ARC Review: Kimjongilia by Victor Fox

Format: E-bookkimjongilia
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Standalone
Publisher: CreateSpace
Hero: –
Heroine: –
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: May 29, 2015
Started On: September 10, 2016
Finished On: September 12, 2016

Kimjonglia is a story that should interest anyone that has an avid curiosity when it comes to the ultra secretive regime that is North Korea. When one considers the recent events of volatility involving its current leader and the current US President, the North Korean leadership now into its third generation since the reign of the Dear Leader, its history is of vital importance if one is to understand where the regime and its ideology stems from. I believe that Kimjonglia offers vital insight into the regime’s very fragile beginnings which was orchestrated in a very large and significant way by both China and Soviet Union at the time. Stalin’s notoriety as a despotic leader and his regime’s dark influence is seen in the mechanisms that were used by the North Korean regime in the early years to subjugate the masses, which saw entire families “disloyal” to the regime sent to gulags, killed, or worse. Stories of the abject horror that the residents of these gulags are subjected to emerge and trickle down from prisoners who risk their lives to escape. But this is not what Kimjonglia is about.

Kimjonglia, according to the author of the book, is a flower that is named after Kim Jong. Story begins when Peter Chang, whose heroic role in defeating the Japanese forces in China is entrusted with protection of Kim Jong-Suk, wife of Kim Song-ju, the man who was being groomed to become the leader of North Korea. Kim Song-ju’s description in the book needs no further explanation which I will quote here.

“Kim Song-ju was born in 1912, the oldest of three brothers. His father was a Presbyterian minister, kicked out of the church for stealing funds. Even though Kim never fought in a guerrilla war, many stories about him circulate on the Korean Peninsula. No one really knows how these stories came to light, but there is strong evidence that Soviet leaders, desperately looking for a Korean ally, might have been behind the tales. In reality, Kim Song is an insecure man who loves to spend his time with loose women rather than with men of respect and honor. He loves to tell family stories to impress people, and often misrepresents his real family background. Many people in Korea, China, and the Soviet Union believe that he is a God-loving Christian man, but in point of fact Kim Song is an atheist who believes in aliens. He loves astrology and often makes absurd claims, such as seeing aliens and meeting them in his home. He believes firmly that he was born an exceptional man who is destined to rule the world. The Soviet Union and China know about his weaknesses but support him because he is the most gullible Korean public figure available. Both countries believe that Kim Song-ju will be easily controlled, and they use his incapacities to their advantage. An unspoken war is in progress between the two countries to get full control of Kim Song-ju, and unfortunately, from the Chinese point of view, our position is weakening and deteriorating. Kim Song is getting closer to the Kremlin and has even adopted his new name, Kim ll-Sung. We don’t know why the Soviet Union convinced him to change his name, but we think it was to hide his military records. Lately we have confirmed that he has become a big consumer of vodka and drinks heavily in the evenings. Our source also tells us that alcohol consumption is having a terrible effect on his health, and some Soviet doctors are trying to stop him from drinking too much. He also suffers from numerous sexual diseases. While the Soviets were busy throwing beautiful women at him, we arranged for him to marry one of our finest agents.”

Though born as a Korean, Kim Jong-Suk had been brought up loyal to China and the Communist Party of China (CPC). In the end, afraid that the Soviet’s influence on Kim Song-ju was growing too rapidly, China had been “forced” to convince Kim Song-ju to take Kim Jong-Suk as his wife. However, Kim Song-ju had proven to be far difficult and unpredictable a man to control as CPC had initially thought. Which is how Peter is sent as a live in household staff at Kim Song-ju’s residence.

At first, I did not believe that I would be as fascinated with the story as I was in the end. I didn’t expect myself to be thoroughly captivated by the tale that unfolded, but the story is told in such a way that the elite founding members of the dictatorial and autocratic regime that is North Korea appears in a more human light. I wouldn’t use the word humane on a leader who laid down the foundations of depraved cruelty for his people, but nevertheless he is discussed in a light that sheds insight into the man he became later on. A man who is as much flesh and blood as you and me. A man driven by his baser desires of drinking and need for women that he could never get enough of, and the wife that he kept at home, who turned to another man for comfort which brings forth with it scandalous secrets of the kind that could shake the very foundations of the regime itself.

Kimjonglia also shows the Chinese and Russian machinations that went on behind Kim Song-ju’s back. The Chinese and Russians trying to outdo each other in the influence both wielded on Kim. How the Chinese planted spies loyal to the CPC within Kim’s inner circles, and how the Russians cultivated enough personal information on the offspring of Kim that could have literally broken him into pieces. The hostility that North Korean regime shows towards the US, Japan and the South Korea is a dynamic that interests foreign policy enthusiasts. So does its close ties with Russia and China which has continued up till today. 

Kimjonglia is passed off as written by one of the earliest Generals of Kim’s army, one of Chinese origin, who worked as a spy for the Russians, but eventually found himself in cahoots with the Chinese in order to protect their assets on the Pyongyang ground. Utter barbaric cruelty of the Kim Jong even as a child is displayed in the book, one that barely hints at the savagery he would later wield over his people once he took over from his father. 

Tales of love, lust, betrayal, and treachery lines the lives of the family, and makes for a fascinating read that remains highly plausible once you do more reading on the characters that appear in the book as it unfolds. What happened to Kim’s first wife, mother of Kim Jong and her lover and father of her two kids remains a mystery, conveniently explained by the North Korean regime as having being killed in child birth. Because of the secrecy that shrouds the members of a regime that has become increasingly paranoid over time, what you read and garner between the lines is just as captivating. I just wish that there was more of it!

Final Verdict: Focusing on the personal lives & ties that bind, Kimjonglia tells a tale that is irresistible to anyone interested in the North Korean regime.

Favorite Quotes

“Do you know Kim ll-Sung?”
Peter thought momentarily. “The Korean?”
Hands clasped behind his back, Shao nodded gravely, his jaws tense.
“I’ve heard about him, but never met him in person.”
“How about Kim Jong Suk?”
“Yes, I know her,” Peter said.
“How do you know her?”
“I’ve seen her at the headquarters once or twice.” Several Koreans had fought the Japanese alongside the Chinese. “She is his wife, right?”
“True. You know more than I thought.”
“I’m not a fool. Who doesn’t know the Korean? People say he is full of shit and a coward. How can a man like him become important?”
“Don’t pay attention to gossips. Nobody is perfect,” Shao waved his finger. “Our job is to do what’s good for China. And he is good enough.”
“What if he is bad for his own people?”
“We can’t carry the burden of others. Our concern is only for the CPC.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

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ARC Review: Cold Secrets by Toni Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A job well done, Ms. Anderson!

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

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Review: To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-booktotastetemptation
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Legend of the Four Soldiers, #1
Publisher: Forever
Hero: Samuel Hartley
Heroine: Emeline Gordon
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: May 1, 2008
Started On: July 23, 2016
Finished On: August 15, 2016

Though the cover on this book leaves much to be desired, the first book in the Legend of the Four Soldiers is one that delivers on all fronts. After a failed attempt at picking up a historical romance from another author, I just couldn’t wait to erase that memory from my mind, which had me returning to Hoyt, an author that has never failed me up till this point. A tall order, I know. She might even have replaced classical favorites like Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood themselves, all because of the way Hoyt crafts her stories that leaves me begging for more.

Legend of the Four Soldiers is centered around four soldiers who returns from war and a terrible incident that marks them forever. Battling with PTSD and worse, these are the stories of the happily ever afters these four soldiers find for themselves. In the midst of each story, true to Hoyt’s trademark, there is an element of mystery happening which makes the book that much more of a page-turner. Each soldier chooses a different path to travel to their ultimate destinations, and in doing so Hoyt once again finds a common theme between the enchanting fairy tale that she begins each chapter with and the actual story that unfolds. That is just one more reason why Hoyt has carved a notch for herself in a genre that is redundantly often overdone with stories that are taxing to read. 

Mr. Samuel Hartley the hero is not from London society, rather he is a businessman from Boston, one of the soldiers that comes seeking Lady Emeline Gordon on the pretense of hiring her services for his sister. But Samuel in reality is seeking the truth of what happened in Spinner’s Falls, to find out who it is that had betrayed their regiment in such an abominable manner. Emeline meanwhile comes off as snobbish and standoffish from the first moment Samuel seeks her out. Perhaps the reason being that Samuel triggers feelings inside of her that she had forcibly buried, never to resurrect, ever since the death of her husband. The scars that have been leftover from the death runs deep, something readers only come to know as the story progresses towards its pivotal moments.

Samuel comes off as someone rather average at first, a harmless soul if ever there was one. Hoyt created a mesmerizing character out of Samuel by revealing his true self as a man who is driven by desire of the kind he cannot control, an alpha man to boot, not willing to take no from the woman who holds his desires captive. Emeline would give just about anything to turn away from Samuel, but she finds herself in a vicious cycle of need that refuses to be denied, a need that sees her getting into one clandestine position after another with Samuel. 

Though the story was a tad slow at the beginning, once things started heating up, I could barely breathe from the anticipation that was coursing through me. I always love the fact that Hoyt never shortchanges readers on the scenes of passion that she so artfully crafts into her novels. They are gems to be treasured. Every single one of them. The way the passion between Samuel and Emeline exploded onto the pages was just as beautifully done. It was dirty, raw, explicit, momentous and beautifully wondrous at the same time. Every scene brings forth the tightly reined in passions of two people who are so well suited for each other, but one or the other is too blind to see it, or refuses to in this case. The number of quotes included in this review attests to what I am talking about.

Samuel’s stubbornly unyielding attempts at winning Emeline over mesmerized me just as much as the scenes of passion did, knowing that to win the heart of someone such as Emeline so well entrenched within the customs of the elite of society would find it hard to break out of the safe existence she had carved out for herself.

Absolutely breathtaking, the fairy tale as well as the story of the love that unfurls between Emeline and Samuel! No two ways about it. Recommended!

Final Verdict: A feast for all your senses; heart, mind, body & soul!

Favorite Quotes

She inhaled deeply and sat back, her face entirely hidden by shadows now. “What difference does it make to you if I do find your affairs to be of interest, Mr. Hartley?”
He smiled wryly. “Touché, my lady. I’m sure a sophisticated gentleman of your society would deny it to his death if he was moved by your interest, but I am made of simpler stuff.”
“Are you?” The words were whispered in the dark.
He nodded slowly. “So I tell you: I am moved by your interest. I am moved by you.”
“You are frank.”
“Can you admit the same?”

“Yes, that’s what I want. A civilized man. An Englishman who knows the rules of society, an aristocrat to help me with my son and my lands. We are perfectly suited, Jasper and I. We are as alike as two peas in a pod.”
She saw the hurt in his eyes. It was very subtle, few other people, perhaps no other person, would understand it, but she saw and comprehended. She was hurting him.
So she drove the knife home. “We will be married soon, and I will be very, very happy—”
“Goddamn you,” he growled, and then he kissed her.

She was panting, almost crying, her mouth working under his, their teeth scraping against each other inelegantly. There was no finesse, no pretty caress in their kiss. This was a display of lust and anger.
She could smell his skin. He wore no powder or pomades or perfume, it was purely him, and she was driven mad by his scent. She wanted to tear the coat from his shoulders, rip off his shirt and neckcloth and bury her nose in his naked neck.

“Samuel,” she moaned.
“Hush,” he muttered.
He was urging her legs apart, and one part of her mind was thinking that his position relative to hers did not put her in the most attractive angle. Then she forgot any doubts, for he was running his thumb along her crease.
“You’re wet,” he said, his voice deep and dark with male satisfaction.
She lifted her head from the wall and almost pulled away at that. How dare he take her for granted?
But he tilted her hips and then…
Oh, God! And then he licked her.

He swore suddenly, and then he caught her against himself, her bare back pressed to his waistcoat as his cock buried itself in her and began to spurt. It was an odd angle—and erotic—her feet on tiptoe, her legs wide apart, her breasts and belly bare and displayed, impaled on his cock. She heard him groan and reveled in his loss of control. He worked insistently at her bud, splaying his hand possessively over her cunny as he came inside her.
And then she did scream. Waves of almost painful pleasure coursed through her as she convulsed on his cock. He placed his hand over her mouth to muffle the sound, and she bit him, relishing the taste of his skin on her tongue.
Behind her, he caught his breath. “Little cat.”

“I may not be fully aware of all the niceties of your society, but I think that you won’t want that.”
Her mouth had fallen open during this arrogant speech, but now as he turned away, she found her voice. “How dare you presume—”
He caught her by the shoulders, making her indignant sentence end on a squeak. He bent his head and spoke fiercely into her ear. “I dare because you welcomed me into your body not a quarter of an hour ago. Your body rained your pleasure all over my cock, and I want that again.”
He covered her mouth. But this time his kiss wasn’t gentle or soft. It spoke of a man’s desire. He thrust his tongue into her mouth and angled his head so that his lips all but enveloped hers, and her silly body arched into him. She wanted this. She craved this. Intellect and reason fled her brain.

He lifted his head, but his gaze remained on her breasts. “I’ve been thinking of this all day—your nipples, bare to me and what I would do with them. I could hardly walk for the cockstand in my breeches.” His eyes flicked to hers, and she saw that his expression was almost angry. “That’s what you do to me—turn me into a mindless, hungering cock.”
She squirmed at the words, so crude and explicit.
His nostrils flared at her movement and she froze. “Hold them for me. Offer your breasts to me so I can suck them until you come.”

“Will this do?” he grunted.
She didn’t answer, lost in a sea of bliss.
He slammed into her and held still. “Will this do, my lady?”
Her eyes flew open and she glared at him. “Yes!” She clutched at his buttocks, trying to get him to move again. “Yes! Yes! Yes! Just move, damn you!”
And he complied, either chuckling or growling low in his throat; it was impossible to tell, because her eyes had fallen closed again.

She sobbed, helpless and angry, and more angry that she let her innermost feelings show. “Stop.”
He shook his head slowly, pressing into her again, his hard body causing hers to flower open, vulnerable to all the sensations he was making her feel. His eyelids dropped for a second as if he, too, were overwhelmed by what he did. Then he raised them and looked into her eyes. “No.”

He withdrew a fraction of his length, but she felt the friction as his cock pulled against her oversensitive flesh. Then he was bearing down again, grinding, grinding, grinding against her exposed clitoris, and she couldn’t stand it anymore.
She came apart, all the secrets, doubts, worries, and hopes that she had kept tightly bound to herself flying outward, free and unharnessed, exposed to the chill morning air and to him.
To him.
And she looked up in time to see him grit his teeth and tremble, undone as much as she, as he released his seed within her.

But he withdrew his hand from her suddenly, catching her about the waist and lifting and shoving so that her rump balanced precariously on a barrel. Then he was between her legs, and she opened her eyes to watch him frantically rip at his breeches.
“God!” It was a groan. He freed himself and thrust into her, huge and hot, in the same movement. “God!”
She sank her nails into the cloth covering his shoulders and hung on for dear life, wrapping her legs high over his hips. He jerked rapidly in her, thrusting again and again and again. Her orgasm had not fully crested and now it began anew on a higher, sweeter, almost painful note.

She tore at his coat, ripping it off his upper arm, and filled her mouth with clean linen and his shoulder. Her eyes closed in bliss as she bit him. She clung to him while his cock took his pleasure of her. He rode her hard, rode her until she wanted to scream, rode her until he grabbed the back of her head and kissed her, his mouth wide and gasping as he came, his great body shaking. She could feel the heat of his seed flooding within her. And she knew, even as she crested the wave herself, she knew.
This must be the last time.

He muttered something and released her nipple, catching her hips. He pumped into her in quick, powerful thrusts, grunting with each plunge, his cock hard and hot and long within her. His movements, his obvious desperation, prolonged her pleasure, and when she felt his warmth flood her, she was still in bliss. She fell against his heaving chest, his hand tangling in her hair, his breath rasping against her damp temple. She heard his whisper in her ear.”
“I love you.”

He wouldn’t forget her, his warm lady, even if he lived for six decades more. He knew that now, sitting by her cold fire. She would be with him all the days of his life. As he walked the streets of Boston, as he conducted his business or chatted with acquaintances, she would be the ghost beside him. She would sit with him as he ate, she would lie beside him as he slept. And he knew that when his time on this earth was at an end, his last thought as he entered the void would be of her.
The scent of lemon balm would haunt him forever.
So he sat a little longer, watching her sleep. All the days of the rest of his life stretched before him, and he needed to store up these few seconds with her.
They would have to last him a lifetime.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | eBookMall | ARe | iTunes

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Review: Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookdarklover
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1
Publisher: Signet Book
Hero: Wrath
Heroine: Elizabeth Randall
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 06, 2005
Started On: July 25, 2016
Finished On: July 28, 2016

Sampling J. R. Ward’s work through her latest series The Bourbon Kings had me intrigued enough to try out one of her books in the infamous Black Dagger Brotherhood series. If you are an avid romance reader, you would have come across recommendations of this series sometime or the other, be it even as the hottest book boyfriends that readers have identified with. Having read Dark Lover, the first book in the series, I can pretty much see and agree on why there are so many diehard fans out there when it comes to J. R. Ward and what she can deliver.

Dark Lover tells the story of Wrath, the only purebred vampire remaining in the world, the one destined to be the King of their race, someone who avidly avoids the said position with a vengeance. The Black Dagger Brotherhood are an elite force of vampires within their race, their purpose being to fight the Lessers who basically are soulless humans put to the task by their leader known as Omega.

When Wrath’s Brother and friend known as Darius approaches him about his daughter, a half-bred vampire who would soon be going through the difficult phase of turning into one, Wrath ignores the plea for help because he believes that he is not the best sort of person to handle what’s coming. However, Wrath’s best laid intentions of keeping his distance is shot to smithereens when Darius finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and pays for it with his very life.

Elizabeth Randall (Beth) has no idea the mess her life is going to become when Wrath turns up on her doorstep. Having never known of the fact that she is half-vampire, Beth finds the whole concept a laughable notion at best. But Wrath’s mere presence alone makes her throw all her sensibilities out the nearest window by turning her into a being of senseless want, where it becomes hurtful if she cannot be with him. Wrath too finds himself in a conundrum when he starts lusting after the daughter of his deceased friend and there remains no other option but to have her, which definitely does not earn him any brownie points for good behavior.

Putting together a colorful cast of characters with their own unique facets, J. R. Ward creates a spellbinding novel which pretty much has it all. Her take on vampires and the concept she brings to the table is unique when compared to a whole host of novels that takes on delivery of vampire romances. What makes her take stand out is the fact that there is a reason and rhyme to the way she tells the tale of the lives of these vampires that coexist with humans and strive to do away with the lessers, who in turn gets a new leader much more cunning in his operations of weeding out the Brotherhood by hunting the local neighborhood vampires.

The politics that governs the lives of these lessers are as much interesting as those of the lives of the Brotherhood,  because the villains are not your usual cardboard variety of characters that have just one single dimension to them – that is to make your spine crawl. Rather, they have histories of their own, lives that they had led up to the point until they had become lessers, lives that were more often than not extremely difficult, perhaps even abusive, which alienated them enough to become ripe pickings for a mission that requires a soulless bunch.

Though the whole instant lust thing between Wrath and Beth hit me a bit strange at first, the inevitable result of it all seemed to jive with the larger than life vampires that makes up the Black Dagger Brotherhood. They are extremely well trained, lead lives that pretty much based on hunting the hunters, and of course have the pick of beautiful women as they see fit. Thus it stands to reason that such highly intelligent and brawn a sub-species within the race would definitely fall in love just the same. As hard and fast and for life. The possessive hero thing is done in a way that makes it quite appealing, all because you know that they don’t do it out of a need to control the heroine, but rather they are helpless in their need for their women.

Definitely looking forward to seeing where the lives of the Brothers take them and what surprises that J. R. Ward has in store for us readers.

Recommended for fans of urban fantasy and paranormal romances that delivers more than a happily ever after.

Final Verdict: Dark Lover offers a gripping read that delivers on all fronts!

Favorite Quotes

“Darius, if he does it at all, he’ll do it because he owes you. Not because he wants to.”
“I’ll take him any way I can get him.”
“But what are you giving her? He’s about as nurturing as a sawed-off, and that first time can be rough, even if you’ve been prepared. Which she hasn’t.”
“I’m going to talk to her.”
“And how’s that going to go? You’re just going to walk up to her and say, ‘Hey, I know you’ve never seen me before, but I’m your dad. Oh, and guess what? You’ve won the evolutionary lottery: You’re a vampire. Let’s go to Disneyland!’ ”

Beth’s neck jacked back up as she met the man’s steady, feral gaze. She couldn’t see the color of his eyes through the glasses, but his stare burned.
And then the extraordinary happened. As he stopped in front of her, she felt a blast of pure, unadulterated lust. For the first time in her life her body got wickedly hot. Hot and wet.
Her core bloomed for him.
It was chemistry, she thought numbly. Pure, raw, animal chemistry.
Whatever he had, she wanted.

She wrapped her legs around his hips, and he hissed as her heat burned his erection.
He used what was left of his strength to pull back and look down into her face.
“Don’t stop,” she breathed. “I want to feel you inside me.”
Wrath dropped his head into the fragrant hollow of her neck. And slowly drew his hips back. The tip of his erection slid into place beautifully, and he sheathed himself in her body with one powerful stroke.
He let out a bellow of ecstasy.
Heaven. Now he knew what heaven was like.

His lips brushed the side of her neck. And then his tongue licked her skin lightly. “Now, we can be civilized and wait until we get home. Or we can get down to it right here. Either way, I’m dying to come inside of you again, and you’re not going to say no.”
Beth gripped his shoulders through his leather jacket. She was supposed to push him away, but she didn’t. She brought him closer, arching her breasts to his chest.
A sound of male desperation broke free of him, halfway between a groan of satisfaction and a dark plea.

He had her on the bed and under him in a flash of movement, and he pushed up her skirt and tore off her panties with vicious impatience. He didn’t treat her blouse or bra any better. There would be time to savor later. Now was all about raw sex.
While he worked her breasts with his mouth, her hands were rough as she pulled his shirt from his chest. He left her only long enough to undo his pants and spring his erection. Then he linked his forearm behind one of her knees, stretched her leg up, and plunged himself into her body.
He heard her gasp at his powerful entry, and her slick heat grabbed onto him, pulsating as she came. He froze in place, absorbing the sensation of her release, feeling her core stroke him.

A low sound shot through the room, growing louder and louder, until he realized the growl was coming from him. As a fevered heat broke out all over his skin, his nose registered that dark fragrance of possession.
He was powerless to stop himself.
His lips peeled off his teeth as his muscles churned and his hips thrashed against her. Drenched in sweat, head spinning, mindless, breathless, he took everything she was offering him. Took it and demanded more, becoming an animal as she became one, too, until they were nothing but wildness.
He came violently, filling her up, pumping into her, his orgasm going on and on and on, until he realized she was climaxing right along with him, the two of them holding on to each other for dear life against shattering waves of passion.
It was the most perfect union he’d ever known.

Wrath breathed in deeply. “You have a perfume to your skin that makes me hard. Instantly. All I have to do is smell you.”
She arched in his arms, rubbing herself against his thighs, thrusting her breasts up. Her head fell back, and she let out a little moan.
“God, I love that sound,” he said, moving his hand up to the base of her throat. “Make it for me again, Beth.”
He sucked her neck. She obliged.
“That’s it,” he groaned. “Sweet heaven, that is so it.”

She leaned into his wrists forcefully, holding him still. “Relax. Let me be in control.”
Wrath could only stare up in disbelief and breathless anticipation as she pressed her lips to his.
“I want to do you,” she whispered.
In a silky rush, her tongue entered his mouth. Penetrated him. Slid in and out as if she were fucking him.
His whole body went rigid.
With each one of her thrusts, she got farther inside of him, into his skin and his brain. Into his heart. She was possessing him, taking him. Leaving her mark on him.

“Take me,” he moaned. “God, please.”
She slid him inside of her, and his whole body felt the sensation. Tight, wet, hot, she enveloped him. She began to move in a slow, pumping rhythm, and he didn’t last long. When he came, he felt like he’d been ripped in two, the bursts of energy creating a shock wave that went through the room, shaking the furniture, blowing out the candle.
On the slow float back to earth, he realized it was the first time anyone had ever taken such care to pleasure him.
He wanted to weep that she would still have him at all.

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Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookthebourbonkings
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Bourbon Kings, #1
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Hero: Jonathan Tulane Baldwine
Heroine: Lizzie King
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 28, 2015
Started On: July 09, 2016
Finished On: July 25, 2016

The Bourbon Kings is the first novel in a sweeping saga that tells the tales of the lives of the four siblings of the Baldwine family. It is not a simple story by any means. With multiple threads of the story happening at once, The Bourbon Kings is a novel that does justice to the reader by delivering a page-turner that is difficult to put down.

Jonathan Tulane Baldwine (Lane) returns home to the news that his mother might be at death’s door – not his birth mother, but the woman who raised all four of them with love and affection that was so glaringly absent from their lives. Lane, who otherwise had no inclination of returning, finds that his love for the woman that he had hurt beyond redemption by marrying another is still very much the owner of his heart. Furthermore, Lane also finds that the family is at the precipice of a change that could devastate them all, a change that could leave them all defenseless in the wake of it, if Lane were not to take up the reins as required.

Lizzie King swore to herself that she would never be taken in by Lane or anyone who looks as good for that matter. But the minute Lizzie’s paths crosses with that of the son that has returned, she finds that she is as helpless in the wake of want, desire and love that courses through her as much as Lane. The family politics that Lizzie has always stayed away from as an employee of the manor is what turns the tables for Lane and Lizzie, the knowledge that nothing was as she believed it to be when it comes to the deep and dark secrets of the family.

The Bourbon Kings is not a story that tells the tale of Lizzie and Tulane’s tale of love alone. It sweeps through the lives of the 4 siblings, Edward Westfork Bradford Baldwine, Virginia Elizabeth Baldwine otherwise known as Gin and Max, the one known as the free spirited sibling, the only sibling who didn’t make an appearance in the debut novel.

Edward is the hated son, the eldest who faced his nightmare at the hands of kidnappers in South America. Edward is a character that you feel for deeply, helpless at being unable to do anything much but read along, horrified at the extent of the betrayal that had basically crippled his life.

Gin being the only female sibling, is the one that carries the scars of having given birth to a daughter that she had felt ill-equipped to look after  with basically no support I am guessing, from whom she is pretty much estranged. Gin’s true love remains forever lost to her because of a decision that she is “forced” to take in the heat of the changes that comes to the family dynamics. A decision that had my heart do a dive because of the imminent sorrow I felt for her and the only man she has ever truly loved – the father of her daughter. It once again made me feel helpless as I could basically feel the horror that Gin’s life is going to be, a horror perhaps of her own making, which nevertheless does not make it any easier to swallow.

While Lane and Lizzie’s obstacles remained to be the broken trust that had shattered Lizzie in a way that she had never gotten over since Lane left the estate after his marriage and the woman who pretty much is still Lane’s wife who still lives on the estate, it is the events that takes place within the family, the deaths that came that had Lane reeling from the impact more than anything else that turns all their lives upside down. The fact that their entire family business is at peril, the name of the richest and oldest families in the bourbon making business facing the imminent threat of being dragged through the muck being the reason that requires Lane to step up and fill in the shoes that had been Edward’s role up till the moment he had cut ties from the family.

This being my first J. R. Ward, I was a bit apprehensive and pretty much excited to finally delve into something she had written. All because Ms. Ward is a name that you come across multiple times if you are lover of the romance genre. I found mixed reviews up on Goodreads for this book, perhaps given the fact that most of Ms. Ward’s fans are those of her urban-fantasy/paranormal series known as The Blackdagger Brotherhood of which I became a fan right after I finished The Bourbon Kings.

Talent of the kind that can juggle multiple lines of stories in one setting and deliver on each and every single one of them leaving the reader begging for more is one of the rarest in the world of books, especially when it comes to the romance genre. I found myself totally captivated by the immensely complex and yet profoundly broken and beautiful tale of love, lust, betrayal, jealousy, suspense and heart wrenching pain that Ms. Ward has created with this series. I became a fan from page one itself.

Looking forward to the next installment in the series, Angels’ Share, which has already come out. I can’t wait to see where Ms. Ward takes these characters that have embedded themselves in my heart from the get-go.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Sweeps you off into a setting that delivers a riot of emotions of the page turning kind!

Favorite Quotes

“You need to go now,” he said in a tight voice.
Yes, she told herself. I do.
And yet for some crazy reason, she whispered, “Why?”
“Because if I wanted you when it was just a game”—that stare of his locked on her mouth—“in my current mood, I’m desperate for you.”

He never thought he’d get this again, and though he would have liked to do a slow-and-sweet, he couldn’t. Too desperate.
He was rough with the waistband of her shorts, tearing at the button, the zipper, ripping them down her legs. And then he slid his hand between her thighs, pushing her cotton panties out of the—
Lizzie called out his name in a hoarse voice that nearly made him come right then and there. And as her fingers bit into his shoulders, he stroked her harder.
“Hurt me,” he growled as she dug into him. “Make me bleed …”

Lifting Lizzie up off the floor, he relished the way she locked on to him with her powerful arms. One tearing jerk of the zipper on his slacks and his arousal was ready to go. He split her underwear in two, and then—
The roar he let out into her neck was like that of an animal, but he paid no attention to the sound. The slick hold of her sex was a sensation he felt over his entire body, and he orgasmed immediately. So long … so long, that he had dreamed of her, and regretted what had happened, and wanted to do things differently. And now he was where he had prayed to be: With every pumping release into her, he was rewinding time, putting things back to rights, repairing the wrongs.

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Review: Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookdearestrogue
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #8
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Captain James Trevillion
Heroine: Lady Phoebe Batten
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 26, 2015
Started On: July 07, 2016
Finished On: July 07, 2016

Dearest Rogue brings to fans of the series like myself the much awaited story of Lady Phoebe Batten, younger sister of the Duke of Wakefield and Captain James Trevillion, the man who is charged with being her bodyguard, a man who should know better than to want after a woman who he never should.

It is impossible to read the Maiden Lane series without falling, and falling hard for Phoebe. From the book Notorious Pleasures onward, Phoebe has featured prominently as a secondary character, fact that she was slowly going blind and would be completely so in a couple of years the reason behind the Duke, her brother, keeping her under such tight lock and control.

It is the sort of control that stifles the 21 year old Phoebe, who has given up her dreams of leading a life of the kind that ladies of her age and ilk take for granted. In that regard, James coming into her life is just one more notch that tightens the noose around her neck, and 6 months of having him tail after her every time she is to go out and about has meant that Phoebe has gotten more or less resigned to having him around.

James is a man whose life of servitude to the King in his occupation as a soldier is all the life that he knows how to live. Keeping his past under lock and key is how he deals with the memories that he tries to leave undisturbed, and if in innocent Phoebe he finds a respite from it all, that is all on him. In James once again, readers find a character they have come across multiple times in the series, especially when it comes to his pursuit of the Ghost of St. Giles. James is a character who has more than proven his mettle as one who is honest, honorable and someone who takes his duty very, very seriously.

James keeps his burgeoning feelings towards Phoebe close to his heart, and projects an image of stoic indifference because he knows that there is no future to be had with a woman like her when it comes to someone of his ilk and status. But when danger comes calling and Phoebe’s life is thrown into peril, James has to deal with his past as well as confront his feelings when it comes to Phoebe, who turns his heart inside out with want and love.

Dearest Rogue totes one of the prettiest covers in the series for me. I spent quite a while gazing at the beauty of the cover because it demanded to be looked and even caressed a time or two. James being the kind of character who does the silent and reluctant hero to boot was one whose story I had been anticipating for quite sometime, especially when in Darling Beast, his and Phoebe’s role as secondary characters were quite prominent.

Dearest Rogue also brings to the forefront, THE most emotional scene in all the books I have read in the series. There was this moment that takes place in the gardens that Phoebe looks after, where she comes to the realization of the fact that she has gone entirely blind, her valiant efforts at keeping a strong face in spite of everything crumbling at that very moment. My throat locked down and I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and tears sprang into my eyes during that moment. For someone who rarely gets choked up with emotion like that, it is a moment that I would remember for a long time. James turned out to be the perfect shoulder to cry on at that moment and I wouldn’t have had the scene play out any other way!

Phoebe’s discovery of James as a man whom she could be attracted to and fall in love with was an aspect that I adored. Being sheltered in her upbringing, not to mention the fact that her brother had practically caged her since her blindness had started affecting her daily life and moving about, Phoebe had never been exposed to the kind of life that other ladies of the society get to live and lead. In James, Phoebe finds for the first time, a man who stirs her senses in a way that entices her into giving in, and the heady desire that a woman finds in the arms of a strong and virile man who would see to her needs.

Though James fights himself to not give in where Phoebe is concerned, it is a losing battle that he fights with his emotions, needs and desires, and the moment they leave London behind in an attempt to throw off those in pursuit of Phoebe, the feelings that James has been keeping at bay comes to the forefront, refusing to be denied. Phoebe herself makes the denying it all that much more difficult, and I reveled and loved every single minute of it. The facet that I loved most about James was how he let Phoebe be free of the shackles that bound and confined her to her home, making her die a slow death by being denied all that she wanted to do and experience in life. For James to understand that and step aside, even when it means going against his basic instincts of protectiveness, especially when it comes to Phoebe was something I admired in him.

It is a testament to Elizabeth Hoyt’s incredible talent and ability that she has managed to pen stories that continues to woo and move readers, even when it comes to the 8th book in a series. James and Phoebe’s story made for a delightful addition and I recommend it wholeheartedly!

Final Verdict: Delightfully wicked and wanton!

Favorite Quotes

“Did you kill that one?” Lady Phoebe shouted as they swerved around a cart. Her hat had fallen off. Light-brown locks blew across his lips.
He had her. He had her safe and that was all that mattered.
“Yes, my lady,” he murmured into her ear. Flat, almost uncaring, for it would never do to let her hear the emotion that holding her in his arms provoked.
“Oh, good.”
He leaned forward, inhaling the sweet scent of roses in her hair—innocent and forbidden—and kicked the horse into a full gallop through the heart of London.
And as he did so, Lady Phoebe threw back her head and laughed into the wind.

“I’m a dozen years older than you, my lady,” he said, sounding ponderous even to himself. “The same age as your brother, in fact.”
The thought made him unaccountably grim.
“And yet you seem much older.” She wrinkled her nose. “Maximus is very stern, but at least he laughs. Well, now and again. Once or twice a year, anyway. Now you, Captain, you never laugh and I doubt very much that you smile. I thought you at least fifty—”
He scowled. “My lady—”
“—or even five and fifty—”
“Phoebe.”
He stopped, shocked by his use of her given name.
She’d made him lose control.
She smiled very slowly, a little cat licking the cream from her chin, and he felt himself tighten.

“You intend to put it on me now?”
Her lips twitched. She would’ve sworn that was alarm she heard in Captain James Trevillion’s voice—and she’d never heard it there before. Not even when armed men had come after her.
“Yes,” she said, placing her fingertips at the bottle’s opening and tipping it so that the perfume wet her skin. She reached up, sandalwood and roses filling her senses, and touched him.
Touched the bare skin of his face.
Her breath stuttered.

Her fingertips met his cravat, a maddening barrier, and she stroked along it, dipping her fingertip just a little beneath the cloth.
She realized suddenly that she’d quite passed the bounds of propriety.
Shaking, she drew her hand away and stoppered the little bottle. “Well. That’s done.”
He didn’t reply and she wished very much that he would.
She held out the bottle, waiting for a long second for him to take it.
His warm, big hand closed around hers and she felt it suddenly, his moist breath across her lips. He was close, so very close, and she could smell bergamot and sandalwood and roses and wine, everything mingling together to make a heady elixir.
She froze, waiting, wanting.

She lunged forward, her nose hitting his cravat, pulling her hands desperately out of his hold, grabbing his coat, his ear, anything that was him. She knew how clumsy and awkward and blind she must be, but she didn’t care right now. Somehow her mouth found his jaw and she inhaled sandalwood.
“Phe—”
She smashed her mouth to his, cutting off her name. It wasn’t a sweet kiss by any means—she’d never kissed a man. But it was strange and wonderful anyway. She felt a bloom within her chest, a wild, pounding well of hope and joy, feeling his lips against hers. Breathing in sandalwood and bergamot, gunpowder and James.
James. James. James.

“Spread your legs,” he whispered into her mouth and it sounded unbearably erotic.
She gasped even as she did as he instructed, unable to catch her breath.
He settled there on her, his… his penis hard and on her mound, quite clear even through his breeches and her chemise. She tried to arch up against him, but his weight prevented her and she whimpered as she slumped back on the bed.
“Sh-sh,” he whispered. “Don’t fret. I’ll make it better.”
He touched her chin, tilting her face up. He kissed her again, slowly, his mouth wide over hers, and he was right. It was better.
So much better.

“I can see your nipples, did you know that?” he asked, and his voice sounded almost angry.
She knew what he felt wasn’t anger.
“Yes,” she said, bold as any Covent Garden soiled dove. “I know.”
He grunted what might’ve been a laugh. “They’re a deep pink, so sweet, so round, and every time I saw them, they were pointed, as if they wanted my attention. Wanted my mouth. As they are now.”
She swallowed a moan.
He slowly cupped her breast, his palm cradling her without touching her nipple. “Is that what you want? My mouth on your nipple, Phoebe, sucking until you scream?”
Oh God.
“Y-yes,” she said, and though the word came out more a squeak than anything else, she simply couldn’t care because he did just that.

“Please,” she said, sounding less ladylike and more demanding. “James!”
“Yes, my lady?” he asked, innocent, nearly disinterested. “What would you like?”
“You know.”
He trailed teasing fingers around the sides of her breasts, not quite touching her nipples. “This?”
“N-no,” she stuttered. “My…”
“Yes?” he whispered in her ear, his hot breath making her shiver. “Tell me, Phoebe. Tell me what you want me to do to you.”
“Oh, please,” she moaned. “Oh, please touch me.”
“How?” The one word was stern. Commanding.
“With your mouth,” she whispered. “Suck my nipple.”

“Use me,” he repeated. “Ride me until you come.”
Well, when put so bluntly… she lifted her bottom, feeling him slide a little out, then sat back down. She shifted a little, finding her balance, feeling him move within her, tightened her thighs…
And began galloping.
Oh, it was a wonderful feeling! His hard flesh in her, thrusting back and forth as she rode him. His panting breath—though he did no work—the sensation of being in control, of being able to make this man shatter beneath her.
She felt whole. She felt invincible.

He stroked through her open folds to circle her entrance. “You’re wet.”
His hands left her and she waited, breathless, open and wanting, the night air cooling her flesh.
There was a rustle of clothing and then he was over her, around her.
Thrusting into her.
She gasped at the sudden intrusion. He thrust once, twice, seating himself fully in her.
And then he stopped.
“I thought about this all day in that damned carriage,” he whispered in her ear.

She was still gasping, still trembling and shaking, when he rose and mounted her, driving his flesh into her softness, grasping her legs and urging her to wrap them high over his waist.
“Phoebe,” he growled into her ear as he thrust hard. “Phoebe. You haunt me. You drive me. You possess me. I cannot—”
He arched, his penis deep within her, his big body shuddering on hers.
She gripped his shoulders, pulling him down to her, opening her mouth and swallowing his moan as he spilled inside her, pumping and thrusting against her.

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Review: Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookthiefofshadows
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #4
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Winter Makepeace
Heroine: Isabel Beckinhall
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 1, 2012
Started On: June 15 2016
Finished On: June 22, 2016

Towards the end of Scandalous Desires, book 3 in the Maiden Lane series, there comes perhaps a startling discovery for some, and for the rest, something that they might have already been suspicious of when it comes to Winter Makepeace. Winter’s role in the home for foundling children has made him a very prominent secondary character in the past 3 novels, one that endears readers to only part of who he is. By day, he is the controlled, stoic headmaster of the home, and at night, he assumes the persona of the Ghost of St. Giles, a figure revered and feared in equal doses, a man who keeps to the shadows of the night and hunts those that preys on the weak.

Isabel Beckinhall the Baroness of Beckinhall, who is widowed at a young age, makes her free of certain restrictions when it comes to moving about in the society. Becoming a patroness of the foundling home gives her a sense of purpose, something she actually looks forward to in a way that perhaps helps heal the broken aspects of her heart and soul. When she encounters the injured Ghost of St. Giles, even though she is much curious and more than a little intrigued about the identity behind the mask, she respects the Ghost’s wishes and refrains from inquiring further. Little does she know that the Ghost is none other than Winter, a man whom she thinks to be too rigid and dour faced to be of an interest to her.

When Winter’s role as the headmaster of the foundling home is thrown into jeopardy, it is up to Isabel to teach him of the ways to move about in the elite of the society. Thus Isabel embarks upon a dangerous mission in more ways than one. A particularly precarious one to her heart when it is in danger of sliding into being utterly in love with Winter, Isabel becoming the one ensnared in the risky venture of teaching Winter the art of seduction and more.

Hoyt has a way of taking on tried and tested tropes in the world of romance and bringing something fresh and vivid to readers at the same time. In Thief of Shadows, Isabel is the older heroine, the experienced widow who takes on lovers of the same kind, that is until she is taken in the arms of Winter Makepeace. Winter is younger than Isabel by many years, inexperienced and a virgin to boot, which makes him doubly more delicious in a certain sense. His inexperience does not stop him from becoming a lethal force to be reckoned with in the bedroom and out of it, his nocturnal activities bringing danger of a whole different kind to his doorstep as he grows more and more weary of his chosen path in life.

Winter has lived a life of self-imposed control and and rules that had never left him wanting before. However, with Isabel in his life, the vividity of life that she brings to his otherwise dark, dull and grey existence is one that he is hard pressed to turn away from. Little by little, Winter learns that he could have a life that includes Isabel as the woman by his side, the woman who manages to turn his world upside down just by walking into the same room.

In Winter, Isabel finds the room to grow, to seek solace of a kind she never thought would ever come her way. Scarred in a way she never admitted to even herself, it is Winter who brings to her life something she has always yearned for, but has completely turned her mind away from because of the futility in wishing for something she is no longer capable of. That alone was a beautiful aspect of the story and I loved Winter wholeheartedly for how he dealt with Isabel’s wounds. For Isabel, there is no turning away from the man who sees her, really sees her, the woman behind the facade she presents to the rest of the world.

It takes a writer of immense talent to keep up the momentum of a series through each and every single book. Hoyt has managed to do that and more in the Maiden Lane series, which is why I would recommend these hot and delectable reads of love, mystery, and steamy sex to all romance readers out there!

Final Verdict: Steals your heart, storms your emotions and leaves you begging for more!

Favorite Quotes

“Would you like me more if I knew how to simper and twist my words?” he demanded.
His sudden aggression made her reply without thinking, straight from her heart. “No. I like you as you are.”
She licked her lips at her admission and his gaze settled broodingly on her mouth. It felt like a brand, that look. A physical touch more intimate than any embrace. Her lips parted in wonder and his eyes rose slowly to meet hers, for once unshielded.
Dear God, what she saw in that look! How he had hidden these many years behind the guise of a simple schoolmaster, she didn’t know. Anger, passion, lust, and surging hunger swirled in his stormy eyes. Emotions so stark, so strong, she didn’t understand how he kept them under control. He looked as if he were about to attack her, ravish her, and conquer London and the world itself. He could’ve been a warrior, a statesman, a king.

She opened her lips against his. He claimed her like a barbarian marauder. The kiss was rough, unpracticed, and without finesse, and yet Isabel felt a trembling thrill go through her. She was used to civilized embraces, carefully thought out, impeccably implemented. Mannered and cool. The Ghost of St. Giles, in contrast, was a storm breaking over her, all passion and emotion.
All real man.
She felt his arms come about her, pulling her tight against his chest as he bent her helplessly, lost, falling, her heart half beating out of her breast. And she knew—she knew—that she kissed not only the Ghost of St. Giles, but Winter Makepeace as well.

His eyes opened, his sensuous upper lip twisting in a snarl. “I’ll never forget you no matter what.”
And he grasped her hips firmly, shoving up into her. He was untried, inelegant, jerky, and rough—and she loved it.
She flung back her head and laughed breathlessly.
“Damn you,” he growled, jamming himself in and out of her, his cock ruthless and hard. “Do it.”
She looked down at him, a goddess supreme. “Fuck, you mean?”
His eyes narrowed to slits. “Make love. Make love to me. Now.”

“Slowly,” he whispered, and covered her mouth with his.
For a moment she forgot everything. His tongue was in her mouth, warm and strong, masculine and insistent, and his cock was pushed so far inside her that her feminine lips were spread wide. He had her. He was in control.
Then he began walking, still kissing her, and the motion was exquisitely seductive, a subtle nudging, a sweet, rhythmic rocking.
She moaned against his lips. “Winter.”
“Yes,” he murmured back. “Yes.”
Then her back was against a wall and he’d braced his legs. Suddenly he was driving into her. Fast. Hard. Deep. Exactly right.
His teeth were bared, his lips pulled back, and his eyes glittered as he stared at her. “Yes.”

“Now,” he whispered, and withdrew his cock an incremental amount. So tiny, less than an inch, surely. So small it should hardly matter at all.
But when he thrust back inside her, quick and hard and nearly brutal, the movement sent her hips grinding against his hand, trapped between her and the mattress. Sent her gasping for breath as the sensation spurred all her nerve endings to a nearly painful pleasure.
“I love you,” he whispered as he thrust again. And again. Each movement controlled. Each small movement devastating in its effect. “I love you.”
She lost all concept of time. She lost her place and surroundings. She couldn’t remember who he was—who she was. She lost her mind.

“So brave,” he murmured into her hair, stroking it. “So beautiful and brave.”
“I’m not beautiful,” she rasped. “You shouldn’t see me like this.”
She must look like a hag, and the horror of her gauche tantrum and her naked vulnerability made her hide her face in his shoulder.
But he placed a gentle palm under her chin and turned her face back to him. “I’m privileged to see you like this,” he said, his eyes fierce. “Wear your social mask at your balls and parties and when you visit your friends out there, but when we are alone, just the two of us in here, promise me this: that you’ll show me only your true face, no matter how ugly you might think it. That’s our true intimacy, not sex, but the ability to be ourselves when we are together.”

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