Posts by mvbookreviewer

A lover of all things romance, from Maldives.

Review: A Ring to Secure His Heir by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Alexius Kolovos Stavroulakis
Heroine: Rosie Gray
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 18, 2012
Started On: November 04, 2021
Finished On: November 07, 2021

A Ring to Secure His Heir by Lynne Graham, released in 2012, is a story that many readers would find affinity with, especially those who have problems with older Harlequin romances that feature heroines who are a bit more submissive. The story begins when 31 year old Alexius Kolovos Stavroulakis (Alexius) is tasked to find out more about 75 year old Socrates Seferis’s grand daughter, Socrate being the only person whose orders that Alexius is willing to follow, even if this one fills him with misgivings.

23 year old Rosie Gray is a woman who is used to life’s hardships. Having grown up with a flighty mother who would not win any awards for being a good mother, with an absentee father in the mix, Rosie had grown in foster care upon the death of her mother. Rendered nearly homeless just a couple of months back, Rosie is biding her time with a company whose sole business is office cleaning, the job suiting her quite well, until she is able to get her degree in Business Management.

Even though Alexius is at first reluctant to go ahead with what Socrates wants, he is not one to deny what the old man wants, who had been more of a parent to him than anyone else. Believing Rosie to be someone colorless and shapeless, with zero attributes to attract him at any level, Alexius is taken aback when he actually meets her to find out that instead, Rosie has a way of drawing him to her.

Rosie does not know what hits her when she encounters the altogether too good looking for himself Alexius, who makes her senses all go on red alert. Having no prior experience with men when it comes to sex, needless to say, before Alexius is done with his “mission”, they end up doing the missionary themselves.

Alexius, having gone against his own code of ethics and morals when he does the one-night stand with Rosie, berates himself afterwards for giving in and taking advantage of the granddaughter of the one man who is most valuable to him. But then again, somethings are inevitable and thus begins the at times fraught journey that Alexius and Rosie must traverse through for their own happily ever after.

I loved this novel; both Alexius and Rosie are superb characters, not to mention Socrates who was adorable in his way. It was refreshing to see a hero who did not come out with guns blazing, offering marriage just because he ended up taking the heroine’s virginity. I also admired the fact that Rosie stood her ground, even when it came to her grandfather who wanted to see them married to deal with the consequences of their one night of passion, all because she did not want to settle for half measures.

Rosie with the ambition of making something out of herself is one aspect of her character that I fully supported and admired. Alexius meanwhile, has a hard time reconciling with the feelings that Rosie rouses in him; the lust, possessiveness, protectiveness, and a hint of what he does not want to name, and that for me was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the story! It is always hilarious to see the hero struggle so much with what he feels, and when they reluctantly give in, there is so much love that bursts from within the pages, the reason why I love romance novels so much.

While I admired Rosie for all the characteristics, I also loved Alexius because he did not do a 180 degree turn on his convictions, just because he had met a woman who changed him fundamentally. He took his time to come to terms with his burgeoning feelings, and that is what made this book stand out for me.

Loved the epilogue tucked at the end. It is rare for a Harlequin romance to have one, and I enjoyed this one to the hilt!

Recommended for fans of Harlequin romances, fans of Lynne Graham, and fans of romances that totally captivates you on every level.

Final Verdict: Chock-full of taut sexual tension and goodness at every page turn!

Favorite Quotes

She was unlocking the battered front door when, without even realising it, he put his hand on her arm to stay her. She turned back, colliding with those silvery-grey eyes of his, and her heartbeat hammered so fast she was afraid she might somehow choke on the tightness in her throat.
He wound his hand into her hair and bent his imperious dark head—it was a long way down to her level, he discovered as he captured her lush mouth with his. And that single sweet taste of her went straight to his head like the finest brandy and he kissed her with tortured, driving urgency, hauling her slight body up against him. He wanted her at that moment with a sexual ferocity he had never experienced in his life before.

‘I don’t bite unless you ask me to,’ Alexius quipped, enjoying his ability to read her thoughts from her ever-changing expressions while he wondered what might be responsible for her obvious tension at the prospect of sex.
‘I’m not very experienced,’ she warned him defensively. ‘So, don’t be expecting too much.’
‘I know it will be amazing,’ Alexius fielded with a level of assurance that shook her. ‘You’re a passionate woman.’
‘Did you work that out from one kiss?’ she teased, scanning the high cheekbones that lent his face such strong, sexy symmetry along with the deep-set mystery of his stunning silvery-grey eyes.
‘There were many,’ he reminded her. ‘No, I see your passion in the way you look at me.’

Rosie came up on her knees, no longer content to be passive, and removed his tie for him. Her hands lowered and slid beneath his suit jacket to his shoulders and the sheer heat of his hard muscular flesh burned through his shirt. She paused, gazing at him eye to eye for the first time, loving the blaze of intensity she saw there. There was nothing cool about Alex in this particular mood and he couldn’t hide the fact.
He captured her face between his big hands and claimed her mouth with hungry fervour, his innate need to dominate taking over while a low growl of satisfaction vibrated in his throat.

He kissed her, and she gripped his shoulders, needing him to hold on to as his tongue mated with hers and the wild fever kicked off inside her again. It was like nothing she had ever felt, an insane, intoxicating flood of need that left her dizzy and trembling. Her hands sank into the silky luxuriance of his black hair. He might wear his hair short but there was a lot of it.
Alexius was struggling to contain his hunger and slow down. She was tiny and fragile and he didn’t want to hurt her.

Alexius levelled forbidding icy-grey eyes on her flushed and anxious face. ‘You’re a virgin?’
‘Not any more,’ she pointed out helplessly. ‘My choice, my decision.’
Alexius gritted his teeth in annoyance. The deed was done. Her choice, not his and not a position he was used to finding himself in. But it was the work of a moment to let the dam of hunger he had rigorously restrained flow free and he buried himself deep in the silken welcome of her hot little body.
Her inner muscles clenched round him as tiny little tremors of pleasure began to course through Rosie. She had feared he might stop; she hadn’t wanted him to stop. Now he began to move, harder, faster, deeper and the excitement returned with an intensity that took her breath away.

He wrenched up the skirt and fought with her panties to access the warm, welcoming wetness of his fantasies, and he groaned with satisfaction against her swollen mouth as he got there and discovered that she was as ready as he was. His thumb circled her clitoris and set off a chain reaction through her pelvis that she could not control. She writhed, she moaned, made not the smallest attempt to escape, intoxicated as she was by the way he was teasing her overexcited body. She buried her mouth against his strong brown throat, kissing him, drinking in the glorious hot male scent of his flesh like an addict, all of her senses up and away on a magical tour of reacquaintance. With one finger, he slid inside and she ground down her bottom onto the thrust of his arousal, helpless in the grip of the most driving need she had ever experienced, feeling the gathering storm at the heart of her, rising up through her like an unstoppable force of nature.

As Alexius switched on the lights, Rosie whirled round in shock, pale blue silk clinging to her lithe body. ‘You couldn’t sleep either?’
‘No.’ Alexius studied her as she opened the doors of the giant double refrigerator to pull out cold meat, which she ate where she stood. ‘I gather you’re hungry.’
Rosie went red and nodded because her mouth was full. It gave her a most gratuitous opportunity to appraise the full impact of Alexius’s raw sexuality, his lean powerful physique sheathed in a pair of worn tight jeans and nothing else. Bare-chested, all that golden skin and rippling muscle on display, he took her breath away and desire swelled deep down inside her. He was badly in need of a shave, for dark stubble covered his lower jaw, framing his beautifully sensual mouth.

‘Thee mou…you’re so beautiful, moli mou.’
Rosie almost laughed out loud but then she saw his eyes and realised that he meant it, truly believed it at that moment and gratification blossomed inside her. For a long, timeless moment they exchanged a look and her heart began to thump really fast in her chest. A hand closed round her wrist and exerted a gentle tug to draw her closer. Brain, she shouted inside her head, heart rate rocketing like an express train, brain, get back here right this minute. His hands closed around her waist as he lifted her to him and their mouths clashed with the frantic, feverish longing that powered them both. She tasted him and she couldn’t get enough of that taste. You weren’t going to do this, her brain reminded her at that point. Shut up, she told it, fingers delving into luxuriant black hair as she strained against him, her body in an electrifying state of anticipation that she couldn’t quell.

‘I’ve waited a long time for this,’ he protested raggedly, running an admiring forefinger down between her breasts to the pale tangle of curls below, brushing her thighs apart while she held her breath, smoothing over the soft skin of her inner thigh to explore the warm wet invitation of her lush opening. ‘And you were definitely worth waiting for, moraki mou.’
Trembling, Rosie rested back, scarcely believing what she was allowing, finally acknowledging that she wanted to be with him so much that she didn’t care about the terms or the absence of promises. He circled the little pearl of nerve endings that controlled her response and reaction jackknifed through her in an unquenchable surge of charged pleasure.

‘You don’t get to come unless I’m inside you,’ Alexius spelt out roughly, eyes bright with intensity, already positioning her for his entrance. ‘And I’m on a knife edge trying to wait.’
The edge of his desperation racked up her arousal even more. He was almost vibrating with eagerness against her, the muscles in his powerful arms bunched with effort, his jaw line hard as a rock.
‘Don’t wait,’ she told him between gritted teeth, her head rolling restively across the pillow, her body keyed to a frustrating high of expectation.
He filled her to the hilt in one swift motion that stole the breath from her lungs in a gasp. Excitement assailed her as she felt herself stretch to accommodate his size.
‘Am I hurting you?’ he husked, throwing his handsome head back, black hair wildly tousled by her fingers as he hitched her legs round his waist.
‘No, that was a wince of pure pleasure,’ she gasped as he sank even deeper into her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | eBooks | Harlequin | Apple

Review: The Lost Fisherman by Jewel E. Ann

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Fisherman #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Fisher Mann
Heroine: Therese Capshaw
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 14, 2021
Started On: November 01, 2021
Finished On: November 03, 2021

The Lost Fisherman by Jewel E. Ann is the second and last book in the Fisherman duet series. There was no way that I was going to be able to focus on any other book having finished the first book in the series, thanking God that the second one was already out – because when I first started reading The Naked Fisherman, I had no idea that it was going to be a cliffhanger ending; I was just too excited to see the most recent release from the author and plunged right in.

The second book in the series takes place five years after Fisher and Reese go their separate ways, each having confessed to the love they have for each other, but agreeing that it was not their time, or perhaps that it would never be. Reese spends time in Thailand, where she finally finds her calling, choosing to become a midwife nurse.

Having graduated from University of Michigan in nursing, Reese is on the lookout for jobs when she receives the news of Fisher being involved in an accident. Dropping everything else, Reese rushes to Fisher’s side, all the while knowing that it was futile to hope for anything to happen between them.

When Fisher wakes up and is diagnosed with amnesia, Reese decides to stay back and see through his recovery, even if it means observing the recovery from a distance. Fisher failing to recognize Reese hurts deep inside, but at the same time, she is willing to become reacquainted with him, even if it may mean her heart breaking all over again as it did five years before.

This novel too, is told mainly from the perspective of Reese, making it difficult to discern where Fisher was coming from. Nevertheless, it was interesting to observe how Fisher gets drawn to Reese, finds himself unable to deny his burgeoning attraction to her, and wants her in a way that he is willing to put his long-standing relationship with his now fiance on the line, just because.

To be honest, I found The Lost Fisherman to be a bit of a letdown, not that the first book was excellent either, but I still had hope that this one would deliver specifically in areas that I found lacking in the first installment. With Fisher having rejected the notion of having sex with Reese in the first novel, all because he wanted to save her virginity for some future bloke who would be her husband (cue in some eye rolling here), when they finally get the deed done five years later, I was expecting a lot of fireworks to herald in the moment. But alas, it was not so!

Furthermore, I always felt as if Reese was the one who did the pursuing when it comes to Fisher. Not even once was there a mention of how Fisher had actually yearned for her, did something out of character to go after her or because he wanted her that badly, and I felt that Reese always gave in just like that because it was the love of her life. There was also no explanation to Fisher’s borderline creepy behavior when they initially met when Fisher was making Reese feel as if at eighteen years, she should be totally fit for modern society, in spite of having been brought up otherwise.

In fact, if I were to be honest, there was nothing that really proved how much he loved her (that is if he loved her at all). It is only through the epilogue that there is a brief respite from all these misgivings – which I believe is a cop out when all is said and done. The reader is pretty much privy to all the internal monologues, misgivings, and rationalizing that Reese does, and the agony she goes through when Fisher is all about taking his time, but there is nothing whatsoever that shows to the reader, either by action, involuntary reaction, or even a spasm of emotion that passes through Fisher’s expressions, just how much Reese means to her which was hugely disappointing.

Recommended for fans of Jewel E. Ann.

Final Verdict: The Lost Fisherman failed to live up to my expectations in a grand way, but then again, Jewel E. Ann is too remarkable a writer to make the reader experience anything but memorable!

Favorite Quotes

I pulled him to me, lifting onto my toes as my lips brushed back and forth over his. “Yeah,” I whispered before giving his mouth a slow kiss. My right hand reached for his left hand, and I guided it under the hem of my shirt.
Up.
Up.
Up.
“This is the chapter where the lost fisherman makes it to second base.”
Fisher grinned before I kissed him again. His hand cupped my breast, and his thumb slid under the fabric and grazed my nipple.
We knew it wouldn’t go past that. So we took our time kissing, like sipping coffee on a lazy Sunday morning.

His good hand tangled in my hair, deepening the kiss, and I softly moaned. I loved our bubble, but I hated the fate of it, like the fate of every bubble. Eventually, all bubbles popped.
Pulling back, I released his mouth but kept my hold on his neck so he kept his lips close to mine as I whispered, “I’m in. I’m in as long as you want me to be in your life. Even on the days it hurts like hell. I’m in.”
He rested his forehead on mine and blew out a slow breath. “Can I tell you something truly terrible?”
I grinned, lifting my chin and brushing my lips against his as I giggled. “Tell me.”
Fisher dragged his mouth along my cheek, depositing small kisses on his way to my ear. “The only memories of my past I want to get back … are the ones of you.”

That slow kiss took us all the way to the bed. I wasn’t the nervous girl anymore. And knowing he wasn’t getting my virginity didn’t make it feel any less special.
I wasn’t a used sanitary napkin.
I was the woman who put myself first, who loved myself first. I was the girl who left the love of her life to find a life.
There were mistakes.
Lessons to learn.
Tears to cry.
Intimate moments with other people.
Risks to take.
And I did it all.
I did it not because I thought it would lead me back to Fisher; I did it for me. The only gift I cared to give my future husband was the most confident version of myself. A full heart and a humbled soul.

I sat up just enough to let him push into me the whole way. Drunk on the feeling, I couldn’t move. I just wanted to stay in that exact position forever. I’d imagined that feeling so many times, and despite the other men I’d been with, there was no comparing them or anything I’d done with them to Fisher being inside of me.
Him sitting up and kissing me.
Him rolling us again and again.
Arms and legs tangling together with the sheets woven every which way.
The look in his eyes when he moved inside of me—so intense. His strong hands all over my body, laced with my fingers, and tangled in my hair as he kissed me.
The whispered promise of never forgetting that moment—so heartbreaking.

“I love you today,” he said.
That was his reply. The perfect reply.
I nodded toward him. “Thought you were going to shower.”
“After I drive you home.”
I grinned, taking two steps to him then taking his hand and pulling him toward the front door. “You’re one, Fisher.”
“One in what?”
I opened the door, and he closed it behind us.
“Not in anything. Not one in eighty thousand. Not one in a billion times infinity. You’re just one. The one.”

I let Fisher undress me and do all the things. He kissed me in places only he could kiss me and make it feel sexy, make me feel beautiful and desired. When he touched me, it didn’t feel like my body. It felt like an extension of him, and I just got to experience him giving me a thorough tour of it.
Every touch was a silent whisper, all the things he said to me by showing me.
This is how I make you moan.
This is how I steal your breath.
This is how I make you beg.
This is where you make me feel like a god.
Because I don’t remember you, but I know you.
I. Know. You.
Nestled between two open sleeping bags, we made love, we made noise …. and we made new memories.

I reached across the island to grab an apple from his big bowl of them. “You know what I mean. Official.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Oof …” I sucked in a sharp breath when he pinned me to the counter, my chest stretched over it with a shiny green apple in one hand.
“I don’t know what you mean, because I heard nothing after you bent over my counter.” His fingers teased my outer thighs. “And I discoered you’re not wearing anything under my sweatshirt.”
“Fisher …” I gulped. It was a compromising position I hadn’t been in before. He restrained me using his body and the counter instead of zip ties, but the effect was the same.
“You can’t be in this position…” he hiked the hoodie up, completely exposing my bare butt “…with callipygian tattooed on your very sexy and shapely ass…” his knee nudged my legs apart a little wider “…and not expect me to fuck you.”

“A hand job in front of my friends? Who are you?” Fisher pressed my hands to the wall and yanked my sweatpants down to my ankles followed by my panties.
“I hope … I’m yours,” I said in a shaky breath, rattled by what he was doing to me and how much it thrilled me.
He chuckled. “You’re mine alright.” I liked his fast hands. He was impatient boot-shopping Fisher with his cock out as he thrust into me in a matter of seconds.
“Fishe—” I wasn’t prepared for that quick of an invasion.
He silenced me with his hand over my mouth and a harsh “shh” in my ear. Fisher moved with intention with one hand giving attention to my clit while his other hand snaked up my shirt and used my breast like a handle.
It was quick and dirty … and I liked it.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

Review: The Naked Fisherman by Jewel E. Ann

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Fisherman #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Fisher Mann
Heroine: Therese Capshaw
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 30, 2021
Started On: October 30, 2021
Finished On: November 01, 2021

The Naked Fisherman by Jewel E. Ann is the first book in the Fisherman duet series. The story begins with 18 year old Therese Capshaw (Reese) travels to see her mom for the first time in five years. Having been incarcerated for growing marijuana, Reese’s mom spends five years in a women’s correctional facility, while her dies three three years into her mom’s jail term, which means Reese had gone under the care of her paternal grandparents, who had ensured that she grow up with the right Christian values by sending her to a private Christian academy in Texas.

When she arrives, Reese finds out that her mom is leaving her in the care of her landlord for just a month’s time, the landlord who turns out to be none other than 28 year old Fisher Mann. From the get-go, Fisher teases her, all because she is easy game with her naivety born out spending her most formative teenage years at the Christian academy.

Reese is enthralled, shocked, aroused, and at the same time uncomfortable by what Fisher makes her feel. The way he treats her as a child who knows nothing one minute, and the next turns on his charms with a gusto makes her feel scorched and leaves her helpless in her response to him.

Given that this is a two book series, The Naked Fisherman ends on a cliffhanger and unless you already gave up on reading this one halfway through, you would definitely want to know how all of it ends. Which is what happened to me.

Jewel E. Ann has a way of writing her stories that draws the reader in, regardless of the trope she takes on. With an age gap of ten years between the hero and heroine, Fisher is a man who is a bit of a commitment-phobe, enjoying his life to the fullest. It is a tad difficult to gauge his feelings (developing or otherwise), when it comes to Reese because the story is told solely from Reese’s point of view in the first person.

I felt quite conflicted for the most part of the story – perhaps that is by design. Rather than feeling the sexual tension, I felt like Fisher was being inappropriate because he was taking advantage of Reese’s innocence in a way. The fact that Reese feels uncomfortable about it is telling. It is not Reese’s fault that she ended up with a conservative set of grandparents, who molded her to their way of thinking. I also felt like this book looks down on religion as a concept, making it sound as if being conservative and/or religious is the bane of everyone’s existence.

I have seen some reader reviews taking on quite the judgmental tone when it comes to Reese and her understanding and viewpoints at first towards LGBTQ. Religious values for the most part guide us towards what is right and wrong. As society has evolved and moved away from religion, the ethics and legal framework that rules society has taken cues from the evolving expectations of humans, which of course has meant the acceptance of LGBTQ and the worldwide campaign to inculcate everyone with these values.

What I find funny is that while the same groups of people talk about acceptance and advocates against judging the other for their chosen paths, the same comes out with their guns blazing to condemn anyone who holds different values close to their heart. Live and let live is only a phrase that is applicable for those who are on the path of the majority accepted norms now, and anyone who believes otherwise, either because of their religion or any other philosophies that guides their lives, are considered to be rigid, judgemental, and not fit for modern society.

Fisher certainly leads Reese on, turning hot and cold when it suites him, giving not just Reese a whiplash before all is said and done. The whole deal with not taking Reese’s virginity, and Fisher acting “noble” by stating that Reese’s husband would thank him for it was kind of off putting as well. If Fisher did not want to be responsible for taking Reese’s virginity, all well and good. But entire scenes focused on this aspect got a bit tiresome for me.

Reese’s inner conflict when it comes to being with Fisher is something I could identify with. You do not lose sight of how you are brought up, the values instilled in you, just because you meet the kind of man that takes your breath away. Your conscience would still speak up, and it is up to that person to decide how they want to move forward from that point onward. Calling Reese dumb, pathetic, or worse because of that just shows how judgmental society has become in a bid to accept the popular norms.

For those who are fans of Jewel E. Ann, the reviews are mixed, so I recommend to read this at your own risk.

Final Verdict: The Naked Fisherman is a story that invoked a lot of mixed feelings in me, from religious conservatism to being less than comfortable with the Fisher’s attitudes and actions towards Reese at certain points!

Favorite Quotes

“Why are you running from me?” He was right at my back.
I forced myself to turn toward him, and it took superhero strength. He stepped toward me.
I stepped back.
We did this dance until a wall stopped my retreat.
He pressed his hands to the wall above my head, and my heart rate spiked a thousand percent. The air exchange in my lungs sounded like that of someone finishing a marathon.
Was I reading him wrong?
It wouldn’t have been the first time I got it wrong and felt like a fool. But that moment felt different.
The look in his eyes wasn’t the same.
The part of his lips.
The increased intensity of his own chest rising and falling.

“A-are you g-going to kiss me?”
His lips pulled into a hint of amusement. “I was thinking about it.” Fisher’s patience killed me, completely slayed me. It was as if he had to solve the world’s problems in his head before he kissed me.
But I didn’t want to be a problem of the world. I wanted to be the girl—the woman—he kissed on a Monday night for no good reason. Not everything in life needed an explanation. Couldn’t we steal a few seconds, a kiss, without accountability?
“Will you be done thinking about it anytime soo—”
Fisher kissed me.

“Did you get a lot of work done today?” He gripped my waist, and my hands flew to his shoulders because I wasn’t sure what he was doing. Then he lifted me onto the counter and stepped into the space between my spread legs.
Just like the previous night, everything in my body kicked into overdrive. “I …” Swallowing hard, I gave him a nervous smile. “I sorted and filed today.”
“That’s good.” He brushed my hair away from my shoulders and dipped his face into my neck.
I stiffened feeling the warmth of his breath spread along my skin. My hands slid from his shoulders to his hair, searching for control. If I didn’t want him to kiss my neck, I could have yanked him away.
But I did.

A sharp, audible gasp left my parted lips just as he sucked my earlobe into his mouth and released it a second later by dragging his teeth along it. All the weird things happened at once.
Heat in my cheeks worked its way down to everywhere.
Pressure built between my legs.
I swear it felt like I’d peed a little, but I knew better.
Heaviness in my breasts.
Even my nipples felt different—sensitive as they pressed against the fabric of my bra.
Copious amounts of saliva required constant swallowing to keep from drooling. I was afraid to be touched anymore yet needed to be touched. It was so foreign and impossible to articulate even to myself.

“Come here.”
After a few seconds of hesitation, I crawled onto the bed close to him.
“Straddle my legs.”
Biting my quivering lower lip, I straddled his jean-clad legs. The level of intimacy made it nearly impossible to breathe.
“Higher.”
I scooted higher.
He sat up, shrugging off his shirt, and I jumped as his hands found my hips, his fingers grazing my butt. Our noses nearly touched.
“I’m going to kiss you. And touch you.” His voice was just a whisper, a warm breath over my lips. “And you’re going to do whatever you need to do to feel … good. And if you get scared, I want you to close your eyes and know that I’ve got you. You’re not too young or too anything. You are you. And I just think that you’re … beautiful.”

We kissed, unhurried, almost lazily.
My hands navigated his chest and back, every muscle, every bend in the terrain of his body. Fisher feathered his calloused hands over my bare skin, sending goose bumps spreading across it.
Our kiss deepened, a soft moan breaking the silence. It took me a few seconds to realize it was me, not him. Fisher’s fingers slid up my inner thighs. I stiffened, eyes wide. He blinked a few times and slowly kissed me again. When I closed my eyes, I let go … finding trust in the man who “had me.” His fingers teased the leg of my panties. My right hand found his hair as my left hand clawed his back.

“Fisher … m-move …”
“Move what?” he asked with so much control I thought I might die of my own impatience.
“E-everything. Just … move.”
His strong hands claimed my hips again, only this time, they gripped me a little harder, and he moved me over him.
He did it for me, and it felt so addictive I couldn’t formulate a coherent thought.
He did it for him, and his breaths grew more labored, his kisses more desperate.
I wanted nothing more than to know what it would feel like for him to be inside of me. “Fisher … I … I think I want you to take off your jeans.”
He reclined back onto my pillow and grinned as I leaned forward, resting my hands on his chest, my hair falling around my face and his.
“You don’t … not yet.” His eyelids grew heavy as his pelvis lifted from the bed.

“I’m going to kill Rory for leaving you with me.” He took a step forward and grabbed the back of my hair, clenching it in his hand and forcing my head to the side as he sucked and licked my neck.
“F-Fisher …” I clawed his biceps to steady myself. He wasn’t kissing my red lips and smearing my lipstick. I gave him a little credit for that, but he still seemed to be teetering on the verge of control as his other hand slid up the front of my shirt.
I gasped when his rough hand palmed my bare breast. He groaned, his thumb circling my nipple.
“Oh my God—gosh …” I stumbled over using the Lord’s name in vain.

Fisher grabbed my face and kissed me, our tongues mingling as my nipples brushed his chest. And I needed more. My fingers teased his abs just above the waist of his jeans, and he moaned into the kiss. Then my brave and completely inexperienced fingers moved lower, tracing the outline of his erection, and his hips thrust forward into my touch as he moaned a little louder … kissed me a little harder … and lifted me onto the edge of the pool table.
It was wrong. I thought. I maybe even knew. But I didn’t want to take responsibility … not yet. The feeling … the drug he became … was too strong.

“So … you won’t take my virginity.” It felt weird having that conversation because he’d said something so eerily similar to me. “What will you take from me?”
With a contemplative expression that seemed to border on the painful side, he whispered, “Let’s start with your clothes.”
I wondered … I wondered so hard when he made the decision to draw a line. He knew as well as I did that Rory wouldn’t be okay with anything we had done together. It wasn’t just me pushing lines and bending rules to serve my own needs and desires; Fisher did it too.
I just didn’t know why. He could have had Angie or Teagan or a million other women meeting his sexual needs.
Why me?

“I’m going to fucking devour you,” he said just before his mouth covered my bare flesh.
Just before his tongue parted me.
Just before he hummed.
I was …
Terrified to have his mouth there.
Elated because it felt so good. Too good. Sinfully good.

My hands ghosted down his back. His hands gripped my butt.
Thrust.
Thrust.
Thrust.
I spread my legs wider, allowing him to push into me a fraction more.
Thrust.
Thrust.
Thrust.
Each move a little harder.
Each breath a little more ragged, just like his next words.
“I.” Thrust.
“Want.” Thrust.
“Inside of you.” Thrust. Thrust. Thrust.
“So fucking bad.”

With a smug expression, he eyed me like he used to do, but I didn’t fall for it. “It’s almost too easy.”
“What’s too—”
He kissed me. Hard. Harder than he had ever kissed me. And I fought him, but I lost because I did want him to kiss me. It’s all I wanted. But it didn’t mean I was going to give myself to him. No matter how much I wanted his kiss, it didn’t change what had happened between us.
My hand dropping the empty bottle to the floor so my fingers could dive into his hair didn’t change anything either.
His hands grabbed my ass and lifted me off my feet. Fisher kissed me and carried me up the stairs like a drunk man on a mission.
Through the door.
Down the hallway.
Onto his bed.

He grabbed my face and kissed me a little softer than just seconds earlier. Dragging his lips across my face, dotting it with kisses, he whispered in my ear, “Your husband can thank me.”
Those words stopped my heart. The warm blood in my veins ran cold, sending an icy jolt along my spine.
Fisher lifted my hips and positioned me over him, pushing into me an inch, maybe not even.
Tears filled my eyes as I stilled, not letting him move my hips any farther. And I saw it in his eyes.
The pain.
The love.
The conflict.
More than anything, I saw all the reasons I fell for Fisher Mann. He knew we weren’t at the right place to make us work, but he was willing to give me the one thing I thought I wanted. He wanted to give me all he had to give, even though he knew it wouldn’t be enough.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

Review: Crime of Passion by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Rafael Cristobal Rodriguez Berganza
Heroine: Georgie
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 01, 1996
Started On: October 18, 2021
Finished On: October 23, 2021

Crime of Passion by Lynne Graham is a novel that was originally published in 1996. The story begins with 23 year old Georgie finding herself in the most untenable of situations; locked up in a prison cell in Bolivia. Georgie travels to Bolivia in anticipation of meeting her best friend María Cristina Reveron, who is almost ready to give birth to her first child. Even though María had extended the invitation for her to visit many a time during the past four years, Georgie had resisted at every turn, mostly because the wounds inflicted by María’s brother, aka Georgie’s first love had been just too fresh to contend with.

28 year old Rafael Cristobal Rodriguez Berganza holds a very low opinion of the woman to whose rescue he is forced to come to. Similar to Georgie who hates Rafael for the way he had treated her all those years back, Rafael believes Georgie to be too loose with her affections, and Rafael had made it quite clear on the day that he had walked out, that she had failed to meet his standards in every single way possible.

With Georgie’s passport lost, Rafael makes the arbitrary decision to take her home with him until it can be replaced. There is no denying the undercurrents taut with sexual tension that is between the two from the get-go, even when Georgie is spitting mad at Rafael and he goading her at every turn. In the midst of it all, the old hurts and resentments come to the forefront, with each giving as good as they get, that is until Rafael encounters the undeniable proof that Georgie had stayed true to him, when he had erroneously being led to believe otherwise.

I thoroughly enjoyed the heady journey that Rafael and Georgie take towards their happily ever after. A lot of readers might dislike Rafael because he does not comply with modern reader tastes. But for me, he he is the kind of hero that I grew up falling in love with in romance books. Arrogant to a fault, that is until they meet their match in every sense. As a result, Rafael and Georgie’s journey is one fraught with misunderstandings, a whole lot of stubbornness on both ends, a dash of old fashioned patriarchal beliefs guiding Rafael (the moment Georgie threw that at his face was hysterical), and the undeniable sexual chemistry between the two which bursts forth at every turn.

Neither Rafael nor Georgie had stood a chance when they first encountered each other, but the period of separation was perhaps needed in order for them to understand what they have with each other, with maturity guiding them through the most turbulent moments of their reunion. Had they gotten married previously, both of them would have driven each other crazy and not in a good way, with Rafael becoming disillusioned with the image he had built of what his perfect bride would be like, and Georgie miserable, trying to live up to his grand expectations.

While Rafael needed to loosen up a bit, Georgie needed to become more grounded and that is what inevitably makes this second chance encounter worth it in every sense.

Recommended for those who love second chance romances, fans of Lynne Graham, and fans of the alpha heroes who stand true to who they are from the get-go!

Final Verdict: Tempestuous passion guaranteed in every sizzling line; there is none who can bring forth the kind of angst in romance as Lynne Graham!

Favorite Quotes

Many very good-looking men missed out on being sexy. But not Rafael. Rafael was a blatantly sexual male animal, flagrantly attuned to the physical. The air around him positively sizzled. So why the heck was this sophisticated, experienced Latin-American lover having so much difficulty buttoning up her coat? Unwarily she collided with glittering golden eyes, and it was like being struck by lightning.
He was so close she could smell a hint of citrusy aftershave, overlying clean, husky male. Her nostrils flared. Her nipples tightened into painful sensitivity, a spiralling ache twisting low in her stomach. Nearby, someone cleared their throat. She tore her gaze from Rafael’s and met the looks of visible fascination emanating from his bodyguards, standing several feet away. She realised that she and Rafael had simply been standing there staring at each other. Devastated by her overpowering physical awareness of him, Georgie turned away, her throat closing over.

‘Do all your lovers turn you on this hard and this fast?’ Rafael lowered his dark head and allowed the tip of his tongue to slide erotically between her lips, just once, in a darting foray that sent heat coursing through her in a debilitating wave.
‘Every one of them!’ she slammed back in a breathless rush.
‘But I’ll be the one you remember long after I’m gone,’ Rafael completed with predatory assurance, quite untouched by her attempt to repel him, a strong hand splaying across her hips to jerk her into even closer contact, and she stopped breathing altogether as he moved fluidly against her, bringing her into unashamed contact with the hard thrust of his arousal.

He lifted her with ease and one of her shoes fell off. She opened startled eyes a split-second before he brought his mouth crashing down on hers. She stopped thinking, she started simply feeling. The effect was that immediate. Her hands bit into his broad shoulders as she strained against the hard heat of his muscular length. Her fingers drifted into his hair and she was lost, controlled by an intolerable need that sent the blood pounding at an insane rate through her veins. Slowly, very slowly, he slid her down the length of his body on to her feet again and lifted his head.
‘You go to pieces when I touch you. I like that…I love that,’ Rafael muttered with a ragged groan of satisfaction. ‘It gives me an incredible sexual high no other woman has ever matched. I saw you lying asleep in that cell and every decent thought, every piece of self-restraint fled instantaneously. I’d have killed to get you out of there and into my bed.’

He stared down at her with a raw, sexual hunger that burned through clear to her bones. Heat flooded her in a blinding surge. A hard thigh sank between hers and she quivered violently, the fevered pulse-point of desire thrumming ever higher inside her.
‘You see…’ Rafael muttered thickly. ‘And I haven’t even begun yet.’
As he buried his mouth in a tiny hollow below her fragile collarbone, he let his thumbs rub expertly across her thrusting pink nipples. She jerked, an involuntary moan torn from her, and he lowered his head to employ his mouth and that wickedly knowing tongue on those unbearably sensitive buds. He drove her crazy. Sensation like white-hot lightning licked at every nerve-ending and she twisted and gasped in helpless excitement. She was in thrall to a dark enchantment of the senses and the most extraordinary pleasure.

Rafael groaned something in his own language and swept her right off her feet with bruisingly impatient hands. She captured his hard cheekbones between her palms and stared up at him with dazed eyes, out of focus with passion. He succumbed to the lure of her swollen mouth again somewhere halfway up the stairs and control seemed to go out of the window at that point, because he braced her against the wall and took her lips with a driving, demanding sexuality which reduced her to mental rubble.
‘Madre de Dios…’ he swore roughly against her throat, struggling for breath, and then he carried her up into the bedroom, tumbled her down on the bed and pinned her there with a wildly exciting lack of cool.

He seized on a taut rosy crest with his teeth and the explosion of sensation he released made her cry out, her teeth gritting, her throat extending.
‘Perdicion’ he groaned, lifting his arrogant dark head to look down at her as he dealt at speed with the remainder of his clothing. ‘So long…I have waited so long for this.’
So long, yes, she thought intensely, reaching back up for him with the single-minded motivation of a programmed doll. A relentless hunger seized her as he sealed his virile length to hers. Her whole body flushed with consuming heat and she turned to him, driven by something much more powerful than she was, and let her hands travel through the light mat of curling black hair across his muscular chest, glorying in the freedom to touch him at last.

He penetrated her anxiously parted lips with his tongue and she shuddered, electrified by the intense eroticism of his opening assault.
‘Closer,’ he urged, his breath fanning her cheek, smouldering golden eyes burning down into hers as his hands cupped the swell of her buttocks and lifted her into intimate connection with the hard thrust of his arousal. ‘Sí… like that…’
He crushed her mouth under his and she was electrified by the hunger which leapt into response inside her. Keen and fierce as a knife, that voracious hunger cleaved through her flesh. Her breasts swelled and ached and her nipples pinched into painfully sensitive points. She arched her back like a sensuous cat, desperate for more sensation, her head thrown back, her hands wound round his neck.

He coiled a booted foot round the back of her legs and tipped her down on the grass with such fluid ease and speed that she didn’t have a hope of evading the manoeuvre. A second later, he came down on top of her, one hand reaching instantly for the snap of her jeans. ‘We’ll save the Ferrari for some other time…but here, now, on Berganza soil… this is for me!’
Georgie was so shocked that he had her halfway out of her jeans before she made even a partial recovery. ‘Have you gone mad?’ she shrieked.
Her jeans were east aside. He knelt astride her and slid down the zip on his riding breeches. Georgie stared up at him with a dropped jaw. He shed his polo shirt, flexing powerful muscles that rippled smoothly across his hair-roughened chest. She shivered in the heat, her nostrils flaring at the musky male scent of him.
‘Rafael…?’
‘You are mine… like the land.’

‘Ahora… now.’
He lifted himself and plunged inside her in one devastating thrust of possession. Her every sense was screaming for the release that only he could give. Her nails dug into his back and then he was moving on her, inside her, with every powerful stroke of his hips reinforcing his dominance. As the heat of passion spiralled out of control, she cried out in ecstasy as he drove her to a shattering climax.
Still in a satiated daze, Georgie lifted her heavy eyelids. He reminded her of a primitive golden god, surveying a pagan sacrifice spread out before him. An aching vulnerability swept her as she collided with tawny tiger eyes that revealed nothing of his thoughts.
‘Rafael?’ Involuntarily her hand reached up to smooth one hard cheekbone.
‘Enamorada…’ With a curiously harsh laugh, he took her startled, reddened mouth with his own and it began all over again…

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Review: The Trophy Husband by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Alex Rossini
Heroine: Sara Dalton
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 06, 1996
Started On: October 09, 2021
Finished On: October 16, 2021

The Trophy Husband by Lynne Graham, originally published in 1996 is a story that delivered on the angst, heat, and love of the kind that is all consuming. The story begins with 23 year old Sara Dalton, having been anonymously tipped off to the fact, walks in on her fiance Brian and cousin Antonia in bed together.

Devastated beyond words, solace comes in the form of her boss, 34 year old Alex Rossini who miraculously makes an appearance at the right moment to help her pick up the pieces. One thing leads to another and before Sara knows it, she has lost her virginity to Alex in the most passionate encounter of her life.

What Alex wants out of her is more than a one night stand, and he pursues her relentlessly until Sara gives in. While Sara has many misgivings when it comes to a marriage of convenience, the need to escape from the stifling impact of Brian and Antonia’s presence that looms in front of her and is inescapable is one added incentive that pushes her to say yes.

Needless to say, Alex and Sara’s marriage turns out to be as tumultuous as it is passionate. I had such fun watching these two navigate their way to their happily ever after. Alex, who for all intents and purposes accelerated the process by which Sara tumbled into his arms, and battled with jealousy and possessiveness of the kind that drives him crazy was one of the highlights of the story as it developed.

It was quite entertaining to see Sara slowly wake up to the fact that she hit jackpot when it comes to Alex and the way he loves her – though at times Alex makes it really hard for anyone to reconcile with the fact. Sara has her work cut out for her in convincing her husband that the love she feels is all for him and no one else.

There was a lot of angst in this story. I could understand and empathize with both Alex and Sara and their inability at first to communicate freely with each other, especially when it comes to their feelings. Alex who did not have the most loving of childhoods, has a tough time talking about his emotions, and Sara who grew up with her aunt and uncle who gave her a home upon the untimely demise of her own mother, leaving her feeling like that she was always an intruder in their home.

I thoroughly enjoyed how Alex gave as good as he got at times, making Sara see the error of her ways, while at the same time, Sara certainly knows how to keep Alex on his toes, leading him to do things so out of character that one can only determine that it is the love bug that has bitten him so.

Recommended for those who love a story that is driven by a hero who is possessive and would go out of his way to ensure the heroine is only his for the taking!

Final Verdict: For the hilarity, the undeniable passion, and love that is of the soul-binding variety; The Trophy Husband is a story that stands the test of time!

Favorite Quotes

He wound his forefinger into a silky strand of her hair and slowly lowered his dark head, almost as if he expected her to shout, No! at the last possible moment, but Sara was wholly entranced. Bella… beautiful, she was savouring dreamily.
And then she found out what his mouth felt like on hers and she froze when his tongue probed between her parted lips. She had never liked that… but his sensual mouth became more insistent, more demanding and she trembled, pulses suddenly racing, heart accelerating madly, and she discovered that she had no resistance, no urge to pull back from that intoxicating pleasure.

She heard a voice moaning, didn’t recognise it as her own, her fingers tightly gripping the hot, sleek smoothness of his shoulders as her back arched. Pleasure she had never dreamt of was shooting through her in agonising waves and there was hardly a pause between one peak and the next. She twisted beneath him, couldn’t stay still, wanting, needing, her thighs trembling, tightening on the ache building inside her.
He said something caressing in Italian, and the last thought that she would afterwards recall was that Italian was definitely the language of love in that incredibly rich, deep voice of his, and then he skimmed a hand through the damp curls at the base of her taut stomach and the world became a delirious, multicoloured shower of lights behind her lowered eyelids as he discovered the moist heat at the very heart of her.

‘Alex…’ she gasped tautly, her entire quivering body reaching up to his in helpless need, reacting with liquidhoney-enticement to the tantalising, hot, hard probe of his flesh against hers.
The surge of pain caught her on the crest of tortured anticipation. She gasped in shock, eyes flying wide to meet similar shock in his startled gaze. ‘Cristo cara…’ he said in hoarse disbelief, but the momentary frown etched between his ebony brows was swiftly wiped away and the dark eyes glittered more golden than ever.
And then he moved again lithely, powerfully deepening his penetration, and a truly stunning wave of breathtaking sensation swept her back into that wild oblivion where only the demands of her own hungry body held sway.

Alex reached for her clenched fingers where they rested on the seat. Momentarily she attempted to draw back from the contact and then, for a reason she could not begin to comprehend, her fingers stayed where they were, curled within his larger hand. She trembled; she didn’t know what was happening to her. She had a sudden, terrifying urge to throw herself on Alex and sob her heart out. In all her life she had never felt more confused. He drew her relentlessly closer.
‘Alex…no…’ she whispered pleadingly.
But Alex didn’t listen. He twined lean fingers into her fall of hair, tugging her round to face him. Her eyes burned as she met his shimmering gold enquiry and every tiny muscle tensed. Her pulsebeat thumped at the foot of her throat, a terrible excitement rising inside her no matter how hard she fought to suppress it.

Alex lowered his dark head and took her mouth with hungry urgency. Fire in the hold, she thought wildly, madly, feeling the instantaneous charge of her own helpless response. She wanted to grip him, hold him, mesh with every hard, muscular angle of his lean, virile length. The scent of him, the touch of him inflamed her senses with a drowning passion that was utterly self-absorbed. Tiny little sounds escaped her throat. Hot, electrifying pleasure engulfed her with every thrust of his tongue.
Her fingers slid with shameless hunger beneath his silk shirt, skimming luxuriantly over skin as smooth as velvet, feeling the taut contraction of his sleek muscles as he jerked and groaned beneath her exploration. He swept her up and pulled her down on top of him, expert hands gliding up the quivering stretch of her thighs, hitching up her confining skirt and then bringing her down again, sealing her into raw contact with the hard, throbbing length straining against his zip.

He lowered his head and let the tip of his tongue graze a rose-pink bud, skimming a hand up over the tautness of her quivering ribcage, discovering the thunder of her racing heartbeat as her whole body leapt in response to that tiny caress.
‘Alex…’ she gasped.
‘Feeling like this is special, bella mia,’ he muttered raggedly. ‘Dio… you are so beautiful.’

Now…’ Alex groaned when she was on the brink of an intolerable excitement.
Her gaze collided blindly with his and then he pulled her up to receive him and drove into her hard and fast and her head fell back and she cried out with the hot, torturous pleasure of that penetration, her body yielding to the forceful possession of his. He moved again with sinuous eroticism and the pleasure increased to such unbearable limits that she lost herself entirely. With every tormenting stroke he took her higher and her nails raked down his smooth back as her spine arched and the sunburst heat in her loins suddenly expanded, every muscle clenching in response as she went flying over the edge into a release that convulsed her in violent waves.

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Review: The Guarded Heart by Robyn Donald

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Nicholas Challoner
Heroine: Alannah Finderne
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 25, 1983
Started On: August 22, 2021
Finished On: September 01, 2021

The Guarded Heart by Robyn Donald is certainly a fitting title for a book that features a widowed hero who is determined that he would exact his revenge by forcing the woman responsible for the untimely death of his wife and unborn child into a marriage with him.

Only in her wildest dreams or nightmares rather, would 19 year old Alannah Finderne have ever thought that she would end up tying the knot with Nicholas Challoner, the man whose mere gaze chills her to her very core. But forced into a marriage with him because of the circumstances, Alannah nevertheless has a stark choice before her; make herself miserable by denying what Nicholas invokes in her, or surrender.

Both Alannah and Nicholas are intensely proud characters, stubborn to a fault, and as a result drives each other crazy – mostly not in a good way. But I found the story as it developed to be an interesting one nevertheless, realistic too if you ask me. How would I react if I were forced to marry a man, the demise of the love of whose life I was responsible for? Not to mention the age gap, the fact that the man loathes my very existence and marries me just so that he could have children with me, and making suffer would be an added bonus while at it? I guess I too would come out with my guns blazing, if I were not a heroine of the doormat variety.

The Guarded Heart is the first novel that I can recall, where the hero actually slaps the heroine – usually it is the other way around because the hero is being an ass; and I guess if we apply the same principles here, the heroine was also being rather cruel at that point. Makes me question as to why I accept it at face value when the heroine slaps the hero but I have a tough time reconciling with the fact when the heroine is on the receiving end. Goes to show that we all carry our prejudices that spills over every now and then.

Nicholas proves to be an interesting character, whose emotions we have to gauge through the observations that the heroine makes along the way. I would have liked it a bit better if I saw a bit more of those tightly guarded emotions from Nicholas that would have made the story more heartwarming when all was said and done.

Given that this story was first published when I was just over a year old, reading this almost 38 years later did not detract from the enjoyment factor – I am after all a masochist in my reading preferences; the more pain a story makes me go through, the better I like it.

Recommended for fans of old Harlequin romances and fans of Robyn Donald.

Final Verdict: The Guarded Heart often makes you want to just shake the main protagonists, but underneath all that stubbornness lies hearts that are brimming with love, the unfolding of which I enjoyed!

Favorite Quotes

Shivers racked her. Blindly, sensually, she ran her hands from his waist to his shoulders, felt with bitter delight the sudden tensing of his muscles and explored further, the tips of her fingers delicately stroking the muscles on his arms, the smooth heated skin across his back.
He groaned her name, his mouth hot against the turgid peak of her breast, and she sighed raggedly and began to move beneath him, undulating in a way that instinct told her would further inflame him.

His hands slid to her hips; when they paused she opened tortured eyes and saw reflected in his face the agony and need that had her in its grip. And with the first hard thrust of his body the world exploded, sensation piled on sensation so that beneath her eyelids there was a sunburst of colour and she was falling, falling into its vortex, sobbing, gasping, her body racked by an ecstasy so far beyond her hidden fantasies that she thought she might die.

Very slowly she reached out a finger and touched the jewel, then pushed it to one side as she got up from the bed. When Andrew was tucked in beneath the mosquito netting she came back, and picked the beautiful thing up. Nicholas watched her through heavy-lidded eyes, his mouth compressed and grim.
‘Put it on me,’ she said huskily, and turned her back to him, brushing her curls forward to leave the vulnerable nape of her neck bare.
His fingers barely touched her skin, but she shivered as she faced him.
‘How does it look?’ she asked.
Anger glittered in his glance and there was a pallor around his mouth that warned her she was pushing him very close to the edge. He didn’t so much as glance at the necklace; from beneath a frown his gaze was fixed on her as though he would like to hurt her.
She knew a moment’s fear before he said slowly, thickly, ‘Like you. Beautiful, making no concessions, setting its own standards.’

‘Tell me you love me,’ he demanded, moving so that he loomed over her, his lips only a fraction away from hers.
‘I love you—I love you with everything I am. Nick—please—’
‘And that you want me.’ He was merciless, his expression so ferociously controlled that for a moment she was afraid.
‘You know—’
‘Tell me!’
‘Oh, God, I want you.’ Tears glazed her eyes. She was hypnotised by her own sensuality. Twisting, writhing beneath him, she slid her hands to his hips, pulling him down to her. ‘I love you so much I could die for you,’ she groaned.

Purchase Links: Amazon | AbeBooks

Review: Not Another Bad Date by Rachel Gibson

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Series: Writer Friends, #4
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Zachary James Zemaitis
Heroine: Adele Harris
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 27, 2008
Started On: August 20, 2021
Finished On: August 21, 2021

Not Another Bad Date by Rachel Gibson is a second-chance themed romance set in Texas. 25 year old Adele Harris believes herself to be cursed when it comes to love, and with good reason; she has not had a good date or decent sex in years. Having been in love twice in her life, the last time being three years back, it is however her first love that she still recalls with clarity because of the intensity that it had been.

14 years since they briefly dated, Adele once again comes across Zachary James Zemaitis, the man who broke her heart all those years ago. Widowed and a single father now, Zach coaches high-school ball and is determined that he would do right when it comes to his daughter Tiffany, as his career as an NFL quarterback had meant missing out on a lot for the first ten years of her life.

When circumstances force Adele to move back to Cedar Creek for a couple of months, she is more than shocked to find out of the untimely demise of Zach’s wife, for whom Zach had walked away from Adele all those years ago. Once bitten, twice as shy, Adele is determined that she would keep Zach at arm’s distance, but then again, the lazy charm that Zach had won her over with back then, not to mention the blistering sexual heat that is between them which seems to be more pronounced than even before, is a tough mix to walk away from.

Not Another Bad Date is a story that while I enjoyed, I believe could have been better. Perhaps it is because the story did not turn out as I exactly thought it would be, with the ghost of Zach’s wife being the catalyst that kick-starts the current chain of events, that particularly did not work for me. I believe Zach and Adele would have gotten there even without the dead wife being part of the picture. While Zach has his own baggage from how he was forced to get married, the disillusionment that had caught up with him a couple of years later; all that and more makes Zach reluctant to start something that could lead to a permanent situation.

Enjoyable in its way, Not Another Bad Date is recommended for fans of Rachel Gibson and for those who love second-chance romances!

Final Verdict: When fate intervenes, resistance is futile – that is what Zachary and Adele finds out as these two find their way back to each other!

Favorite Quotes

As if she hadn’t spoken, he pushed her hair to one side. “Would you drive me insane like you used to?” He lowered his face, and his breath warmed the side of her neck. “And honey, you drove me out of my mind.” He slid one big hand around her side to her flat stomach and pulled her back against his hard chest. “I was the first man to make love to you. I haven’t forgotten that.”
“It was a long time ago.”
“You haven’t forgotten, either.” His lips brushed her heated skin, and those hot little tingles she’d worried about spread warmth all over her body.

“I need you.”
“No. You want me.”
“Same thing.”
“No. Oxygen is something you need.” Her back hit the wall next to the last bathroom stall.
“Just be still,” he said, and placed his hands on her shoulders. “And stop running from me.”
“Stop coming after me.”
He shook his head as his brown gaze stared into hers. “I’m beginning to think I need you like I need oxygen.”

“I think you’re going to like this.” She straddled his hips, positioned herself, then slowly sat. He was big and extremely hard, and she took her time, feeling every bulge and ridge through the thin latex until the head of his penis bumped her cervix.
His breath hissed from his lungs as his hands slid up her thighs and hips to her waist. “You look good up there. I like it already.”
“It gets better.” Slowly she raised herself, rocking her hips and sliding back down. She teased him with her body, clenching her muscles around him, drawing his flesh deeper, using him to build and stroke the sexual fire burning through her.
“You’ve learned a few things,” he said, his grip on her waist tightening.
She rolled and rotated her hips, feeding his need and hers, and looked into his drugged eyes as he watched her. She bent forward to kiss the side of his neck. Her breasts pressed into his chest, and she whispered into his ear, “You feel good. Hard. Huge.”
He rolled with them until she was on her back looking up into his face. His fingers curled with hers, and his mouth came down hard.

She rolled the condom down his shaft and pushed his shoulders until he sat submerged in bubbles halfway up the defined muscles of his chest. She straddled his hips, placed her palms on the sides of his face, and kissed him. The tips of her breasts brushed his warm skin, and she ran her fingers through his hair. She kissed his neck and his throat, and her hands ran all over him, touching as much of him as she could reach. It wasn’t just sex now. There was more involved than just body parts, and when she took him deep into her body, her hands returned to the sides of his face and she stared into his eyes. His labored breath brushed her cheek as she moved and rocked her hips.
“Zach,” she whispered, her voice heavy with desire and emotion. Within minutes an orgasm rushed across her skin and gripped her heart. Her vaginal walls tightened around him, and his fingers dug into her behind. As he came into her body, she kissed his mouth, filling the kiss with the new and conflicted feelings she felt in her heart.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple | AbeBooks

Review: Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Ian
Heroine: Samantha Grace Abrams
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 09, 2018
Started On: August 15, 2021
Finished On: August 20, 2021

Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey is a best friends to lovers themed romance of the contemporary variety, told in the first person from the viewpoints of both protagonists. 27 year old Samantha Grace Abrams (Sam) and Ian (we never learn of his full name nor his age), are teachers at Oak High School. While Ian is the AP Chem II teacher, Sam is the journalism teacher and the staff coordinator for the Oak Hill Gazette, a weekly newspaper at the school.

Ian and Sam become friends three years prior to when the story begins, and it becomes evident as the story progresses that both Ian and Sam are in love with each other, but resigned to being friends because of the uncertainty involved when it comes to crossing that line and leaving the friend-zone.

Sam more so than Ian, is reluctant to rock the boat even when she has x-rated dreams that involves Ian and has a hard time keeping her burgeoning feelings to herself. Things however have a way of changing, and love as fierce as the one that Sam and Ian have for each other cannot be denied in its entirety and has a way of coming out, one way or the other.

Not So Nice Guy is perhaps not so aptly titled because I found Ian to be quite the amicable hero in every sense. I would have loved a bit of grumpiness or taciturn behavior on his part because I just love a hero that brings angst to the story, but for the most, he is the kind of man who looks out for his other half, and aims to protect himself when it comes to Sam and her lack of certainty in them becoming something more.

Recommended for those who love humor laced friends-to-lovers romance with a hero that makes you melt on the spot!

Final Verdict: Low on angst, funny, and heartwarming; Ian makes your heart go aflutter!

Favorite Quotes

“Sam,” I say, reaching down to adjust myself. My dick is begging for attention, but I want to concentrate on her. “Pull them to the side and tell me how wet you are.”
We’ve probably spoken hundreds of thousands of words to each other throughout our friendship, but right now our sentences sound like they’re being spoken by strangers.
Her head tips back and her gaze hits the ceiling. She’s exposing her neck. If I were there, I’d drag my teeth along her pulse line.

“I want to taste you.”
She’s panting.
So close.
Her breaths are shorter and shorter.
Her legs are trembling.
I’m imagining her on that bed, pink and wet and so very good at listening.
“I’m so close, Ian.”
“Imagine how well we’ll fit, Sam. Imagine how easily I’ll fill you up.”
“Ian…I’m—”
The rest of the sentence dissolves and so does she.
She’s fisting her sheets, about to come undone just from the sound of my voice.
“I’ll be so gentle at first, but you know what? I’ve been lonely way too long and I need to fuck—hard.”

He stalks forward like a panther and then he’s right there, looming over me. He tips down so his hands rest on the desk on either side of my hips. We’re eye level, blue gaze to blue gaze. My knees brush against the front of his suit pants. Holy shit. He’s big. My eyes grow wide. He lets out a deep breath then glances down. His growl is barely contained to the back of his throat.

What the hell are you doing to me? he asks silently.
Beating you at your own game, I mentally reply with a smirk, and then I kiss him again. This time there’s no stoicism on his part. He hauls me up against his chest and slants his mouth against mine. It hits me like a ton of bricks that we’re kissing. IAN FLETCHER AND I ARE KISSING. I would exclaim this out loud if my mouth weren’t currently occupied with something much more important.
Here’s the thing: Ian might have been frozen a few moments ago, but he’s not anymore. His hands dip under his coat and he pushes it off my shoulders. His palms burn across my neck and then lower, skating the outer edges of my breasts. My nipples tighten. His touch sears. I have no doubt my dress is charred and moments from disintegrating into a pile of ash at my feet.

I make a sound in the back of my throat that I’ve never heard before (a guttural moan mixed with the word “please”) and he delivers, gently coaxing my lips apart and touching the tip of his tongue to mine. Oh yes. Our PG kiss has turned X-rated. I’m glad to see he’s retaliating with vigor.
Don’t stop, don’t stop.
I’ve been deprived of this kiss for so long, and now that it’s happening, I’d like it to last for at least one to two decades. We’ll barricade the windows and door. We’ll tear the pages from the English textbooks stacked against the back wall and make a cozy sex nest. We’ll survive by taking little nibbles of each other every now and then, like little love cannibals. I’m aware it isn’t the most well-adjusted thing to think about during a passionate kiss, but it’s just the kind of joke Ian and I would crack up about for hours. It fits.

“It’s been a while since I’ve done this.”
I laugh. “Yeah, you can save the awkwardness. I don’t care. It’s just us, Sam. Me and you.”
“Right.” She nods, growing confident enough to drag one of her hands back around to the front of my hip. Then she slowly reaches over and circles her palm around my dick. She has the softest, surest grip. My eyes roll back in my head. My hips jerk forward on instinct. “Sam,” I warn.
“I’m barely touching it!” she says defensively.
Yeah, I know. It’s been a fucking while since I’ve slept with someone, and also this fantasy has been building for, oh, I don’t know…a millennium. I won’t last for shit.
“Just don’t drag it out. Our entire time as friends has been a tease, foreplay. It’s been like five-play or six-play.”

He reaches one arm around my stomach and tugs me back against him. My butt hits the front of his tuxedo pants and I feel his hard length press against me. His fingers dip beneath my panties and my stomach swoops.
Not so fast. I turn and push him away so I have room to turn and hop up on the counter.
“You have to undress too. Bareness is fairness.”
“Want to do it for me?”
“No. I want to watch.”
He chuckles and rubs the back of his neck. If I had a radio handy, I’d tune it to slow jams, something he can sway his hips to. I want a show.

“Is this too much?”
Of course it is. I’m being forced to watch what he’s doing to me. I’m looking at my flushed, heated skin; that black bowtie around my neck that smells like him; my wild, tangled hair; the crazed look in my eyes. There’s no escaping what he’s doing to me and maybe I won’t always want it this way, but right now I do.
“Not enough,” I beg, and Ian delivers.
He slides into me slowly and he’s deeper than before. He stays pressed there and our eyes lock in the mirror.
I’ve been naked for a while, but in the reflection, I’m stripped bare. Ian has his fist wrapped around my soul.

I fist the sheets and my eyes pinch closed. My bottom lip is between my teeth so I don’t cry out loud enough to disturb our entire floor.
“So, is this how you envisioned it? Sweet and gentle?” he asks, leaning down and taking my hands in his. He drags them up and over my head and presses them into the bed. My eyes blink back open as he leans over me, putting me in his shadow. His hair hangs down on his forehead. His sharp features seem even more intimidating from this perspective. He pulls out and thrusts again and I groan because his full weight on top of me is intense and wonderful.

When he’s sure I’m finished, he sits back up and turns me over so I’m on my hands and knees. Now, there’s no more sweet and gentle. Ian is relentless. Pounding. Thrusting. Fucking. I’m slack-jawed, wide-eyed, and any number of other hyphenated adjectives. My arms give out and my cheek hits a pillow, but he holds on to my hips to keep me from collapsing altogether. Never once does he break pace. When I glance back, I see him staring down between us, watching what he’s doing to me, and whatever he’s seeing must send him over the edge, because he pulls out and grips his hard length and comes just like that, with my name on his lips.

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Review: The Road to Hidden Harbor by Anne Stuart

Format: Hardback
Read with: NA
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Hero: Jake Marley
Heroine: Molly Ferrell
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 12, 2003
Started On: August 09, 2021
Finished On: August 10, 2021

The Road to Hidden Harbor by Anne Stuart is a novel that was hard to find, but nevertheless I persisted in trying to find a copy until I found a hardcover large print copy from a used bookstore and had it shipped all the way here. Now if that isn’t dedication when it comes to one of your favorite authors, I don’t know what is.

Molly Ferrell, an English Professor at Southern Michigan University travels to Hidden Harbor, Maine in pursuit of information for her book centered around none other than the poet Michael O’Flannery, around whom her adolescent dreams revolved. According to available information, the renowned poet had taken his own life twenty years back, something that Molly finds hard to believe. Determined to pursue the truth, she comes to understand that the townsfolk are less than willing to talk when it comes to their local hero.

45 year old Jake Marley is the most hostile of them all, doing his utmost to drive her away. But her infatuation with Michael which had begun when she was merely 15 years old is too fierce for Molly to let it go and she is determined that she would get closure of some kind through this trip, however hard it may be.

Clashing with Jake somehow makes Molly wonder at what could be, because Jake is a man who pushes all her buttons and then some, the epitome of what she finds attractive; tall and lanky, with good shoulders and narrow hips. It is all this and more that draws her towards the enigmatic Jake, who for all intents and purposes seems to want her against his own will.

While I liked The Road to Hidden Harbor well enough, I found it to be too short of a novel to have done the characters and the story justice. There was so much potential for build-up of the sexual kind and otherwise, which could have made this story a solid 5-star read. Even with all that, in both Jake and Molly, Ms. Stuart brings to life the kind of characters she is famous for; intelligent, independent, and yin to the other’s yang that tugs at the heartstrings of the readers.

While wishing for more, I enjoyed this short novel and await something that is lengthier from Ms. Stuart in the time to come. Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart!

Final Verdict: The Road to Hidden Harbor is an enticing appetizer to what Ms. Stuart’s abilities are as a writer! Loved Jake and Molly through it all.

Favorite Quotes

She looked at him, tense and frustrated. He was lying to her and they both knew it. “I’m going home,” she said abruptly.
“It’s about time.”
“I mean I’m going back to the inn. I’m not leaving this town. You can’t drive me away, either by threatening me or by being nice. There’s nothing you can do to make me leave here before I’m good and ready to.”
“You think so?” he said. And before she had any idea what he had in mind he pulled her into his arms and kissed her.

Somehow one hand had slid up under the bunched-up quilt. He had wicked, clever hands, and before she knew what he was doing he’d slid his fingers beneath her panties, touching her.
“Yes,” she said in a tiny yelp. And he touched her again, a little hard, “Please,” she said.
His eyes were as hard as diamonds in the dimly lit room, and behind him she could see the storm coming down on them, the trees whipping in the wind, the crash of the waves on the rocky beach. And then she couldn’t see anything at all, as his head blocked out the light and he kissed her.

He wanted to make her come first, so he could concentrate on his own pleasure, but it didn’t work out that way. It didn’t take him long to figure out what she liked, the way she wanted him to move. It was easy enough to read the choking sound of breathing, the sudden spasm in her body. But he hadn’t expected her first, tentative orgasm to trigger his own, and he couldn’t stop, couldn’t hold back, as he felt her tighten around him with an anxious sort of wail. And then he was lost, buried in her, wrapped around her, holding her, as pure sensation swept over him, shaking him to pieces.

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Review: Taming The Beast by Heather Grothaus

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Zebra
Hero: Roderick Cherbon
Heroine: Michaela Fortune
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 01, 2009
Started On: July 29, 2021
Finished On: August 09, 2021

Taming The Beast by Heather Grothaus is a novel that kept popping up in my recommendations list every now and then. Being the fan of anti-heroes that I am, I decided to give this historical romance a go and ended up enjoying this story as predicted.

When the story begins, 29 year old Roderick Cherbon is injured at war, and would like to be left alone in peace to die from his painful injuries. Roderick has always been on the receiving end of his father’s wrath, and it had been his father’s ultimatum that had driven Roderick to travel to the Holy Land to make something of himself or lose his home forever. With no love lost between him and his father, Roderick would rather leave this world than face his father as a failure. Through his slow, painful, and unwanted recovery, he receives the news of the ultimate demise of his father after which the story continues.

It is thus that two years later Roderick returns home to Cherbon as a changed man both on the inside and out. The horrific scars lining his body and face speaks of a war that has left its mark, while on the inside, the wounds of the childhood he endured with no love nor affection makes him an embittered shell of a man. Returning with his friend Hugh and son Leo in tow, it is upon his homecoming Roderick learns that in order to keep his home, he has to get married before his next birthday, and he has just one year to fulfill the condition set by his father.

Michaela Fortune is the woman who harbours the dream of marriage to Lord Alan of Tornfield, Roderick’s cousin who is set to inherit Cherbon if Roderick fails to fulfill the condition of marriage. But when Michaela’s dream is shattered, it is her need for vengeance that at first carries her to Cherbon and offer herself in marriage to Roderick. However, from the moment that she lays eyes on Roderick, all of that starts to change. Where everyone sees nothing beyond the frightful scarring on his face, what Michaela observes is the beauty of his eyes that draws her to him.

Roderick is a distrustful hero as they come, and with good reason. He thwarts and resists Michaela’s efforts at every turn, unable to believe that a woman such as Michaela could be drawn to a “cripple” like himself. With Hugh, Roderick’s best friend in the mix and Roderick’s old nemesis who still haunts Cherbon, it is an interesting cast of secondary characters that adds to making the story a compelling page-turner.

I enjoyed Taming the Beast in many ways. Roderick’s character is one that draws the reader in; you empathize and sympathize with his plight, while at the same time wanting to shake some sense into him so that he could see the fortune that has come to his life in the form of Michaela. But for someone who has known nothing but misery and agony in his life, with little to no love being part of his most formative years, it is only too understandable where he is coming from. If it were contemporary times, Roderick is the kind of character who would undergo therapy his entire lifetime.

Luckily for Roderick, Michaela is the kind of heroine who is as stubborn as they come, and a little bit on the clumsy and “crazy” side enough to want to win the affections of Roderick. Because Michaela sees what the rest cannot – that inside the downtrodden and injured form that is Roderick lies a heart that craves love and a soul that cries for affection and acceptance.

With a little bit of the mystical tossed in, Taming the Beast is the kind of story that has enough substance that makes it for great reading. Recommended for those who love a great historical romance, featuring a hero that is taciturn to boot and a heroine who never ever gives up!

Final Verdict: Taming the Beast is aptly titled; drawing Roderick out of his shell requires all the patience and love that Michaela has to offer – and seeing him give in is the best reward!

Favorite Quotes

Before her bravado could slip away from her, Michaela stood and stepped to stand perpendicular to the Lord of Cherbon. To her surprise—and her fearful excitement—he, too, turned, so that they stood facing each other, little more than a handsbreadth apart. Michaela looked up into his once more darkly shadowed face, and before she could hesitate, she reached up with both hands and pushed the hood back from his head.
He flinched, but Michaela paid him no heed, letting her arms go back slowly to her sides and her gaze rove over his face, his scars, his full lips, his beautiful, dazzling eyes, sating her curiosity as she’d not had chance to since first seeing those green depths. The only sounds in the room were their breaths meeting and swirling together before dashing toward the crackling flames to be washed up the chimney.

“Are you going to kiss me again?” He gave her a dangerous grin, the scar on his cheek going white by his eye like a warning.
But she could not heed it. “I think I shall.” She licked her lips. “Do you mind?”
For one who was so deliberate in his movements, Roderick had taken her into his arms within the span of a blink, and this time, it was he who kissed her. Roughly, wetly, his mouth open and his tongue invading her. Michaela could only cling to the front of his tunic, her head spinning, her heart racing, her breath flown somewhere beyond the keep. The feel of him was intoxicating to the point that she felt she’d been drugged.

Michaela felt her smile to the tips of her ears and she leaned down, placing her mouth near Roderick’s ear. “It will please me very, very much, my lord. Thank you.” She pressed her lips to the high, rough ledge of his cheek. She pulled away, but only slightly, and Roderick turned his face toward her.
He leaned forward and kissed her mouth, softly, his lips barely touching hers, and so Michaela flicked her tongue out to taste him.
In the fraction of a breath, Roderick had released Michaela’s right hand to turn her and pull her over the arm of the chair onto his lap. Her arms snaked around his neck like the wild vines that had once claimed Cherbon, and Roderick kissed her as if he would consume her. His arms cradled her, his hands cupped her shoulder and buttock, and Michaela buried her hands in his hair, holding him to her, claiming him as her own, at last.

“I want you,” she said against his mouth, smashing her lips against his, mumbling her words, nibbling at him, licking him. “Roderick, please…”
His hand left her breast and traveled down to the L of her trunk and legs, where her gown had caught between her thighs. He slid a flat palm into the seam, and when he touched her there, even through the thick wool, Michaela’s whole abdomen clenched.
“Yes,” she sighed. “Roderick, take me to your bed.”
He said nothing, only claimed her mouth again as his fingers snagged a fold of her gown and slid the heavy skirt up, slowly, until it bunched around her hips. His fingers found her, wet and aching, and he touched her again, invaded her, until she was arching her hips and moaning words she could not understand into his mouth. He was answering her, but she could not understand him either.

“I’m here for you,” she whispered in his ear. “For all of you.”
“You’re making a mistake,” he growled back, an animal so weary from his ensnarement that the worst he could do was a frightening sound.
She shook her head. “No. I have made many mistakes before—some I admit were with you. But not this night.”
“I can’t love you. Not like you want me to. I don’t even think I can love Leo.” His voice caught, as if he would weep.
“I want you to love me—and Leo—however you can. That is enough.” Then she kissed him again, more deeply. He still did not respond. She raised her head only slightly, whispering the words into his mouth as the thunder crashed around them. “And until you can, I will love you both enough for all of us.”
This time when she kissed him, he kissed her back.’

In the murky darkness, she could see him shake his head. “This is a mistake, Michaela.”
“No, it isn’t.” She was tired of waiting for him. Reaching behind her toward his right boot, she felt for the cold hilt of his hidden dagger.
Roderick became instantly alarmed as she moved to his feet. “No—stop—”
But she had the blade in hand before he could rise, and with one swift flick of her wrist, she drew the dagger’s sharp edge up the center of the ladder his laces created. Aided by his erection, his breeches pulled apart soundlessly, save for the whoosh of breath that came from the Lord of Cherbon, himself.
Michaela tossed the blade over the edge of the bed and it disappeared into the darkness with a clang.

“I can never be the man you want me to be,” Roderick warned her, each word wracked with pain and shame.
“You already are.” Pulling apart his breeches fully, his manhood sprung free, Michaela threw her leg over Roderick’s hips. She took him in her hand, despite his strangled, “Michaela, wait,” and without giving herself time to be afraid, Michaela sank onto him.
Her cry mingled with Roderick’s—pain and wonder and fear. She settled onto his length with difficulty, but did not relent until she had taken him all. She paused for a moment as the throbbing pain receded and then slowly, she began to ride him, the link around her neck swinging in time to her movements, out over Roderick’s face, making a warped ring of shadow when the lightning flashed.

She felt him grow inside her, heard his groans drawing out, longer and longer, his panting taking his words and tying them into unintelligible knots, and she knew that his time was very near. She was close, too, so close, and so she rode faster, deeper, letting loose her own throaty cries as she felt him in her very core, it seemed.
And then it started for her, an expanding around his length, slowly, infinitely, as if time had stopped, and then in a wink, her whole body, her whole world collapsed in with a crash and she cried out, froze.
Roderick gave a guttural yell and strained his hips upward, driving into her one time on his own, deeply, and his passion, too, erupted.
The link fell dim once more.

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