Review: Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh

Format: E-bookarchangelskiss
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Guild Hunter, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Raphael
Heroine: Elieanora P. Deveraux
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 2, 2010
Started On: December 13, 2015
Finished On: December 15, 2015

I can’t put to words how glad I am that I decided to start reading the Guild Hunter series. Even the fact that I am a tad late to the party is one that fills my heart with glee. All because of the fact that I have got a bit to catch up on, books that I can fall back on when most reads turn up lackluster and definitely not what I am looking for. It is ALWAYS good to have books that you can count on lined up, just in case, and from this moment on, the Guild Hunter series is going be that for me.

I am simply loving the experience of reading about Raphael and Elena. Most of the time, even when it comes to a series that you adore, we only get to see glimpses of a hero and heroine that we might have loved to pieces in one of the books of the series. But here, we get to savor all the goodness that is Raphael and Elena through a couple of books at least, their newly forged bond something so precious and fragile, yet at the same time one filled with the kind of strength that you know would take them places, through the extremely rough and turbulent times their relationship will be subjected to. To get to see their relationship grow in that aspect is one that makes me as a reader, feel privileged. Because an author has to be extremely talented to carry the same characters forward and always give the reader something interesting and exhilarating to read about. And without a doubt, Nalini Singh is definitely the kind of master who can weave such magic over her readers.

Book 2 in the Guild Hunter series continues just days after Elena wakes up from the year long coma she has been in, healing from the severe injuries she had endured, injuries that would have killed her, if not for Raphael making her an immortal of his kind. While Elena is hunter-born which means she has the sort of strength that actually drew her into the realm of the archangels to begin with, as an angel, Elena finds herself at her weakest, trying to regain her strength in time to attend a ball that Zhou Lijuan, the oldest archangel in existence is throwing in her “honor”.

Raphael and Elena are completely new to the concept of the bond that they share between them, each thrown into uncharted waters when it comes to the love they have for each other. Elena and Raphael must strike to achieve that balance that would work for them, something not very easy to do when Raphael himself is alpha male personified, with a helluva lot of power in his hands. His love and need to protect his woman is one that wars constantly with Elena’s need for freedom, independence and her inborn need to assert herself as Raphael’s equal, someone worthy of sharing the title of his mate.

There is also the fact that Raphael and Elena both continue to be haunted by their pasts, not to mention the intricacies involved in archangel politics, each and everyone seemingly looking for ways to exploit Raphael’s weakness that is supposedly Elena. What made Archangel’s Kiss doubly interesting for me was the fact that Elena’s suppressed memories when it comes to her past, mired in darkness, blood and gore is one that kept materializing until we were able to bring together the pieces to identify the sort of monster that she had been dealing with. Her guilt that comes out of it plus her vulnerability which makes her turn to Raphael to keep the nightmares at bay were reasons I fell for Elena’s character, more so than before. The altogether strong, independent and put together Elena, finding in herself the strength to lean on Raphael made the story for me.

If I were to sound poetic about the whole thing, I would say that Raphael and Elena were waiting for each other, more so Raphael because he has been in existence for centuries. Raphael has found someone worthy of laying down his very life for, as he proved in the first book itself, and in Elena he has found the woman who would stand beside him, no matter what. I am just hoping that in the books to come, Nalini would show us why Elena’s entry to Raphael’s life came at such an opportune moment. I say opportune because her arrival seems to have heralded a deep wave of change in everything that is to do with the archangels. The way I see it, as with anyone that is left with too much power in their hands, the archangels too need a change in their power structure, something that would keep the checks and balances in place so to say, that would mean that they too would be accountable for their actions.

Though the story’s main focus as per the blurb was supposed to be on Elena and Raphael’s invitation to the ball that Lijuan was throwing for them in The Forgotten City of Beijing, China, this doesn’t materialize until we are almost at the end of the story. But I believe what happened prior to the event was needed to make the story appear more wholesome.

Now that I have discovered this series, I find it quite difficult to drag my mind and heart away from these books and turn my attention towards anything else, but trudge on I must. Quite a bad time for this to happen with a lot of deadlines right around the corner. One very striking point in the story for me was the entrance of Naasir into the picture, and oh what an enigmatic character he makes out to be! The following quote should suffice as to why he made such an impact with his entrance, which I am sure is a sentiment echoed by almost all readers when it comes to him.

All the angels were gone, but a vampire moved out of the shadows as she exited the house. His skin was a shade that drew the eye, inviting tactile contact—a dark, dark brown with an undertone of true gold. The color was so rich, so warm that it shimmered even as the moon slid behind a cloud, enveloping the Refuge in purest night. But his eyes, a brilliant, impossible silver, pierced the darkness as if it didn’t exist. Hair of the same shade as his eyes fell around his face, sleek and cut in jagged lines that accentuated the angle of his jaw.
“A tiger,” she whispered, watching him walk to her, though to call it a walk was a gross disservice. His stride was the fluid, silent prowl of the animal she sensed around him. “You have the scent of a tiger on the hunt.” Rich, vibrant, deadly.
“I am Naasir.” His voice was cultured, his words gracious, but those metallic eyes watched her with unblinking focus. “Dmitri asked me to assist you.”

The Guild Hunter series I believe is Nalini giving reins to the darker side of her uber talented mind, which is something I am eternally grateful for. For those that love a good urban fantasy series with a strong heroine and a melt-your-panties variety of hero, this series is definitely for you. Even if the stories are not about Elena and Raphael throughout, worry not. Because Nalini has assembled a cast of characters that would definitely win your heart over in more ways than one.

Final Verdict: Filled with darkness of the kind that is so well crafted that you can’t help but want for more!

Favorite Quotes

You can’t scare me, she thought to him.
A lie, Guild Hunter. I can feel your heart thudding like a trapped rabbit’s.
I’d be stupid not to be afraid. But I’m not going to back away from us just because you’re feeling a little extra snarly.
A split second when his lips stopped, then she felt them curve, his hand rising from her throat to cup her cheek. The white-hot burn of his power faded, was replaced by the erotic touch of his skin. Only you would ever dare say that to me.”

So tight and slick and mine.
Blatantly possessive, hotly male.
Her bottom rubbed against him with every undulation of her body, driving her to a fever pitch. “I need more.”
You can’t have my cock, Elena.
She trembled, tried to find her mind. “Why not? I’m rather fond of it.”
That got her another teasing brush across her clit. Sparks flared behind her eyelids, and she barely heard him through the buzz in her head.
You’re not strong enough to take what I want to do to you.

“Even if you fail,” he said, “I have every confidence that you’ll find a way to end my life before I stain the world with evil.”
Rebellion in those eyes. “We die,” she said, “we die together. That’s the deal.”
He thought about his final thoughts as he’d fallen with her in New York, her body broken in his arms, her voice less than a whisper in his mind. He hadn’t considered holding onto his eternity for a second, had chosen to die with her, with his hunter. That she would choose to do the same . . . His hands clenched. “We die,” he repeated, “we die together.”

They rose through lingering traces of angel dust, each fine mote kicking her further into a kind of heat she wasn’t sure she could survive. Groaning, she pressed her mouth to the uncompromising angle of his jaw, licking at his skin, sucking and tasting as he flew them home. Against her belly, he was hard, deliciously tempting. She wanted to close her hand around that heavy heat, but had to satisfy herself with biting kisses along his jaw.
He didn’t stop her, but his body grew increasingly more taut, his muscles electric with strain by the time they landed on the balcony outside their bedroom. She felt him slide open the doors, shut them after they entered. And then the archangel lost control.

Elena!
She couldn’t take all of him. He was too big, too thick. But I’ll have eternity to refine my technique. The sensual thought blazed out on an inferno of need as she loved her archangel, licking and tasting and sucking.
Brilliant white fire against her skin and she knew he was glowing, this lethal being she dared tease in the most intimate of ways. His response when it came, was starkly sensual. Your mouth—his voice sandpaper in her mind—is a little piece of heaven and hell.

It was the rawest, most primitive way to possess a woman, but his hunter pushed up on her elbows, gave him a challenging look, and said, “I’m waiting.”
He slid into her in a single hard thrust. Her scream echoed off the walls, but it was a scream that held equal parts demand and need. Gripping her hips tight, he pulled out almost fully, then slammed back in. There was no mercy in him any longer, but Elena didn’t ask it from him.
Learn to fly fast, Elena, he said as he pushed them both to a final, blinding peak. Then we will dance in the sky.

She pressed her lips to Raphael’s jaw. “But you, you’ve always been the rain, the wind, inside my mind. I taste you when I sleep, when I wake, when I breathe.”
If Jason hadn’t landed then, Raphael would have drawn Elena inside, taken his fill of her own unique scent. As it was, he ran his hand to close over her nape, brushing his mouth over the sweet curve of her ear. I will taste you tonight, Elena . Be ready for me—I won’t stop until you scream your pleasure.
He heard her heart hitch, her breath catch. But his hunter had never yet backed down from a challenge. Anytime, angel boy.

Her scream echoed into his mouth. He kissed her through the taking, through the raw, almost painful emotion of their joining. He kissed her until she gasped for breath, until her eyes went blank with pleasure, with passion, with ecstasy. And then he kissed her as she came down from the peak.
“Again,” he whispered into her mouth.

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

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Review: Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh

Format: E-bookangelsblood
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Guild Hunter, #1
Publisher: Berkley Books
Hero: Raphael
Heroine: Elieanora P. Deveraux
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 1, 2009
Started On: November 30, 2015
Finished On: December 12, 2015

Angels’ Blood is the debut book in the Guild Hunter series by the oh-so-talented-author-that-she-literally-takes-your-breathe-away, the one and only Nalini Singh. The praise comes backed by the thousands of fans who adore her books, of which I am definitely one. Her Psy-Changeling series is what got me hooked on her writing, the vivid beauty that is Nalini’s world building and of course the emotions that can go from zero to hundred with just a flick of the right words at the opportune time, which makes her books a treat in all the different ways that matter. Compared to the Psy-Changeling series, I would say the Guild Hunter series is a whole different ballpark. The Guild Hunters is darker, edgier and holds more fascination the part of me that actually wants darker reads of romance. By darker I don’t mean books that go into taboo areas, but by darker I mean books that explore sides of characters that are not generally accepted by the larger population of romance readers these days.

Angels’ Blood tells the story of Vampire Hunter Elieanora P. Deveraux (Elena), who is summoned by Raphael, the archangel of New York himself in the quest to hunt down one of their own, an archangel. Armed with little information to hunt and shut down the archangel who grows into a more formidable enemy by the minute, Elena’s frustrations are doubled by the fact that her response to the beautiful Raphael is far from what she projects it to be. There is an answering need that flares to life and grows stronger by the second, every single time the same desire burns in Raphael’s eyes that makes Elena breathless with wanting. And there is also the teeny tiny fact that Elena herself walks a thin line when it comes to her own life which hangs in a precarious balance given how unpredictable Raphael can be.

I love Nalini’s books for various different reasons, one of them being the fact that she gives each hero the space to be true to themselves. While most of us get pissed off about heroines who turn into doormats, I hate it equally as much when a hero changes the essence of what he is, all just to suite the sensibilities of the heroine. That is just plain wrong in my opinion, as the hero loses out on what makes him stand out, what makes him essentially himself, and I also believe that it is an author’s way of taking the easy way out rather than being true to the character that is crafted. Raphael is a hero of the kind I am talking about. Demanding, ruthless and powerful; Raphael has little choice but to be all that and more. Any sign of weakness and it would be the blood of thousands that would line the streets and he has no intention of letting that happen.

When Elena walks into his life, Raphael responds to her on a level that frightens, even him – if there ever was an instance where an archangel would feel fear, that would have been it. But there is also a beauty to that savagery inside of him. And then there is the loyalty offered to him by his closest, without him demanding any of it. That alone tells a story of the kind of man he is. Elena, while she struggles with giving into her needs when it comes to Raphael, at first refuses to see beyond the obvious. But slowly and surely, Elena starts to see a man who not only would be able to handle ALL of her, but a man worthy of being handled by.

There are so many things I want to know about when it comes to Elena, Raphael and the rest of the cast of characters that makes up the series, which I am 100% certain would have been the case with every reader upon starting this series. I bet that this story just skims the surface on the depth of the characters that Nalini has brought to the table. Raphael and Elena with their pasts mired in blood, Raphael’s more so in a way that made me want to curl into a ball and just weep. The fact that these two survived insurmountable odds to become the warriors they at present are serves as a testament to the strength of their characters.

Nalini’s descriptions of her world settings always comes with the right touch; not too much, and neither too little. I could almost envision the angels, their ethereal beauty as their wings take flight.

Absolutely recommended. If there is one paranormal/urban-fantasy romance author you should be reading, it is undeniably Nalini Singh.

Final Verdict: Ms. Singh’s world building continues to amaze and awe! Beautiful craftsmanship.

Favorite Quotes

The bald way he pointed out his power, and her lack of it, made her fingers itch for a blade.
“You shouldn’t look at me in that fashion, Elena.”
“Why?” she asked, prodded by some heretofore unknown suicidal streak. “Scared?”
He leaned a fraction closer. “My lovers have always been warrior women. Strength intrigues me.”

Lust in her throat, brutal and demanding. “But then, we both know about my self-destructive streak.” Stepping away, she put her back to the wall and faced him, willing her body to stop readying itself for a penetration she’d never allow. “I have no desire to be your chew-toy.”
The lines of his face might’ve been starkly masculine, but at that instant, his lips were pure temptation, soft, bitable, sensual in a way only a man’s mouth could be. “If I were to splay you out on my desk and thrust my fingers into you right now, I think I’d find different.”

His lips touched hers and she moaned. The hands on her hips tightened as he lifted her without apparent effort and began to kiss her in earnest. Fire traveled through the raw eroticism of the openmouthed kiss to curl her toes, coming to pool in the vee between her thighs. “Hot,” she whispered when he let her breathe. “Too hot.”
Ice silvered the air and it was a cool mist that surrounded her, seeping into her pores in a stroke of possession. “Better?” He kissed her again before she could answer, his tongue inside her, his body hard and perfect and—
Nothing else mattered.

He changed his hold to accommodate her. “Why should I kill you when I can wipe your mind?”
“I don’t want to lose my memories.” Even the bad ones, they were what made her who she was. Now, today, she was a different Elena to the one who’d never known what it was to kiss an archangel. “Don’t make me forget.”
“Will you trade your life to keep your memories?” A soft question.
She thought that over. “Yes,” she said quietly. “I would rather die as Elena, than live as a shadow.”

“Is that like a cat marking its territory?”
Raphael followed her gaze, flaring out the affected wing. “Michaela isn’t used to being denied.” Picking up a fancy cloth serviette, he came to her. “Wipe it off.”
The urge to rebel against the command smashed up against her need to rub that bitch’s mark off his wing. Stupid possessiveness won. “Turn around.”
He did so in graceful silence. Standing, she dampened the cloth with water before touching it to his wing. She was very careful not to get any of the sticky stuff on herself, but her caution appeared to have been unnecessary. “It’s coming off easy. Not like the one you dusted me with.” Even now, the light caught on stray flecks embedded in her skin, flecks she was sure Michaela had seen.
“I told you—yours was a special blend.”
Something warm and melty spread through her body. “Marking me, angel boy?”
“I prefer to do that with my cock.”

“No. I’ve never taken Michaela up on her offer.”
“Why not? She’s hot—tits and ass are all men ever see.”
“I prefer lips.” He bent and bit down a fraction too hard on her lower lip before raising his head. “And yours are quite succulent.”
Michaela’s, she thought on a crashing wave of pleasure, were nicely shaped but thin. But—“I’m not buying.” She didn’t change her position. “Who the hell cares about lips?”
“If you were on your knees with your lips wrapped around my cock, I would care a great deal.”

“You don’t strike me as the sharing type.” Her voice was raw.
“No. If one went to another man”—he began to pull out with slow deliberation—“there were dozens ready to take her place. It mattered little to me.”
She was almost beyond thought now, her entire being focused on the point where their bodies joined. What reason remained collapsed under the heady, seductive force of his words.
“If you take another lover, Elena”—he thrust back in, making her gasp—“what I do to him will become a nightmare etched in human memory.”

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

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Review: Substitute Lover by Penny Jordan

Format: E-booksubstitutelover
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Hero: Gray Chalmers
Heroine: Stephanie Chalmers
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 1988
Started On: November 29, 2015
Finished On: November 29, 2015

To think that I was barely six years old when Substitute Lover was initially published, and I am enjoying this book after so many years have passed since then, attests to the talent that authors like Penny Jordan wielded in the romance genre. Though Penny Jordan is no more, I read her older books with the fondest of memories, memories of how her books used to spin and weave magic for me, which made me want to read more of the same. My reading did move onto other circles, especially given the fact that most Harlequin titles of today just seem lackluster in comparison, few giving a reader their worth in money spent.

Substitute Lover tells the story of 28 year old Stephanie Chalmers, a widow going 10 years, who has to force herself to return to the place of her “wedded life”, a marriage that had done a number on the innocent and naive girl that Stephanie had been back then. The one thing that should calm her in the midst of the storm that is blazing to life inside of her at the mere thought of going back should be Gray Chalmers, the man who had stood by her all these years, pushed and prodded her to move on with her life, offering her the shoulder of friendship when she had needed it the most. What she doesn’t count on this time around is for her feelings towards Gray to turn towards murkier waters, surprising her by the ferocity of what strikes her, when she has an aversion to being touched by the opposite sex after the number her brief marriage had done on her.

Gray was done being patient, standing on the sidelines and watching Stephanie remove herself from even the possibility of a shared life with another. Thus brings about the charade about Gray needing Stephanie to ward off the unwanted attentions of another woman, a task to which Stephanie takes to all too well, leaving her floundering in the wake of the emotions that being up close and personal with Gray brings about.

Substitute Lover is a novel that was full of the angst of the kind that I love and revel in. I treasure old Harlequin titles for this reason. Even though miscommunication and sheer stubbornness on the hero or heroin’s part to see the truth is not what I am talking about, there is a certain kind of lure to the kind of angst some of these books deliver and Substitute Lover managed to deliver just the right touch of it. The agony that Gray himself goes through to keep his end of the bargain, the scars and horrors of the past that Stephanie has to deal with to move on were the reasons the pages kept turning into the wee hours of the night.

Stephanie’s short lived marriage is the kind of stuff nightmares are made of. To think that she had suffered through it all alone, blaming herself for failing to be the woman her husband had required her to be was one that struck an emotional chord deep within me. Gray’s pain and the secret he has held on for so long made the story that much more delicious and I loved every single moment of this wonderful story. Reading and revisiting books by an author who made me fall in love with a genre I continue to read 15 years on is my way of giving tribute to someone who has illuminated the world of so many romance readers with the wonderful hues of bright and colorful lights of lust, angst & ever lasting love. 

Final Verdict: Penny Jordan definitely knows how to deliver on the angst. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

A thrill of some dangerous and alien emotion raced through her. Without being aware of the provocation of what she was doing she touched her tongue-tip tentatively to the dry outline of her lips.
Someone shuddered. Herself, or Gray ? She looked up at him, and trembled beneath the expression in his eyes.
‘Do that again and I won’t be responsible for what happens next,’ he warned her in a curiously rusty, hoarse voice, that trapped her attention, focusing it on the shape of his mouth.

‘I want to see what you’re feeling when I kiss you.’
Gray. No . . . don’t…’ She struggled to free herself, squirming against the almost painful hardness of his body, until she realised the effect her frantic movements were having on him.
He watched the hot colour scorch her skin with cynical detachment, demanding acidly, ‘You’re not that naive, surely, Stephanie. Rub yourself against any normal man like that and you’d get exactly the same response.’
When her embarrassed colour deepened he smiled sardonically and bent his head to her ear and mouthed softly, ‘I’m a man, Stephanie, and not a machine, and what you’re doing to my body right now is driving me right out of my mind.’

Quite when her lips parted to the subtle persuasion of his tongue she didn’t know.
It seemed as though one moment he was kissing her as though he was comforting a hurt child and the next the touch of his mouth had aroused such a storm of passion within her that she was clinging helplessly to him, responding to every passionate movement of his mouth against her own with a responsiveness that her conscious mind could only observe with awe and disbelief.
His robe had come open and her breasts were pressed against his chest, only the thin cotton of her nightdress between them.
His hands moulded her body, caressing her back, his touch making her spine arch, making her …

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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ARC Review: Time Served by Julianna Keyes

Format: E-booktimeserved
Read with: Adobe Reader for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Time Served, #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Dean Barclay
Heroine: Rachel Moser
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 23, 2015
Started On: November 18, 2015
Finished On: November 21, 2015

Time Served by Julianna Keyes is a book that I will treasure among the hordes of books that are published today. All because Julianna dared to write a hero that might not be well received by certain readers because he doesn’t turn into a “girl” the minute the heroine re-enters his life. I mean this in the nicest possible way, but I seriously find it absurd when heroes who are described as formidable, reticent, and especially not to mention if they have a bone of contention with the heroine so to speak, that turns sappy once the heroine turns up; I feel like throwing the book at the wall when that happens. The fact that writers like Julianna Keyes are rare makes me want to treasure this gem some more. Because God knows when I would be able to read a hero like Dean Barclay.

Rachel Moser is an upcoming lawyer at one of them prestigious firms that has three names to its title. Rachel works hard, works night and day to make her dreams come true. That dream being one that doesn’t include looking back at the past that she had walked out on, the life she had left behind, including Dean, the man she had loved and who had loved her in return. While Rachel would rather cut off a body part than admit that something is amiss in her life even as she climbs the ladder of ambition one by one, there is that teeny tiny part of her that wants something more.

Dean has done his time and is trying to sort out his life. The only thing he wants when he encounters Rachel after all that time that has passed is to fuck her and this time be the one to walk away from her, no questions asked. But every touch and every kiss that burns hotter and wilder than the one before proves one thing – that Dean isn’t immune to the woman who held his heart, body and soul in her hands before she had walked away without a word or a backward glance and that she still has the power to bring him down to his very knees.

Time Served is written in first person from Rachel’s point of view. There is no part of the story that is written to show Dean’s point of view and that somehow made this book more alluring for me. To gauge Dean’s reactions through Rachel’s eyes, to see him react in ways that might seem ungentlemanly to some, were actually the bits that I loved. The bits that I found brought out honest reactions from a man that had been hurt and hurt bad when the woman he had loved with all his heart had left him. The fact that he was possessive to the extent that made me breathless from wanting, the way he could take a scene from zero to hundred just like that; those were the bits that made me fall, and fall hard for him.

Like I said at the start of the novel, Dean is not the type of hero who becomes apologetic for who he is, or does a 360 degree turn on his character, all because of the heroine. Dean is very much his own man and he proves that every single time he walks into a scene. Dean and Rachel had been born into shitty lives through no fault of their own. Rachel had had ambitions even back then which had made it possible for her to walk away. But neither Rachel nor Dean had ever gotten over each other which is evident once the ball gets rolling.

There are multiple facets to both Rachel and Dean that makes it easy to fall for them both. They have both made mistakes – they are both human. That was the most relatable factor for me as I was reading this book. Not to mention the panty-melting variety of scorching passion that Dean brings to the picture – and man, can he bring it on! The cover on this book doesn’t cheat, let me promise you that – it delivers every ounce of what it promises and then some!

The epilogue proved to be the icing on the cake for me when it came to Time Served. After all that Rachel and Dean go through to come out victorious in the end, the epilogue made my heart smile – because they both deserved the happiness that was so evident when it all came to its ultimate conclusion.

I see that there is a second book in the series out already, and that too the lead being the nemesis of Rachel in Time Served. I am definitely going to take a look because I can’t wait to see how Julianna makes the heroine someone worthy of the reader’s time.

Most highly recommended!

And, Dear Julianna, please never stop writing characters who are true to themselves. You are a rare breed in the world of romance today. Love, me!

Final Verdict: Dark & edgy with a twist of emotion & the bite of scorching heat. Dean Barclay is the man!

Favorite Quotes

“And your life?”
“What about it?”
“You like that too?”
My eyes fly open, struggling to focus on the gleaming blades of grass in front of me. It’s unnerving how he’s managed to ask the one question I’ve been avoiding asking myself these past few months.
“Of course,” I lie.
“What do you do for fun?”
“I don’t have a lot of free time.”
“Humor me.”
I turn the question around. “What do you do for fun?”
I feel him shrug, muscles shifting against my back. “Box. Run. Hang out. Fuck.”

I knock again, just to make the trip worthwhile, and I’ve given up and taken two steps down the hall—one relieved, one disappointed—when the lock turns and the door swings open. I freeze and look over my shoulder, unable to do more than watch as Dean sticks his head out and peers around, first right and then left, spotting me.
His surprise is evident but he doesn’t speak, and I turn awkwardly, suddenly feeling as foolish and stupid as I knew I would if I came here. I open my mouth to apologize—again—or make up an excuse, but already one of those big hands is reaching out the door, gripping my wrist and yanking me inside.

“Nice,” Dean says, nipping my ass cheek briefly as he straightens behind me. “Even better in person.”
I close my eyes at the thought of him picturing me like this, skirt hoisted over my hips, shiny with arousal, anxiously awaiting his next move. He pushes one thick finger back inside, stroking roughly as his other hand kneads my ass, thrusting his cock against my back. I can feel the smooth fabric of his shorts on my heated skin and the sensation makes me moan.
“You like that?” he whispers, biting my earlobe lightly.
“Yes,” I groan.
“How about this?” Without warning, he slips his finger out of my pussy and pushes the drenched digit hard and deep into my ass.

His left hand has been alternately fondling my breasts and fisting in my hair, and now it jerks my head back to expose my throat to his teeth before sliding down my torso to the slippery place where our bodies are joined. He spreads out his fingers to feel himself fucking into me, then positions his palm so he’s rubbing my clit, hard.
I come.
I come with a sound I’ve never heard myself make before, one I cut off by slapping a hand over my mouth. My pussy clamps down on Dean’s hard length, momentarily slowing his thrusts, milking him tight enough that he buries his face in my hair and groans as if he’s in pain.

“Fuck,” he moans. “Fuck. Fuck.”
I stroke his back, his sweat-damp hair, the side of his face. He feels so different from how I remember. Not just bigger, but harder too. The planes of his face are sharper, his jaw more defined, lips made more sensual because of it. And then, without planning to, I kiss him.
Dean jerks as though I’ve shot him in the heart, yanking his head back and staring at me through wide, stunned eyes. And for once he’s not hot and cold, he’s not angry and intimidating, he’s the old Dean, the one who laid himself bare for me and lost his heart in the process.
“Fuck,” he mutters again. “No.” But he’s not talking to me, he’s talking to himself, and obviously losing the argument. His fingers tangle in my hair, holding me in place as he slants his lips over mine and dominates my mouth, forcing his tongue between my lips and teeth, tasting every inch of me.

“Dean,” I moan when I can’t take any more. I try to swat his hand away from my too-sensitive clit but he pins it down at my side and hunches over, sweat dripping from his temples onto my breasts. He hammers into me, leg still pressed over his shoulder, my body as wide open as he could possibly need.
I reach up a weak arm and wrap it around his neck, spreading my fingers over his skull like I used to do when he had long hair. Now I feel the coarse rasp of his buzz cut on my palm and look up just in time to catch the second he starts to come, eyes locked on mine, unguarded. It only lasts a moment, a split second of weakness in his impenetrable coat of armor, then he drops his head and groans, pounding into me with his vicious release.

“You wet?”
“No.”
“Come over here so I can fix that.”
Without so much as looking at me, Dean reaches over and snags my upper arm, pulling me toward him. At the same time he moves so one of his legs rests along the back of the couch, the other still on the floor, which results in my back being pressed flush to his strong chest. And his erection digging into my ass.
“Don’t play hard to get,” he whispers, biting my earlobe. “I don’t have time for games.” One of his hands strums absently along the top of the couch while the other cups my breast through the T-shirt. “I’m going to get you wet, then if you don’t mind, you’re going to turn around and sit on my cock and fuck me while I watch the movie.”
“When’d you get to be so romantic?”
He twists my nipple, hard. “In prison.”

I catch the server’s eye and signal for the check.
“Let me get this,” I say when he reaches for his wallet.
“Fuck no.” The words are flat and unyielding, cold enough to make me pause.
“Dean, it’s just dinner.”
“Don’t push on this, Rachel. I know you’re an evolved feminist and all that now—”
“What?”
“But I’m old-fashioned. I fuck you, I buy you dinner, I teach you how to beat up the coworkers who give you trouble.” I fold my arms in front of me, unimpressed but also amused.
“What do I do?”
Dean sets down a few bills and stands, looming over the table to kiss me in clear view of anyone who might bother to look. “Just show up.”

“Dean!” I cry, the word sounding hollow in my ringing ears. My pussy clamps down on his cock like a vise, holding him inside and wringing out his orgasm. He swears furiously as he spills into me, slapping a hand onto the window over my head as he jerks against my hips, my body demanding the last of his release with its final clenching pulls.
Dean collapses over me, breathing hard in my ear, one arm clasped around my stomach, squeezing us together. Sweat fuses my back to his chest and I feel his heart thunder against my spine, and even when the room grows cool and the position uncomfortable, neither one of us moves.

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

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ARC Review: Chasing Chris Campbell by Genevieve Gannon

Format: E-bookchasingchriscampbell
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher Australia
Hero: Harry Jay Potter
Heroine: Violet Mason
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 1, 2015
Started On: November 15, 2015
Finished On: November 18, 2015

Chasing Chris Campbell by Genevieve Gannon is a novel that completely surprised me and delivered such entertainment that it will be hard to forget the magic that Genevieve Gannon wove with this number. Genevieve is a completely new to me author whom I stumbled across only because of Netgalley. Chasing Chris Campbell is an apt title for this novel because the heroine Violet Mason chases the man of her dreams (or so she thinks), all over Asia and then some, until she realizes her worth and comes to accept the fact that the only one responsible for charting the course of her happiness is herself.

Violet is in a relationship with a man whose idea of a future together is to be frugal and save until there is no spontaneity in their shared lives. When Chris once again walks back into her life, Chris being the one that got away, Violet is determined that she would follow him, even if it means leaving everything that is dear and familiar to her behind. From the busy streets of Hong Kong to Goa of India and then to Nepal, Violet goes on an epic journey of a lifetime where she discovers the beauty of shared experiences as well as the life lessons that come associated with leaving behind one’s comfort zone.

Violet being a germophobe and a vegetarian makes things doubly difficult for her in certain aspects but it does bring out the sort of ambition in her that otherwise might not have materialized. I had such a good time reading and enjoying the antics of Violet’s life and her attempts to make Chris notice her. And just like anyone who is smitten with the person who is wrong for them in all the ways, Violet too doesn’t realize the worth of the man she meets along the way. But it all does work out well in the end.

The best part of the novel for me was the journey itself. Violet learning the ropes of letting go, of letting things work out for themselves and of her wising up enough to know what she wants and needs. This book had a little bit of everything going for it. A bad breakup, unrequited love, the one you meet in the midst of it with whom the timing was off but turns out to be the best thing that could have happened to you, which all made for wholesome reading.

I absolutely loved the author’s voice. It was refreshing, insightful and a bit quirky with big doses of humor of the kind that makes you laugh and snort your way through the story. Chasing Chris Campbell even suffices as a travelogue because it brought so many aspects of traveling alive. The descriptions through Violet’s eyes, tinged with the humor of the sort that is hard to pull off was just the icing on the cake for me. Not overly descriptive but somehow just the right touch to give the reader that sense of what it was like. Having being to India, I could just vividly recall back everything about it that makes it so alluring. The good and the bad. And sharing Violet’s journey with her as the reader who was cheering for her on the sidelines, I very much wanted to pack my bags and leave to India for a sojourn too.

One of the bits about the journey to India that just had me hooting with laughter because I have been there myself was this.

Despite my claim that I wasn’t afraid of flying, Air India seemed qualified to instil that fear in anyone. The engine whirred and the seats started to shake as we began our shunting journey down the runway. As we sped up, the engine noise grew louder and louder. I wasn’t sure if we were going to lift-off or explode. I felt like cheering when we left the ground and things seemed to smooth-out.

It is books like this that makes me want to travel, to explore and to store up the experiences in my heart so that I can revisit them later. But it is books like this that allows people like us who can only afford to dream about traveling to visit places. That alone in my opinion makes the book worth a read!

Recommended.

Final Verdict: Refreshing & insightful with just the right touch of humor. Loved!

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

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Review: His Christmas Gift by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-bookhischristmasgift
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Montana Born Christmas
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Hero: Sawyer Gallagher
Heroine: Jenna Macintosh
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 2, 2015
Started On: November 13, 2015
Finished On: November 14, 2015

I stumbled across this little number of Sarah Mayberry’s on Amazon. His Christmas Gift is a book loosely tied to the title Three Nights before Christmas by Kat Latham. Any romance written by Sarah Mayberry is a must-read for an avid fan like myself and thus His Christmas Gift landed in my ever growing pile of e-books. One of the best things about Sarah Mayberry writing novellas is the fact that her novellas end up the length of a Harlequin romance or such, the fact that she puts in as many words to give readers a wholesome experience is one of the reasons I love her and her books.

Jenna Macintosh is Sawyer Gallagher’s sister’s lawyer, the lawyer who gets his sister out of prison. Sawyer is a man who doesn’t have time for the pretty niceties of life. Determined to keep their family business going, Sawyer hasn’t been inclined to or has had the time to date since his last girlfriend had left him in the lurch. When Sawyer meets Jenna, his less than favorable reaction towards her leaves Jenna thinking that for some reason Sawyer finds her distasteful. But nothing could be further from the truth as both Jenna and Sawyer keeps thinking about the other until fate throws them together.

Though I wouldn’t say that this is my favorite Mayberry book thus far, it had its enjoyable elements to it. Like Sawyer when once he decided to rejoin civilization and shave off that beard of his reveals a man as sexy as they come, a man that makes Jenna want him all for herself. Sawyer can be termed as a gentle and tender hero, a hero that made me sigh and want in all the ways that matter. Jenna fights her own demons, in the form of a past she has never been able to reconcile with and move on from, which serves as the point of contention when it comes to her and Sawyer.

The glimpse of their lives after the story ended was just lovely and left me with a smile on my face.

Final Verdict: For fans of Ms. Mayberry, this little number warms the heart!

Favorite Quotes

Stroking his tongue with hers, she took his left hand and dragged it onto her breast, too turned on to be embarrassed by her own urgency. She needed him to touch her almost more than she needed air. His big hand closed around the curve of her breast, learning the shape of it, then his thumb swept across her nipple and she groaned because – again – it felt so damned good. Everything did with him.
“Jesus, Jenna,” Sawyer muttered.
He stroked her nipple again, bringing it to aching hardness, then he squeezed it gently between thumb and forefinger. She dug her fingers into his arm, deepening their kiss. She wanted more. More of his hardness. More of the taste of him. More of the feel of him pressed against her.

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

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Review: Mistress of the Night by Charlotte Featherstone

Format: E-bookmistressofthenight
Read with: Adobe Reader for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: New Concepts Publishing
Hero: Blaine Ashbourne
Heroine: Madeline Brydges
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 1, 2005
Started On: November 11, 2015
Finished On: November 12, 2015

Charlotte Featherstone is an author who got on my radar with her book Sinful. Her decision to not take the easy way out when she crafted the hero in the story won my wholehearted approval. Even though the books that I have read from her since then haven’t lived up to the mark, Mistress of the Night caught my eye because there was just something about the description of the story that got to me. The reclusive hero described? Yes. The heroine who wants him and no other? Oh, hell yes!

Blaine Ashbourne, even though he is part of the elite ton, is someone who keeps himself far removed from everything that goes on in those circles. He keeps close to himself a secret that he would rather die than get out, knowing that it would be one not at all well received. It is his bid to look out for his niece that lands himself in this ball and that, directly in the sight of Madeline Brydges, the woman he observes without being obvious about it, or so he thinks, his hunger for her something that shocks even himself.

Madeline has no choice but to snare herself the husband that her father insists that she find. But the only man whom she is going to get herself married to is none other than the Earl of Ashbourne, a man who is seemingly as reticent as they come. But with every encounter that proves otherwise, Blaine and Madeline seduces and get seduced by each other, while Blaine believes that a blissfully wedded future with anyone, much less Madeline is not for the likes of him.

Mistress of the Night is a story that had such potential. Charlotte’s flair for the dirty talking hero and sex scenes that practically melt you on the insides were all present in the story. But it fell short of delivering on what it could have been. I felt a tad disappointed and a wee cheated by the time I finished reading the book, though it is a testament to the writing that I finished the book in just one sitting. Perhaps my problem was with the huge differences between how the book was described in the blurb and how it actually materialized later on.

Blaine is someone who has had fear instilled in his heart by his father. A father who had been devastated that the only son he had ever had turned out to be less than perfect. Blaine’s tortured soul heals under the touch of Madeline, but he refuses to let her in too deep, for the fear that she might discover the secret that he keeps from almost everyone. Madeline’s actions towards the latter part of the novel also might be one of the reasons why I couldn’t really say I loved what happened, though I did understand that desperate times called for desperate measures. Nonetheless, Mistress of the Night turned out to be an enjoyable read, recommended for those that love this author.

Final Verdict: Delivers scrumptious scenes of passion, true to Charlotte Featherstone style!

Favorite Quotes

“I wanted that dance to be with you, Maddy. The whole time I was dancing with her I thought only of you, wishing we were the only two people in the room so that I might do this to you.”
Her pulse leapt and surged as he continued to caress her neck, his fingers, light and teasing trailed down her throat, stopping at the peak of her breast, only to travel back up the column of her throat.
“Tell me,” he said, bringing her back tight against his chest, his tongue, hot and teasing flicked along her bounding pulse. “What is it you desire?”

“God, how I want this,” he said thickly, stroking his thumb along her nipple, making it pebble hard. “And this.” he slid his hand down her bodice to the flat plane of her belly where he kneaded the small mound. “And this,” his voice was a low rumble in her ear as his fingers traced the curls of her sex through her thin gown. “I want this so much. So much so that I cannot sleep. So much that I am constantly thinking of you, of your lips, your flame red hair, the way your skin feels. So much that I lie awake, hard and aroused, torturing myself with thoughts of how you will feel beneath my hands, my lips, my body. I dream of how you will taste, Madeline. I dream of the taste of your sex, the feel of you on my tongue. Tell me, would you let me taste the desire I create within you?” A whimper caught in her throat and he tightened his hold on her while he kissed her shoulder. “Tell me what you want, Maddy.”

“Make love to me, Maddy. Show me what it is like.”
She didn’t know what he wanted, but he showed her. He sat in the chair and brought her down atop him. Cupping her bottom he showed her how to ride him and when she had the right of it, she caught his hands in hers and clutched them tight. She captured his gaze, holding it as she loved him, and she thought she saw his eyes fill with more than desire. She thought she saw love shining back at her, but then he blinked it away and reached for her and slid himself out of her body, emptying his seed on to his own belly. He clutched her to him and he held on to her like a drowning man holds on to a lifeline.
“Mine,” he whispered into her hair and she knew then that she was his lifeline in a sense. Something profound had happened.

“It’s very warm, isn’t it?” Madeline asked, fanning her bosom with her hand.
Blaine couldn’t help but watch that delicate hand as it whispered slowly back and forth and over the exposed mounds of her breasts, of which, the bodice of her French gown did little to hide. “Wouldn’t you agree, my lord?”
“Huh?” The word was a strangled huff, torn from his throat when one of her fingers traced the length of him through his trousers. Thank God the table was shielding them and thank God no one but Madeline could see the reaction her boldness was having on him.
“Are you warm, too?” she asked, looking up at him through her veil of copper lashes.
Warm? Sweet Jesus, he was on fire.

“Tell me,” she whispered again, “tell me where you want to come. My belly?”
She licked him and swirled the tip of her around the head of his cock. “My breasts,” his gaze lowered to her rounded breasts that were swinging with her movements and he captured them in his hands and let go of them with a small, gentle slap, watching as they swayed faster. She purred as he repeated the motion, this time a little faster, a little harder, and his cock swelled further in her hand. “My throat?” she asked, her hot breath caressing his shaft, forcing his gaze away from her breasts only to see her tongue curl around the rimmed cap of his cock. “My mouth,” she teased in a deep, wanton whisper.
He closed his eyes and wrapped his hand in her hair. “Yes,” he said, filling her mouth with his cock. “Your pretty mouth.”

“Look at me.” She did, her beautiful eyes glazed with passion and need. “Watch.”
And then he sunk himself to the hilt inside her tight, wet sheath in one powerful stroke. Her eyes widened and her lips parted on a silent moan. “So damn beautiful, and you’re mine,” he whispered, holding her gaze, watching the tremors of pleasure flicker along her face with every one of his thrusts. “You’re all mine, aren’t you, Maddy? Just mine.”
“Yes,” she breathed against his neck, her pants matching the rhythm of his
strokes.
“Forever, Madeline?” he asked, mindless with need, careless with his words as he forced himself inside her. “Because it has to be forever.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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