Review: A Figure of Love by Minerva Spencer

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Academy of Love, #2
Publisher: Crooked Sixpence Press
Hero: Gareth Lockheart
Heroine: Serena Lombard
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 03, 2020
Started On: February 20, 2021
Finished On: March 13, 2021

The Academy of Love series by Minerva Spencer tells the stories of seven Regency Era teachers who while in pursuit of ork, find themselves immersed in lessons in love of the kind to last a lifetime. A Figure of Love is the second installment in the series, bringing to readers the tale of widower Serena Lombard and 35 year old Gareth Lockheart, a self-made aristocrat in England.

Gareth is a man of few words and controlled emotions. Having grown up at an orphanage and having been at the receiving end of the worst that humanity has to offer, Gareth has the emotional scars to prove it. One of the richest men in England, Gareth knows that taking his businesses to the next level requires that something elusive which would need him to make his entrance into the genteel world of society’s accepted breed of aristocrats.

Designing his country house to standards befitting that of the world he plans to inhabits is how Serena comes into his life. A French emigrant who is the widow of the youngest son of a Duke and Duchess, Serena is someone who defies the conventions and has been working towards making a name for herself as a respected sculptor and landscape gardener.

Neither of them are what they expect each other to be, and for Serena, Gareth is the man who unlocks her passions and makes her want a significant other after years of living through excruciating loneliness. In her heart, Serena is the woman who thaws the heart of the enigmatic man that is Gareth, but in reality, she knows that the secrets that she hides would never let it be so.

I loved this story on so many levels, Gareth being the first and foremost reason. He is the kind of hero that speaks to you in every single way that matters without him having to utter a single word. Ms. Spencer has done a remarkable job in bringing him to life, his sheer presence enough to make you feel as if he is your whole world. His fascination with numbers, his faithful nature even if it may seem unwarranted at that point, all that and more tells you the kind of man he is deep inside.

His passions lie dormant, not because he does not feel them, but because he reserves them for those whom he feels it to be worthy of. In Serena, he finds the woman who shakes him up in a way no other woman has, and he knows that it is futile to deny his burgeoning feelings of desire and need for her, which is when Ms. Spencer with her remarkable flair ushers in the kind of love scenes that leaves the reader in a state of stunned anticipation for more.

Serena was a swell heroine, just the right touch of everything that is needed for Gareth. With a young son in tow, it is the secrets that she carries which puts her and those she cares about in danger. And it is her need to protect Gareth from that ugly reality which lands her in an untenable situation which drives the story to its climax and beyond.

In my opinion, Gareth was the star of this story – there is something about a strong and silent hero that just speaks to me on a level that is indescribable. I loved Serena too, she loves Gareth and all that he is just as fiercely as he does her, and is protective of him in a way that no one has ever been all through his life. I also loved the character of her son – his character meshes well with that of Gareth, which made for enjoyable reading.

Recommended for fans of Ms. Spencer, fans of the series, and fans of Regency Era romances! Romance, suspense, and toe-curling sex – this one has got it all!

Final Verdict: Featuring exquisitely crafted scenes of scrumptious passion that is trademark Ms. Spencer, A Figure in Love is a notable addition to this beautifully crafted series!

Favorite Quotes

He walked her slowly toward the wall, rubbing the stiff length of his erection against her as he pushed, until her shoulders hit the wall, but he kept coming.
Stroke.
Stroke.
Stroke.
His stiff length drew an answering pulse from her sex and she imagined his strong, insistent body entering hers, plunging into her with all the strength she knew he possessed. She could feel the struggle of will and desire that raged inside him. The slightest sign from her and he would take her right here, against the wall.

Serena had never been so cold in her life, but when his eyes swept over her, she burst into flames. And when he lowered his mouth to hers, she forgot all about the cold and slid her arms around his taut waist, this time resting both palms on his bottom. He made a muffled sound of approval and pushed closer, the soft leather of his breeches cool and smooth against her belly.
He kissed as if he wanted to devour her, his lips demanding, his tongue invading, his teeth grazing and nipping as long, powerful fingers massaged their way down her neck, until they rested on her shoulders.

Serena cried out when he flicked a cold, hard nipple with the hot tip of his tongue, and then was gone. She pushed herself against him. More.
He took her in his mouth and suckled her until warmth radiated out from her breast.
“So beautiful,” he whispered into the hollow between her breasts, and then moved to her other nipple and tormented her until she had to bite her lip to keep from screaming.

“Unbutton me.”
A rush of pleasure shot through her at the sound of his command, spoken in such hushed passion. She pushed a hand between their bodies, tracing the hard length of him thrusting against the soft leather.
He groaned and tightened his hold, his fingers sinking into her soft flesh. She stroked him again and again and again, until his powerful body vibrated with need, and then, with a few deft flicks, she opened the flap of his breeches and released him.

They gasped as he sheathed himself fully, the echoes of her climax contracting around his thick shaft. His body jerked and arched, the muscles of his stomach, chest, and shoulders so defined they looked as if they’d been carved from the finest alabaster.
Serena leaned forward until her breasts grazed his chest, her hands fisting the blanket on each side of his shoulders as she tilted to take him even deeper. Barely an inch separated their faces and this close to him she saw the fine, icy gray shards that made up his irises. She tightened her inner muscles and his eyes widened, his hands like butterflies on her waist.

“Are you angry with me?”
The question stopped him like a stone wall. Before he could think of an answer, she touched him, her hand on his chest as light as a soft breeze.
Gareth’s control snapped and he crushed her mouth with a ferocity that left the metallic taste of blood flooding his mouth. His blood, her blood, both, he didn’t know or care. Her fingers plunged into his hair and she yanked him down, meeting his violently ravaging tongue with her own.

“I want to bury myself deep inside you.” He ground his length against her, making her gasp while he whispered in her ear, “But I think you know that, don’t you?” He stepped away, until their bodies were no longer touching and raised his hands, palm out, barely grazing the erect tips of her breasts, caressing them with light, circular motions.
She jerked and bucked against him, her back arching, the impressive muscles of her arms like the taut strings of a bow as she clutched the wooden door frame above her head and strained toward him.

“You can release the door frame now.”
Triumph and amusement echoed in his words but she didn’t care. She’d do whatever he asked of her to feel that way again.
“Touch me.”
She fell on his mouth like a starving person, consuming him as he’d just done her, tasting herself on his tongue. He lifted her higher while they kissed, until she felt his hot, insistent crown nudging against her sex.
He leaned away from her, just far enough that she could see between their bodies. His stomach, lean, ridged, and sweaty, hers flushed, soft, and trembling.
He lifted her higher, until she could see his erection. “Guide me inside you.”

He turned his head and gently bit the side of her breast.
She laughed. “Are you going to eat me?”
His hot mouth roamed her body above the thin gauze of her gown, nipping and sucking her until the fabric was damp.
“When we return to Rushton I am going to tie your arms and legs to the four posts of my bed—tightly, so you cannot move or squirm away. And when you are bound and spread for me, I will take my pleasure. And I will lick and suck and bite every part of you.”
The words and the raw, confident desire with which he spoke them sent a crippling w
ave of lust straight to her core.

He scooped her up in his arms and strode into the adjacent room. She watched him slit-eyed through a haze of pure contentment, laughing when he tossed her onto the bed and positioned himself at the edge. His face was hard and his eyes burning into her as he ripped open the fall on his breeches and freed himself. Serena was already inching toward him when he slid his hands beneath her thighs, jerked her toward him and lifted her hips off the bed, entering her with a savage thrust.

He lifted her skirt and petticoats to her hips, his cock pulsing at the unbearably erotic sight of her serviceable stockings and the plain garters that held them just above her knees, nothing but smooth, naked thigh above them until . . . His mouth flooded with moisture at the sight of her curls.
She lifted her eyebrows high. “Novice?” Her thumb swirled his hard, slick head and she grazed him lightly with her nails.
Gareth jolted under the intoxicating combination of pleasure and pain. “Dammit, Serena!”
“Language, Gareth.”
He pushed away her hand and positioned himself at the hot, wet entrance to her body, bringing her down hard. They both gasped and then froze, reveling in their joining.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

Review: Lola Carlyle Reveals All by Rachel Gibson

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Maximilian Javier Gunner Zamora
Heroine: Lola Faith Carlyle
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 01, 2002
Started On: February 6, 2021
Finished On: February 12, 2021

Rachel Gibson is an author who delivers stories that are rife with humor, filled with tons of sexual heat, and love of the kind that leaves a lasting impression on you. It has been a long time since I indulged in a book by Ms. Gibson, and while I have forgotten just exactly how this landed in my TBR pile, I have not forgotten just how much I enjoyed this number and the emotions that coursed through me as I read along.

30 year old Lola Faith Carlyle is in a bit of a fix, with her naked pictures ending up on the internet, thanks to her ex-fiance’ who does so to bail himself out of financial difficulties. An ex-model who graced billboards and the cover of many a magazine, Lola is someone who dealt with severe anorexia at the height of her career. Having started her own mail order lingerie line two years ago, Lola takes a mental-health vacation to flee from the mess that had come out of the publication of her photos.

36 year old Lieutenant Commander Maximilian Javier Gunner Zamora could not be more different from Lola if he tried. Officially listed as retired from US Navy, Max owns a security consulting firm which takes him on missions paid for by the US government in ways that leaves them the luxury of plausible deniability if ever shit were to hit the fan, Max is someone who leads a life on the edge. The latest mission that Max is on goes awry and he is on the run for his life when he encounters none other than Lola, and is forced to take her hostage.

At first, the animosity between Lola and Max reeks from the pages. Max is no fan of delicate women and Lola has an aversion to everything that Max represents. But as these two face off and also work through their differences to make it out alive in one piece, the attraction that simmered below the surface from the get-go bursts forth and there is no stopping the tidal wave of desire that overtakes them both.

Max is wary of the way he reacts to Lola, being someone who hates weakness of any kind, be it towards imbibing in alcohol or women who makes a man lose his mind. But in Lola, for the first time, Max finds someone who might bring him to his knees and reform the adventure seeking soul inside of him that lives for his next mission. Max is a commitment-phobe if ever there was one, while Lola seeks to find someone worthy of investing and giving her all, and Max is definitely not it.

I loved the coming together of Lola and Max. Even through their distrust towards each other at the beginning, the reluctant conversations between the two were revealing of where they were both coming from. I enjoyed this facet of the story rather than Ms. Gibson developing their characters via narrative writing. I also loved the fact that Max tries to polish his language around Lola, just because. Max has an innate need to claim Lola for his own in a way that is all consuming, and that is one of the reasons behind the angst factor in the novel which I adored.

The only reason why this did not earn 5-stars was due to the lack of an epilogue. I loved the fact that Lola was willing to meet Max halfway when it came right down to it. Love often comes with making difficult choices, which may in the short and long run mean living with and loving someone who time and yet again puts their life on the line. Asking a man to give up what they love is just as unfair as a woman being forced to give up on doing what they love, all because their partners cannot handle the total package.

What makes Ms. Gibson’s books such fun is the fact that she writes heroes who are alpha to their very core, a bit chauvinistic, and all male where they are concerned; this makes it extra entertaining when they fall so hard for the woman who changes everything!

Recommended for fans of contemporary romances that makes you laugh and squeal in delight. Ms. Gibson always hits the mark just right!

Final Verdict: Lola Carlyle Reveals All is a highly delightful romance of two opposites who clash and love just as fiercely. There is nothing left to do towards the end, but surrender heart, body, and soul!

Favorite Quotes

“I want to go home, Max.”
He stared down into her face and brushed his warm palm up her spine. “I’ll make sure you get home,” he said. Then, for the second time in less than twenty-four hours, he lowered his mouth to hers.
“How?” she asked against the soft brush of his lips.
“I’ll think of something.” Then he kissed her.
This time there was no question of his intent. The firm press of his lips to hers made his intentions perfectly clear. He wasn’t helping her breathe, and he wasn’t asking permission. His finger plowed through the sides of her hair, brushing it back from her face and lifting it from her shoulders. He held her face in his palms, tilted her head back, and took advantage of her parted lips. His tongue swept into her mouth, warm and slick, instantly po
ssessive and consuming.

The yacht rode the waves of the ocean, pitching the deck starboard before righting once again. Max spread his feet wide and let the natural rise and fall of the yacht grind his hard penis against her. The erotic rhythm drew a deep groan from his chest and left her aching for more.
He slid his moist mouth to the side of her throat, and Lola leaned her head to one side to give him better access. The tip of his tongue touched her ear, then he whispered her name, a warm caress filled with rough longing.

“Do you want to know what I thought about you that first night?”
“Honey, I think that flare gun pointed at my chest said it all.” He wrapped his hand around her lower calf and tugged. Before she knew how it happened, she was on her back and he was over her, his hands planted on the ground on each side of her head. “And despite you having tried to kill me, I want you more than I’ve ever wanted any other woman.” He lowered his face to hers. “But I think you know that,” he said right before he kisse
d her.

The languid kiss seduced and teased until her every thought narrowed and focused on the liquid warmth of his mouth. Heat flushed her breasts and stomach and pooled between her thighs. She ran her hand up the taut flesh of his arms, over his shoulder, to the side of his neck. She slipped her fingers through his short fine hair and he groaned into her mouth.
Max pulled back from the kiss and looked up into her face. His harsh breath caressed her cheek as his blue eyes burned into her. The way Max stared at her, all dark intensity, made her feel beautiful and desired and a
live with anticipation.

He sucked in his breath. “You’re not a screamer, are you?”
Not tonight she wasn’t. “I’ll control myself.”
That seemed to be what he needed to hear, and he cupped her between her legs. “Jesus,” he groaned, “you’re already wet.” His fingers slid beneath the crotch of her panties, and he parted and touched her slick flesh. She whispered his name, then turned her face into his shoulder. The tips of his fingers brushed her where she was most sensitive, and she bit the hard muscle at the top of his arm.
“Lola.”
“Hmm?” She kissed the spot she’d bitten.
“Nothing. Just Lola.” With each stroke of his fingers, he fed her intense desire and shut out everything but her need to feel him inside of her.

With unsteady hands, she brought his face to hers. Their gazes met and held as he began his entry. He pushed the broad head of his hot penis inside of her, then his hips rocked back and forth. A slow and easy rhythm, giving her time to stretch and adjust before he grasped her thighs, and with one final thrust, he buried himself fully. Lola gasped and grabbed hold of his shoulders. He filled her completely, the heat of him burning her up inside. A moan she could not control poured from her throat and she wrapped one leg around his waist.
Max sucked in a breath and held it. Beneath her hands his muscles had turned to stone. “Lola,” he whispered against her cheek. “God, you feel incredible. So hot.” He pulled halfway out, then lunged forward. “So good.”

“Lola, open your eyes and look at me.”
She managed his request, but barely. Her whole world was focused on where his body joined hers and the intense rush of sensation that had taken over and was forcing her to meet each plunge of his hips.
“I want you to look at me. I want to see your eyes when I make you come,” he said, then he got his wish as the first wave of orgasm took hold and pulled her into its fury. Her body arched and she clung to him as his body drove her into the vortex of hot, mind-numbing pleasure. She opened her mouth, and he kissed her, swallowing her long moan, taking everything she had, then demanding more.

He took her jaw between his fingers, tilted her face up, and lowered his mouth to hers. He pressed kiss upon hot kiss on her lips, then his moist tongue invaded her mouth and spread fire through her blood and warmed the pit of her stomach. She combed her fingers through the sides of his hair and held the back of his head. Standing within the partially refurbished parlor of his home, Lola felt the instant he lost control. The kiss turned hotter, wetter, feeding. He kissed her as if she alone were responsible for the breath in his lungs.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple Books | BookDepo

Review: His Valet by S.M. LaViolette

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Decadence, #2
Publisher: Crooked Sixpence Press
Hero: Stephen Chatham
Heroine: Joseph Edward Leather
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: May 19, 2020
Started On: January 23, 2021
Finished On: January 28, 2021

His Valet is the second installment in the Victorian Decadence series by S.M. LaViolette. The story brings together 27 year old Joseph Edward Leather (Jo), who has been employed as a valet to 42 year old Stephen Chatham for quite sometime, and falls in love with her employer along the way, a man who wouldn’t look twice at her for all intents and purposes.

Jo is someone who has been working since the tender age of seven years. Her father had taught her to be nothing but exemplary in her servitude. Devotion is all that has been ingrained into her, not to mention the fact that she has spent her entire life pretending to be a man, the only way of life she has ever known. Even if it meant foregoing own sense of self-dignity, that is what Jo’s father drilled into her and her brother, and that is the code of ethics by which she lives.

Jo does not ever dream of a conventional happily ever after nor marriage for her. The only thing that she yearns for with every fiber of her being is to be with Stephen and when the opportunity presents itself, indulge she does for the five nights she pretends to be someone else.

When the truth comes out, Jo knows that the price she would have to pay would be immense, and even then, she is ill-prepared for the white hot anger that rules every decision Stephen makes thereon. Stephen, who has been burnt once and is twice shy, loathes deception of any kind. In Jo, Stephen sees only what he wants to see, and therein lies the battle which he must wage and win over himself, if Stephen and Jo were to have any chance in having a future together.

I loved the story line and the main protagonists better than I did those in the debut book of the series. Stephen is a compelling character and with Jo, he finds the answer to his every desire, the whys of which he doesn’t want to look into too closely lest it takes him in a direction that is far too uncomfortable for him to ponder on.

Jo’s character is the one that shines bright in the story, and I believe it is as Ms. LaViolette intended it to be. Her character makes one question their conceptions about the gender which they identify with, and it is something that I have never really thought much about. But Jo’s predicament is all too well understood, given how she was brought up and the fact that she has never had the freedom to understand enough to choose who she wanted to be.

It is with the enigmatic Mr. Smith that Jo truly finds the freedom to explore her mind and conscience, and to understand herself enough to be comfortable in her own skin and most of all, to love her own self. And it is those terms upon which Stephen must try to reconcile his own feelings with, if ever these two were to have their own version of a happily ever after.

The second lead game was strong in this novel; which is often felt when you are watching Korean dramas that strongly rely on love triangles to bring the angst factor forward. For me, the fact that I fell hard for Mr. Smith and my heart wept for him spells trouble with a capital T. It means that I am in a shit load of trouble even before Ms. LaViolette has released Smith’s own story, which I do not think I would ever be ready for. The fact that most fans of this series would want to get their hands on his novel is a foregone conclusion, and a Goodreads discussion on the author’s page proved me right.

Ms. LaViolette mentions that she is actually 3/4 through with his story and had to stop, because she too is learning that Smith is a difficult character who views sex and love to be completely separate and views love to be rarer than the practice of fidelity to someone. He is neither an easy person to love nor a nice person and his past even shocked Ms. LaViolette as she wrote the book.

So here I am hoping that one day soon, Ms. LaViolette gets the courage to start where she left it off and give us the story of the character that all our hearts collectively yearn for. I know it wouldn’t be an easy read by any means, but it would totally be worth it.

When all was said and done, Jo and Stephen did leave me with one burning question at the end – how would they fare as they go through the different phases of life together in their relationship; would either of them want more than the other can give? Would it always be enough, for her to be his valet and he her master in a way? I don’t think there are any easy answers to any of these questions.

Recommended for fans of Ms. LaViolette and fans of dark erotic romances in a historical setting.

Final Verdict: Thought provoking is not a phrase you would usually apply to an erotic romance, but in His Valet, Ms. LaViolette has outdone herself in giving readers characters that leaves the strongest impression on you!

Favorite Quotes

His lips curved into a smile she never thought she’d see directed toward her. “Lift your skirts higher for me.”
Her hands responded to his order just as they always did, and his gaze dropped to her thighs. He’d somehow managed to take off her other slipper without her being aware of it.
“I want to leave your stockings on,” he told her as she lifted her hem, exposing her shaved sex.
Heat flared in his eyes, dark, smoky and explosive—just like the savage, uncontrollable peat fires Jo had once seen when she’d been a girl. “God, yes. You are exactly the way I like,” he murmured. “So smooth, soft, sleek.”

“Should I ease in slowly, or do you want me to get it over with?” “Get it—” The marble phallus had not prepared her for the sensation of his thick, hot, and remarkably long organ sliding into her body. “My God you’re tight,” he whispered against her ear when he paused. “Is it terribly painful? Should I give you more? Or wait?” More?! She’d thought he was already all the way in. He was bloody huge and Jo was afraid she might scream if she opened her mouth so she clenched her jaws tight and whispered, “More.”

“Not yet,” he hissed between clenched teeth, his hips pounding without mercy. “Not yet, not yet, not—fuck!” He threw back his head and roared, driving into Gillian so hard that her head bumped Jo’s belly.
“Now,” he ordered, hilted in the other woman. “Come now.”
Jo’s back spasmed and arched, until it felt like it would snap, and she hurtled over the edge into oblivion.

“Hello, Stephen.”
Stephen slammed the armoire door and strode toward her without speaking, pulled off her hat, tossing it aside, and crushed her mouth with his, as if he’d not seen her in a year, instead of only a night.
She gave as hard as she got and they were both breathless when he finally pulled away.
“Hello, Josephine.”

“Do you like it, Josephine?” he asked in a voice that was rough with restraint.
Jo pressed herself against him, the action pushing him deeper, causing a dull pain to radiate from where they were joined. She felt the change in his body, the subtle loosening of control, like a rope that had been cut and was beginning to fray faster and faster.
“Fuck,” he said, groaning. His arm slid around her waist and his fingers fanned over her belly, holding her body against his while he invaded her inch by inch by inch. Just the thought of what they were doing—so filthy and primitive and wrong—made every muscle clench.
“Josephine,” he whispered, shuddering.

Stephen whispered in her ear, his voice harsh. “I can’t restrain myself much longer, Josephine. Do you want it?”
“Yes, Stephen. . . please.”
Stephen must have made some sign because Julian left her body and stepped back, his cock jutting heavy and slick in front of him, his expression tense with the effort of holding back his orgasm. It was Jo’s turn to smile and then she closed her eyes and opened her body to the man she loved, heart and soul.
Stephen’s pounding became savage, his hips pumping mercilessly now. “I’m going to come in you, Josephine. I’m going to—” he gave loud, guttural cry as he thrust deep and froze, holding her in an unbreakable embrace while his cock spasmed and flooded her with his seed.

When his mouth slanted over hers, her hands did what they’d been wanting to do for weeks and slid around his smooth, muscular torso. He groaned and pulled her against him, his arm like an iron strap around her waist.
His mouth was silken and tasted like liquor and smoke from his strangely fragrant cigars. His kisses were as firm and hot and powerful as he was.

He grazed her breast with his teeth and she whimpered as he slid a hand down the front of her trousers, beneath the waistband, and then stopped on her mound, groaning. “Oh, God, I love a shaved cunt,” he whispered into her breast before dropping into a crouch and grabbing both sides of her placket and then ripping her trousers right down the middle.
Jo gasped. “Oh, no, but—”
“Hush,” he muttered, yanking the string that held up her drawers. “I’ll buy you another dozen pairs. Good Lord your body is beautiful.” He dropped to his haunches and spread her lower lips with his thumbs and plunged his tongue into her, his moan vibrating through her body.

“Stockings stay on while I fuck you, I think,” he said, panting as he knelt between her spread thighs, staring down at her with black eyes that were heavy with need. “This is an emergency, darling, and I’m going to ejaculate with shocking haste. But the next time will be up to my usual standards.”
Jo laughed breathlessly and spread wide for him as he placed his beautiful cock at her soaking entrance and slammed into her, pulling her tight to his body as he entered. He held her full for a moment, his eyes locked with hers, his chest rising and falling as if he were being chased.
“How do you want it? Hard, hard, or hard?” he asked.
Jo couldn’t help laughing. “What was that third one agai—”
He began to fuck her with furious, violent thrusts, his teeth gritted and his jaw clenched as he pounded into her, angling his hips for the deepest penetration. He worked her so savagely she knew there would be bruises.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

Review: The Absolutely Positively Worst Man in England, Scotland and Wales by Anne Stuart

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Impeccably Demure Press
Hero: Christopher St. James Constant
Heroine: Miss Bryony Marton
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: August 14, 2020
Started On: August 20, 2020
Finished On: September 04, 2020

If you are fan of Anne Stuart like myself, and have in all probability read most of her published books you can get your hands on, you would probably jump at the very possibility of a new book being published by a veritable master of the genre. There are very few books by Ms. Stuart that has not satisfied me on all counts, and even then, her stories tend to have that edge and quality to them that makes them memorable. Ms. Stuart is also the maestro when it comes to writing anti-heroes; her ICE series (contemporary) and The House of Rohan series (historical) are testament to this fact.

Published in August of last year, The Absolutely Positively Worst Man in England, Scotland and Wales (quite a mouthful, I know), was therefore much awaited to say the least. I had been regularly following up on Ms. Stuart’s blog to see when this baby would be published, and of course once it was, I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to dig in, even with work deadlines looming.

Christopher St. James Constant, third Earl of Adderley (Kit) is a man bored out of his mind, willing to be amused by pretty much anything. The news that his “friend” Sir George Latherby is about to get married rouses him of the boredom and lack of interest in life that plagues him, and so cooking up a nefarious plan to kidnap the betrothed to hasten the nuptials among other things, thus Adderly finds himself in the company of 25 year old Honorable Miss Bryony Marton.

Bryony wants nothing to do with her betrothed or any man for that matter. On the plain side, with scandal having eroded any means of making a good marriage match possible, Bryony has been biding her time until she could escape the confinement that is her every day life. When that “escape” comes in the form of kidnapping, while Bryony could have managed everything if it had been just herself, the fact that her cousin Cecelia is also taken alongside with her complicates matters.

Adderly, while he expects to be entertained to some extent by the events that unfold, he never would be thought it possible to be taken by surprise when it comes to Bryony. Her calm and unflappable demeanor, even under the most trying circumstances leaves him with an indescribable feeling coursing through him. Furthermore, when it would be far easier to have his way with the silly chit that is Bryony’s cousin, Adderly finds himself drawn to the plain looking thing that Bryony is, in a way that he is not at all comfortable with.

In the midst of it, Ms. Stuart also brings to life a secondary romance between Cecelia and Peter Barnes, member of the Bow Street Magistrate’s Court who is hired by Cecelia’s parents to bring her back home, leaving Bryony to her fate.

The Absolutely Positively Worst Man in England, Scotland and Wales is a story that brings an abundance of joy to to the expectant fans of Ms. Stuart. It has the hero whose reluctance to accept his feelings towards the heroine prevents him from giving in, and the heroine who at first, with her survival instincts kicking in, knows that the hero heralds the end of her life as she had known it.

While both Bryony and Adderly may not want to accept the heat that is very much alive between them, especially Adderly who knows better, there is no denying nor resisting what is inevitable. Their coming together is explosive in the way only Ms. Stuart can deliver scenes of passion, and the aftermath giving you that ton of angst to keep your adrenaline pumping. While Adderly tries (he truly does), to leave Bryony behind and get on with his life (though there is not much to it without her by his side), towards the end, it is Bryony who musters up the strength required to get them to their happily ever after.

I did love the story as it unfolded, with the main protagonists being endearing in their own unique ways. When it comes to the secondary romance, at first, I did not mind much for Cecelia’s character – I just found her to be a “convenient distraction” from what was springing to life between Adderly and Bryony. I felt quite annoyed by the time Ms. Stuart dedicated to Cecelia at that point in time. But once Peter Barnes came into the picture, I somehow found myself eagerly waiting for the bits and pieces to their story as well, finding Peter to be a hero I would have loved reading about more!

Adderly is an addictive hero – there is no doubt about that. He is lethal to your heart in a way that you foresee, but at the same time, you are unable to prevent him from piercing through and staking his claim on it. Bryony, with her calm and at times motherly nature, is exactly what Adderly needs but resists up till the very last minute. Adderly hides his scars behind the mask of indifference and boredom that assails his life and there is a darkness to his past that he has never really recovered from. The tantalizing bits and pieces to his past that Ms. Stuart dangles is just enough to draw your own conclusions and that is somehow enough to understand where Adderly is coming from.

At the cost of repeating myself, I loved the scenes of passion; they were certainly decadent. Though there was an epilogue to the story (readers deserved one after all the upheavals that we went through), it was a strange one to say the least. But nevertheless, it did serve its purpose, leaving the reader wanting more, and at the same time wondering whether Ms. Stuart would write a story about finding the modern day equivalent of Adderly. As an avid fan of Ms. Stuart, I can only hope!

Definitely recommended for fans of anti heroes, fans of Ms. Stuart, and those who love historical romances!

Final Verdict: Ms. Stuart does it yet again, delivering a delectably phenomenal read, with characters who tug at your heart and incite every sort of emotion conceivable.

Favorite Quotes

He lifted his mouth from hers. “Open up, poppet,” he said, devilment in his eyes. “It’s time you learned to kiss properly.”
“I know about proper kisses,” she said somewhat breathlessly.
“I stand corrected—let me show you about improper kisses.” He dropped his mouth to hers once more, and his tongue touched hers with a slow, languorous stroke.

“Never let it be said I disappointed a lady,” he muttered, and before she realized it, he’d crossed the safe distance that had remained between them, slid his hands through the loose curls on the back of her head and crushed his mouth down on hers.
Cecilia Elliston had kissed seventeen men and boys, and she considered herself a reasonable expert in the matter, but she’d never, ever been kissed like Peter Barnes kissed her. He’d turned her around, pressing her up against the wall, and his mouth slanted across hers, hot and hard and wet.

“I’m not a termagant.”
“Perhaps not. In fact, I’m not entirely sure how sweet you are beneath your calm exterior. I have every intention of finding out.” Before she could sense what he was doing, he’d slid one hand behind her neck and drawn her face to his, his open mouth covering hers.
She’d thought he was calm, poised, playing games with her, but his kiss wiped out any pretense of self-control. With a low growl, he turned her in his arms, so that she was straddling him on the wooden chair, and she could feel him between her legs, that hard part of him that fascinated and frightened her. He used his tongue, kissing her with such a ferocity that she could do nothing but let herself be kissed, as slowly he moved her, back and forth over that solid ridge of flesh beneath his breeches.

He took her hand away from her body and placed it between his legs. “There’s your proof. If you want to swear this night never happened, then be my guest. Most men wouldn’t notice whether you were a virgin or not.”
She tried to pull her hand back, but he held it there. “Night?” she echoed doubtfully.
“All night long,” he confirmed. “Now come here.”
“I am here,” she said stubbornly, trying to ignore the fear and desire that were building anew within her.
“Closer.” Obediently, she crossed the tiny distance so that she knelt between his long legs. “Now kiss me. Kiss me the way I kissed you.”
This was the point of no return, her last chance to say no. She leaned forward and put her mouth against his, and her uncovered breasts pressed against his chest. She tried to retreat, but he put his arm around her, pulling her closer, and he deepened the kiss, his tongue meeting her shy one, coaxing it, teasing it, so that she forgot to think, so lost in sensation that she felt drugged with it. With lust, he said.

The first, tiny wash of pleasure was a shock, and she let out a little gasp as it hit her. He lifted his head, breathing on her tender parts. “You liked that, didn’t you? Stop fighting me and you’ll like it a lot more.” He licked again, and then slid two long fingers inside her.
The sudden invasion shocked her, and she squirmed, but it only seemed to bring her closer to his mouth, as he explored, licked, and sucked with seemingly all the time in the world, and his fingers pumped into her slowly, readying her, and this was all too much…
The sudden convulsion hit her, so fast and so hard that she cried out, but instead of drawing back, he redoubled his efforts, and she felt the nip of his teeth. It was the last thing she remembered, as darkness shut around her, her entire body seemed to explode in tiny pinpricks of reaction, and no sooner had one wave crashed them another rose, and she was crying, thrashing, caught in the maelstrom.

He didn’t move, holding himself just slightly above her so that his full weight wasn’t crushing her, and his eyes were closed, his face cold and hard in the moonlight. Slowly, her body relaxed, beginning to accept his presence so deep inside her, and she wanted what she’d felt before, that glorious, unsettling crash of feelings that had now left her completely. She tried to shift, but his voice came, hard and strained.
“Don’t move.”
She stayed still, wondering when this would be over. Though admittedly, there was a certain…pleasure in being covered by him, surrounded and invaded by all that strength.
“Are we done?” she whispered, uncertain.
His laugh was the last thing she expected, and she could feel it all through her body, everywhere his skin touched her. “We’ve only begun.”

He bit her breast, and reaction slammed down on her, that mindless, blinding delight, multiplied by a thousand candle flames, and he was moving fast now, deep, powerful thrusts that only made her needier. She wanted to tell him, but she’d lost the power of speech, and he was moving so fast, slamming into her, and their bodies were slick with sweat, and she needed…
And she was gone, lost in a storm of sensation that she simply shattered in his arms, holding tightly, as if she were drowning, and he was the only port in the storm. She was vaguely aware that he suddenly pulled out of her, and she felt the heat and wetness on her stomach, and she wanted to cry out. She needed him inside her, she needed everything….

“More,” he whispered hoarsely, and before she realized what he was doing he’d pulled her down onto him, still hard, and she let out a little cry of distress and satisfaction, as she felt him grow within her. “Your turn,” he said in a rough voice, hard hands at her hips, moving her.
She pushed against his shoulders, straightening up, and the sensation was strange, different, wonderful, and he was moving her, in small increments, up and down his shaft, rubbing inside her. Fresh need filled her, and she was the one who needed more, needed more of him, all of him. She didn’t need his hands guiding the rhythm, she’d caught it on her own, and she moved, sure and certain, pulling up high and then sinking down again with a cry of pure satisfaction
.

She came again, harder this time, and the little shriek was music to his ears, but when he went back for more, she pushed him away. “Wait,” she said in a hoarse voice. “Wait.”
“I don’t feel like waiting,” he growled, so close to the taste of her that it was driving him mad.
“Get over it,” she said, and he fell back with a laugh. She was standing up to him. No one ever stood up to him, particularly in bed, and his cock grew unimaginably harder.
She got to her knees on the mattress, looking down at him, and she looked like a hoyden, an angel, and something in between. She looked like a woman without fear, and he wanted to celebrate it, but instead, she pushed him down on the bed and followed with her kiss.

He pulled out, and she let out of cry of desolation. “No!” she moaned, but he simply flipped her over beneath him, so that her face was in the disordered sheets.
“Yes,” he said, pulling her hips up. “This way.” And he pushed inside her from the back, feeling her quim tighten around him once more, rippling in reaction, and finally he was released, let go. He thrust into her like a madman, over and over, until she suddenly shrieked, clamping down around him, and he exploded inside her, filling her with his seed, collapsing over her, holding her beneath him as he spurted, and at the last minute, he latched his teeth onto her neck and bit her like a big cat marking his mate.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo

Review: Entice by Ava Harrison

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Grayson Price
Heroine: River Reed
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 14, 2019
Started On: July 16, 2020
Finished On: July 19, 2020

Ava Harrison is a totally new to me author, who I stumbled across in one of the book recommendation lists that I was going through. With Entice promising all those elements that makes up for an emotionally well rounded read, I was quickly hooked, making Ms. Harrison someone I am going to continue reading in the future.

36 year old Grayson Price has unfinished business to take care of when it comes to Tyler Reed, someone whom he considered once to be an older brother. Unable to say no to his sister, Grayson agrees to the meeting and finds himself with more than he bargained for when he comes face to face with Tyler’s daughter, 20 year old River Reed.

From the onset, there is a undeniable spark between the two which makes things precarious for Grayson in a way that he never would have anticipated. While River may want to throw caution to the wind and explore what it is between them, Grayson would like to believe that he is not ruled by the pure male instinct to claim River as his which scares him to no end.

However, even as Grayson tries to distance himself, none of it is to be helped as fate has a way of drawing them together time and yet again. It also does not help matters when River exposes her vulnerabilities to him, the way she responds to him, and makes him yearn for something that he has not thought he ever would consider as part of his future.

With every kiss and searing glance that renders both breathless, these two embark on a secret “affair” that slowly unfolds into something that neither anticipated. With River and Grayson both bringing their own baggage to the mix, it is no lighthearted joining, and it was incredible to witness the changes that they went through as a couple and individuals to reach their happily ever after.

Entice was a very mature, thoughtful, and meaningful read, all in a way that most taboo romances aren’t. There are very few authors who can do topics like this justice without making you cringe or worse. This is essentially what stood out for me when it comes to my first read from Ms. Harrison, and as I mentioned, definitely not going to be my last.

I enjoyed getting to know both Grayson and River, and that significant point in their past giving added meaning to the connection that is forged to life between them. Grayson was definitely all kinds of hot – the panty scorching variety of hot and I could not have asked for a better placed hero than Grayson in every single aspect.

What I loved the most was how the relationship between Grayson and River was fleshed out, the exploration of deepening feelings between two people who carry emotional baggage to last them a lifetime. The emotional depth added that pull factor to the story which had plentiful sex scenes which were tastefully done and sinfully hot!

Recommended for fans of huge age gap romances exploring “taboo” topics. Ava Harrison does this with a flare which makes for stupendous reading!

Final Verdict: Entice delivers to readers a story that captivates you from the start, with Grayson and River claiming a piece of yourself before they are through!

Favorite Quotes

My eyes are still aimed forward, but I’m watching him. I watch his Adam’s apple bob as I caress the skin.
I watch him swallow.
His chest rising and falling with each pass of my hand.
He looks torn, provoked, on the verge of something.
Something I’m not sure I can decode.
But I do see something I recognize very well. Loneliness. It bursts from him, alive and raw and pulsing like an injured animal. I can smell it. I can almost taste it. We are the same, yet we are nothing alike.

“You think I hate you?” he growls, taking a step toward me.
“Yes,” I whisper.
He advances, and I step back. “You really think that’s the problem?”
“It’s pretty obvious, to be honest. You haven’t been shy with your repulsion toward me.”
He moves in until my body is firmly pressed against his, his erection pressing against my stomach.
I let out a gasp.
“Repulsion, River, huh?” He grinds up against me. “That what it feels like? Or maybe it’s something else? Do you think my anger is something else?”
“What else can it be?”
“Self-preservation.”

Without a second thought, he crushes his lips to mine.
It feels like a series of fireworks explode inside me at the feel of his mouth. We are all teeth and tongue.
The kiss is desperate, and then he pushes off my lips. “Why do you do this to me?” he rasps. “Why do you torture me?”
I wonder if he will stop it now, if he will go back to pushing me away, but instead, I feel his fingers on my thighs, and his mouth touches mine again.
Each new swipe of his tongue makes me moan into his mouth and then when I feel his fingers teasing the hem of my dress, I swear I might die.

Then I feel him, pressing himself against my heat, probing my entrance. “I need to fuck you now,” he says through gritted teeth. He readjusts his hands to cup my ass as he begins to stroke me. “Tell me to fuck you, River. Tell me you want me inside you. I need to hear you say it.” The soft nudge is enough to make my inner walls quiver. “Dammit, River, say it. Tell me to fuck you.” He pushes forward, just the tip, torturing me.
I can’t resist. I want this. I’ve wanted him for so long that, like him, I can’t wait another minute. I want him to fuck me and make me forget everything else.
“Fuck me. Now!”
With one sudden thrust, he’s fully seated. I moan at the sudden invasion.
It feels so good.

My eyes roam over her body as I make the descent and then part her legs. I angle my body between them and kiss all the way up from her ankles until I meet the inside of her thighs.
I lick her.
Suck her.
Desperate moans escape her mouth. She purrs beneath me, begging me with her movement to pick up my pace, and so I do. I answer her cries and start to flick and then suck in a maddening pace that has her gripping my hair and falling over the edge.

“River, you know that’s not it. You see how they hound Jax. Hell, even you got photographed with him.”
“You knew about that?” I whisper.
“Of course I did. Wasn’t that the goal?” He’s trying hard not to sneer.
I look down and then back up. “I didn’t think you cared at the time.”
He steps into me, and my back hits the distressed and aged brick of the building. He lifts his arm to box me in.
“You think I didn’t care?”
“Yeah.”
“I cared,” he grits out.
“Why?”
“Why? Because you’re mine, not his. Since I first saw you in Malaga, I wanted you, and seeing that my younger brother, someone probably better suited for you, could be with you, drove me insane.”

I stand from my desk and make my way to the other side. Crossing my arms in front of my chest, I wait.
She’s wearing a cotton dress. Slowly, she drops the strap off her shoulder, and once they are both dropped, the dress pools on the floor beneath her. Now she stands in front of me in her ballet flats, a bra, and lace underwear.
“What did you buy?” I hiss.
My heart beats rapidly in my chest.
She turns around and then bends down, and I get a perfect view of her ass. Almost bare except for her thong.
She lifts something. It looks like a scrap of material, and that’s when I look at the label on the bag.
Agent Provocateur.
Fuck.

“Get on the desk,” I grit.
She follows orders well, moving quickly to sit on the edge of the desk.
“Lean back.”
She does.
“Show me.”
Slowly, but as ordered, she spreads her legs.
My lips tip up, and I make my way, more like stalk, over to her.
“I don’t have time to taste you,” I say as I unzip my pants. I don’t bother taking them off or removing my jacket. Instead, I just pull my cock out. “I’m going to fuck you. And you aren’t going to make a peep. Do you understand?”
She nods.
“Good girl.”

Our eyes lock. And then and only then does he slowly push inside me. It feels too good; as though I’m complete once he’s fully engulfed in my heat.
His hands reach to cups my face, and as he starts to thrust, he peers into my eyes.
He moves inside me, never breaking our stare.
Over and over again.
Deeper and deeper.
But he never pulls his gaze away.
Not once.
Not as I cling to him.
Not as I scream my release.
Not as he reaches his own climax.
He never looks away.

“You won’t find anything,” he says. “And do you know why?”
I shake my head.
“Because there is nothing to find. Want to take a guess at the reason?”
Again, I shake my head, this time dropping my head. He doesn’t let me, though. Instead, he cups my jaw and makes me look at him.
“Because all I want is you. All I see is you. I’m obsessed with you.” His words are rough, abrasive. He hates himself for it. I can tell by the way he grabs me roughly and throws me down on his bed. Then he’s on me, pouncing and kissing me, telling me with his mouth, with his tongue, and with his teeth just how much he hates that he wants me.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Cold Wicked Lies by Toni Anderson

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice: Crossfire, #3
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Payne Novak
Heroine: Charlotte Blood
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 08, 2020
Started On: June 13, 2020
Finished On: June 14, 2020

Cold Wicked Lies is the third book in the Cold Justice: Crossfire series by Toni Anderson. Ms. Anderson is one of my go-to authors for romantic suspense because, for the most part, she always strikes the right balance when it comes to juggling romance and suspense, delivering emotive and intelligent reads that speaks to the heart.

In Cold Wicked Lies, highly skilled operative and HRT leader Payne Novak finds himself forced to work with FBI negotiator Charlotte Blood in trying to end a standoff between law enforcement and a sealed off compound that is an implosion waiting to happen. While Charlotte tries to defuse the situation by doing what she does best, Payne who finds it difficult to not take charge in any given situation is forced to take a step back and watch Charlotte work her magic.

Not being a believer in the soft tactics, Payne is in for a surprise where he finds himself filled with admiration for Charlotte and all that she stands for, not to mention the slow simmering attraction that flares to life between them, which needs very little to ignite into undeniable passion.

While the danger inside the compound mounts, it is up to Charlotte and Payne to sift through the seemingly straightforward picture that emerges at first from the ground, with one wrong move having the potential to tip the scales in the wrong direction.

I loved Cold Wicked Lies for many reasons. I found both Charlotte and Novak to be refreshing in a way that was endearing. While the antagonism between the two is tangible at the beginning of the story, it is evident as the story progresses that they are both skilled professionals, able to put their personal feelings aside and work for the best outcome possible when it comes to their jobs. That won points from me for both of them.

On the other hand, I loved how Toni brought to light the reverse “sexism” that can exist in society. Whereby we women can judge men based on their looks, the way they carry themselves etc. when we as a gender cry foul at them for doing the same thing to us. Perhaps it is true what they say, we do become what we hate if we are not careful about where our personal prejudices take us.

I definitely love how Toni can create such strong and independent heroines without sounding preachy about it. She manages to drive home well intended messaging across to her readers without us wanting to turn our e-readers off. Because lets face it, we are bombarded enough as it is on social media and all available platforms about what we should be thinking, how we should be thinking, and where that thinking should lead us to. Freedom of conscience, anyone?

I also loved the angst and the surprising twists and turns that the story took, along with the heart thumping variety of mind blowing scenes of passion in the mix. A few well placed words here and there, with deft touches in terms of characterization, and Toni manages to do what most erotic novels fail to bring out in readers; the ability to feel for their characters and be the moment right alongside with them as the tension mounts, the heat builds, and the explosions happen.

While I would have loved to read a bit more on the pasts of Charlotte and Novak, nevertheless, I enjoyed Cold Wicked Lies for what it delivered in spades, leaving me with the urge to read the next one in the series, right after.

Final Verdict: Cold Wicked Lies is Ms. Anderson just as I love her books; informative and intriguing, featuring relatable and earthy characters, while delivering a well paced and sensually charged read!

Favorite Quotes

He angled his mouth across hers, and she opened willingly, tangling her tongue with his, absorbing him. He wished he could capture the feeling in a bottle and keep it with him forever. That silky volcanic heat. The sharp edge of teeth, the sweep of her tongue into his mouth.
His pulse crackled along his veins. His hand found its way to her breast, molding the cotton of her shirt over the perfect handful of flesh. He reveled in the hard press of her nipple against his palm.
Blood headed south, and his dick was so hard he was in danger of passing out. She brushed against him and holy shit, that felt better than the past five years of his sex life.

Her fingers wrapped around the length of him, and she made a little pleased humming sound that for some reason made his cheeks burn.
He cupped her ass, rubbing her clit against his hard length, and feeling her push against him.
“Wanna be fucked against the wall, Charlotte?” he whispered. His hand slipped along her seam, his fingers easing inside and finding her hot and ready. “Or on the bed?”
“Both,” she whispered back, taking a gentle bite of his ear lobe.
His knees almost dissolved.

The effect of slow, sensual thrusts dragged out the erotic sensation, and the need to climax built inside him in small incremental steps up a very long spiral staircase.
He wanted to give her endless pleasure. Wanted to make this good for her. His competitive spirit was finding an outlet he hadn’t thought of before. He didn’t simply want to have great sex with Charlotte Blood. He wanted to be the best lover she’d ever had.

She started to make a sound, and he kissed her harder, holding her breath captive in his lungs, swallowing her groan, feeling her shatter around him a second time.
It broke him. He drove harder, but the noise was too loud, so he pulled them away from the wall, planted his feet wide apart and held her in place, as he pounded into her deeper and harder.

His eyes never left her face, searching it for clues as to what worked for her and what didn’t.
Spoiler alert. It all worked for her. The perfect complement of fullness and friction.
She gripped his ass and pulled him even closer, fighting him every time he tried to retreat. It turned into a beautiful synchrony of frenzy, and an orgasm ripped through her. She opened her mouth to scream, and Novak planted his hand over her mouth as he pounded harder. The lack of springs in the mattress meant they were almost silent, and she wasn’t sure she’d have cared even if they hadn’t been.

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

Review: Thoroughly Whipped by Tillie Cole

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Henry “Harry” Sinclair III
Heroine: Faith Maria Parisi
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 07, 2020
Started On: June 11, 2020
Finished On: June 12, 2020

Thoroughly Whipped by Tillie Cole is a book that surprised me in many ways, because of how unexpected the story that unfolded was. Featuring 28 year old Henry “Harry” Sinclair III and 25 year old Faith Maria Parisi, who couldn’t be more different from each other had they tried, needless to say when their paths cross for the first time, it ends in disaster, with Faith hoping that they never come across each other again.

Three years later, Faith’s worst nightmare comes true when none other than Harry becomes the new CEO of the magazine at which she works. Having called him an overpriviledged cockface among other things, Faith is however determined to make the best of it, and prove to Harry that she is more than capable of delivering when it comes to her profession.

It is partly her determination to prove to Harry that she would be able to deliver a feature article for the magazine, something which she had been wanting the opportunity to do so for a long while, the timing just seems right when she is invited to an elite and by invitation only sex club known as NOX. Excited by the prospect and having never been apologetic about her sexuality, Faith embarks on a journey that is about to change her life, both professionally and otherwise.

At the club, she is introduced to a character known as Maître Auguste, someone who keeps his identity a secret and teaches her body the greatest pleasures it has ever known. At the same time, Faith also finds herself seeing a different side of Harry from the one she has always thought to be true, the kind of man she could seriously fall for if given half the chance.

One thing leads to another and before she knows it, Faith is involved with two men who sets her senses afire, both of whom are able to take her to new heights when it comes to sexual pleasure. But Faith knows that deep in her heart, it is Harry with whom she is in danger of falling in love with, that is if she is willing see beyond the secret that Harry holds close to himself, a secret that could possibly mean a fatal end to what is blossoming to life between the two.

I enjoyed Thoroughly Whipped more than I thought I would, not that I picked this up expecting it to be a bad read. Though the sparks and antagonism that I wanted to continue and heighten between Harry and Faith didn’t go on as long as I expected it to, I did find myself enamored by the changes that took place in the relationship that budded to life between the two. Coming from diversely different backgrounds, Faith and Harry are complete opposites of one another, which is where half the fun lies.

I loved Faith for being able to see through the armor that surrounds Harry and understanding him for who he is. At the same time, I loved Harry for being the kind, generous, and the oh so sexy lover that he was to Faith, delivering exceptionally well on that simmering sexual tension between the two.

I highly recommend Thoroughly Whipped to those who love spiced up reads, complemented with great emotional depth, and manages to astound you, all in a good way.

Final Verdict: Thoroughly Whipped is a novel that is astonishingly delightful, quirky, and oh so sexy in a way you cannot help but fall in love with!

Favorite Quotes

I cried out when he slipped two fingers inside me, his tongue never letting up. “I’m coming,” I said, the crash of pleasure slapping over me like the hardest of floggers. My body tightened and I collapsed, thankful that the stocks were holding me in place. Maître quickly pulled his tongue away, but before I’d had a chance to recover, he slid inside me with one hard thrust.
I screamed as I clenched around his huge cock. He filled me so much. I gritted my teeth as he started pounding into me like the man had been starved of sex. His hands moved from gripping my hips to pressing against my back. His rhythmic thrusts never faltered once.

Harry stood beside me, as still and as stoic as a marble statue. This close I could smell the addictive scent of his cologne—the mint, the sandalwood, and the musk. It was driving me insane. I clenched my thighs together, trying to stop the pressure from building as high as the penthouse floor we chased. In my peripheral vision, I saw Harry’s chest rise and fall at a heady speed. His hand in mine twitched, his jaw clenched, and when I saw the hardness in his pants, I moaned aloud.
That was all it took. That one rebel sigh from my throat caused Harry to snap. He came barreling toward me, pushing me back against the elevator wall, and he crashed his mouth into mine. In mere seconds, he was everywhere. His scent, his taste, and the press of his hard, warm body smothered my every inch. Gone was the prim and proper Harry Sinclair, and in his place was a man wild and intent on bringing me to my knees.

“Harry,” I moaned again as he tucked his head in the crook of my neck and increased his speed. He thrust and thrust until I was a body filled with nothing but pleasure. My eyes rolled closed as I held him tighter, starting to feel flickers of the deep orgasm that was building. “Harry,” I cried, biting into his shoulder as my legs began to tremble.
He growled at the bite then lifted his head, his eyes locking on mine. That was all it took for me to break apart, fireworks exploding around me.

Harry’s fingers traced my spine then dipped lower. Kissing my face, he pushed a finger inside me. My forehead fell against his chest as he fingered me from behind, brushing over my sensitive G-spot, which had barely had time to recover before he was back, punishing it with those talented hands.
Harry’s mouth moved to my ear. “I’ve wanted to fuck you for so long,” he said, his deep voice and fingers causing tremors to rack through me. I felt his dick harden at my thigh. I bit my lip, brushing my cheek against his. “I wanked off so many times, imagining you on this bed, in my arms, under me, screaming my name.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Bad at Love by Karina Halle

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Metal Blonde Books
Hero: Lazarus Scott
Heroine: Marina Owens
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 14, 2017
Started On: May 29, 2020
Finished On: June 06, 2020

Bad at Love is my second read from Karina Halle and features the most favorite trope of mine when it comes to romancelandia, i.e. friends to lovers. The story begins four years prior to the time in which the main events take place, depicting that fateful night when Marina Owens meets the sinfully sexy and broody Lazarus Scott. Lazarus being the half brother of one of her closest friends does not stop Marina from being smitten by him that very night. However, nothing comes of it and time passes by, with the two becoming good friends, until the present day, where things are about to change dramatically for the both of them.

Marina at 25 years is the owner of her own business and successful in her own right, making a name for herself in beekeeper circles. Where she feels inadequate emerges when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex in terms of romantic entanglements. When she confides in Lazarus of her most recent debacle, he comes up with the craziest idea that she has heard from him – they date each other for a little while, each to guide the other on where they are going wrong when it comes to relationships.

30 year old Lazarus has a different problem altogether when it comes to the women in his life; let it never be said that he is a man-whore. He is known as the serial monogamist, who just never finds it in himself to carry on with any relationship for more than a couple of months at best. So, with the best of intentions, laying out ground rules to guide them, thus embarks Lazarus and Marina on uncharted waters when it comes to their friendship.

For two people who are so in tune with one another with banked fires of desire between them, it is inevitable that the floodgates would burst open given half the chance. And as things heat up between the two, both of them are forced to make the hard choices; should they risk their friendship and go all in, no holds barred towards something which could end up destroying the very fabric of their existing camaraderie and closeness, or should they take a chance on what could end up being the love of a lifetime?

I loved both Marina and Lazarus to bits! Marina was such a wonderful, wonderful heroine. I love heroines who are true to their characters, who aren’t fussy, who are just honest about where they are coming from, and their emotions. To me, that sounds like a character who is grounded, someone who I can totally get on board with.

The most refreshing aspect of the novel itself for me was how honest Marina was about her feelings; she just puts herself out there and tells it all without resorting to qualms and tactics that would have just prolonged the inevitable. She was ready to face the heartache or come what may even if Lazarus were not meet her half way. She just embraced the fact that she loves Lazarus and loves him like crazy, and is brave enough to understand what her friend Naomi tells her; that Marina’s insight into who Lazarus is and how he loves, is in fact colored by how Marina views the word and love in general.

Lazarus, oh my Lazarus! He is one of those accented, British heroes that we all love to love. Sexy, sinfully good looking, and extraordinary in the sack (and he knows it), there is nothing like a confident hero who can make a girl lose her mind in the bedroom and then some. The dark and edgy bits to him just complements perfectly with who Marina is, and I believe that is one of the reasons why they gel so well together.

I loved how Lazarus was really sweet to Marina where it counted, and understood the pains of his childhood having marked him in a way that makes it difficult for him to see beyond the scars that haunt him. I loved the fact that in Marina, he found someone worthy, someone with whom he can find solace on the darker days and take comfort in the fact that she would have his back, no matter what.

Definitely recommended for all romance lovers who adore the friends to lovers trope. And of course fans of good contemporary romances in general! I loved how heartwarming and endearing this was all around.

Final Verdict: In Bad at Love, Ms. Halle brings together two characters whose timing was never right, whose love when allowed to blossom, shines ever so bright.

Favorite Quotes

His tongue slides into my mouth, slow, almost painfully slow, this teasing drag along the edge of my tongue that makes my skin run hot and tight. A desperate urge rises up from inside me, the steel of his tongue ring cool and sleek.
Fuck.
This is happening.
And it’s still happening.
Like any new dance, it starts off tentative, wary, and then morphs, his mouth growing hungrier, our tongues sliding in and out with building urgency. Laz presses his hips into mine and I can feel how hard he is.
For me. All for me.

I don’t know how long our eyes are locked like this. Our bodies are locked like this. Our hearts are locked like this. An eternity passes where all our unsaid words are passed between us like prayers.
“Sweet girl,” he whispers to me seconds before his mouth crushes mine.
I groan against his lips, his mouth hot and wet and hungry. This is a deep kiss, the kind of kiss you shouldn’t have on a public dance floor. It’s pulled out from a wild and charged place far inside me, a place I’ve always kept the bars on, keeping back my primal instincts like you would predators in a zoo.

“Fuck,” he groans. “Your cunt feels better than it tastes.”
“You have a dirty mouth,” I manage to say.
“You have no idea,” he says roughly, his lips capturing mine in a deliriously slow kiss that matches the deliriously slow way he’s thrusting into me.
Everything feels like bliss, the pain now melting into something that makes me wild and thrilled. I dig my hands into his back, my nails leaving marks and our kiss gets messier, teeth, lips, tongue, mouths completely missing each other.
I’m starving for him, starving for years, going mad.

“Laz,” I moan but it sounds more like a whimper, like he needs to put me out of this sweet sweet misery.
“I want you to come,” he hisses, his fingers razing my clit until I’m almost bursting at the seams. “Open your eyes.”
They fly open and I’m looking up at him in wild awe, stark determination on his brow, a side of Laz I’ve never seen, a side I want to keep seeing forever. I want him undone, I want to render him powerless, I want to see what I can do to him, how much ecstasy I can bring him.

Tears rush to my eyes and I grab onto the tight, sweaty planes of his back as I’m liquefied beneath him. I hold him like I’ll never let him go, I’ll never let go because I’m not sure I’ll exist if I do. I’m just stardust now.
“Fuck, Marina,” he grunts roughly and then his head goes back, his throat exposed, neck muscles corded as he pushes in deeper, deeper. The sounds coming out of his mouth as he shudders into me will be forever burned in my heart. The feel of him, the look of him, feral and somehow tamed now.

“Fuck!” she yelps, “Oh god. Oh god, Laz. Laz.” Her voice trails off into moans that shake me to my core. She’s so fucking beautiful like this, her body trembling beneath me, throbbing against my tongue. She’s becoming undone.
But I’m not done yet.
I’m only getting started.
With borderline desperation, I grab the base of my cock and straighten up, gripping her hips, the covers falling back behind me. Sitting back on my knees, I thrust into her, barely able to control myself.
She feels so good. A silky, tight fist that won’t let go.

If she’s losing her mind, so am I. I’m no longer myself. Just an animal. I piston myself into her, over and over again, the headboard slamming against the wall. I can see us in the reflection of the painting above the bed, me fucking her raw, deep from behind, my muscles flexing as I push in, fast, hard, our skin blistering from such wild need.
My fingers work her clit, harder, faster, so slick and messy, slipping and sliding against her. Then she’s coming, and her pulse on her throat is racing into my palm. She cries out again, loud, frenzied, like she’s being obliterated in the most perverse way.

Then the kiss deepens, a slow, hard pull that reaches deep inside me, feeding the hunger. Our mouths, lips, and tongues dance like savages with each other, violent and ravenous andwild.
He suddenly grabs my waist and hoists me up a few inches, positioning his cock just so before lowering me. I gasp at the intrusion, my body so fucking ready yet so unprepared that I have to remember to breathe. If it wanted a break after New York, it’s not getting one.
“Fuck me,” he mutters against my neck as he deliberately drives his cock upward and into me, my muscles expanding around him as much as they can. “So fucking good, Marina. You feel so fucking good.”

One of his hands is lost in my hair, tugging on it the way I like, and I let out a breathless gasp from the sweet pain. The other is lifting up the hem of my dress, pulling it up around my waist. I’ve stopped wearing underwear these days and he lets out a deep moan that I feel vibrate through me as he explores me with his fingers.
“No knickers,” he murmurs. “Good girl.” He sticks three of his large, long fingers inside me and I clench around them, begging for more.
“Hurry up and fuck me,” I tell him.
He laughs, low and rich, reaching down to lift me up so my legs are wrapped around his waist.

We are joined as one and the more he thrusts in, deeper, deeper, the warmer he feels, like a fire that can’t be held back much longer. A trickle of sweat rolls down his brow and his eyes pinch shut as he starts to climax, his mouth going for the crook of my neck where he bites and sucks and licks as he pounds me, losing control.
“Fuck, Marina, oh fuck,” he hisses, inhaling sharply. “I’m coming. I’m coming.”
Before I even have a chance to try and catch up, he lets go of my waist and strokes my clit with his free hand.
Boom goes the dynamite.

He gets to his feet, runs his slick hands down my spine and then grips my hips as he positions himself, and with one long, slow push he eases inside me. I’m so wet and ready that he glides right in. But oh, when he pulls back out, that slow drag and piercings hitting just the right spot, somehow, I’m groaning for him all over again.
“Don’t stop,” I hiss as he plunges back inside, deeper this time, coaxing another unrestrained noise out of my throat. “Never stop with me.”
“Fuck,” he swears, gravelly and low. “I’d do this until my dying day if you’d let me, Marina.”

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Review: Reasons of the Heart by Susan Napier

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ross Tarrant
Heroine: Francesca Lewis
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 1988
Started On: May 16, 2020
Finished On: May 21, 2020

Published in 1988, Reasons of the Heart is one of the earlier works of Susan Napier. The story begins with Francesca Lewis turning up at a cabin that was owned by her recently deceased grandfather, the cabin supposed to be a sanctuary of sorts for her to recuperate and get back on her feet. Determined to change the direction and focus of her life afterwards, Francesca however is not at all ready to run into 30 year old Ross Tarrant, her nemesis from the past.

Francesca’s painful memories come tumbling forth when she finds that she has to share the cabin with none other than Ross. Right from the start, these two rub each other the wrong way, the sparks fly, and Francesca in her bid to keep Ross at a distance, judges him by what she knew of him in the past. There is a delicious sizzle in the air whenever these two are in the same room, and I thoroughly enjoyed every single second of it.

Even though Francesca is determined to keep Ross at arm’s length, with every turn, Ross continues to surprise her, and the insults they exchange on a daily basis quickly become the highlight of her day, exasperating and arousing her in equal doses up till the point where Ross makes her see just how right they are for each other. However, for someone like Francesca who has never known what love is like, what being fully loved and accepted for herself is like, there is much growing up for her to do before she can come to terms with her love for the man who has never stopped making her feel all too much.

I loved Reasons of the Heart. There were so many intriguing aspects to the novel that I felt mesmerized and at times gleeful about the direction in which the story was headed. I do enjoy witty banter between the two main protagonists and Ms. Napier certainly delivers on that front, and is not shy on following up on the heated chemistry that is between the two.

Francesca was a complex female lead and she could be termed as a difficult character at first. Francesca running scared every single time that she felt vulnerable and/or found herself to be lacking should have gotten old real quick. But the way Ms. Napier peeled back the layers of her character, exposed her childhood and what it had meant to grow up with two grandparents who had perhaps never wanted her makes for interesting reading. Where she had paid for her mother’s choices all through her life and never really gotten to understand who she is deep inside; all of that and more made her a riveting character.

I also loved Ross to bits! He is that perfect mix of cocky, sinfully sexy, handsome, and endearing. Ross was also endlessly patient when it came to Francesca and her hangups about love and life in general. At the same time, Francesca does teach Ross a few things while she is at it, and I loved Francesca for being brave enough to face her fears while at the same time bringing Ross to his knees in the very best possible way.

I wished for an epilogue so very much when I finished this story. There was much angst in the story that I reveled in, which should have been followed through by an epilogue that would have given readers a sense of “closure” when all was said and done.

Recommended for fans of complex character driven category romances.

Final Verdict: Complex characterization, the right touch of angst, and sensuality of the kind that drives one to distraction is what Ms. Napier delivers to readers with Reasons of the Heart.

Favorite Quotes

‘I can see, Princess, that you’re not going to rest until I’ve made the obligatory attack on your virtue, so…’ He reached over and swept her across the jumbled pile and into his arms.
His mouth was a shock of warmth against hers, his large hands spreading across her shoulder blades to ensure that any resistance on her part merely rubbed their bodies suggestively together.

‘You’re flushed…’ His finger ran down to the pulse in the soft hollow of her throat. ‘…Your skin is damp, your temperature and pulse rate have increased… An invitation doesn’t have to be verbal to be explicit.’ His lids drooped, masking the intention in his eyes. ‘And if you’re so hot…’ he pulled the front of her robe apart with a single, swift movement, his hands crowding in to capture her breasts, encircling the little, stiff peaks that thrust against the soft bodice of her modest nightdress ‘.. .why aren’t these still sweetly soft?’
He bent his head and kissed the objects of his taunt with maddening precision before scooping up his blankets and backing out the door with a final salute of laughter at her furious confusion.
‘Night-night, Princess. Safe dreams…’

He broke the kiss and they stared into each other’s eyes. There was a gleam of male recognition in his that stopped her breath. Then his hands were cupping her face and his mouth fastened over hers again, gentle, teasing, yet deep and satisfying too. When she trembled, his mouth tensed and hardened, gathering her in even further, stunning her with the tremors she felt in his own body, as if it was part of hers.
‘You taste good, Frankie,’ he murmured in thick amazement, his trembling fingers finding and stroking her breasts in a way that made her kiss him back with untutored enthusiasm. He groaned.
‘Touch me, Frankie, the way I’m touching you.’

At what point had the snide insult become an endearment? Fran wondered as she put a hand flat on his chest to stop herself falling forward into the blue void of his eyes. His chest rose quick and hard against her hand, her fingers sliding through the patch of hair revealed by the opened neck of his shirt.
‘I… I can’t…’ absently, concentrating on the vibrations under her fingertips.
‘You can…’ The words formed against her lips, his tongue stroking its velvety roughness against their parted warmth, then plunging inside with a suddenness that made her head reel. The muscles of his arms bulged as his hands clenched convulsively against the wire at the inward sway of her body against the open trap of his.

She pushed a thigh between his, and he caught and held it against the centre of his body, letting her feel the rigid proof of his arousal. Yet still he didn’t put his arms around her. With a hot surge of mingled power and frustration Fran pushed her rounded breasts against his chest, crushing the taut peaks with a shudder of masochistic pleasure, her mouth widening beneath the silken search of his tongue. Both hands were now clinging to his waist, sliding up under the sweatshirt to find the damp, ridging muscles of his back. Suddenly he tore his mouth away. ‘Stay.’

‘You know… what I do up there in the air,’ he murmured in a voice that had the texture of cut velvet, ‘the “high” it gives me, is the next best thing to sex. Perhaps this afternoon was a subconscious attempt to sublimate my real need… to do this…’ He slowly eased over until he was braced above Fran’s supine body, his hips lowering to grind softly against her thighs until they parted to allow him to lie between, the rough denim weave of his jeans catching against the soft wool-blend of her slacks.
‘…and I needed you up there, with me, to share the exhilaration, the agony and the ecstasy of subliminal sex. God, Frankie, how much longer are you going to make us wait? Tell me, tell me you want me to touch you, and taste you, and feed your appetite with mine…’
With a cry of need that echoed his own, Fran arched against him.

Her wide-eyed delight provoked her lover to even greater pleasures and, when at last his strong, gentle fingers lingered, breath-soft on the delicate flesh between her quivering thighs, Fran was stormed by a violent, racking shudder that almost spilled him from his position of dominance. His hand wrapped around her hips, holding her still.
‘No…wait, Francesca…’ He sucked in his breath. ‘…slow down…’
‘I…can’t…’ She twisted helplessly, unable to control her body’s demand as he groaned against her.
‘I don’t think I can either…’ He thrust her legs apart with a possessive strength that sent a stab of pain to the core of her pleasure.

Purchase Links: AbeBooks

Review: The Hawk and the Lamb by Susan Napier

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Jack Hawkwood
Heroine: Elizabeth Lamb
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 01, 1993
Started On: May 12, 2020
Finished On: May 14, 2020

The Hawk and the Lamb by Susan Napier was first published in 1993 and proves to readers just how exemplary an author Ms. Napier was in the romance publishing industry. I wish with all my heart that she would write again, but alas, I do not think that particular dream of mine will ever come true. I hope Ms. Napier knows the sheer joy her books have brought me during a difficult year, for which I am forever grateful.

The story begins with 25 year old Elizabeth Lamb being “recruited” by her uncles on a mission to do some detective work. What Elizabeth was hoping would be her vacation turns into a bit of a fiasco when she has to travel alone and finds herself in the company of the very man she is supposed to be spying on for her uncles.

Carrying a valuable family heirloom that she is to “return” to the rightful owners, Elizabeth finds all her attempts thwarted by the delicious Jack Hawkwood, who makes her forget why she actually traveled to Nouméa—the Isle of Hawks. Jack is unlike any man that Elizabeth has ever associated with. Given her job as a researcher and assistant to a professor of literature at Auckland University, and her one love affair having ended in disaster had basically affirmed her belief that there was no “right man” out there for every woman.

With every turn, both Elizabeth and Jack finds themselves ensnared in a web of heady desire that brings both to the point of no return. However, the fact that Elizabeth’s secret could have devastating consequences for what is budding to life between them makes Elizabeth hesitant and rightfully so on an intrinsic level, which gave the story the edge it deserved.

The Hawk and the Lamb was such a great read in many ways. I loved Elizabeth and Jack, both together and individually, and they are two people who were just destined to be together from the start. There is no denying the sparks that fly, the interest that sizzles to life on both ends, and the reluctance on the part of Elizabeth that stems from a sense of self preservation.

Elizabeth who is bookish, voluptuous, shy, and a tad clumsy was a heroine I could root for. I loved her to bits and the fact that she is loyal to a fault and tries her best at something she is so obviously terrible at won her points from me. When she starts enjoying herself with the last man on Earth who she should be doing that with, that itself comes with the sort of inner dialogue that had me snorting.

The dialogue was witty, with the heroine being independent minded enough to give the hero a run for his money and upend everything that he thought to be true. The only thing that could have made this read perfect was an epilogue.

When an author can seamlessly bring together scenes of the laugh out loud variety with seductive eroticism that speaks to readers on a whole different level, that is an author you should never stop reading in my opinion. I will always be thankful for having stumbled across Ms. Napier’s books because they certainly have managed to color my life vividly. Absolutely recommended!

Final Verdict: Humor with right touch of sinful sensuality interwoven with two intriguing protagonists is a potent mix; stands testament to why Ms. Napier amazes me time & yet again!

Favorite Quotes

In a last-ditch effort to assert herself Elizabeth reached out and grabbed the neat pony-tail at the back of his head and pulled sharply. The jolt should have brought tears to his eyes but to her horror he didn’t even flinch, the corded muscles of his neck hardly registering the sudden extra tension. Instead he smiled faintly and as she jerked her hand away the thin black band that had held his hair in place came with it. His hair loosened across his braced shoulders, slipping caressingly through her retreating fingers like fine, dark silk. A strand fell forward, teasing her parted lips, the feathered tip adhering just inside the moist corner of her mouth.
Elizabeth froze, her eyes dilating with renewed shock as he delicately reached inside her mouth with his blunt fingers to extract the intimate intrusion, brushing the dampened strands tauntingly across her vividly flushed cheek before tucking them safely behind his ear.
‘Do you like the way I taste, Beth?’

She sank to a crouch, placing her hands lightly on either side of his thigh for balance as she bent forward and pressed her mouth gently against the site of his injury. Her hair, caught by the breeze, blew in a soft dark froth across his hard abdomen. His skin was hot and faintly salty and her lips parted in inadvertent curiosity over the jagged scar that bisected his outer thigh.
For a stunned second he didn’t react. Then, beneath her fingertips, the muscles in his thigh bunched violently and his hand fisted in her hair, wrenching her head back.
‘What in the hell do you think you’re doing?’ he demanded hoarsely, the shock flaring in his silver eyes as he looked down at her.

Her palm felt the scrape of a stiffened nipple surrounded by the luxurious softness of his body hair and lingered there, exploring the contrast in textures. She leaned further into his kiss, instinctively teasing the tips of her breasts against his silky-hot skin, the astonishing pleasure of it all going straight to her head and making her mouth as aggressive as his.
A deep groan vibrated in his chest, making her tingle all over. His teeth softly savaged her swollen lips. The hips that had been crowding lightly against the juncture of her thighs suddenly ground harder, deeper and Elizabeth became devastatingly aware of the extent of his arousal.

His eyes glowed with a strange yellow colour, like sun trying to break through summer storm clouds. ‘So I don’t scare you?’
If her chin tipped any higher she was going to fall over backwards, but she had to do something to counteract his overwhelming physical impact. ‘Not a bit!’ she defied him.
The sun broke through, but his smile was a twist of irony and his voice disturbingly quiet.
‘Then it’s purely one-sided. Because, ma chère, you scare the hell out of me.’

The voluptuous tingling spread from her scalp to the rest of her body, further weakening her feeble resistance. She was going to bite him if he dared kiss her mouth, Elizabeth told herself dizzily, but he didn’t give her the chance to satisfy her hunger. His mouth disappointingly bypassed hers, the hands in her hair tightening to pull her head back so that he could nuzzle at her throat, the warm, moist caress finally settling against the hot pulse just under her left jaw. His tongue was wet and rough as it sanded the betraying leap of blood in her veins. She gasped, clutching his waist as he sucked gently and then bent her head the other way so that he could pay equal homage to the opposite pulse.
Only then when he had tasted her thoroughly did he seek out her mouth, murmuring thickly with satisfaction as she carried out her mental threat and sank her white teeth sighingly into the satiny curve of his lower lip. The masculine flavour of him exploded through her senses and Elizabeth didn’t realise how rough and uncontrolled she had become until she tasted the salt in her mouth and realised what she had done.

She stilled, a wild warmth flushing her body as she registered the hardness nestling against her heels that was not his thigh. Her toes curled involuntarily, scrunching the dark fabric covering his inner thigh as she realised that he was not the cool, controlled tormentor of her frightened imagination, that he was as aroused by the game she had instigated as she had been…perhaps more so.
Suddenly her misplaced confidence came rushing back. If she was trapped then so was he—far more obviously so. Why, he was practically seducing himself. This was going to be like taking candy from a baby!

He didn’t taste any different, only better, the flavour of him melting over her tongue, the first sip only exacerbating the hunger that drove her to wind both arms around his neck and twist her mouth under his, needing the co-operation that was strangely lacking. Oh, God, was her desperate eagerness turning him off? She tensed as the old feeling of shame impinged on her consciousness.
As if her wavering doubt communicated itself to him Jack suddenly threw off his passiveness and took full command of the intimate embrace, his hand cupping her jaw as he plunged his tongue into her mouth, biting and sucking at the soft innermost recesses with a gentle savagery that utterly shattered her former notions of what a kiss could be.

‘Oh, don’t-‘ she begged, as his marvellous hands moved away again and hovered, as if he was wondering what part of her to torture with pleasure next. She put her hands on his shoulders, feeling them thicken and bunch as she unconsciously guided him.
‘Don’t what? Do this?’ This time his finger hooked into the indiscreet slit in the centre of her bodice and created a wicked tension as he pulled, lifting her towards him. He bent and inhaled the fragrant heat that rose from between her breasts. Her eyes closed, her head fell back and his murmur was like tearing silk in her ears. ‘Tell me… tell me everything you like, Eliza-Beth, every wish, every fantasy and I’ll give it to you… all of it… anything, everything you want…’

‘I don’t… I want—’ Her mind struggled to reassert its ascendancy over the tumultuous revolution of her body, capable only of dealing in the simplest of one-syllable concepts. ‘Time…’
His breath was exquisitely damp and hot on her swollen nipple.
‘Time?’
The temptation to deny her brief return to sanity was almost overwhelming. The need for that moist, intimate caress was excruciatingly intense. ‘I.. .yes.’
‘Time for what?’
‘I—I don’t remember…’ Opening her eyes had been a mistake. He filled her vision, rearing over her—big, powerful, starkly aroused, his face raw with disbelief and a smouldering sexual anger. He was wild for her, she realised achingly, tenderly, and in a way that Ryan had never been. She would never compare the two men again.

As his fingers wrenched at the concealed zip in the side of her dress, Jack forced her to meet his hotly arrogant gaze.
‘Yes?’
She blazed her answer at him. Even to ask was an unendurable delay. ‘Yes, oh, yes…’
She raged like a storm in his arms, one that he rode in a triumphant frenzy of desire, tearing off their clothes as his body melted into hers, his groans and wild, erotic urgings spurring her further, faster, deeper towards the heart of the whirlwind that had turbulently engulfed them both. The first convulsive paroxysm of pleasure barely checked his extravagant pace as he pursued her from peak to peak until she cried out in an ecstasy of exhaustion.

‘No one’s ever seen me wearing it,’ she said, instinctively defending herself against the threat of that silky murmur. ‘I always wear something high-necked if I put it on…’
‘But it’s still there around your neck. Still being worn.’ He lifted his head suddenly, his eyes catching the light, and she shivered at the predatory satisfaction that was starkly revealed there, as if he were a hawk brooding over a fresh kill.
‘I want to see it,’ he demanded.
Her fist clenched over her chest. ‘You can’t have it, not here. I’ll have to unzip my dress to get it off—’
‘I don’t want you to take it off. I want to see you wearing it.’

‘Show me,’ he commanded, and stood, legs planted astride, hands hanging loosely at his sides, the picture of a relaxed man prepared to explode into violent motion at a moment’s notice.
Automatically Elizabeth turned away from the powerful image of daunting male arrogance and her eyes took in what her mind had subconsciously registered even before the light had been switched on.
Not her bedroom. His. He had brought her to his room, his territory… his rules.

Elizabeth had naively thought she knew him as a lover. Now he showed her that she was wrong, that she didn’t know him at all. He curbed and channelled her eagerness with a ruthless strength and a single-minded purpose that heightened her arousal until just the touch of his mouth brushing across her skin was an unbelievable delight, moving languidly on her, over her, in her, until she couldn’t contain the building sensation any longer and exploded in an agony of pleasure, rising and falling feverishly beneath him until he grasped her by the hips and pinned her deep into the soft mattress in a powerful, bucking spasm that arched him like a bow and released him into soaring flight with a savage shout of victory.

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