ARC Review: Cold Secrets by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookcoldsecrets
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice, #7
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lucas Randall
Heroine: Ashley Chen
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 31, 2017
Started On: January 10, 2017
Finished On: January 27, 2017

The 7th book in the Cold Justice series brings to readers a story that drives home the point that Toni Anderson is an author who delivers on all fronts where the romantic suspense genre is concerned. Every single book in this delectable series has been a hit for me, the subject matter that Ms. Anderson takes on in each of the stories being ones that are often difficult to write about with a measure of objectivity and impartiality. In Cold Secrets, Ms. Anderson delves into the world of sex trafficking, especially that of children who gets the short end of the stick where the fastest growing industry in the criminal world is concerned.

It all begins with the hunt for a little girl, where FBI Agent Lucas Randall finds himself going undercover as a john, the girl who is believed to have been kidnapped by an international ring of sex traffickers. The operation goes horribly wrong, with Lucas barely managing save his own life. Thus begins the hunt for a group of people who always seem to be one step ahead of the team of FBI agents allocated for the task, which is how computer expert and FBI agent Ashley Chen finds herself crossing paths with Lucas.

From the moment these two meet, there is an awareness that is almost palpable in the air. Ashley is someone who holds herself aloof and centers her life around work. She believes that the mistakes that she has made owing to wanting “normalcy” has cost her too much in her life and therefore has no intention of saying yes to the answering heat that flares to life deep inside of herself where Lucas is concerned. At first, Lucas is a bit skeptical of the talent and determination that drives Ashley. While Ashley herself is determined that this would be the case that would prove her worth to the establishment, she finds herself drawn deeper into a case that could hit far too close to the lies that has practically defined her past to a point.

Cold Secrets brings forth a multi-layered story, where as each layer is revealed makes the reader go a-ha!, just like that. I believe that that is part of the ingenuity that makes Ms. Anderson the master she is in weaving stories of the kind. The issue of sex trafficking as well as that of pedophilia is handled, both with the kind of sensitivity that won my wholehearted approval. Neither of these issues are easy to talk about, probe into, dissect and discuss. But I believe that in Cold Secrets, Ms. Anderson has definitely done a praiseworthy job of including the pertinent details without getting bogged down in the unnecessary when it comes to the story.

Being the geek I am, I especially loved the tidbits about the technological aspects that Ms. Anderson included in the story. Well researched is how I would conclude all the facets explored in the novel. Considering the fact that Ashley is someone who works on computers and has dreams of becoming part of the cyber-crime security expert team, there is a bit of jargon that needs to be handled in a way that does not bore the less tech savvy members of the readers community. I loved it all. The statistics, the intricate working mechanisms behind the DarkNet, and the role the Tor browser plays in all of it; all of that were intellectually stimulating to this brain of mine.

Another aspect that is part of the Cold Justice series is the way it delves into issues that relates to how the lines between liberty and privacy and the grey areas that agents often have to work around in order to nab criminals whose nefarious tendencies are protected by the letter of the law that they manipulate by using an army of highly paid lawyers. The fact that this requires painstaking work on the part of law enforcement officials, requiring them to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s is one that is at times frustrating, but then again, that is what the justice system is all about. I love how these stories sheds light onto all these aspects without getting procedural about the whole thing. That is one of the many reasons that I would always keep coming back for more where Toni Anderson is concerned.

Another facet of the story that I adored were Lucas and Ashley, both of whom I loved. Lucas is just so darn sexy and admirable in the way that he knows how to “handle” someone as prickly and difficult as Ashley, and I mean that in the best way possible. Lucas is light where Ashley is darkness in comparison. Lucas is open and frank in his interest when it comes to Ashley, but with her, it is a fact that she is constantly warring with herself to not make the same sort of mistake that could be costly as her past had taught her. Even with all that, the sizzling attraction that at times you could cut through with a knife makes it impossible to turn away from and that is exactly what happens to Ashley when it comes to Lucas. The sexual tension was done perfectly well, the scenes of passion just as much! The ending when it came, I could not have asked for anything better.

A job well done, Ms. Anderson!

Final Verdict: Ms. Anderson wows readers yet again by taking on Chinese organized crime & spinning a tale that hits all the marks!

Favorite Quotes

Yesterday, she’d kissed him. It was only fair to return the favor.
He dipped his head, captured her lips and she opened her mouth with a groan. It was like diving into sin and temptation. Heat and pleasure flared between them and made the frigidity of the night, the damp dirtiness of the alley, and the grim reality of the case, all disappear.
Her body rose to meet his and he dove deeper, tangling his tongue with hers, feeling the fervor of her response. He didn’t let go of her wrists, but his other hand tugged her silky shirt out of her pants so he could reach inside and cup those perfect breasts.
Lace scraped his palm and made him instantly rock hard.

“I like you, Ashley, or haven’t you figured that out yet?”
Fear entered her gaze and she turned her cheek away from his touch. “Please don’t.”
“Please don’t what?” he asked. “Like you? You think I kiss every woman I come across in the street?”
Ashley sent him a disdainful glare. “If either of us had had a condom you’d have gotten your reward for that kiss, and you know it.”
He was so close he could still smell traces of her arousal and it twisted his good sense. “I had my reward, sweetheart. Watching you lose it isn’t something I’m going to forget anytime soon.”

“Don’t be naive, Lucas. You don’t have to like someone to fuck them,” she snapped.
Her attempt to push him away didn’t surprise him, but it did make him angry. “You’re right. I wouldn’t have to like you to fuck you, but God help me, I do.” He leaned closer. “And after feeling you come all over my fingers I really want to fuck you. So keep that in mind next time you follow me down a back alley at midnight.”

His hands urged her on, harder, faster. And even though there were no spaces left to fill she still wanted more of him; she wanted to swallow him whole. He sank his fingers into her long hair, rearing up until he could graze her neck with strong white teeth. Still he demanded more, forcing her to keep chasing that edge again, but with him this time. He nudged her knees wider
apart and she sank even further down his length and cried out. He lay back on the bed and his fingers found her nipple and clit, pinching them both at exactly the same time and making her shatter. Her cries echoed off the walls.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

awesomeread

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Format: E-bookeleanorandpark
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Hero: Park
Heroine: Eleanor
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 26, 2013
Started On: September 07, 2016
Finished On: September 08, 2016

Rainbow Rowell is an author who is completely in a league of her own in the way she makes her characters and stories come alive with so much emotion that it practically hurts you – but in a good way. Eleanor and Park is no exception to this rule, and though the ending was a bit hasty for my tastes after the grueling bouts of angst that Rowell puts readers through, this is a story that has stayed with me long after I was done with it.

Eleanor is the new girl, who with a style that does not fit in with the rest, makes Park want to get away from it all. But even then, with all his misgivings about her, he does slide over in the bus and gives Eleanor the seat next to him to sit. Thus Eleanor and Park finds themselves going through the motions of friendship which grows into something tender, stronger and wilder by the turn of each page, all right before your eyes. Their love unfurls in a setting that is as simple and ordinary as they come. At the back of a school bus that ferries them back and forth day in and day out.

While Park has a relatively good life, Eleanor’s is one that is filled with horrors of the kind we would all rather not even think about. The fact that her mother does try to protect her does not mean much in the face of what is as inevitable as night turning to day, and one cannot help but be appalled, scared and wanting to grab Eleanor right out of the pages and provide her with a safe haven.

Like most readers I believe, I loved the bits where Park started to communicate with Eleanor in subtle ways at first, which developed into something that was so wonderful that it made my heart ache. I could not put this down from the minute I started reading, and I would not have had it any other way. Eleanor and Park is a story that is meant to be read in one sitting, a story that is meant to be devoured, if nothing else, just to feel the thousand and one emotions that courses right through you from start to finish.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: A love that leaves you aching and wanting; Eleanor & Park is a novel not to be missed!

Favorite Quotes

“I read it again twice last night. You can take it tonight.”
“Yeah? Thanks.”
He was still holding the end of her scarf, rubbing the silk idly between his thumb and fingers. She watched his hand.
If he were to look up at her now, he’d know exactly how stupid she was. She could feel her face go soft and gummy. If Park were to look up at her now, he’d know everything.
He didn’t look up. He wound the scarf around his fingers until her hand was hanging in the space between them.
Then he slid the silk and his fingers into her open palm.
And Eleanor disintegrated.

“I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…”—her voice nearly disappeared—“think I live for you.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath. That’s probably why I’m so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?”

There’s only one of him, she thought, and he’s right here.
He knows I’ll like a song before I’ve heard it. He laughs before I even get to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes me want to let him open doors for me.
There’s only one of him.

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

Great Read!(1)

Review: To Desire a Devil by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-booktodesireadevil
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Legend of the Four Soldiers, #4
Publisher: Vision
Hero: Reynaud St. Aubyn
Heroine: Beatrice Corning
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 1, 2009
Started On: August 25, 2016
Finished On: August 30, 2016

To Desire a Devil, the last book in the Legend of the Four Soldiers series by Elizabeth Hoyt is a hard book to rate. This book had so much potential; after all, all the preceding stories had pretty much delivered on all fronts. Yet, this book sort of fell flat where every other book shined, and I could not muster enough enthusiasm for the main protagonists in the story either.

Reynaud St. Aubyn, the Viscount of Hope, returns home to a shocked household, who had all presumed him dead for seven long years. Held captive by Indians, Reynaud had not survived the hand that he had been dealt with, to walk away now from the challenge of proving himself to be who he says he is. To complicate matters, his reaction towards Beatrice Corning, niece of the present Earl who resides at his home is one that he does not particularly need or want. However, life has a way throwing the unexpected along your way, and even though Reynaud might not want the added complication, it is one that tempts him on every level.

While the accounts of what Reynaud had gone through made for interesting reading, the rest of the story pretty much did fall flat. I keep trying to put my finger on exactly what went wrong, and yet I cannot. Perhaps it is a mix of factors that led to the whole thing. Either way, this would have to be my least favorite book by Hoyt.

Recommended for fans of the series.

Favorite Quotes

Then he leaned down and kissed her forehead. “Are you sure?”
And that small bit of tenderness decided her. “Yes.”
He wasn’t gentle. He didn’t try to go slowly. He thrust himself inside her, quickly and violently, and her entire body arched with the pain. Burning. Tearing. Something wasn’t right.
She pressed her palms against his chest. “No.”
He looked down at her, his face drawn, the tattooed birds flying about his eye, wild and savage, and he no longer looked tender. He looked like a conqueror. “Too late. You’re mine now.”

He pushed the odd thought aside as he shoved the rest of his length into her. He grasped the headboard on either side of her arms and enclosed her within his embrace. She shivered, and somehow that little movement was the final straw. He began thrusting, hard and fast, the feel of her slippery flesh around him, holding him so tightly, sending him completely out of control. She arched her hips, pushing back at him, and he leaned forward, biting her nape to keep her steady. She gave a cry, high and helpless, and then her cunny was flexing about him, milking his cock as she came.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo | eBookMall | iTunes

fairread