7th Blogiversary!

mbr7_updated

Hello fellow readers, bloggers and authors,

Today marks the 7th year since I decided to put my emotions to good use after reading a book, and opened up the pages of wordpress to determine how I would best go about entering the world of book reviewers. Being the lover of the written word that I am, I have always wanted to write. Perhaps it was my desire to do so that saw me start this blog, which has persevered till today.

All of it has not gone as smoothly as I would have liked it to. But hey, that is life! But what I have learned during my somewhat eventful and sometimes not so years of being a reviewer is to always choose books that I love to read! Being requested for reviews is part of the journey for a self-proclaimed reviewer such as myself. Accepting all the requests for reviews that comes my way is humanly impossible, especially since I do this all on my own. Not to mention the fact that reading, something that I have always done for pleasure, started to turn into a chore that I didn’t want particularly for myself. Which is the reason why I have found myself turning down more requests than I agree to – and even those that I do accept, I find myself at times hard pressed to attend to.

I have also found that I have become more pickier in choosing books that I identify with. Of course, there are the timeless classics that I always revisit every now and then. Being someone who reads mostly romance and rarely stray into other genres, I have been becoming increasingly restless with the lackluster reads that have darkened my reader doorway. In light of that, Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series turned out to be a godsend. I have practically steamrollered through the series and eagerly await the release of the next book this September. Those are the sort of books that I as a reader appreciate. Well written, heroes and heroines who are likable and words that create magic when they come together! But alas, I believe that romance is a genre that has become muddled with too many books with too little quality, books conforming to the modern notions of what romances ought to be, which has rendered male leads in books to come off as more “feminine” than what I would like a hero to be. Perhaps my emotions are colored by the fact that the infamous bodice rippers were my introduction into romance novels. Somehow I have a hard time finding authors that defy this newly accepted norm and write romances as they should be written. Julianna Keyes is an author that I have come to love as such.

So with 900+ reviews and hopefully more to come, I am pretty much found on most social media platforms, the last of which I signed up on was instagram. So do come for a visit, if nothing else to take part in the celebratory giveaway that is included with the post! I will be picking a winner for each of the giveaway categories separately!

May we all get to read what gives us pleasure, be it of the kind of books that tickles our brains or the heart!

Happy reading! x

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Review: Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookdearestrogue
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #8
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Captain James Trevillion
Heroine: Lady Phoebe Batten
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 26, 2015
Started On: July 07, 2016
Finished On: July 07, 2016

Dearest Rogue brings to fans of the series like myself the much awaited story of Lady Phoebe Batten, younger sister of the Duke of Wakefield and Captain James Trevillion, the man who is charged with being her bodyguard, a man who should know better than to want after a woman who he never should.

It is impossible to read the Maiden Lane series without falling, and falling hard for Phoebe. From the book Notorious Pleasures onward, Phoebe has featured prominently as a secondary character, fact that she was slowly going blind and would be completely so in a couple of years the reason behind the Duke, her brother, keeping her under such tight lock and control.

It is the sort of control that stifles the 21 year old Phoebe, who has given up her dreams of leading a life of the kind that ladies of her age and ilk take for granted. In that regard, James coming into her life is just one more notch that tightens the noose around her neck, and 6 months of having him tail after her every time she is to go out and about has meant that Phoebe has gotten more or less resigned to having him around.

James is a man whose life of servitude to the King in his occupation as a soldier is all the life that he knows how to live. Keeping his past under lock and key is how he deals with the memories that he tries to leave undisturbed, and if in innocent Phoebe he finds a respite from it all, that is all on him. In James once again, readers find a character they have come across multiple times in the series, especially when it comes to his pursuit of the Ghost of St. Giles. James is a character who has more than proven his mettle as one who is honest, honorable and someone who takes his duty very, very seriously.

James keeps his burgeoning feelings towards Phoebe close to his heart, and projects an image of stoic indifference because he knows that there is no future to be had with a woman like her when it comes to someone of his ilk and status. But when danger comes calling and Phoebe’s life is thrown into peril, James has to deal with his past as well as confront his feelings when it comes to Phoebe, who turns his heart inside out with want and love.

Dearest Rogue totes one of the prettiest covers in the series for me. I spent quite a while gazing at the beauty of the cover because it demanded to be looked and even caressed a time or two. James being the kind of character who does the silent and reluctant hero to boot was one whose story I had been anticipating for quite sometime, especially when in Darling Beast, his and Phoebe’s role as secondary characters were quite prominent.

Dearest Rogue also brings to the forefront, THE most emotional scene in all the books I have read in the series. There was this moment that takes place in the gardens that Phoebe looks after, where she comes to the realization of the fact that she has gone entirely blind, her valiant efforts at keeping a strong face in spite of everything crumbling at that very moment. My throat locked down and I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and tears sprang into my eyes during that moment. For someone who rarely gets choked up with emotion like that, it is a moment that I would remember for a long time. James turned out to be the perfect shoulder to cry on at that moment and I wouldn’t have had the scene play out any other way!

Phoebe’s discovery of James as a man whom she could be attracted to and fall in love with was an aspect that I adored. Being sheltered in her upbringing, not to mention the fact that her brother had practically caged her since her blindness had started affecting her daily life and moving about, Phoebe had never been exposed to the kind of life that other ladies of the society get to live and lead. In James, Phoebe finds for the first time, a man who stirs her senses in a way that entices her into giving in, and the heady desire that a woman finds in the arms of a strong and virile man who would see to her needs.

Though James fights himself to not give in where Phoebe is concerned, it is a losing battle that he fights with his emotions, needs and desires, and the moment they leave London behind in an attempt to throw off those in pursuit of Phoebe, the feelings that James has been keeping at bay comes to the forefront, refusing to be denied. Phoebe herself makes the denying it all that much more difficult, and I reveled and loved every single minute of it. The facet that I loved most about James was how he let Phoebe be free of the shackles that bound and confined her to her home, making her die a slow death by being denied all that she wanted to do and experience in life. For James to understand that and step aside, even when it means going against his basic instincts of protectiveness, especially when it comes to Phoebe was something I admired in him.

It is a testament to Elizabeth Hoyt’s incredible talent and ability that she has managed to pen stories that continues to woo and move readers, even when it comes to the 8th book in a series. James and Phoebe’s story made for a delightful addition and I recommend it wholeheartedly!

Final Verdict: Delightfully wicked and wanton!

Favorite Quotes

“Did you kill that one?” Lady Phoebe shouted as they swerved around a cart. Her hat had fallen off. Light-brown locks blew across his lips.
He had her. He had her safe and that was all that mattered.
“Yes, my lady,” he murmured into her ear. Flat, almost uncaring, for it would never do to let her hear the emotion that holding her in his arms provoked.
“Oh, good.”
He leaned forward, inhaling the sweet scent of roses in her hair—innocent and forbidden—and kicked the horse into a full gallop through the heart of London.
And as he did so, Lady Phoebe threw back her head and laughed into the wind.

“I’m a dozen years older than you, my lady,” he said, sounding ponderous even to himself. “The same age as your brother, in fact.”
The thought made him unaccountably grim.
“And yet you seem much older.” She wrinkled her nose. “Maximus is very stern, but at least he laughs. Well, now and again. Once or twice a year, anyway. Now you, Captain, you never laugh and I doubt very much that you smile. I thought you at least fifty—”
He scowled. “My lady—”
“—or even five and fifty—”
“Phoebe.”
He stopped, shocked by his use of her given name.
She’d made him lose control.
She smiled very slowly, a little cat licking the cream from her chin, and he felt himself tighten.

“You intend to put it on me now?”
Her lips twitched. She would’ve sworn that was alarm she heard in Captain James Trevillion’s voice—and she’d never heard it there before. Not even when armed men had come after her.
“Yes,” she said, placing her fingertips at the bottle’s opening and tipping it so that the perfume wet her skin. She reached up, sandalwood and roses filling her senses, and touched him.
Touched the bare skin of his face.
Her breath stuttered.

Her fingertips met his cravat, a maddening barrier, and she stroked along it, dipping her fingertip just a little beneath the cloth.
She realized suddenly that she’d quite passed the bounds of propriety.
Shaking, she drew her hand away and stoppered the little bottle. “Well. That’s done.”
He didn’t reply and she wished very much that he would.
She held out the bottle, waiting for a long second for him to take it.
His warm, big hand closed around hers and she felt it suddenly, his moist breath across her lips. He was close, so very close, and she could smell bergamot and sandalwood and roses and wine, everything mingling together to make a heady elixir.
She froze, waiting, wanting.

She lunged forward, her nose hitting his cravat, pulling her hands desperately out of his hold, grabbing his coat, his ear, anything that was him. She knew how clumsy and awkward and blind she must be, but she didn’t care right now. Somehow her mouth found his jaw and she inhaled sandalwood.
“Phe—”
She smashed her mouth to his, cutting off her name. It wasn’t a sweet kiss by any means—she’d never kissed a man. But it was strange and wonderful anyway. She felt a bloom within her chest, a wild, pounding well of hope and joy, feeling his lips against hers. Breathing in sandalwood and bergamot, gunpowder and James.
James. James. James.

“Spread your legs,” he whispered into her mouth and it sounded unbearably erotic.
She gasped even as she did as he instructed, unable to catch her breath.
He settled there on her, his… his penis hard and on her mound, quite clear even through his breeches and her chemise. She tried to arch up against him, but his weight prevented her and she whimpered as she slumped back on the bed.
“Sh-sh,” he whispered. “Don’t fret. I’ll make it better.”
He touched her chin, tilting her face up. He kissed her again, slowly, his mouth wide over hers, and he was right. It was better.
So much better.

“I can see your nipples, did you know that?” he asked, and his voice sounded almost angry.
She knew what he felt wasn’t anger.
“Yes,” she said, bold as any Covent Garden soiled dove. “I know.”
He grunted what might’ve been a laugh. “They’re a deep pink, so sweet, so round, and every time I saw them, they were pointed, as if they wanted my attention. Wanted my mouth. As they are now.”
She swallowed a moan.
He slowly cupped her breast, his palm cradling her without touching her nipple. “Is that what you want? My mouth on your nipple, Phoebe, sucking until you scream?”
Oh God.
“Y-yes,” she said, and though the word came out more a squeak than anything else, she simply couldn’t care because he did just that.

“Please,” she said, sounding less ladylike and more demanding. “James!”
“Yes, my lady?” he asked, innocent, nearly disinterested. “What would you like?”
“You know.”
He trailed teasing fingers around the sides of her breasts, not quite touching her nipples. “This?”
“N-no,” she stuttered. “My…”
“Yes?” he whispered in her ear, his hot breath making her shiver. “Tell me, Phoebe. Tell me what you want me to do to you.”
“Oh, please,” she moaned. “Oh, please touch me.”
“How?” The one word was stern. Commanding.
“With your mouth,” she whispered. “Suck my nipple.”

“Use me,” he repeated. “Ride me until you come.”
Well, when put so bluntly… she lifted her bottom, feeling him slide a little out, then sat back down. She shifted a little, finding her balance, feeling him move within her, tightened her thighs…
And began galloping.
Oh, it was a wonderful feeling! His hard flesh in her, thrusting back and forth as she rode him. His panting breath—though he did no work—the sensation of being in control, of being able to make this man shatter beneath her.
She felt whole. She felt invincible.

He stroked through her open folds to circle her entrance. “You’re wet.”
His hands left her and she waited, breathless, open and wanting, the night air cooling her flesh.
There was a rustle of clothing and then he was over her, around her.
Thrusting into her.
She gasped at the sudden intrusion. He thrust once, twice, seating himself fully in her.
And then he stopped.
“I thought about this all day in that damned carriage,” he whispered in her ear.

She was still gasping, still trembling and shaking, when he rose and mounted her, driving his flesh into her softness, grasping her legs and urging her to wrap them high over his waist.
“Phoebe,” he growled into her ear as he thrust hard. “Phoebe. You haunt me. You drive me. You possess me. I cannot—”
He arched, his penis deep within her, his big body shuddering on hers.
She gripped his shoulders, pulling him down to her, opening her mouth and swallowing his moan as he spilled inside her, pumping and thrusting against her.

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

awesomeread

Review: Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookdarlingbeast
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #7
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Apollo Greaves
Heroine: Lily Stump
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 28, 2014
Started On: June 28, 2016
Finished On: July 07, 2016

Darling Beast, the 7th book in the Maiden Lane series brings to readers the story of Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne, who is believed to be a dangerous killer, someone who owing to his aristocracy gets committed to the Bedlam, until his sister Artemis had taken matters into her own hands and enables his rescue. Now a fugitive hiding from the law, Apollo is a man who without the ability to speak due to injuries sustained, is trying to lay low and hopefully work towards clearing up his name.

Lily Stump, the mother of a seven year old is hailed to be the best comic actress of the generation. With funds running low with the shut down of Harte’s Folly where she had been working before, Lily takes up residence in the charred remains of the pleasure garden and tries overly hard not to be taken in by the connection that is forged between her son and the beautiful giant that she thinks is not quite right in the head.

It is Apollo’s love for creating spectacular gardens that has him working on restoration of the same at Harte’s Folly, not to mention the fact that Apollo had been one of the investors of the pleasure garden when it had first come into being. While Apollo thinks he has time to find evidence to implicate the real perpetrators of the crime, law enforcement as well as those that want him dead so that their secrets would stay buried with him are trying to hunt him down, which makes his association with Lily and her son a doubly precarious one.

Duke of Montgomery’s role in the story was one that was fascinating and I found myself getting more curious by the minute about his character and what it is that drives him. His role in helping Apollo find the real murderer was one filled with laugh out loud variety of witty dialogues, together with introduction of various other secondary characters that made the story an enjoyable one.

I concur with the majority of the readers who did not find this story as exciting as the rest of the books in the series has been up till now. Perhaps, it has something to do with the fact that Duke of Midnight was the book prior to this in the series, and it felt as if Hoyt had outdone herself in telling the Duke of Wakefield’s story! Even though Darling Beast might not have been as exhilarating a read, I still found myself thoroughly engaged with the story that took place, more than enough to recommend Darling Beast and the rest of the books in the Maiden Lane series to anyone and everyone who just loves to indulge in a well seasoned romance!

Final Verdict: Hoyt makes it so easy to fall in love with the charm, beauty and wit that fills the pages!

Favorite Quotes

All thought left her head as the giant plunged beneath the water.
Lily’s mouth half opened.
The setting sun broke through the cloud cover and bathed the pond in golden light, reflecting off the ripples left by his movement. He burst from the water. He was facing her now. The muscles bunched on his arms as he slicked his wet, shoulder-length hair back from his face. The mist swirled amber over the surface of the water, adorning his gleaming skin as if he were the tributary god of this ruined garden. Her pity evaporated, burned away by the sudden realization that she had it all wrong.
He was…
She swallowed.
Good Lord. He was magnificent.

She lifted her legs, wrapping them over his hips loosely. “Now, now, now.”
He glanced up at her and his smile had left his face. He bit down on his bottom lip as he notched himself, the skin white beneath his teeth. He flexed his hips and nudged inside.
Big. He was a big man.
She gasped, holding her legs wider, higher, trying to give him more room.
His eyes were closed, his upper lip hitched in a snarl, almost as if he were in pain.
Or great pleasure.

He propped himself on his elbows and screwed his hips into hers, his cock deep in her. And as he did so, he watched her, a bead of sweat slipping down the side of his dear face. He pushed a lock of her hair off her face and brought his mouth crashing down on hers, open and wet and not entirely in control.
But his hips kept moving, plundering her, owning her, making her climb those heights again.
She groaned into his mouth, animal and wild, and felt the slip of his hard chest against her nipples.
This man.
Whatever his name.
This man.

“Put your legs around me,” he huffed in her ear, humid and hot.
“They’ll hear us.”
“Lily,” he groaned, “please do it, love.”
The endearment jolted through her, going straight to where he still shoved into her.
She wrapped her legs around him, as high as she could, and as she did, he grasped her bottom in both his hands and lifted her. She clung to him, impaled on his penis, the position so obscene she should’ve fainted from just the thought.
Instead she nearly came.

But it couldn’t last forever, that was a fevered fantasy born of heat and his smell, and when he began losing his rhythm, she reached between them, pinching her clitoris with two fingers.
He watched her, his lips curled. “You… you’re…”
She leaned close and whispered against his sweaty neck. “I’m touching myself. Pleasuring myself as you fuck me.”
He gritted his teeth and the tendon in his neck stood out in stark relief.
She felt his come flooding her, seeping out around his penis.
And when she climaxed herself, she bit down on that tendon, tasting salt. Tasting life.

“He licked the bared nape of her neck. “Tell me.”
“I want you,” she whispered. “I want your cock in me. I want you to fill me and stuff me full until I can’t talk or remember my own name.”
He lost all control at her words. He reared, withdrawing and slamming back into her, the man entirely subsumed in the animal. All he was, all he could feel was his cock conquering her pussy, making her his mate for now, forever.
He bowed over her and bit into the back of her neck, holding her hips still so that he could plow into her over and over again until he felt her shudder under him, contracting around him. She moaned, low and lost, as she came, and he knelt up then, never stopping, never slowing, pounding as she trembled beneath him until he threw back his head and roared his own release into the night.
The stars whirled above them as he slowly sank back over her, panting, wondering if he’d ever again regain his humanity.
Or if he’d lost it forever to this woman.

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

Great Read!(1)

Review: Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookdukeofmidnight
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #6
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield
Heroine: Artemis Greaves
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 15, 2013
Started On: June 27, 2016
Finished On: June 28, 2016

Duke of Midnight is the 6th book in the Maiden Lane series and by far my most favorite. Towards the end of Lord of Darkness, the 5th book, once again Elizabeth Hoyt makes a startling revelation, perhaps the most astonishing one at that since the series began. The identity of the 3rd Ghost of St. Giles, this time someone who is more driven by his own personal vengeance against those that had done him and his family wrong, a member of the nobility, not to mention a member of the Parliament itself; Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield.

Readers who have had their run ins with Maximus in previous books in the series would have been hard pressed not to be intrigued by all that he is. Projecting a cold and formidable front, the Duke of Wakefield is someone who seems to be as straitlaced as they come, his utter dislike or perhaps even hatred for gin and makers of gin something that is known all over the country. While Maximus works hard to push through relevant laws that could tackle with gin making, something which he believes most passionately is the core reason behind the decay of society, at night, Maximus dons the mask and costume of the Ghost and traipses through the worst of slums in London, in the hopes of finding clues that would lead him to the villain he has been pretty much searching for a major part of his adult life.

Artemis Greaves is a character that came into prominence through the introduction of her beautiful cousin Lady Penelope Chadwicke into series, for whom Artemis is companion to. Lady Penelope is someone who wants nothing but the best for herself. Thus, determined to have Maximus as her husband, Penelope embarks upon the quest with much fervor, which does earn her the attention of Maximus in his usual cool, aloof and calculated manner. There is no joy in a transaction which Maximus believes suites him rather well. There is no fire that burns in him to possess Lady Penelope, unlike Artemis her companion who makes him want to go into hiding with her by his side and forget the whole world.

Artemis gets under his skin without Maximus knowing of it, their interludes during the quiet hours of the morning on his estate grounds something that pricks and prods at him until his emotions are tangled up in need for none but Artemis. But Artemis is one with her own agenda to push forward. Someone who is ready to do anything for the freedom of the one man for whom she would lay down her whole life for, even if it means enlisting, bribing or even coercing the help of the powerful Duke himself to do so.

There are multiple reasons why Duke of Midnight ended up being my favorite of the series. For anyone who knows of my reading tastes, I am someone who is drawn to dark characters, a bit ruthless and driven by needs that they cannot control when it comes to the heroine in question, no matter how hard they may try. Maximus was that hero for me from the Maiden Lane series. Brought up to take his rightful role as the Duke, the responsibilities of being one are thrust upon him at a tender age when both his parents get killed. Maximus has to grow up overnight without having time to properly grow into the duties required of him. Thus makes Maximus a hard man, a man who is principled, a man who often times comes off as cold, aloof and removed from the rest of the world, an image that serves him well most times.

Maximus is also the only Ghost of St. Giles who actively continues his training for the role, having turned part of his home into a training facility where he subjects himself to grueling hours of training so that he is one lethal machine of brawn, intelligence and strong will, focused on getting to the truth behind the murders of his beloved parents and making those responsible pay.

That strong ironclad will of Maximus was something that I admired and bemoaned over in equal doses. There is something quite alluring about a man who knows his own mind, well, for that matter I love a woman who knows her own mind as well – but with Maximus, him being my favorite hero in the series, I am allowed to be a little biased. The fact that his attraction and want for Artemis clouds all his senses does not make him give up on what he has planned for his life, but rather, he wants Artemis on his terms, as hard headed and stubborn it makes him. But the beauty of it when it comes to heroes who are strong minded comes in their submission to the greater force of love for the heroine, which is an aspect I enjoyed in Duke of Midnight. The moments of jealousy which overtakes Maximus during the heady encounters with Artemis, the ones that makes him go all “mine” with sheer possessiveness – those were the moments I reveled in.

Artemis is a heroine who shone equally bright in the story. With a future that looked bleak, with nothing to her name but the goodwill of an uncle who took her in, Artemis’s determination to work against the odds nevertheless, to prove the innocence of her brother was something that resonated deep within me. Even her burgeoning feelings for the Duke is something Artemis is willing to sacrifice in order to see to it that her beloved brother is removed from Bedlam, where he is rotting away into an existence that would prove to be the death of him, sooner rather than later.

I believe that Artemis is the best fit for someone with such powerful emotions and desires as Maximus. She is able to get through to him in a way that no one else can, her ability to read him so effectively being a quality of utmost importance given how easily he can don on a mask that would show to to the rest of the world that nothing touches him, when in fact things deeply do. Artemis dares him to show to her that side of his that few would ever see – the one without the artifice that society dictates he wears whenever he goes out and about. That for me, was the beauty behind the union between Artemis and Maximus when all was said and done.

Loved it all, which is why I would recommend this book with the whole of my heart!

Final Verdict: Earthy & evocative, with just the right touch of erotic; scorches the pages & moves the heart.

Favorite Quotes

A shrill whistle rent the air. Percy, who had been trotting along beside them, lifted his head alertly before racing to Wakefield’s side. Bon Bon scrambled on short little legs to keep up with his new friend.
Artemis watched the dogs go and found herself staring at the duke. He was looking in her direction, and even at this distance he was commanding, almost as if he were demanding something of her.
She felt light-headed.
Then Penelope tapped him on the arm and he turned to the other woman to smile and make some comment.
Artemis shivered despite the bright sunshine.

Something quickened in him, rising, hardening, reaching eagerly for the challenge. She was no soft society lady. She might disguise herself thus, but he knew better: she was a goddess, wild and free and dangerous.
And a most suitable opponent.
He picked up Lady Penelope’s gloves and, unsmiling, saluted Miss Greaves with them. She bowed to him, equally grave.
Maximus turned to the house, thinking. He had no idea how he would do it yet, but he meant to best her. He’d show her that he was the master, and when she’d admitted his victory… well, then he’d have her. And he’d hold her, by God. His huntress.
His goddess.

Ridiculously, he thought he could feel his heart beat faster. Despite their antagonism, despite her threats to his equilibrium, he wanted to see her, and right now he wouldn’t examine why.
In another few steps he made the clearing with the pond and looked about. He could see the dogs milling a quarter way around the pond—even Bon Bon was there—but he couldn’t yet see her on the path.
And then he did see her and arousal went straight to his cock.
Artemis Greaves was in the pond, as graceful as a naiad, her skirts bound up at her waist, standing thigh deep in the sparkling water.
How dare she.

Maximus glanced away so she couldn’t examine too closely the expression on his face. “Who was he?”
“Thomas Stone. The son of the town’s doctor.”
He sneered. “Beneath you.”
Her gaze hardened. “As you so kindly pointed out, my father was notorious for his flights of fancy. Too, I had no dowry to speak of. I couldn’t very well be choosy. Besides”—her tone softened—“Thomas was quite sweet. He used to bring me daisies and violets.”
He stared, incredulous. What sort of imbecile brought such common flowers to a goddess? Were it him, he’d shower her with hothouse lilies, peonies overflowing with perfumed bloom, roses in every shade.
Bah, violets.

“What”—he turned and seized both her arms—“has gotten into you?”
“He’s dying,” she whispered furiously, trembling within his grasp. “I didn’t receive the letter until almost noon—because Penelope didn’t think it important enough to give it to me earlier. Apollo is lying in that hellhole dying.”
His jaw set as he searched her face. “I can have a carriage readied for you to return to London within the hour. If the roads are—”
She slapped him, quick and hard.
His head turned slightly with the blow, but other than that his only reaction was the narrowing of his eyes.
Her chest was heaving as if she were running. “No! You must go to London. You must get him out. You must save my brother because if you don’t, I swear upon everything I hold holy that I’ll ruin both you and your illustrious name. I’ll—”
“Little bitch,” he breathed, his face turned fiery red, and he slammed his mouth against hers.

“You come to a bachelor’s rooms—bedroom—well after dark all by yourself to give him a trinket you could just as easily hand him in the morning.” His voice was mocking. He wanted to break her suddenly. To make her feel the rage he did at the situation they had been placed in. Were it not for her history—and his—he might’ve courted this woman. Might’ve made her his wife. “Have you no care for your reputation?”
She stepped toward him until she was so close he fancied he breathed the same air as she and when she tilted her face up to look at him he saw that she wasn’t nearly as calm as he’d imagined.
“No,” she murmured, her voice a siren’s song, “none at all.”
“Then I’ll be damned if I will,” he muttered and kissed her.

He pulled back, his chest heaving, and looked at her angrily. “Don’t start something you mean to stop.”
She met his gaze squarely. “I don’t mean to stop.”
His eyes narrowed. “I cannot give you marriage.”
She’d known. She’d never thought he could—she would’ve sworn so had she been asked a minute earlier—but his blunt words were an arrow of pain piercing her heart nonetheless. She bared her teeth in a smile. “Have I asked you to?”
“No.”
“And I never shall,” she vowed.

She shivered.
“Don’t think I’ve forgotten when your fichu slipped from your dress,” he murmured. “Strange, for I’ve seen more immodest décolletages at every ball I’ve ever attended, yet I’ve been entirely unable to remove the thought of your breasts from my mind.” His gaze flicked up to hers, dark and enigmatic. “Your breasts and other parts of you. Perhaps it’s the very fact that you usually cover yourself so modestly in public that makes the unveiling that more anticipated. Or perhaps”—he bent and whispered in her ear—“it’s you. Merely you.”

He slid his thumb between her folds and found that nub at the top, pressing down as he watched her face. She arched involuntarily, the sensation singing through her limbs.
A muscle ticked on his jaw, his face stern and ruthless, as he pressed again, his finger finding her entrance and slipping in.
She bit her lip, staring back at him, refusing to break their gaze, wanting him to continue.
“God,” he whispered. His nostrils flared suddenly, and seemingly against his will, he kissed her.

She held her breath.
His eyes flicked open to look at her. “Be brave.”
She raised an eyebrow, waiting.
He grinned.
There was a pinch, a growing pressure. She tensed. It hurt. He was so big and she felt suddenly small and fragile. Was this truly meant to be?
He leaned down and brushed his lips against her nose. “Sweet Diana.”
Then he shoved hard.
She inhaled. It burned, but that didn’t matter. She was called Artemis, and a huntress could withstand pain.

“Diana,” he whispered. “My Diana.”
She touched the corner of his lips, and he opened, taking her thumb into his mouth, biting tenderly on her flesh.
She felt his belly rubbing against hers, the wet slide of his hard flesh in hers, the brush of his chest against her nipples, and she liked it. There was no pain now, only a feeling of closeness. Of animal intimacy. Perhaps she’d been wrong: perhaps this was the moment a woman was nearest to the wild animal: when she was without constraints or thought, no society telling her what she must do and what she must not. Free from civilization.
They were bound together in this primitive act.

She opened her eyes to find him watching her like a predator. Calculating, waiting.
He held her gaze, and she saw a faint smirk curl one corner of his mouth. The rug was suddenly gone from her lap, and then she felt the slide of her skirts up her legs.
“Do you remember that morning?” he asked, his voice impossibly deep. “You emerged from the pond like a goddess triumphant. You’d flaunted your ankles the day before”—he brushed warm fingers over her left ankle, making her shiver—“but that morning I saw the tender curve of your inner thigh, the sweet bend of your knee, the shy sweep of your calf. You revealed them as coyly as a siren singing a man to his ecstatic death—and you didn’t even know it, did you? By the time you reached the shore I was hard as iron.”

His thumbs rubbed slow circles on her hipbones as if to gentle her or maybe to keep her relaxed. Although if that were his purpose, it wasn’t working. She still held his gaze in defiance, but her breath was quickening as if she were climbing a staircase.
Abruptly he looked down.
He stilled, simply staring at her. He made no movement, but there was a wild possessiveness in his eyes that made something inside her stretch and purr in response. He wanted her. Wanted this part of her. She was suddenly jealous of any other woman he’d ever looked at like this. He hadn’t the right—they hadn’t the right. This look, his expression, this moment was only between them and no one else.
They were a universe of two.

His movements were sharp and abrupt as he drove himself into her again and again. He was nothing like the sophisticated aristocrat he was in front of others. One corner of his mouth twisted in a sneer, his eyes a glaring furnace. He used her body for his own pleasure, for his own need, working her up and down on his cock. He was little more than an animal now.
And she gloried in it. She—she—had driven him to this. Had made a man who captured kings and foreign diplomats with the surety of his eloquence quite simply lose his mind.
He pushed up with all his might, shoved to the hilt within her, and froze, head thrown back in an agony of pleasure.
She leaned forward and delicately licked the salt sweat from his lips as his seed flooded her.

He lay on top of her, his upper body braced on his arms but his hips and legs weighing her down. Trapping and holding her.
“You’re mine,” he said, laying his cheek against hers. “Mine and no one else’s.”
“Maximus,” she warned.
“Yield, Diana,” he whispered, parting her legs. She could feel the thick heat of his cock pressed hard on her bottom. “Yield, warrior maiden.”
“I’m not a maiden. You took that.”
“And I would again,” he growled. “I’d steal you away and keep you in a castle far from here. Far from any other man. I’d guard you jealously and every night come to your bed and put my cock into your cunny and fuck you until dawn.”

“Do you want that, Diana?” he muttered into her ear, his breath humid on her skin. “Do you want to be mine and only mine, away from this cursed world, in a place inhabited by just we two?”
“Oh, yes,” she said, her voice fierce.
He levered himself up. “I’d go a-hunting in the day and kill a fine stag. I’d bring it back to our hidden castle and dress it and cook it over a fire and then I’d sit you on my lap and feed you, morsel by morsel. All your sustenance would be by my hand and mine alone.”
She laughed then, for she knew he didn’t truly want such a biddable doll. She squirmed and turned in a sudden movement so that she lay facing him.
“No, I’d hunt with you by your side,” she said as she reached up to pull his face down to hers. “I am your equal, my lord. Your equal and mate.”
“So you are,” he breathed, and bit her lip.

 “Diana,” he murmured in her ear, licking. “Diana, you are everything I’ve ever wanted and shall never have.”
Tears pricked at her eyes and she opened her mouth to sob.
“That’s it,” he said. “Weep for me. Bear my pain. Take my come. For I can give you nothing else.”
And he thrust into her in hard, sharp punches, each movement striking against that place within her. She gritted her teeth and bowed her head into the pillow. It was too much. Too little. A continual assault against her senses.

He opened his eyes. “Never leave me.”
She shook her head, breaking free from his rein and rising like the huntress she was. She let his poor cock slip to the very mouth of her before slamming herself back down. She rode him. Her thighs were strong and lithe, her brows drawn down in resolute purpose, and her lips were parted wide in something very like wonder.
It was the last that made him move. Dear God, if he couldn’t have anything “else, if she was determined to hollow him out and leave him a husk, then he would remember this:
Artemis riding him like the goddess of the hunt.

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ARC Review: The Good Fight by Julianna Keyes

Format: E-bookthegoodfight
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Time Served, #3
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Oscar Hall
Heroine: Dr. Susan Dufresne Jones
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 25, 2016
Started On: May 22, 2016
Finished On: July 22, 2016

Book 3 in the Time Served series was a novel experience for me. This was my first time reading a book told in the first person totally from the hero’s point of view.

34 year old Oscar Hall is the one who managed to get away from the shit hole that is pretty much Camden where he grew up. Years later, having had the success he had sought back then, Oscar returns, wanting to give back something to the community that is pretty much wasting away.

Oscar meets the formidable Dr. Susan Dufresne Jones by chance at the hospital where she works. The interest on Oscar’s part is immediate, perhaps because Susan gives off the “nothing amuses me” vibe rather effortlessly. However, things don’t work out as smoothly as Oscar envisions it for him and Susan. Though off to a rocky start, Susan and Oscar work things out by taking one day at a time, while at the same time Oscar sees to his dreams of building something that could give back to the people of Camden.

Miscommunication, the fact that both Oscar and Susan try to keep a lot of things bottled up, and most of all mistakes that both Susan and Oscar makes in the course of their relationship tests the strength of the bond that forges between them. A bond that is often seen to be rather fragile, but stands firm in many a storm it weathers through.

The Good Fight is not a story that just looks into the romance and the relationship that grows to life between Oscar and Susan. Rather, it focuses on Oscar’s relationships with various other secondary characters, the ups and downs that he goes through while trying to build his dream into a reality that is sustainable and long-lasting, and his own shortcomings when it comes to trusting his ability to hold onto and be worthy of someone like Susan.

I loved the whole mess that was Oscar’s life as it was portrayed through his inner thoughts. It was messy. It was real. That was what I connected with most and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I loved the friendship that was between Oscar and 24 year old Jade Romero, who puts up a false sense of bravado for the rest of the world to see. I would love to see whether Jade gets her own story, preferably with Wyatt, the man who does not get along at all with Jade, someone who is able to charm any man out of his pants and then some.

While I loved the novelty of the experience of reading a book solely told from the male lead’s perspective, I felt that when it came to a character such as Susan, without knowing how she saw things through that logical and direct to the point sort of brain of hers, proved to be the reason why I failed to connect with her on an emotional level. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the ending that took place a year after the story takes place, which gave me all warm fuzzies on the inside and showed to me that the bond between Oscar and Susan was one that was very real.

Susan I believe, was the character that got shortchanged because her story is the one that sits on the backburner, simmering and calling for attention where little if at all was given. I wanted to see Susan emerge out of that cold and logical shell of hers long enough to realize that there was more to life than being in a constant state of competition with ones own self to achieve more, to be better. That there was a daughter who required her love, understanding, empathy and kindness so that she might grow up and embody the same characteristics that Susan could teach her.

While there were bits and pieces of Susan’s interactions and difficulties when it came to dealing with her 11 year old daughter, whom we met in the 2nd book of the series In Her Defense, I would have loved to see that take centrestage in the story, be it even for a little while so that readers would have been able to see a warmer side to Susan, a character who comes off cold at first and began to thaw towards the end of the book.

I would have thought that given that this novel was totally told from a male perspective, that there would be more sex scenes involved of the kind that would make for a panty melting read. But, contrary to that notion, I found that the sex scenes were more toned down than the previous two books in the series. Not that the ones that were included were any less hot or potent. But perhaps owing to the fact that I had some difficulties in connecting with Susan on an emotional level, I found myself a bit removed from what was happening in the bedroom until towards the latter part of the story where Susan broke out with a gut wrenching confession of the difficult times she had had with trying to make her previous marriage work, a marriage that had already been doomed to failure.

It is a testament to Julianna’s talent that even with all the issues I had that I managed to enjoy the story that unfolded. Perhaps it was because through Oscar’s life, the reader gets to experience a wide range of diverse characters, and get to see something fresh develop and burgeon to life right in front of your eyes. The whole concept of cultivating produce inside the confines of a building is an idea that is being explored quite fervently across the world, and to read about it and feel as if you were a part of the experience, that was one of the best aspects of this story.

Recommended for fans of stories that feature characters who are real enough to make mistakes and wise enough to own up and learn from them. Makes for great reading!

Final Verdict: Gritty, honest, hard hitting and real!

Favorite Quotes

“Oh, Jesus, Oz, please,” she begs some time later. “I can’t—I need—just do something.”
“I’m doing something,” I tell her.
She whimpers and writhes, her body laid out like an offering, and I ease off and position myself on top of her, elbows on either side of her head. For the first time since I penetrated her I drag out my cock so just the tip is left inside, and dip my head so my lips brush against her ear. “Squeeze,” I order.
She squeezes the head of my cock with her pussy and I shudder violently, unprepared for how amazing it feels.

Her lips and tongue feel like they’re everywhere, tracing the shell of my ear, the pulse points over my throat, my collarbone. When she frees one hand to reach between us to undo the button at the top of my pants, I seize the opportunity to slip my own hand down the back of her shorts, sliding my fingers as low as I can until I find the damp heat between her thighs. I moan at the contact, then moan again when her fingers wrap around my cock, stroking like the pro she is. Pump, twist, fast, slow. It feels good, but it feels like a fucking textbook, too. Like she read the chapter, took notes and aced the test. I want messy and flawed. I want real. I want the scratched-out lines and the red ink and all the steps that come before you figure out what gets you off fastest.

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Review: Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-booklordofdarkness
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #5
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Godric St. John
Heroine: Margaret Reading
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 26, 2013
Started On: June 24, 2016
Finished On: June 27, 2016

Lord of Darkness delivers the story of the second Ghost of St.Giles, Godric St. John, who made for a brief but rather intriguing secondary character in Wicked Intentions, the first book in the series. The idea that more than one Ghost of St. Giles is in operation took root during the debut book and solidified with the delivery of Winter’s story that precedes this one.

Godric marries Lady Margaret Reading under “duress”, thinking that he would more or less be able to live his chosen life with a wife he would have little to do with. Godric has no intention of being drawn into the shaky emotional grounds where love takes root and loss is a given when you give your heart irrevocably to someone else. Godric mourns the death of his first wife, who had lived a life of illness, withering away in front of his very own eyes, taking a huge chunk of his heart and soul when she had finally being laid to rest.

After 2 years of residing in the country, Margaret Reading (Megs) decides that it is time for her to seek out her husband, for the sole purpose of getting herself with child. For that to happen, Megs has to get over the fact that Godric can never replace the love of her life, whose untimely demise at the hands of a mad man known as the Ghost of St. Giles is something she is looking to avenge. On the first night of her return to London, Megs runs into none other than the infamous Ghost, whom she has every intention of killing without knowing the true identity of the man behind the mask or the circumstances that had led to the murder.

Godric puts up a valiant effort in the face of the onslaught that Megs wages in order to get her husband to bed, long enough to put his seed to good use. But in doing so, Megs finds that it is more difficult than she thought to keep her heart and emotions separate from the physical aspect of a relationship that her body betrays her in every manner possible. But Megs is determined to keep her husband at a distance in the face of the war that Godric wages when it comes to giving her pleasure of a kind that she never thought she would find with anyone else.

While Godric is determined to weed out the true killer who was behind the murder of his wife’s lover, every kill Godric makes in the name of the Ghost, the avenger and protector of the weak that works in darkness, he sheds one more piece of his soul to the abysmal darkness that has become his friend ever since his wife had departed from his life, or perhaps even since before. Whether the real danger comes from his wife, determined to hold a piece of herself back from him, or from the dragoons captain equally fervent in his pursuit of the dastardly Ghost of St. Giles, or from the inquiries Godric makes as the role of savior he has taken upon himself for the weakest, remains to be seen as the novel reaches its ultimate culmination.

While Lord of Darkness delivers two protagonists who are mourning lost loves in their own right, the wealth of grief that Godric harbors in his heart was one that got to me. Not that the pain that Megs had undergone was any less, but Megs had the time to heal in a way that Godric never gave himself the opportunity to. For me, Megs was the toughest character to like or even perhaps love in this story. While I understood that she did not want to betray the memories of the first man that she ever truly loved, I couldn’t quite accept the way she tended to hold pieces of herself back from Godric in bed and out of it in a way that continued to kick Godric where he hurt the most.

Godric yes, is a big boy who can handle himself. But the fact that he capitulated towards his wife’s needs sooner than Megs did was telling in a way that didn’t quite sit well with me. Godric is a very giving man, perhaps too giving. Godric’s long and painful journey nursing his wife in her long journey towards an ultimate death should clue in characters to the sort of honorable and faithful man that Godric is. To have that kind of soul once again give and give until Megs realizes in her own time that she mirrors and echos Godric’s feelings was just a little too late in coming for me.

I also had a teeny problem with where Godric’s feelings of love for his wife suddenly emerged from. Though story delivers a connection that had been forged between Godric and Megs way before she had turned up at his home in London, I wanted something more for both of them. Something more tangible and tension of the kind that could have made the book that much better in my opinion. This is a trope that could have delivered a ton of angst if it had been steered in that direction, but nevertheless Hoyt manages to deliver a read that takes your breathe away and then some, even with all the teensy problems that I had with the heroine.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: With each book, Hoyt delivers enchantment of the kind that stays with you forever!

Favorite Quotes

When his breath caught, when his pace quickened, so that her hips sank beneath his into the soft mattress, she swallowed, straining her eyes to see in the dark. When he suddenly stilled, buried deep in her throbbing flesh, locked with her in animal intensity, she wanted … so much.
But all she received was what she’d asked for.
His seed.

She gripped his arms as he shoved resolutely against her, seating himself fully. She looked up, trying to see something of him in the darkness. An expression, perhaps how he held his head.
But he was simply a large male shape.
And yet … she knew it was him. Would’ve known it blindfolded. Whether by scent or some more primitive means—perhaps an alchemy of souls—she felt him bone-deep.
Godric. Poised above her.
Godric. Withdrawing his cock in one long, pulling slide.
Godric. Flexing his hips back into her with a final twist at the end.
He was overpowering her senses, laying claim to her soul.

It caught her by surprise when it came, no slow buildup, no warmth diffusing through her body. This was fast and hard, a fire sweeping through limbs already weakened by the previous orgasm. She was dimly aware of her hands scrabbling at his sides, his shoulders, as she tried to urge him to do something. She was going to expire, to die, if he didn’t pick up his pace, didn’t take his cock and ram it into her.
And whether because he could sense her extremity or because he was there himself, he did it. He let her legs fall and braced himself on his strong, straight arms and slammed his hips into her, making violent, urgent, blissful contact with her. The bed rocked, the headboard banging rhythmically against the wall, and any other time she would have been mortified, but right now … right now she was in paradise. White light obscured her vision as bliss flooded her being, seizing her, shaking her, giving her life.
She could fly like this, perhaps live eternally.

He’d made it worse for himself; he knew it the moment her fingers curled into her pretty cunny. Her lips parted moistly, her head thrown back as she began to stroke herself, and it took everything he had to keep from spilling. To watch her pleasure herself as she rode his cock and not end this too soon.
“That’s it, darling,” he whispered low, coaching her, wanting to see her bring herself to fulfillment. “It’s sweet, isn’t it? Touching yourself, letting me watch. Do you like it? Do you enjoy putting on a show for me? Parting your pretty lips, letting me see how moist you’ve become, fucking yourself on me?”
The crudity seemed to jolt something within her. Her eyes widened, her back arched, and he felt the muscles of her sheath grip him tight, so tight.
Right before he lost control himself.

He seemed to take forever, widening her, burrowing into her swollen tissues. Then he made a final shove and she felt the fabric of his leggings brush firmly against her bottom.
He held himself there and she could hear the sound of his rough breathing in the quiet of the room. She bit her lip, mirroring his earlier grimace. She couldn’t seem to catch her breath—and he hadn’t even started to move.
And then he did, a slick, hard slide that rubbed against something wonderful inside of her. She couldn’t help the squeaking cry she gave, and as if her hips moved of their own accord, she began bumping back against him.
He huffed a rough laugh. “So impatient.”

His breath caught and he swiveled his hips, grinding against her, leaning close over her, whispering low in her ear. “You’re touching yourself, aren’t you?”
She swallowed, closing her eyes in bliss. “Y-yes.”
“God,” he muttered, and she wondered if he’d finally lost the power of speech.
Perhaps he had, for he suddenly planted one hand over her shoulder and shoved hard into her, pressing her into the mattress. He was pushing her body up the bed with quick, forceful jabs that spread her apart, made her see a starburst behind her closed lids.
A spike of near-painful pleasure bloomed between her legs, flowing and expanding through her, a river of sweet completion. She moaned, loud and low.

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Review: Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookthiefofshadows
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #4
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Winter Makepeace
Heroine: Isabel Beckinhall
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 1, 2012
Started On: June 15 2016
Finished On: June 22, 2016

Towards the end of Scandalous Desires, book 3 in the Maiden Lane series, there comes perhaps a startling discovery for some, and for the rest, something that they might have already been suspicious of when it comes to Winter Makepeace. Winter’s role in the home for foundling children has made him a very prominent secondary character in the past 3 novels, one that endears readers to only part of who he is. By day, he is the controlled, stoic headmaster of the home, and at night, he assumes the persona of the Ghost of St. Giles, a figure revered and feared in equal doses, a man who keeps to the shadows of the night and hunts those that preys on the weak.

Isabel Beckinhall the Baroness of Beckinhall, who is widowed at a young age, makes her free of certain restrictions when it comes to moving about in the society. Becoming a patroness of the foundling home gives her a sense of purpose, something she actually looks forward to in a way that perhaps helps heal the broken aspects of her heart and soul. When she encounters the injured Ghost of St. Giles, even though she is much curious and more than a little intrigued about the identity behind the mask, she respects the Ghost’s wishes and refrains from inquiring further. Little does she know that the Ghost is none other than Winter, a man whom she thinks to be too rigid and dour faced to be of an interest to her.

When Winter’s role as the headmaster of the foundling home is thrown into jeopardy, it is up to Isabel to teach him of the ways to move about in the elite of the society. Thus Isabel embarks upon a dangerous mission in more ways than one. A particularly precarious one to her heart when it is in danger of sliding into being utterly in love with Winter, Isabel becoming the one ensnared in the risky venture of teaching Winter the art of seduction and more.

Hoyt has a way of taking on tried and tested tropes in the world of romance and bringing something fresh and vivid to readers at the same time. In Thief of Shadows, Isabel is the older heroine, the experienced widow who takes on lovers of the same kind, that is until she is taken in the arms of Winter Makepeace. Winter is younger than Isabel by many years, inexperienced and a virgin to boot, which makes him doubly more delicious in a certain sense. His inexperience does not stop him from becoming a lethal force to be reckoned with in the bedroom and out of it, his nocturnal activities bringing danger of a whole different kind to his doorstep as he grows more and more weary of his chosen path in life.

Winter has lived a life of self-imposed control and and rules that had never left him wanting before. However, with Isabel in his life, the vividity of life that she brings to his otherwise dark, dull and grey existence is one that he is hard pressed to turn away from. Little by little, Winter learns that he could have a life that includes Isabel as the woman by his side, the woman who manages to turn his world upside down just by walking into the same room.

In Winter, Isabel finds the room to grow, to seek solace of a kind she never thought would ever come her way. Scarred in a way she never admitted to even herself, it is Winter who brings to her life something she has always yearned for, but has completely turned her mind away from because of the futility in wishing for something she is no longer capable of. That alone was a beautiful aspect of the story and I loved Winter wholeheartedly for how he dealt with Isabel’s wounds. For Isabel, there is no turning away from the man who sees her, really sees her, the woman behind the facade she presents to the rest of the world.

It takes a writer of immense talent to keep up the momentum of a series through each and every single book. Hoyt has managed to do that and more in the Maiden Lane series, which is why I would recommend these hot and delectable reads of love, mystery, and steamy sex to all romance readers out there!

Final Verdict: Steals your heart, storms your emotions and leaves you begging for more!

Favorite Quotes

“Would you like me more if I knew how to simper and twist my words?” he demanded.
His sudden aggression made her reply without thinking, straight from her heart. “No. I like you as you are.”
She licked her lips at her admission and his gaze settled broodingly on her mouth. It felt like a brand, that look. A physical touch more intimate than any embrace. Her lips parted in wonder and his eyes rose slowly to meet hers, for once unshielded.
Dear God, what she saw in that look! How he had hidden these many years behind the guise of a simple schoolmaster, she didn’t know. Anger, passion, lust, and surging hunger swirled in his stormy eyes. Emotions so stark, so strong, she didn’t understand how he kept them under control. He looked as if he were about to attack her, ravish her, and conquer London and the world itself. He could’ve been a warrior, a statesman, a king.

She opened her lips against his. He claimed her like a barbarian marauder. The kiss was rough, unpracticed, and without finesse, and yet Isabel felt a trembling thrill go through her. She was used to civilized embraces, carefully thought out, impeccably implemented. Mannered and cool. The Ghost of St. Giles, in contrast, was a storm breaking over her, all passion and emotion.
All real man.
She felt his arms come about her, pulling her tight against his chest as he bent her helplessly, lost, falling, her heart half beating out of her breast. And she knew—she knew—that she kissed not only the Ghost of St. Giles, but Winter Makepeace as well.

His eyes opened, his sensuous upper lip twisting in a snarl. “I’ll never forget you no matter what.”
And he grasped her hips firmly, shoving up into her. He was untried, inelegant, jerky, and rough—and she loved it.
She flung back her head and laughed breathlessly.
“Damn you,” he growled, jamming himself in and out of her, his cock ruthless and hard. “Do it.”
She looked down at him, a goddess supreme. “Fuck, you mean?”
His eyes narrowed to slits. “Make love. Make love to me. Now.”

“Slowly,” he whispered, and covered her mouth with his.
For a moment she forgot everything. His tongue was in her mouth, warm and strong, masculine and insistent, and his cock was pushed so far inside her that her feminine lips were spread wide. He had her. He was in control.
Then he began walking, still kissing her, and the motion was exquisitely seductive, a subtle nudging, a sweet, rhythmic rocking.
She moaned against his lips. “Winter.”
“Yes,” he murmured back. “Yes.”
Then her back was against a wall and he’d braced his legs. Suddenly he was driving into her. Fast. Hard. Deep. Exactly right.
His teeth were bared, his lips pulled back, and his eyes glittered as he stared at her. “Yes.”

“Now,” he whispered, and withdrew his cock an incremental amount. So tiny, less than an inch, surely. So small it should hardly matter at all.
But when he thrust back inside her, quick and hard and nearly brutal, the movement sent her hips grinding against his hand, trapped between her and the mattress. Sent her gasping for breath as the sensation spurred all her nerve endings to a nearly painful pleasure.
“I love you,” he whispered as he thrust again. And again. Each movement controlled. Each small movement devastating in its effect. “I love you.”
She lost all concept of time. She lost her place and surroundings. She couldn’t remember who he was—who she was. She lost her mind.

“So brave,” he murmured into her hair, stroking it. “So beautiful and brave.”
“I’m not beautiful,” she rasped. “You shouldn’t see me like this.”
She must look like a hag, and the horror of her gauche tantrum and her naked vulnerability made her hide her face in his shoulder.
But he placed a gentle palm under her chin and turned her face back to him. “I’m privileged to see you like this,” he said, his eyes fierce. “Wear your social mask at your balls and parties and when you visit your friends out there, but when we are alone, just the two of us in here, promise me this: that you’ll show me only your true face, no matter how ugly you might think it. That’s our true intimacy, not sex, but the ability to be ourselves when we are together.”

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