Review: A Date with Destiny by Miranda Lee

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Michael Angellini
Heroine: Salome Twynan
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 25, 1994
Started On: December 13, 2021
Finished On: December 17, 2021

A Date with Destiny by Miranda Lee is a category romance that was first published in 1994. The story begins when 24 year old Salome Twynan discovers that her ex-husband had once again added another item to her divorce settlement; a penthouse unit at McMahon’s Point. Salome had married young, at the age of nineteen to a 49 year old man, who had warned her that people would talk, judge, and slander her reputation upon their marriage. Salome had gone into the marriage with her eyes wide open, let her husband mold her into what he wanted, and when the divorce had come out of nowhere, Salome is devastated, and having tried and failed to see her ex-husband to get answers to the questions she has being futile slides her further into a depressive state.

When Salome turns up at the penthouse, she discovers that her neighbor is none other than Michael Angellini (Mike), one of Sydney’s most eligible bachelors, the wealthy owner of an exclusive Italian restaurant that Ralph had taken Salome to on many occasions during the course of their marriage. From the onset of their introduction, Salome and Mike had rubbed each other the wrong way, and the hostility had often meant Mike ignoring her or giving her scathing glances while Salome tried her utmost to be more flirty and appreciative of her husband in his presence.

Needless to say, the knowledge that Mike is going to be right next door is not information that settles well with Salome, especially when she discovers that underneath all her hostility lies recognition of Mike’s vitality as a man and the need he rouses in her. Salome has her hangups about casual sex which drives her up the wall when it comes to admitting to the fact that she indeed finds Mike desirable to the point of distraction.

I found the love that unfolded between Mike and Salome to be an entertaining, sweet, and sexy journey with a bit of angst tossed into the mix. It is apparent from Mike’s behavior that he finds Salome just as desirable, and would like nothing better than for Salome to give in for them to reach the height of their mutual pleasure in each other. But Salome is a stubborn as well as a reluctant heroine (but not to the point where it becomes annoying), and Mike has his work cut out for him in trying to make her see that for him, there is no other.

Recommended for those who love books by Miranda Lee.

Final Verdict: Intense heat and good characterizations renders A Date with Destiny to be a wonderful read!

Favorite Quotes

‘You don’t want me to stop, do you?’ he said hoarsely.
‘No,’ she admitted, her voice shaking. ‘No…’
His raw groan stunned her. Clearly, he wanted her almost as much as she wanted him. Maybe he had always wanted her. No, no, a dim memory refuted. That’s not so. He said that wasn’t so.
His next kiss obliterated any further thought, and this time his mouth contained nothing but uncontrollable passion, a taking rather than a tempting. Salome met him halfway, their tongues joining together in a violently sensuous mating that could only be eclipsed in one way.

She could hear his breathing, as heavy and ragged as her own, hear his dark mutterings as he began working on the buttons of her jacket and blouse, then the tie at her neck. Cool air suddenly caressed bare breasts, a rash of goose-bumps temporarily sobering her. For a split second the appalling truth of what she was allowing came home to Salome but, before she could react, Mike’s mouth moved across her breasts and closed over one single, straining nipple.
A moan was torn from deep in her throat, the fingers of both her hands curling over to dig into her palms. ‘Oh, God!’ she whimpered. She jammed her fists down beside her on the case, but this only served to give her a lever with which to arch her back further upwards, pushing her flesh deeper and deeper into his mouth. Her head swam with dizzying pleasure, the blood in her veins surging hotly through her body.

‘What is it?’ Mike said sharply.
She expelled the breath she had been holding in a trembling gasp. ‘Nothing…nothing…’
‘Tell me,’ he urged, and drew her to him in a breathtakingly close embrace, his lips pressed feverishly to her forehead. ‘What is it that frightens you so about me? Why didn’t you want to let me finish making love to you earlier on? Why?‘
She shook her head frantically from side to side. ‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ she whispered hoarsely. ‘I can’t! It’s all too confusing.’
‘What’s confusing?’ he insisted, little knowing that the hot, stroking hands on her hair, her neck, her back, were the most confusing of all, because they kept bringing wave after wave of sensation that was slowly obliterating her capacity to reason. Surely she wouldn’t feel like this in any other man’s arms, would she? It didn’t seem possible. Yet…if it was only Michael Angellini who could do this to her, then what was it exactly she felt for him? Sexual infatuation? Obsession? Lust?
Salome refused to embrace the word ‘love’. Even if her feelings for Ralph had finally begun to die, her bruised, battered heart wasn’t ready, or capable, of loving another man yet, and certainly not a man who had nothing but contempt for her. Perhaps she was acting this way out of some sort of crazed revenge against the hurt perpetrated by her husband. Perhaps this was a rebound thing. She didn’t know any more.
‘Everything’s confusing,’ she groaned. ‘Me… this…you…’

She moaned her frustration and frantically pushed him away, ‘No, no!’ she cried.
He staggered back off the end of the bed, getting to his feet and staring down at her with eyes both wild and incredulous. ‘You must be mad! There’s no stopping now. No changing your mind. Look at me!’ And, with a single savage yank, he stripped off his pyjama-trousers, striking her speechless with the stark evidence of his desire.
Salome had never looked quite so blatantly at an aroused man before, certainly not one as well-endowed as Mike. Colour burnt in her cheeks, her heart thudding beneath her breasts. ‘I haven’t changed my mind,’ she burst forth, then hesitated, finding it hard to find the words. ‘I was wanting you. You!’ she cried. ‘Not…anything less…’

Finally he gasped away from her mouth and pressed hot lips to the smooth skin of her shoulder, the pulsating vein at the base of her throat, his hands running up and down the sides of her body. Her own hands were caressing the muscles in his back, but dug sharply inwards when he grabbed her hips, lifting them from the bed and thrusting even more deeply into her. Quite instinctively, her inner muscles squeezed tightly around his throbbing hardness, gripping and releasing him in a relentless rhythm. Any moment now…
There was a split second when she seemed to balance on a sharp edge, when her breathing stopped, and every muscle in her body strained to an aching stop. She heard him gasp for breath, felt his hands tightening around her. Then, with one final surge, he set them both free, and their mutual cries of release echoed in the night.

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

Review: Degrees of Control by Eve Dangerfield

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Beyond Bondage Series, #1
Publisher: BookBaby
Hero: James Hunter
Heroine: Charlotte Bell
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: November 30, 2015
Started On: August 10, 2021
Finished On: November 25, 2021

Degrees of Control by Eve Dangerfield is a novel first published in 2015. The story begins with Charlotte Bell attending her friend Sophia’s “low-key” engagement party, where her friends are trying to hook her up with a man who would understand needs of a closeted submissive such as Charlotte and deliver her from the bad breakup that has left a mark on her.

Charlotte is sort of biding her time until she has saved enough to return to Australia where she is from. The decision to follow her ex-boyfriend to America had turned out to be one that was foolhardy in hindsight, with Dale having subjected her to unwarranted jealousy which had only escalated over time for no good reason.

When James Hunter walks into the party, every single cell inside of Charlotte goes on red alert. Even with all her friends warning her that James is the kind of man-whore that she should steer clear from, the need that he rouses in her is all too great to be ignored.

Even though Charlotte knows that James and herself are as ill-matched as can be, the fact that neither of them are looking for anything long-term works at first. James makes reality of every sexual fantasy that she has harbored and makes the submissive in her crave the dominant in him all the more. But when emotions come to the forefront, it is a challenging road that is ahead for both, with Charlotte trying to understand the complexity behind the man that James is, so that they might at least have a shot of making things more longer term.

I loved Degrees of Control and thoroughly enjoyed the dynamics between Charlotte and James. Ms. Dangerfield is a master at delivering scorching hot scenes of passion, while at the same leaving us with tantalizing bits thought provoking elements that makes her books the stellar reads they are.

I fell in love with Charlotte and James from the onset – what is there not to love about a heroine who is kind, gorgeous, and smart, and a hero who is an alpha-hole of the best kind, who I knew would break my heart and patch it all up before all was said and done?

Recommended for those who love psychological depth with their smut! This one certainly delivers!

Final Verdict: With the perfect balance of panty-melting variety of kink and emotional depth with heart, Degrees of Control is a character-driven page-turner!

Favorite Quotes

His thumb brushed over her clit and the whole world tipped sideways, a surge of energy burst at her center and her hips bucked against his stroking fingers. “James!”
Another dark chuckle. “Oh honey, you’re gonna feel so good around my cock.”
Charlie came then, she couldn’t help it, and as she came, she screamed.

“I love that look on your face,” he said. “All nervous but so fuckin’ eager, like you’re gonna cream your panties the second I lay a hand on you.”
He strode toward her and Charlie felt herself shrink beneath his much larger presence. James’ smirk grew wider. He pushed a strand of hair from her eyes, letting his hand linger on her neck. At his touch, she did indeed feel an answering clench in her cunt, sparks flickering deep within her belly. She pressed her thighs together, taking pleasure in the ache.
It was worth coming for this, just to know this kind of doomsday lust exists.

“Now the skirt.”
Charlie didn’t think she’d ever felt this exposed. Her hands lurched up to her hair, stroking it nervously before she reached for the fastener at the back of her pencil skirt. His hazel eyes bore into hers as he rubbed a palm across the front of his jeans, stroking the bulge that lay below. Charlie let Holly’s skirt pool around her ankles. Her panties were cheap but new. She hadn’t wanted to wear anything for him that she’d ever worn for Dale. James stared at the ornate love heart woven into her pink bikini briefs and she saw something wild flicker in his eyes.
“Turn around,” he snarled.
She did what she was told, her feet swaying slightly in the pumps.
“Bend over.”

“You wanna come, Charlotte?”
He ran his thumb over her swollen clit and Charlie almost choked on her tongue. “Yes.”
“Go on then, girl, come on me.”
That was all she needed. She rubbed her pussy on him, slick and insistent until warm, blessed orgasm surged over her like a tidal wave. She whimpered, welcoming the oblivion, and James seized her hips and sank her down on his length.
“James, fuck!”
She writhed against his shaft, sunk so deep his pubic hair brushed against her engorged clit. As her inner muscles strained to accommodate him, her orgasm plateaued, igniting the tangled webs of nerves deep inside herself so that she shuddered and moaned. James smirked like a blond Satan. “Feel good, sweetheart? Good as you hoped?”
“Y-you tricked me, I wasn’t ready—”
He leaned closer, the position a million times more intense with his cock buried inside her. “Darlin’, you’ve been ready since you showed up in those fuck-me heels. Now be a good girl and get on your hands and knees.”

James’ hazel eyes closed, his hands clasped her hips. “Oh that’s so good, honey, ride me. Ride my dick.”
James’ head was thrown back and the line of his jaw was sharp as a blade. He was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen, she realized. Powerful and wild as the stallion on his ribs. James groaned, a strangled desperate sound. “Jesus, Charlotte, your pussy’s so goddamn tight, I’m gonna come.”
He seized a handful of her hair, driving himself against her. The brutality of his thrusts made her scrape her nails down his chest.
“Fuckin’ hell, I’m there. I’m fuckin’ there.” James went rigid, his hands biting into her hips, and he cursed long and loud as his cock pulsed inside her.

“Say something,” she whispered. “Please, say something.”
James lowered his mouth to her ear. “Scream my name, slut, scream it while you come on daddy’s dick.”
With a gush of slick warmth, her pussy convulsed around him. Her bound hands banged against the floor as she screamed his name so loudly, his ears rang. He slowed his pace, giving her a chance to recover.

Charlotte smiled and kissed his neck, his collarbone, any part of him she could get her mouth on. Gentle kisses that somehow got his motor running again. His balls tightened, the pressure built in his cock, but still he couldn’t get over the edge. James swore softly, plunging deeper and faster into her cunt. Charlotte’s eyes found his. She had a freckle inside her right iris, James realized, like an island floating in a sea of blue.
“It’s all right, James.” She sounded so quiet, so sure. “It feels so good, I promise. Come inside me. Come inside me. Let me feel you.”
She pressed her lips to his mouth and everything inside him clenched. At long, long last his climax tore through him like a tornado and all the tension in his body drained out of his balls.

Without breaking their eye contact she drew him back into her mouth. This time his shaft was slick and her lips slid down with ease.
“Enough.”
Charlie pulled back until only her lips were pressed against the head of his cock, like a bizarrely chaste first-date kiss.
“God, darlin’, that mouth of yours…”
She drove down again, as deep as she could get without choking, gripping the base with one hand and stroking his tight sac with the other.
“Fucking hell.”

He ploughed into her with short, sharp thrusts, satisfying himself with her flesh. The warmth between their bodies was oppressive and her orgasm seemed to swell in the pressure, blowing out like an overheated balloon.
“Oh God, James, James, James.”
“You’re gonna cream, aren’t you, bitch?”
Charlie had never been so sure of anything. He could pull out and leave her empty and she’d still come.
James chuckled. “Even when I use you like a blow-up doll, you get off. Know why that is, Charlotte?” He whispered the words in her ear like it was a childhood secret, like a prayer. “Because you’re my whore.”
Charlie screamed so loud the sound ate up the world. James pumped, once, twice, three times, then went rigid behind her, swearing like a sailor. They shuddered like animals, riding out their climaxes until they were both completely drained.

“Hey there,” he said, smirking like the arrogant prick he was.
Didn’t he know he was ruining her with that lazy, insolent smile, with his tight abs and broad chest and his stupid square-jawed face? Who would she want to date after this? Who would ever want to be compared to him? He opened his mouth, possibly to offer another pointless greeting, and Charlie threw herself on him. She kissed him in punishment for making her wait this long, for destroying her chances of being content with some middling nice guy. She kissed the arrogant look right off his face.
Soon she forgot everything except the feel of his lips against hers. His hands drew her forward and she eagerly clambered into his lap. They consumed each other, rocking slightly in his office chair until she hoped that by “lunch” James meant “a covet fuck against my desk.”

“If I was you, I’d be coming right now, instead of bored.” His blasé attitude was somewhat undermined by the small wet stain seeping through the front of his briefs.
Charlie pulled his underwear halfway down his hard thighs. “We’ll see how boring I am, Mr. Hunter.”
She examined him, stroking lightly over his blood-swollen cock, and when his dick pulsed in her hands, she bent forward to trace every last pulsing vein with her tongue. Slowly.
“I know what you want, girl, and it’s not happening,” James warned.
“What’s not happening?”
“I ain’t gonna beg. You can tease me as much as you want and I’m just gonna lie here, silent as the grave.”

“Baby, I’m gonna go off. Come up here and sit on my face.”
“Beg.”
“Please,” James said with what appeared to be the utmost sincerity. “Please, honey, I need to make you come. Put that pussy down on my face. I’ll stay tied up, I just have to get you off. Please.”
Charlie hesitated. “I’ll taste like lube from the condom…”
“I don’t give a fuck. I’ll do anything, Charlotte, just…please?”
She couldn’t battle her submissive urges any longer, she scrambled up the bed and positioned her legs on either side of his head.
“Fuck yeah.” James arched his neck and eagerly drew his tongue through her cunt. The noise he made, like a starving man tasting chocolate, turned her skin white-hot. “That’s it, girl, don’t move a fucking muscle. Lemme take care of you.”

“James!”
She threw her head back so far her body was an arch, rutting her hips against his talented mouth. He sucked her harder, urging every last vibration out of her climax. When she finally pulled away, there was no trace of arrogance on James’ face, no cocky sense of achievement. “Get on me. Get on my dick right now.”
She climbed down his bound body and drew him inside her tingling, tortured flesh. He was close, she could feel it. She clamped herself around him and the aftershocks from her first climax throbbed to life.
“Use me, Charlotte.” James’ voice was harsh. “Ride my fucking cock.”

He’d opened his door on Tuesday night to find Charlotte in a trench coat. She removed it to reveal an outfit that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a pole dancer; black stockings, a tiny, ruffled skirt and a sheer, black corset. The sight of her sweet face contrasted by such slutty underwear completely blindsided him. Before he knew what was happening, Charlotte was on her knees, unbuckling his belt and giving him the slowest, hottest blowjob he could ever remember getting. She’d sucked him lightly, running her tongue down his shaft and over his sac so slow he could feel the come surging up his shaft. In the final throes, she’d wet a fingertip and sunk it in his ass. He’d come so hard sparks had popped behind his eyes.

She walked toward her bedroom with legs that felt like jelly. Rummaging through her lingerie she selected ruffled cream panties and a sheer babydoll negligee that cupped her breasts and flowed down to her hips like the world’s most inappropriate dress. Figuring she’d go all out, she applied lipstick and mascara and slipped on her black Mary Jane shoes. She inspected herself quickly in the mirror.
Nothing like a troll doll. Good.
When she emerged into the kitchen, James’ mouth flattened into a straight line. He beckoned her closer, eyes cataloguing every detail. As much as Charlie wanted his mouth to fall open, she’d learned that the more potent James’ reaction to her body was, the more it looked like anger. When he’d opened the door to find her in stripper clothes, he looked like he wanted to punch a hole in the wall.

“James, can you hold me down?”
“Anything you want. Anything.”
He seized her delicate wrists and pulled them over her head, pinning them with one hand. Charlotte’s inner muscles clamped around him, as though she was determined to draw the come up from his balls.
“Oh Lord. Tell me you’re close, sweetheart?”
Her eyes were wild. Desperate. “I’m so close, please keep going. I need you.”
I need you.
The words went straight to his dick, filling him with a strange spiraling warmth.

She pushed him onto his back and he let her, kissing her breasts as they went over. He felt her wet heat kiss the top of his dick and moaned.
“I swear, we don’t have to do this, baby.” He searched her eyes for reservation. There was none. Pushing aside any last doubts, James flexed his hips and slid himself inside her hot, bare cunt.
Oh my fucking God.
He wanted to die. He wanted to live and die in Charlotte’s pussy. She was warmer and tighter than anything he’d ever imagined, her wetness enveloping him in ways that felt both physical and not.

“Stay. Finish with me like this.”
She moved against him in short sweet strokes, her hair tumbling around her shoulders. The words he couldn’t say before tumbled out. “You’re so fucking beautiful, Charlotte. I love this, I love your body.”
Her response was to reach down and kiss him, pressing her entire body along his chest and bathing him in her scent. He sank back into the floor, dissolving into pure sensation. What they were doing was a million miles from fucking. It was that whiskey-warm feeling he’d gotten from taking her under the covers in her bedroom amplified to a thousand-fold. Every pressure point from his jaw to his toes was tingling.

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

Review: Burn for Me by Sara Cate

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Cullen Ayers
Heroine: Everly West
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 14, 2021
Started On: November 07, 2021
Finished On: November 12, 2021

Previously published in the Tangled Sheets anthology as Spitfire, Burn for Me is the revised title with added content, released in October of last year. This is a dark romance and is not intended for readers who do not like heroes who push the boundaries beyond the popularly accepted limits in the genre.

32 year old Everly West is looking for a fresh start by seeking a teaching position at the Florence University. What had begun as part of Everly’s internship eight years back, requiring her to write an investigative piece on a local had ended up with a major human trafficking operation being uncovered, with George Ayers being convicted of the crime and sentenced to jail. The case had left its mark on Everly in a way that at times she herself cannot reconcile with.

Everly had spent the next eight years of her career trying to attain the same high to no avail. However, the staid teaching position that she takes up ends up being more than she bargained for, when on her first day of class, in walks 18 year old Cullen Ayers, the 10 year old boy now a grown man, whose life had irrevocably changed with his father being convicted.

Cullen’s hatred towards Everly is a palpable thing when they meet, with Cullen placing the blame on Everly’s shoulders for the shit show that his life had become since. Everly brings out the worst in him, the anger that he harbors is one that seethes, needing an outlet, a living being of sorts that resides in him refusing to be denied.

They say that there is a thin line between hatred and love, and perhaps that applies to the situation all too well. Because beneath all that anger, the attraction that simmers to life between Everly and Cullen is one that is like a live wire; touch it and you risk being burned.

What starts out for Cullen as a way to taunt Everly results in a passion that burns bright and hot between the two, and before Cullen knows it, Everly is in his blood, under his skin, and slowly making her way into his heart. For Everly, the fact that Cullen is her student and fourteen years younger are things that should matter, but she is tired of feeling like a dead woman walking, and with Cullen, she feels alive for the first time in years.

Burn for Me is not an easy read by any means. Cullen is a tough nut to crack, his hostility towards Everly reaching points of high where it almost feels like there is violence in the air that could do Everly physical harm. But Everly is no doormat heroine, and she gives as good as she gets, while seeing through to the belligerence that is part and parcel of who Cullen is.

But any fragile emotional bonds that is forged to life between the two is constantly under threat from the secrets that remain to be uncovered, with Everly ever so determined to get to the bottom of the story behind George Ayers, even if it means raising the ire of Cullen to new heights.

True to Sara Cate’s style, the story delivers a ton of angst, reverse age-gap protagonists, and heat of the kind that scorches your e-reader. I reveled in all of it and more, and applaud Ms. Cate for writing Cullen as he is; unapologetic, circumstances of life having molded him into a man hardened by life’s cruelties, but yearning for the touch of the one woman who drives him to the edge of violence over the possessiveness that takes hold of him.

Everly is a quieter force in the story, but just as potent. Cullen brings an edge to her life which she thrives in, the commanding way in which he treats her in the bedroom something that she has craved for, without even realizing the fact. All of this and more balances out their relationship, each giving the other what they need, which in the end made for a spellbinding read!

Recommended for those who love dark and edgy romances; Cullen is a force to be reckoned with in every single way!

Final Verdict: Cullen and Everly burns through the pages, scorching your fingertips, heart, and soul, leaving at times destruction in their wake, but always followed by love of the kind that is all consuming!

Favorite Quotes

It occurs to me at that moment how much more I want to do with this new burst of energy—sick, twisted things I’ve never really thought about wanting before, and that thought has my cock getting surprisingly hard in my shorts.
“You belong to me now, Miss West. And if you even think about calling the police on me or telling Coach or the administration, you might as well slit your own throat because I won’t let you sleep a wink without wishing for death. Do we have an understanding?” I snap, my tone laced with hatred as I grit out each word.

Our eyes meet for a moment, and there is no more smug indignation in her eyes, just fear. Something passes between us. It’s subtle, and maybe I’m seeing something that’s not there, but it looks like fire in her eyes, like maybe I love this and she doesn’t hate it as much as she should. With her tear-soaked eyes still on mine, I force her mouth shut.
“Swallow.”
She whimpers again and does what she’s told.
“Good girl.” Then I wipe her tears with my thumb before shoving her away from me.

His mouth lands harshly on my lips. I’m too stunned to move. My hands are pressed against his chest, but not with enough force to actually push him off of me. In the recesses of my mind, I know if I really want him off, I can get away, but I don’t. I just let him kiss me.
His tongue slides between my lips, diving into my mouth like he owns me, and I guess at this point, he does. The metal on his tongue surprises me for a moment as it slides against mine. He lets out a low growl when the hand around my waist squeezes me closer, practically fusing my body with his.

“No, you are not my fucking mother, Everly. Don’t you ever compare yourself to my mother again. You will never be like her. She wasn’t a bitch like you.”
I let out a gasp and instantly try to pull away, but he grabs me hard by the back of the neck, squeezing so tightly that pain shoots all the way down my spine. “You’re hurting me,” I say with a whimper. Still, he doesn’t let up. Instead, he grabs my hand off the steering wheel and slams it against his crotch, and I lose the ability to breathe when I feel the rock-hard bulge in his shorts.
“Hurting you gets me hard, Everly. You see how fucked up I am?”

“What’s wrong, Everly? You’ve never heard of hate-sex? A revenge fuck. Angsty, depraved, and dirty as sin.”
My mouth goes dry, and I can’t respond.
“Is that what you want? Because that’s sure as fuck what I want, and that’s why that asshole will not touch you, understand?”
When his hands grip a handful of my hair, I shudder. Arousal warms my belly as he yanks my head backward. There was some reason why I shouldn’t do this.

The back of my skirt is lifted up to my ass as Cullen pushes his hips against mine, dry humping me from behind, and making me see stars with the way my arousal slams into me like a truck.
God, I want him to unzip his pants and just fuck me right here. I don’t even care that I could be caught, lose my job, and be in the headlines all over again, but for much worse reasons. I don’t care. The feel of his perfect cock entering me with force would be worth it. My body is on fire, flames licking at my belly as he grinds his impressive length against my ass.
“Fuck me,” I whisper, shamelessly. So fucking shamelessly. I should be the very definition of ashamed right now, but I’m not. I just don’t care.

“Cullen, please,” I beg, but he doesn’t give me what I crave. Instead, he teases me. Slipping his fingers through the folds, he slides a finger in roughly, making me cry out. Then, he pulls it out and spreads the moisture all over, pulling his hand out and touching his wet fingers to my lips.
“Taste yourself,” he whispers, and I do. It’s erotic and filthy and sends my heart racing, a strange new feeling sprouting in my stomach, like being turned on by something that also makes me feel wrong and dirty. It’s so much better.

“Show me now.”
With a hesitant expression on her face, she peels open her robe, giving me a view of her bra and panties before lowering the phone and spreading her knees. Peeling her thong aside, she aims the camera right at her beautiful pink pussy.
My breath comes out heavy and loud. “Touch it.”
“Cullen, no.” She’s putting up such a weak fight, it makes me laugh.
“Do it, Everly. I need to see you touch it.”
With the slightest huff, she obeys. Her fingers run through her lips, and I groan. I notice how her mouth opens, her breath hitching, and her eyes darkening in lust.

“Everly,” I whisper her name, the sound of it like satin on my lips.
Her heavily-hooded gaze stares back at me as she watches me stroke myself.
“I’m going to come soon,” she says in a high-pitched cry, and I bite my lip, loving the way her hand picks up speed and her chest stops moving.
“Come for me, baby,” I manage to groan out just as my balls tighten, the head of my cock swelling as my own orgasm rushes to the surface in a hurried chase.

He throws his bag into my trunk and drops into the seat next to me, but he doesn’t hesitate a moment before grabbing my face and pulling me to him for a bruising, violent kiss.
Time stops, and I let out a yelp just as he fuses his lips to mine. And he tastes good. Kissing Cullen is like visiting a private place all on your own, where there are no rules or witnesses. I don’t necessarily kiss him back, but when his tongue presses its way into my mouth, I let it. He nips at my lips as he consumes me, and I try to stop time. I don’t want to open my eyes and face his disdain for me anymore. I just want to exist in this kiss.

Her cheeks are flushed, her eyes hooded with lust, like it’s the only thought on her mind—need, want, lust. When we reach the master bathroom, she turns to flip on the shower before spinning back toward me to pull up my shirt.
It’s the first time she’s really taken control, letting herself express how much she wants me, and I like it. Everly wants me, and even though it’s not like she’s the first woman to want me, the attention warms a part of me that’s always felt cold and dead before.

While I’m staring at the mirror, she glides her hands along my abs and up to my pecs, skimming her fingers softly over my nipples, toying with the barbell through each one. And even though my skin is still covered in a thin sheen of sweat, she leans forward and kisses my chest.
A groan builds softly from the base of my chest, growing louder as her mouth finds my nipple and her teeth bite the piercing there.
Fuck, I’m not going to make it.

Spinning her around so her back is against me, I hold her tightly across the chest with one arm as I plunge my fingers in again. Writhing against me, she cries out as I stroke her relentlessly. I want her as close to coming as I can get her. Clutching onto my arm, she hangs from my hold as I zero in on her clit, rubbing it so hard I know she’s teetering somewhere between pain and pleasure.
“Cullen,” she gasps in a plea. She’s begging me for more.
My dick is pressed against her back, and I squeeze her closer. God, I want to fuck her so badly, but I can’t. I have to keep my head.

I put up a fight, crawling away, but he grabs me by the ankle, jerking me toward him. Letting out a scream laced with laughter, I push away from him, but he’s so much stronger than I am. Plus, I don’t really hate the idea of being at Cullen’s mercy, not anymore.
This thing between us has morphed from actual torment to superficial torment, like we’re playing the parts, fulfilling roles. He is my punisher, and I am welcoming my discipline.

He climbs onto the bed, covering my body with his. He wrestles my wrists from my chest and pins them above my head.
Looking into his eyes with a dare on my face, I say, “Don’t start something you can’t finish.”
He hears the challenge in my voice and smiles wickedly. “I don’t think you deserve to finish,” he growls, abruptly kissing my neck. His lips and teeth are both soft and rough, kissing and nibbling, making me squirm with the too-good and too-painful contradiction, which is really just Cullen in a nutshell, isn’t it? I want all of him and none of him at the same time.

He strokes my hair again.
He’s not forcing me, and I know I don’t have to, but I want to. So I lift my head and slowly pull down the elastic waistband of his pants and reach for his cock. I am not hurried or frantic as I slowly wrap my hand around him, watching his face for signs of pleasure when I squeeze. His eyes threaten to close as I stroke him once, then twice.
With my gaze on his, I shift closer, so I can run my tongue along his shaft. He moans and presses his fingers subtly against my head.
He wants more, and I want to give it to him.
I don’t even care that I’m not going to get off. I’ll do it just to watch the way he comes and to hear the sounds he makes as I unravel him piece by piece.

I don’t expect him to do what he does next, so I’m reaching for him when he drops to his knees and buries his face between my legs. The warmth of his wet mouth is intense, so intense, I let out a strangled cry as his tongue punches hard into me. It’s almost too much, but it’s him, and he’s touching me, and I let myself melt into that thought.
“Cullen,” I gasp, arching my back and burying my hands in his hair.
He moans, pressing his mouth harder against me, his tongue going deeper. Hooking his arms under my thighs, he practically fuses his lips to my body.

“Cullen, please!”
He’s on top of me in a heartbeat, devouring my mouth the way he was just devouring my sex, making me taste myself. Making me like it.
I feel his thick erection heavy on my belly as he kisses me. My eyes are squeezed shut, tears still streaming when I wrap my legs around him, inviting him in.
“You still want to fight me?” he mutters darkly against my mouth. “You still want to pretend you’re not mine?” When I try to shift my hips to meet his cock, he takes a hold of my face under my chin to keep me still. “Fucking open your eyes, Everly.”

Tell me you hate me now,” he grits out as he pulls back and slams in again. His hands clutch me hard, one behind my neck and the other around my waist.
“I hate you,” I whisper, as another batch of tears flow out of my eyes. I’m not sad or scared or hurt, but the intensity of the moment forces them out, and I can’t stop them now.

“Relax, Everly.”
“I’m not used to relaxing around you.”
With my opposite hand, I grab a handful of her hair and pull her upright so my mouth is next to her ear. “Do you think I really want to hurt you?”
“Yes.”
“You’re wrong. I want you to be my dirty little slut. I want to fuck your brains out and make you come so hard you see stars. Can I do that?”
She lets out a sweet little breath and nods. “Yes.”

“Come on, Cullen. You’re angry. Give me your anger. I can take it.”
His mouth slams against mine so hard, I’m sure it’ll bruise. It takes me by surprise, as he owns my mouth in a possessive, harsh kiss. Thrusting his tongue into my mouth, I remind my body to give up the fight, and he dominates me. I have to trust that he won’t take it too far. I have absolutely nothing to base that on, but I will do this for him.
When he bites my bottom lip, a shock of pain makes me panic, and I let out a whimper.

And he was right. It’s nothing like before. We’re not connecting on a deeper level or savoring the feel of each other. He’s fucking me hard without emotion.
No, there is emotion. It’s resentment and rage and dread. He’s fucking me in frustration, and like he said, this is for him, not me. Still, my body responds, purring under the almost violent, overwhelming motion of his thrusts.
“Harder,” I gasp before I catch myself. He picks up speed, filling the room with the sounds of our bodies slamming together. I don’t even cry out when sparks ignite every nerve in my body, throwing me into a silent fit of pleasure. I keep quiet, keeping my orgasm to myself.

Her back arches and she cries out. It’s a delicious sensation, but I need more. I need everything with her.
Kissing her collarbone, I lick up the water clinging to her skin from her neck to her earlobe. Every moment our bodies are fused makes me feel whole, like she is the piece I was missing.
“I want you to come inside me.” She tilts her hips, grinding herself on me. Her arms wrap around my neck, our lips pressed together as our bodies move in one fluid motion.
“Fuck, Everly…” I moan.

She pulls away from the kiss for a moment and stares up at me. “Give it to me, Cullen. Give me your pleasure.”
She winds her fingers in mine, clasping our hands firmly together as I thrust harder. When I feel myself shuddering and fighting it, she squeezes my hand even tighter.
With our mouths pressed together, I cry out, “I’m coming.” The climax spreads through my body, lasting forever as it clamps down and breaks me, shattering every fragment of who I am until there is nothing left.
Until I am nothing but hers.

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Review: A Ring to Secure His Heir by Lynne Graham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Crime of Passion by Lynne Graham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: The Trophy Husband by Lynne Graham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: A Bride for the Prizefighter by Alice Coldbreath

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Prizefighters, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: William James Nye
Heroine: Minerva Walters
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 25, 2020
Started On: June 15, 2021
Finished On: June 19, 2021

Debut novel in the Victorian Prizefighters series from Alice Coldbreath, a new to me author at that, turns out to be A Bride for the Prizefighter. Stumbling across this title from Ms. Coldbreath’s novels on Kindle Unlimited, I am glad that I decided to give this author a try as I enjoyed this novel quite so!

The story begins with the heroine, 24 year old Minerva Walters being witness to her father’s death, leaving her alone and destitute, except for the last piece of advice that he gives her; to entrust her welfare in her long lost brother who would come for her.

At a loss for options otherwise, Minerva is forced to make nice with and follow the man who turns up on her doorstep, only to be given away in marriage to a man named William James Nye, who runs a pub called The Harlot of all things. Even with the lowest of expectations, Minerva is at a loss for words when it comes to the farcical ceremony that ties the knot between her and William.

Given the fact that Minerva is not someone averse to hard work and earning her keep, that is how she is determined to approach her life as a married woman, winning the hearts of everyone involved in the story. While William makes no secret of the fact that he does not having been forced to take her on as his wife, Minerva’s stubborn determination makes William start to see her in a whole new light.

As these two start to navigate life as husband and wife, the passion that ignites between the two comes as a surprise for both William and especially Minerva, who is as innocent as they come. However, once her husband starts teaching her pleasures to be had in the marriage bed, she is an avid pupil, giving readers hot and beautifully spun scenes of passion between the two..

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel by Ms. Coldbreath. I loved both William and Minerva; William being just the right touch of taciturn, ruthless, grumpy, and hot, while Minerva was fierce, determined, beautiful, kind, and compassionate. I loved how these two started to open up to each other and confide in one another. I enjoyed the adventurous and exploratory nature of their sex life, and I thoroughly reveled in how they were possessive and protective of each other.

The biggest factor that won me over? Minerva never set out to change her husband; William did it on his own, all because he wanted to be the best version of himself for the woman who owned his heart, body, and soul. I dislike female leads who always act out of “goodness” of their heart and try to change the male lead – love is supposed to do that on its own if it were meant to be. If not, you just accept the person you are with, flaws and all, and make your peace with your lot in life.

There were no preachy undertones to the story, Minerva just accepts things the way they are and by virtue of her being a hardworking and honest person, not to mention the steamy hot attraction between the two which drives William a little bit stir-crazy, he is the one who on his own changes for the better. For a woman whose mother kept telling her that beauty is not for all women, William certainly proved her mother wrong in the way he saw the beauty both on the inside and out when it comes to his beloved.

There are very few authors out there, whose historical romances that I enjoy now – to be honest, few authors who writes romances as I enjoy them now, so Ms. Coldbreath, who writes the kind of characters that speaks to my heart is one that I would continue to read in the time to come.

Recommended for fans of historical romances featuring protagonists brought together by life’s circumstances, opening wide the door for the kind of love that lasts a lifetime!

Final Verdict: With a fabulous mix of good storytelling, characterization, emotional depth, and heat, A Bride for the Prizefighter is definitely a must-read!

Favorite Quotes

His eyes glinted. “Maybe there are other things I’d rather you tried out with me.”
“Such as what?” The words had left Mina’s mouth before she noticed his expression. Then he reached out and grip on her forearm and she was spun around, an arm clamped about her waist and Will Nye’s large hand resting against her jaw. Oh, he meant kissing, Mina realized mere moments before his lips descended to hers.
Oh dear, she thought distractedly, what was it he had told her to do last time? Breathe through her nose, she seemed to recall. Then she noticed his lips were much gentler this time, touching tentatively to hers, exerting much less pressure. Not wanting him to accuse her of not pulling her weight, she tilted her head up and leaned into the kiss.
Nye made a noise in his throat that was not a growl, but something very close. Mina’s head reeled.

“Nye—” Mina breathed, but his hands were on either side of her face, angling her head up for his kiss. This time when he sealed his lips to hers, she felt his tongue swipe slowly along her bottom lip and jolted with shock. That was it! Last time he had said he wanted a taste of her tongue. Her face flamed hot. No sooner had she let her lips part for him then her mouth was thoroughly taken.
Her eyes closed, Mina gave a muffled gasp, before remembering to breathe through her nose. One of the cups fell from her loosened grip and shattered on the kitchen floor. Nye didn’t even flinch. One of his hands lowered from her jaw to grip her waist and then skimmed as much of a hip as her stiffened petticoats allowed. He made a noise of frustration. Then his tongue was tangling against hers again and Mina’s mind went blank.

“Take down your hair,” he said in a gravelly voice.
A refusal trembled on her lips, but it seemed silly to cavil after she’d stripped off her clothing at his request. Instead, she reached up hesitant fingers and removed her hairpins, unravelling the roll of hair from her nape. She shook her head and ran her fingers through it, until her hair lay loose over her shoulders.
“Turn around,” he said in a gravelly voice.
“Nye—” she started to object, but he interrupted her.
“Indulge me.”

He reached up and loosened the strings at her waist. “Lift up,” he ordered. Mina lifted her hips off the bed, and he tugged her white drawers down to her ankles, then whisked them off her altogether. Mina forgot to breathe for a moment. She didn’t dare look Nye in the face. She was mortified that he was squatting down like that, at eye level with her most private place. She had never even taken a good look down there herself! His hands were on her knees, urging her to part her legs and heaven help her before she even realized it, she had obeyed his unspoken demand and opened herself to him.
Suddenly, he let out a harsh groan, and Mina’s eyes flew to his. He was staring right between her legs. Her mouth went dry. She almost shrank from him when he lurched forward, sliding two big hands under her bare bottom, and dragged her to the edge of the mattress. “Nye,” she cried. “What on earth are you—?” She forgot to breathe when he went in face first.

Her head lolled back on a choked sob. She writhed against his mouth in an abandonment she could never have believed herself capable of, arching her back and craning for the wicked caress of his mouth where she most needed it. Tears started from her eyes and she realized she was being none too gentle, tugging and pulling at his hair, raising her hips to press herself eagerly against his mouth. He didn’t seem to mind though, as his hands squeezed her buttocks, urging her to press closer and closer to questing tongue.
“Oh Nye!” she squealed. “Nye!” Then her vision wavered altogether, and she felt herself swoop over the edge of an altogether different cliff, but instead of being dashed against the rocks below she turned into sea foam as light as the air and crested on the bobbing waves.

“Nye!” she whimpered. He released his grip on one breast and inserted his hand between them, running it down her flat stomach and between her legs. “Nye!” Her head came off the pillow.
“You’re nice and wet down here,” he said with approval. The slide of his fingers was downright scandalous. His words penetrated the fog that was on her mind right now. Wet? Her gaze snapped to his.
“F-from your mouth?” she faltered, realizing she was wet down there. Very wet. She could even hear it. Her ears burned at the lewd sound.
He smiled slowly. “No, this is all you.”

“Wrap it around my back,” his words were tersely spoken. She had only just rested her heel against the small of his back when he thrust again with a loud, shuddering groan. “Red stockings,” he gritted.
Mina was telling herself it did not hurt so much now. She felt alarmingly full and stretched to capacity but not in pain precisely. She frowned. “Red stockings?” she repeated.
“I want you in them.”
What? “Why?”
“And lace,” he grunted as he settled into a bruising rhythm. “Lots and lots of lace.”

“I hate you!” she grumbled, even as she felt the familiar tingle through her limbs as he pressed all his hard, muscular flesh up against her between her legs. And he was hard. She nearly groaned aloud feeling his manhood bobbing against her thigh. He just grunted an acknowledgement as his hands sought out her breasts, cupping and making out their shape.
“I hate you too,” he groaned then lent down to rub his face over her unbound breasts. “God,” he whispered against her nipple, then took it in his mouth and began sucking her.
“Nye!” Mina whimpered. He gave a satisfied moan, then moved to her other nipple, wrapping his tongue around it, and drawing it into his hot mouth. With horror, Mina realized she was grinding her hips against him. Her conscious mind told her to stop it at once, but her flushed body wasn’t listening. “Nye,” she groaned again, arching her back up as she tried to press even closer.

“Come on Mina.” His voice throbbed. “I want you mindless again. I need it.”
‘Oh God, I – Nye – I—” Her hips shifted restlessly as he hammered into her, the slick sounds their bodies made as they moved together were shamefully exciting. She was so wet, her yielding pussy was giving his big cock barely any resistance as he pushed in and out, her suctioning flesh, pressing and gripping him as he ruthlessly plunged into her depths.
He gave a low dirty groan. “If you don’t give it to me soon—” His gleaming eyes returned to her full bouncing breasts and he adjusted his position so he could take one of her nipples into his mouth again and give it a hard suck. She felt the tug of his hot mouth everywhere and with a startled cry she crashed over the edge.

“Are you wet, Mina?” he asked hoarsely. She watched him run his tongue over his full bottom lip, as his fingers slid into the warm folds of her quivering cleft. Mina’s fingers gripped hard around the brass rail of the headboard. “Nye!” she gasped again, and he gave a satisfied growl. “Drenched,” he said tracing her slit as he coated his fingers in her moisture. “I want you to ride me.”
“What?” Even as her shocked words burst forth, he slid two fingers deep inside her, making her eyes water even as she clamped down on him. “Oh Nye!”

Mina’s hands dropped from the rail to either side of his head on the pillows. The bed shuddered as she felt him reach up instead to seize the metal frame with his hands. “Ride me,” he groaned. “Now.”
“I don’t—”
“Yes, you do. Move your hips,” he ground out, sounding in pain. “Use me.”
Mina blinked down at him. She felt so full at this angle, she was a little concerned she might do herself a mischief. She bounced forward experimentally, and he groaned. Re-settling her knees against the mattress, she rose up and then sank back down on him. She couldn’t help crying out at the thrilling sensation of propelling herself like this on him.
“Harder,” he grunted.

“Oh.” She fell forward, bracing her hands against his chest. “Will,” she sobbed, twisting her fingers in his dark smattering of chest hair, and tugging sharply. She couldn’t hold off much longer, a few more strokes and she’d ignite. Holding off her pleasure, she stopped bouncing and just undulated against him, tightening her inner muscles around him, taking him deep. “Will,” she whispered brokenly. “You feel so good.”
She felt him throb within her as she came apart and suddenly his knees came up behind her. The bed jerked as he released the headboard and sat up, his hands hard on her hips.
“Minerva!” he choked, and she blinked in the dark as she felt his breath on her face, his shocked voice in her ear. For a second, she thought she’d hurt one of his injuries, but then she felt him spilling within her.

She was just starting to feel foolish when his lips descended on hers, in a kiss such as Will Nye had never bestowed on her before. His lips were soft yet firm against her own, and infinitely sweet as he molded them to her own. After a moment, she felt his hands cup her face almost tenderly and run his thumbs along her cheekbones in what she could only consider to be a caress.
Never in her wildest dreams would she have dreamt that Will Nye would ever touch her thus. When he lifted his face away from hers, he looked almost as surprised by it as she.

Pinning her to the edge of the seat, he reached down to free himself from his breeches and she felt the bold thrust of him against her belly. “Hurry Nye,” she implored.
He cast a wild glance out of the carriage window. “We’ve plenty of time.”
“That’s not what I meant!” she sobbed, crowding against him. “I can’t wait any longer. Please, Nye.”
He was still for a heartbeat. “Ah Mina, love,” he said thickly. “It needed only that…” He caught her behind her knee and hooked it over his hip. “Tell me again.”
“I can’t wait, I want you- oh! Oh Nye!” she keened as he thrust and her eyes watered as she felt him lodged within her, sinking into her slowly but surely.

“Tell me, Mina. I’ll do anything you say,” he vowed throatily.
“Yes, yes faster,” she implored, tightening her arms over his shoulder. “Faster please! Oh yes!”
At this point, he illustrated so thoroughly an understanding of what she needed, that Mina lost her wits completely. She shivered and moaned and wailed her way through an orgasm that saw her lose control of her limbs and her inhibitions so completely that they ended up sliding from the seat into a tangle of limbs on the floor of the carriage.

“You’re mine, Minerva,” he said richly. “Say it.”
‘I’m yours.”
His mouth nuzzled at the back of her neck. “Don’t you ever forget it, wife.”
“Or you,” she panted, making him give a broken laugh.
“I’m not likely to,” he groaned, his hips picking up the pace further. “Everyone knows you keep me on a short fucking leash, woman.”
Minerva made a sound of explosive disagreement as he ran his thumbs hard over her nipples.
“Oh yes, you do,” he whispered huskily against her temple. “And I don’t give a fuck who knows it.”

“You want to know something really messed up, Mina?” he asked in a raspy voice.
His hips were really hammering against her backside now and Mina knew she was lost. She gave a low scream as he pushed in deep and pinned her hard against the seat. She clamped down on his shaft, as her shuddering orgasm ripped through her. Only when the tremors had subsided, did he buck his hips forward in another hard thrust which tore a grunt from his own throat. “I. fucking. like. you. owning. me.” Each word was punctuated with a thrust.

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Review: The Reluctant Husband by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Santino Vitale
Heroine: Frankie Vitale
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 24, 1998
Started On: May 17, 2021
Finished On: May 17, 2021

The Reluctant Husband by Lynne Graham, first published in 1998 is one of those books that I have seem to have missed out on when I initially discovered Ms. Graham’s books. The story is one you have to read taking into consideration how the heroine’s most formative years were disrupted because of the volatile relationship between her parents. I cannot even fathom going through half of what she did and come out “normal” in any sense. With that disclaimer, I move onto my review.

When the story begins, the heroine, 21 year old Frankie Vitale is “forced” to travel to Sardinia for work purposes, which is the last place on Earth she wants to be at. While her colleague thinks the visit would be therapeutic for Frankie, she believes otherwise, and with good reason. The reason being, 29 year old Santino Vitale, the man she married, the one who broke her heart years ago.

From the start, it is evident that Frankie’s mother does not hold much affection for her, but to discover the extent of her lack of care towards her only child as you read along is nothing short of astounding. Frankie does not have a normal childhood by any standards as I mentioned earlier, at eleven years having been forced to move to Sardinia with her father, who had thrust her into the care of his parents and left.

The kind of trauma that any child would go through being forced to endure a world that is unfamiliar, lives by different values to what she has been brought up, where no one speaks English; well I can only imagine. The only ray of hope that shone for her then was none other than Santino, and it is only natural that Frankie holds onto him, only to have her heart shattered after a marriage that is forced upon them.

Santino had plans for his future which did not include a naive wife coming along for the ride. While Frankie learnt that lesson the hard way, she had been returned to her mother like the unwanted baggage she was, and she had never intended to return to the place that still haunted her, if she were to be honest with herself.

Coming face to face with Santino, who proclaims that their marriage was never annulled, and that he now intended to bed his wife, the wife that he has invested in all through the years, of course it comes as a shock to Frankie, who resists him at every turn. But the intensity of the desire that awakens to life between them is not something easily denied as Frankie finds out the hard way, and succumb she does, as does Santino.

I quite enjoyed The Reluctant Husband as the story unfolded. I am of the opinion that I may not have enjoyed this story half as much if I had read this when I was younger, and perhaps unable to empathize as much with the plight of Frankie and understand where she was coming from.

Santino is the classic Graham hero – all out alpha in a way that makes for a swoon-worthy hero. It is also evident that Santino feels much more for his lawfully wedded wife than he lets on, especially when he proclaims of how much he had actually desired his very young bride and resisted the urge to act on it at every turn. It is also unrealistic to expect that he would not have taken other lovers along the way; it would have been more realistic had Frankie too taken on a lover since then, but Ms. Graham does love her virgin heroines, who tend to serve their purpose.

Like most novels by Ms. Graham, this too delivers taut sexual tension and scenes of passion that explodes from the pages. There are few authors who can do this kind of tension between characters AND deliver on it in a way that leaves the reader satisfied on all counts.

Ultimately, the story won me over because for all the angst and heartache, the main protagonists manage to have conversations with one another which sheds light on their shared past which helps them reconcile their differences and move onto a happier future together.

Recommended for fans of Lynne Graham and those who love category romances featuring married couples, who initially lose their way and find their way back to one another.

Final Verdict: Littered with misunderstandings, angst, and heightened sexual tension means The Reluctant Husband delivers the kind of stellar read that Ms. Graham is famous for!

Favorite Quotes

‘Francesca…’
‘Nobody calls me that any more,’ Frankie muttered waspishly, striving to rise above an ever-increasing sense of crawling mortification.
This encounter was a nightmare, she conceded, stricken. At sixteen, she had been so agonisingly, desperately in love with Santino. She had thrown herself at his head and done and said things that no woman in her right mind would want to recall once she reached the age of maturity! She must have seemed pathetic in his eyes, forever swearing undying love and resisting his every move to sidestep the intimacy which she had craved and which he had never wanted. It hadn’t been Frankie who had locked her bedroom door at night… it had been Santino who’d locked his. That particular recollection made her feel seriously unwell.

‘You will experience only pleasure in my arms. I promise you that. In fact it is a matter of honour that you should relish sharing a bed with me.’ Playing the tip of his tongue erotically across the excruciatingly tender skin of her throat, Santino sent her pulses leaping into sensual disarray. ‘Open your mouth,’ he urged, glittering eyes like scorching shards of pure gold.
Frankie trembled, unyielding as marble, but he brushed her mouth with his and then somehow—and later she genuinely couldn’t understand how—her lips softly parted. And without the slightest warning at all Santino was kissing her with slow, deep, shattering intimacy.

He was so close she could smell the hot, sun-warmed scent of him, intrinsically male and powerfully familiar. Her nostrils flared, her breath catching in her throat as she raised an involuntary hand and let her fingers rest on one broad shoulder to steady herself, her gaze welded to the shimmering gold of his. She shivered as he eased her forward and bent his dark head. A warm, drugging anticipation trapped her in submissive stillness.
He kissed her very gently, his tenderness a soothing balm to her smarting sensitivities. And it made her want him even more. In fact it made her want to cling. He tasted her lips in tiny hungry forays that sent her arms snaking round him in desperation to pull him closer. Her whole body felt as if it was reaching up and out, craving what only he could give. An explosive charge of hunger burned up inside her, and when his tongue penetrated between her readily parted lips her heart lurched so violently she could barely breathe in the seething excitement that controlled her.

His hands were slightly rough against her softer skin, the knowing exploration of his fingers over her achingly tender breasts a tormenting pleasure as she strained helplessly up to him, her whole body awash with response and reaction to his every tiny move and caress. She felt dominated and confined and she liked it, and she laced her seeking fingers ecstatically into his thick black hair, holding him tightly to her.
He dragged himself free, shone an innately ruthless smile of satisfaction over her confused face. Her treacherous heart contracted in response.
He looked so dangerous, his slashing confidence unhidden. ‘I’m not going anywhere, cara…your hunger is the one true gift you have to give me and the only thing you cannot lie about or control. The completeness of your surrender will be my triumph.’

‘You’re so ready for me,’ Santino groaned.
His lean, strong features harsh and intent in passion, he rose over her, lifting her trembling thighs back and settling himself fluidly between them. As she felt him, hot and urgent and alarmingly male against her tender entrance, Frankie gasped and tensed, and yet with every contrary fibre of her being she would have died of frustration had he stopped. Then he moved, and pleasure splintered into shocking pain as he thrust deep and a startled cry was wrenched from her.
For an instant Santino fell still. He surveyed her with lancing golden eyes that scorched like flames over her hectically flushed and shaken face. ‘If ever anyone got the punishment they deserved for lying…’ he breathed, unexpectedly deepening his invasion with a powerful twist of bis hips. ‘I would have been slow and gentle if I had known the truth.’

‘Sexual hunger is never simple because we are not animals, mating without thought or feeling at nature’s behest… how innocent you are in spite of your avarice. You can’t even admit your own ignorance. But the higher you climb on that ladder of self-deception, the harder you will fall.’
His thumb grazed the comer of her full, tremulous lips and then almost lazily slid to probe within. Involuntarily her languorous eyes slid shut, her lips converging hungrily on that intrusive digit, the lancing bitter-sweet pain of that hunger shrilling through her slender frame, making every muscle fiercely taut with anticipation.
‘And with the smallest encouragement… such a natural-born temptress,’ Santino completed, his accent thickening as he closed one impatient hand over her hip to yank her closer.

He succumbed to the apparent temptation and encouragement of that one little glance by closing his arms round her so tightly she could barely breathe, crushing her to him and kissing her until her head swam. The merest persistence might well have persuaded her that there was nothing remotely wrong with making love in a corridor.
But he jerked back from her then with a growling sound of frustration. ‘Only this morning you were a virgin. I should be making allowances for that…I’m not.’
She met burning golden eyes and knew she was utterly enslaved.
‘I want you so much I am in agony,’ Santino gritted unevenly.

Impatiently dispensing with the silky panties which still clung to her slender hips, Santino wasted no time in rediscovering the unbearably hot, moist welcome awaiting him. With an exultant growl, he pushed back her thighs and came over her like a conqueror to thrust with urgent, forceful hunger into the heart of her yielding body.
Frankie cried out, her spine arching on a relentless surge of excitement. He was wild for her and she was hopelessly out of control. For tormenting minutes of terrifyingly intense pleasure, he drove her ruthlessly to satisfaction. The explosive, blinding shock waves of climax hurtled through every fibre of her being and totally wiped her out.

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

Review: Sweetheart by Sarah Mayberry

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Busy Bean, #1
Publisher: Heart Eyes Press LLC
Hero: Daniel Beck
Heroine: Haley Elliot
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 01, 2021
Started On: April 02, 2021
Finished On: April 02, 2021

It has been a while since I last indulged in a romance from Sarah Mayberry, one of my favorite authors when it comes to exquisitely spun contemporary romances. The Busy Bean series is a multi-author series, the debut book of which is this installment.

26 year old Haley Elliot works at the Busy Bean as a barista-waitress. With rumors abound that there is a brand new roasted coffee supplier in town that is winning over the hearts of coffee lovers, it is none other than Daniel Beck, ex-boyfriend of her sister’s that she comes across in her quest to find the source. Haley had a massive crush on Daniel back in the day, something she had been keen to keep to herself, given how maladjusted and oversensitive her sister had been even back then.

Daniel wants nothing to do with the Elliot’s, the nightmare that his relationship with Haley’s sister being reason enough for him to avoid Haley at all and any cost. However, fate has other plans in store for the both of them, as an attraction that is as fierce as it is undeniable locks them both in a “fight” where resistance is futile.

Sweetheart is the kind of romance that is low on the angst factor with two characters who are mature and realistic in their approach to anything that happens between them. While Haley has crushed on Daniel for ages, she believes for the most part that it would remain an unrequited crush at best, that is until Daniel takes her in his arms and blows that theory to smithereens.

For Daniel, even though he would like to resist the pull he feels towards Haley at every turn, and to be honest, I would not have blamed him if he had done just that, he takes the time to come to the conclusion that between Haley and him lies something that he would like to pursue, even at the cost of running into his ex who had done a number on him.

Daniel’s discovery of all that is Haley and recognizing the beautiful and vulnerable soul she is, was the best part of this story. I loved Haley for everything she was – the obedient daughter who lived in the shadow of her beautiful sister who took the center-stage of their lives. Haley, who could not for all intents and purposes, celebrate who she is, her talents, and the kindness that is inherent when all is said and done. For Daniel to see all that and become her staunchest supporter, who was willing to stand by her and fight for her; that is the single most reason that I fell in love with Sweetheart.

Recommended for those who love a romance between two mature and well developed characters, who undoubtedly would steal your heart.

Final Verdict: Sweetheart; the word’s meaning resonates in its truest form within the story that unfolds; beautiful and soul-stirring in a way that steals your heart.

Favorite Quotes

I stood outside the restrooms watching Haley Elliott rush for the door, paralyzed by the truth bomb she’d just dropped.
You could look me in the eye occasionally and, you know, treat me like a human being.
Her voice had gotten tight, and her chin had wobbled. She’d spun away, but there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that she was on the verge of tears as she wove her way toward the exit.
I’d done that to her. I’d made her feel so bad, so demoralized, she’d been reduced to tears. All this time I’d thought I’d been doing a decent job trying to cover my unease around her, and apparently I’d failed. Dismally.

The logistics didn’t matter. The only thing that did was the soft press of her mouth against mine, the smooth warmth of the nape of her neck beneath my hand, the thud of pure recognition that ran through my body as she opened her mouth and I tasted her for the first time.
Because this woman felt right in my arms. She tasted like everything I had ever craved, and when I stroked her tongue with mine, she made a small, inarticulate needy sound that went straight to my cock. Her hands fisted in my shirt as I deepened the kiss, desperate for more. She made the needy sound again, and I abandoned the delicate smoothness of her nape to grab her ass and pull her closer.

“Bedroom?” he asked, his voice low and desperate, two slashes of color high on his cheekbones.
“Front room.”
He nodded, then slid his hands onto my ass and issued a curt instruction. “Up.”
I didn’t need to be asked twice, wrapping my legs around his hips as he boosted me up. The moment my face was on the same level as his, he kissed me again, and for long seconds we got lost in the wonder of it, our tongues caressing as we deepened our connection.

Beck nuzzled closer, using his nose to push inside my bra cup. I held my breath as he licked and kissed his way toward my nipple. Then he sucked me into his mouth and I was powerless to stop myself gasping with delight.
“Oh, God. Yes. Please.”
I could feel him smiling against my skin, my nipple still trapped in the wet heat of his mouth. He trilled his tongue against me and I almost levitated off the bed, hands clawing at his shoulders.
Beck lifted his head to look down at me again. “Sweetheart, you’re killing me here.”
“I’m the one who’s dying,” I panted.

He was aware of my avid interest and his mouth kicked up into a cocky, knowing smile as he stroked the condom down his shaft. He crawled onto me then, six foot two of brawny man, his legs hairy and strong against mine, and I spread my thighs wide, lifting my hips to welcome his first thrust.
“Oh God,” I whispered as he filled me, stretching me exquisitely.
“Hell, yeah,” he groaned.

“Want to do it again?” he asked, nudging his hips forward a fraction.
Which was when I realized he was hard again.
“Already?”
“I’m a little pent up. Been dreaming about you.”
I blinked up at him. “Really?”
“Yeah.”
“Dirty dreams?” I asked, more than a little thrilled to think that all the time I’d been going crazy over him he’d been going crazy over me.
“Filthy. Depraved.”

“What else?” he asked, thrusting inside me again.
“You let me be on top,” I gasped.
“Yeah?”
Before I could react, Beck rolled to the side and onto his back, his strong arms taking me with him so that I wound up straddling him, my palms planted on his chest, a shocked laugh on my lips.
“Show me how you like it, Haley,” he said, his warm hands sliding over my breasts.
I didn’t need to be asked twice.

“I should really go,” she said, but I knew her heart wasn’t in it.
“So you just came here to apologize and drop off your sketch?” I asked.
“To clear the air.”
“Liar,” I said, softening my words with a smile.
I stepped closer and reached for her shoulder. Her bare skin was soft and warm beneath my hand. She watched me with slightly open lips as I caressed the slope of her shoulder before sliding my hand around to palm her nape. She was already lifting her face for my kiss as I lowered mine. I let out an involuntary grunt of appreciation when she opened her mouth to me, lust hitting me like a sledgehammer as I tasted her again.
What was it about this woman that did it for me so bad?

I kissed him deeply, slipping a hand between our bodies to find my swollen clit. Beck broke our kiss and pulled back an inch, glancing down to confirm what I was doing. I kissed him deeply, slipping a hand between our bodies to find my swollen clit. Beck broke our kiss and pulled back an inch, glancing down to confirm what I was doing.
“Keep doing that,” he said, and I was happy to oblige as he thrust up into me, his muscles turned to granite as he kept his gaze fixed on what I was doing with my hand.
“So damned hot,” he panted. “I’m close, baby.”
“Me, too,” I assured him.
I held his gaze as the first shudder radiated through me and I saw the exact moment he tripped into his own climax. He pulled me closer, pressing his face against my neck as he came.

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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.

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