just this left to say.

Dear Kristan, If You Only Knew was well worth the wait. It broke my heart & you managed to put it back together again. Might never be as it was before. But it’s all good. Because you left me with a smile in my heart & the beautiful glow of love in my soul.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: So much heart packed into 400 plus pages; it wrings everything out of you!

Favorite Quotes

“You eye-fucking me?” he asks.
“What? No! I’m just… I’m not, okay? I just need my key, but the stupid super isn’t here.”
“The stupid super is right in front of you.”
I close my eyes, sigh and then smile. “Hi. I’m Jenny. The new tenant.”
“Leo. Keep your eyes to yourself, for the record.”

Then he slides his hand around to the back of my head and pulls me to him. One of my hands goes to his chest, and I can feel the solid thumping of his heart. “Recreation only,” he murmurs, his voice scraping a part low in my stomach. “Got it?”
“Got it,” I whisper back.
His eyes crinkle with a small smile, and then he’s kissing me, and his mouth is… God, his mouth is good at what it’s doing—a slow, gentle, thorough kiss that makes my insides leap and spark.

And when he left, he pushed me against the front door and gave me a long, hot, lingering kiss. His hands slid down to my thighs, and he picked me up against him and I wrapped my legs around him, my back pressed against the door, and if it wasn’t the horniest moment of my life, I don’t know what was. Then he let me slide down against him, his hands going to my hair.
“Make sure your rent is on time,” he murmured against my mouth, and then he smiled and was gone, and I staggered back to the couch and collapsed there, grinning like an idiot.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | eBookMall | ARe | HQ | iTunes


ARC Review: Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey

Format: E-bookheatexchange
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Boston Fire, #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Aidan Hunt
Heroine: Lydia Kincaid
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 25, 2015
Started On: August 14, 2015
Finished On: August 16, 2015

Shannon Stacey graces her readers with a brand new series with the release of Heat Exchange, the debut novel of the Boston Fire series. Lydia Kincaid is forced to return to her hometown, albeit for a little while, when her sister requires her presence back home. Lydia had walked away from the life she had lived after being through it all. The daughter of a fireman and moving onto become the wife of one had taught her the hardships and the stress related to living the life of the one who stays back and worries about the safety of your loved ones.

Aidan Hunt is one of Lydia’s brother’s best friends, a firefighter himself who knows he should stay away from Lydia for more reasons than one. Lydia is the daughter of his mentor and also the ex-wife of a fireman who had worked in their regiment. Yet, the heat that is between Lydia and himself is palpable, strong enough that it makes staying away an impossible feat.

Lydia can’t believe herself when she starts having the hots for her annoying brother’s equally annoying best friend. Being 4 years older than Aidan, Lydia believes she should be able to shrug off the attraction that simmers in the air between them, but finds herself unable to say no and turn her back on what being with Aidan means.

When I picked up Heat Exchange, I expected a novel that would sweep me off my feet, not my fault entirely when Shannon Stacey is an author who has delivered on that countless times with her novels. Sadly, when it came to Heat Exchange, I found that the book was just okay at best. Nothing in particular about the story stood out for me or grabbed me in a way that would be unforgettable.

I found myself a bit annoyed with Lydia at times. Aidan though, was a sweetheart through and through. Perhaps they are ying and yang under the circumstances, each being the direct opposite of one another. There is a little side story happening alongside that with the main story of Aidan and Lydia; that of Lydia’s sister and her husband who hits a rough patch in their marriage. That story line actually had the potential to be an interesting one, but Shannon nipped that right in the bud by resolving everything together with the main story.

Recommended for fans of Shannon Stacey and those who love reading about firefighter heroes.

Final Verdict: Boston Fire series; set to deliver family drama & hot firefighters with a bite of love.

Favorite Quotes

“Aidan?” she whispered against his mouth.
“About a minute and a half left. I need to feel you, Lydia.”
Then his fingertips slid over her clit and she sucked in a breath. His teeth caught her bottom lip and she moaned, shocked by the intensity of her reaction to his touch. She knew it had been a long time, but she was already teetering on the brink. He slid a finger into her and she scraped her fingernails down his back, wanting more.
The heel of his hand pressed against her clit as he buried two fingers deep inside of her. She broke off the kiss, burying her face against his shoulder.
“You have to be quiet,” he whispered against her ear. “You are so fucking hot, Lydia.”

Aidan drove into her, burying his cock so deep within her she almost came immediately. She cried out, but he covered her mouth with his. The muscles of his back worked as he fucked her slowly and with long, deliberate strokes—almost pulling out completely before burying himself deep again. When she moaned his name, hovering on the brink, he quickened his pace.
“Come for me,” he said, his voice raspy.
And she did.

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