Review: Dying to Please by Linda Howard

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
POV: Third Person, Dual
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Ballantine
Hero: Thompson Cahill
Heroine: Sarah Stevens
Sensuality: 3
Published On: August 29, 2002
Started On: January 28, 2022
Finished On: January 30, 2022

“Don’t you think she’s hot?”
He sighed. “Yeah, I think she’s hot.” In fact, he thought she was hotter than hot; she was scorching. The problem was, he’d already suffered third-degree burns in the relationship wars, and he didn’t have any skin to spare in another losing round.

When I initially discovered the goldmine that is Linda Howard novels, I went a little crazy and binge read everything I could get my hands on and never regretted the fact. Well, I regret it a bit because authors like Ms. Howard are scarce and few authors can live up to her exceptionally well written books featuring heroes of the kind that makes you swoon and palpitate in equal doses. For some reason, I had missed out on reading Dying to Please during my initial bingeing phase eons back, and I was glad for the fact too, because I could enjoy a novel from Ms. Howard and revel in the first time feels as if I were discovering her writing anew.

30 year old Sarah Stevens is butler/security guard to a retired judge who is 85 years of age. Having spent three years with the judge, Sarah is fond of him and looks upon her vocation as more than just her job. With no commitments in her life otherwise to tie her down (which she has worked hard to keep that way), Sarah dreams of traveling the world in style once she is no longer needed in her position.

Things turn a bit harrowing however, when a burglary attempt at the judge’s home is thwarted by Sarah, bringing her to the limelight via a feature done on television following her act of heroism. Amongst those admiring from afar is the villain, who wants Sarah to be his, and he is not going to stop until he fulfills his need to have her, even if it means dispensing of people along the way if need be.

When the judge is killed, leaving Sarah devastated and Detective Thomson Cahill after her as the prime suspect, it takes Sarah everything she has to move past the grief and get herself back together. Cahill whom she had fell instantly in lust with the moment they meet initially after the attempted burglary, Sarah who has no intention of embarking on any serious relationship, especially not with a man who is bitter about his ugly divorce just a year back, finds herself entangled with Cahill in a way that is all consuming.

Fate always seems to have the last laugh as Cahill is drawn to Sarah in equal fervor and before long, they are heating up the sheets and then some as the fire that burns between them consumes them both. Things come to a head however, when Sarah is lured into the lion’s den by the machinations of none other than the killer, who courts Sarah with every intention of making her his, because he is the only one who deserves a diamond like Sarah. Cahill has his work cut out for him as he comes to the realization of the massive blunder he has made when it comes to Sarah, and that it might already be too late for him to make amends if the killer were to have their way with Sarah.

Dying to Please is the kind of novel that offers engrossing characters both main and secondary, and a villain who makes the hair at the back of your neck stand up. The romantic elements are strong, giving the reader the perfect balance of suspense and romance, alongside with sex scenes of the kind that makes your insides hum. I swear to God that authors like Ms. Howard does a better job in rousing the emotions of readers with their love scenes than authors of the most explicit erotica can, and that is certainly saying something. The scenes of passion in this one were off-the-charts hot and it is definitely an experience I would not be forgetting anytime soon!

Sarah was a lovely heroine; equal parts strength and gentle femininity that was appealing on every level. Cahill on the other hand is the kind of hero that you fall for and hard, and at the same time, makes you want to bash your head against the wall as well. But ain’t that the fun part of reading a romance that is well done? Cahill is delicious, undoubtedly so – and the scars he carries from his marriage are all too real and one can understand why he puts up such a fuss when he falls so badly for Sarah. I just wish that Sarah had gone traveling as she had wanted all her adult life, and given the cocky Cahill something to really chew on as he stews back home, dying to grovel at Sarah’s feet to beg for her forgiveness. Now that, would have been fun!

Recommended for fans of finely balanced romantic suspense. Ms. Howard is a master storyteller!

Final Verdict: In Dying to Please, Ms. Howard offers a unique amalgam of elements that makes this romantic suspense stand out in every sense imaginable!

Favorite Quotes

He was big, dwarfing her with his size, her head tucked neatly under his chin. His furnacelike heat wrapped around her. He would be heavy, and probably dominating, but she could also imagine him lying back and letting her set the pace—
“Stay,” he said again, as if she hadn’t refused.
She hung on to her sanity, barely. “That wouldn’t be smart.”
“Fuck smart.” His hot breath stirred over the fine hairs on the back of her neck, making her shiver again. His low voice made the word a weapon to be used, a deeper level of intimacy between them. “It would sure as hell be good.” He stroked her neck where his breath had warmed her skin. “If you like it slow, I’ll be slow. If you like it hard and fast, then that’s the way you’ll get it.”

His hands closed over her breasts, his thumbs rubbing over her nipples. His erection was a rock-hard bulk in his jeans, pushing against her bottom. Her legs threatened to give way beneath her, and she heard her own breathing, shallow and rapid, almost panting.
“Easy?” he whispered in her ear. “Or hard?”
Hard. Dear God, hard.

His heavy weight bore her down, overwhelming her, the way it had all the previous times he’d pinned her. While she appreciated his efforts not to hurt her, she was as helpless now against him as she had been the first time he’d pinned her. Her only hope had been to remain on her feet, evade him and look for her chance, but he’d already taken her down.
Desperately she braced one foot on the mat and pushed, seeking leverage. He shifted to counter her move, and his hips slid between the open V of her legs, the smooth heat of his penis pressing into her labia. He froze, a sound almost like a growl rumbling in his throat. As if he couldn’t help himself he pushed, and the thick bulbous head began to enter her.

Desperately she grabbed the pipe behind her and held on. Spots swam in front of her eyes and her entire body bucked as she came. She heard her own hoarse cries, but they sounded distant, as if someone else made them. For a long, magic moment nothing existed but her body and the firestorm of sensation as her inner contractions peaked, then slowly began to ebb. Her thighs had been clenched around his head but now her legs fell limply open.
He was licking her.

“Just a little closer,” he crooned, slipping his thumb inside her again. Then he replaced his hand with his mouth and he kissed her, deeply, his tongue probing, while his wet thumb moved farther down and pushed into her in a bold, shocking thrust that made stars explode in her head. She came again, convulsing, screaming, trying to fight him because the sensations were too sharp to be borne. He held her down, drawing out the moment, holding her at the peak.
Finally she collapsed, trembling, her ears ringing as she struggled to find some measure of control.

“Now!” she shrieked, maddened by the completion that lurked just out of her grasp. She fought the cuffs like a madwoman. “Take them off!”
“All right, just hold still!” He subdued her, holding her down as he got the key from under the edge of the mat where he’d stashed it. He stretched higher on her body as he reached for the cuffs, forcing his penis deeper, and something very close to a howl erupted from her throat. Alarmed, afraid he’d injured her, he hastily unlocked the handcuffs and started to draw back from her.
Sarah lunged upward, locking her legs around his in a vise as she grabbed his ass and pulled him in tighter, as deep as she could take him. There, right there—ah! Her hips pumped as she pistoned herself on him, and she felt the peak coming closer . . . closer . . . She screamed, caught in an orgasm more intense than the others, so intense she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t see. She heard him make an inhuman sound; then he was thrusting hard, groaning, his arms locked around her as he began coming again.

He gave her what she wanted, coming down on top of her and crushing her into the mattress with the force of his thrusts, his hands under her hips grinding her even harder on him. She came, bowing under him, her heels digging into the backs of his thighs while her nails sank into his shoulders. It was always fast the first time, fast and hard, raw in its intensity. He climaxed right after she did, and as they lay together in the aftermath, she felt herself begin to drift to sleep, so deeply content it went all the way down to a molecular level. This was where she belonged, right here with him. The “here” didn’t matter; it could be anywhere, so long as she was with Cahill.

“Your ex-wife has to be the biggest idiot walking the earth.”
He gave her a startled look, then shrugged. “Make that a two-timing, vindictive idiot. What made you think of her?”
“You. You’re neat, domesticated, intelligent—”
“Keep going,” he said.
“—good-looking, sense of humor, sexy—”
“And yours.”
She stopped, her stomach suddenly flip-flopping. “Are you?” she whispered.
He put the milk in the refrigerator and gave her a wry smile. “Oh, yeah.”
She took a deep breath. “Wow.”
“That’s kind of the way it takes me, too.”

It was a long time happening, but finally her hips began to move to meet him, and her fingers dug into his shoulders. He kept his pace slow, loving the feel of her tightening around him as if she was trying to hold him inside. The pulse at the base of her throat was hammering, and her nipples were tight, flushed with color. Tension coiled in her finely honed body, lifting her to every inward thrust, her legs sliding around his and locking in that way she had of holding him in, as if she couldn’t get enough of him.
Her head tilted back, a groan sounding deep in her throat.

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