Review: Break the Night by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookbreakthenight_new.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Hero: John Ripley Damien
Heroine: Elizabeth Stride
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 01, 1993
Started On: June 16, 2018
Finished On: June 18, 2018

Break the Night by Anne Stuart is another one of her masterpieces in her long list of books (which I am forever grateful for), that more or less belong in the same category. Taking on the events surrounding the killer Jack the Ripper as a premise, Anne Stuart weaves a tale that left me wanting more on every single aspect of the story that unfolded.

Elizabeth Stride (Lizzie) is an artist trying to survive the LA scene. A creator of masks, Lizzie is caught in a nightmarish circumstance when a serial killer takes on her masks as part of the killer’s signature. Known as the Venice Ripper, Lizzie’s only saving grace comes from the fact that members of the public remain unaware of the use of Lizzie’s masks in the killer’s grotesque pastime.

However, Lizzie’s “anonymity” when it comes to the Venice Ripper becomes a thing of the past when news reporter John Ripley Damien i.e. J. R. Damien takes it upon himself to release the details about the masks in one of his articles featuring the Venice Ripper. Damien’s interest in the killer comes at a cost to both his personal and professional life. Renowned for his skill and talent as a reporter, Damien’s life takes a turn for the worse when he starts blaming himself for failing to see the line that exists between professional reporting standards and what is not. What could have been and what actually did happen.

Damien is haunted by dreams of a past that is filled with bloodshed, nightmares that seem hauntingly too real, when those dreams coincide with murders that happen in the present. Damien believes that stopping the killer is a job that is his duty, perhaps his past life had made it his responsibility to be the savior. But Damien knows that avenging the killer would come at a cost, a payment that he might have to make by giving his own life up in the process.

All of that is fine with Damien until Lizzie shows up in his life. Damien is none too shocked when an outraged Lizzie turns up on his doorstep, calling him out for publishing her details in relation with the Venice Ripper. While Damien tries to project an aura of indifference to all that is Lizzie, deep inside he knows that he is in deep trouble when it comes to her. The farthest thing from his usual style of women, Lizzie is what Damien would call a homebody, and for the very first time in Damien’s life, he wants to embrace the dreams of togetherness forever that he can see in Lizzie’s eyes.

However, there is a killer who is relentless, who is closing in on them as the passion between Damien and Lizzie ignites and burns with a ferocity that leaves them both stunned. And it will take everything Damien has got, all his wits about him to protect the most precious person in existence for him from a killer whose blood-lust has reached uncontrollable levels, taking on the task of the “cleanser of sinful souls” in the world.

I loved Break the Night. It is hard to believe that this was a story published more than ten years ago. Standing true to the test of time, as is the case with all Anne Stuart novels, both Damien and Lizzie are lovable and enticing characters. There is a vulnerability to Lizzie that is hard not to fall for, and a heart that yearns to open up to Damien and take him for all that he is – darkness and light together.

Damien is another topnotch example of heroes that Anne Stuart brings to life so effortlessly. Tall, lean, and darkly handsome in a way that makes a woman sit up and take notice, Damien’s demons run deep into his psyche, starting from a childhood that had been less than idyllic under most circumstances. However, it is Damien’s ties to a past that has long come and gone that is most intriguing, his often misplaced “blame” of self that takes place, because he is that kind of man.

Every Anne Stuart I pick up gives me a meaty read to sink my teeth into, delivers sexy and sinful heroes, pieces of whom I carry with me always; these are just some of the reasons why I would always keep coming back for more.

Recommended for fans of romantic suspense novels with a bit of creepy ethereality in the mix.

Final Verdict: Break the Night is the sort of novel that would rightfully leave you with the heebie-jeebies. Entwining long gone past events with the present, this is a story that will keep you reading into the wee hours of the night.

Favorite Quotes

“Damn it!” He hauled her upright, fury fighting with the panic that had suffused his body and winning. She simply stared up at him, her face wet with rain, and then it was too late. He pulled her into his arms, shoving her against the brick wall behind her and kissed her.
Her reaction was immediate. She slid her arms around his waist, clinging to him as if her life depended on it, and kissed him back. She tasted of rain and fresh coffee; she tasted of love and hope and despair.

For a moment, neither of them moved. And then he reached up to touch her, his hands cupping her shoulders, drawing her down, bringing her mouth to his. He kissed her slowly, gently, his mouth soft and damp and questing against her lips. He nibbled at her, tasting her. It was a kiss of such startling sweetness that she felt tears spring to her eyes, as a gnawing, yearning warmth started in the pit of her stomach and grew, spiraling outward, downward, filling her with such heat and longing that she began to tremble herself, and she wanted to move closer, to sink against him, into him, to press against him and dissolve.

“I’m yours, am I? Always?” he said, and there was no missing his bleak, self-mocking grin. “Lord, Lizzie, I only wish it were that simple.”
She let her eyelids flutter closed as she absorbed the feel of him against her. She could feel the sudden increase in tension, the hissing intake of breath. “Damn you, Lizzie,” he muttered under his breath.
She opened her eyes and smiled at him. “Only if you want me.”
The feel of him against her hips left no doubt in her mind, despite the torment in his eyes. He pulled himself away from her, heading into the living room like a man facing his executioner, and Lizzie almost smiled.

She had beautiful breasts, small and perfectly formed. He leaned over and put his mouth on her, drawing the nipple deep and hard against his tongue, and her body jerked in reaction. Her hands were clutching the rumpled sheet beneath them, and he pulled one away, bringing it to the front of his jeans, holding it there, feeling the exquisite agony of a desire so strong he didn’t know how long he could make it last.
He could feel the darkness closing around him, could feel the blood beating in his ears. His hands were rough as they stripped off her jeans, but if she protested he was beyond hearing, lost in some black, dangerous place of his own.

“No,” she said fiercely. “Don’t. I don’t want you to touch me… ”
He wasn’t going to listen to her, and neither was her body. Despite her hurt and anger, she was aroused, and he was deft, determined, as he reached between and caught her clitoris between his fingers, somehow knowing how to touch her in just the right way, and she climaxed, fighting it, her body tightening and rippling around his aching hardness, as a helpless little cry filled the darkness.

He hauled her up into his arms, roughly, before she realized what he was doing, wrapping her legs around his waist. He looked dark, remote, not t he man she thought she knew, as he shoved her up against the wall, his face almost brutal in the firelight.
He pushed into her, hard, filling her, and she braced herself, welcoming him, no longer worrying about pain, only needing him, more of him, all of him, but this time her body didn’t resist him, this time she was ready. Her face was crushed against his shoulder as she felt him thrust into her, and she cradled his head, holding on, wanting nothing but his release, his pleasure to fill her.

It was darkness, madness, blood and death. With each thrust of his body she went a little farther, a little deeper, lost in some world where nothing remained but the inexplicable, powerful feelings surging through her body, the sound of his breathing in her ear, the beating of his heart against hers, the slick sweat on his skin as he surged into her, again and again and again, deep and hard and eternal.

His body was lean and wiry and golden in the firelight, a runner’s body. She slid her hands up his chest, placing her mouth against his neck as she pushed him down on the mattress. He tasted of soap, of skin, of something dark and wonderful. She moved her mouth downward, over his flat belly, kissing, biting, tasting. And then she took him in her mouth, the full, silky length of him, consuming him, consumed by him, lost in an act she had never performed, not in this lifetime, and never with love.

His hands caught her shoulders, his long fingers caressing, and she could hear the strangled sound of his breathing, taste the salty sweetness of his desire, feel the blood course through his body. The night closed down around them, and there was nothing to fear, only the two of them, and she wanted this, she wanted him.
She spread her legs for him, closing her eyes as his hands cupped her hips, and waited for the thrust that would fill her.
A moment later, her eyes shot open when he set his mouth between her legs, using his tongue, his teeth, his lips, to bring her to the precipice, and she knew her first fear. And then there was no room for fear and she leapt over the edge, her body dissolving into an endless convulsion that stole her breath, her heartbeat, her mind and soul.

He rolled over on his back, taking her with him, looking up at her as she moved over his body, the two of them slick with sweat as the firelight cast eerie shadows across their skin. He reached out and caught her hips, but let her set the pace, his face drawn taut with the effort of control.
She felt smooth, sleek and powerful. “Don’t fight it,” she whispered in the darkness. “Give yourself to me. Now, Damien.”
His eyes shut tight. “Now,” he said. “Now.” And he thrust up into her, hard, filling her with his warmth, his wetness, his love.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes


Review: Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookshadowloveras
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Hero: Alexander MacDowell
Heroine: Carolyn Smith
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: December 31, 2013
Started On: January 14, 2014
Finished On: January 14, 2014

It is always a downright delight to find a novel that you have missed out on from an absolute favorite author of yours. Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart was first published in the year of 1999 and somehow during my voracious hunt through Anne Stuart’s contemporary romantic suspense novels, I seem to have missed out on reading this one. It was when I saw this novel up for grabs on Netgalley that made me realize my grievous “error” in missing out on this. But then again, I can’t complain too much because discovering veritable treasures like this one is the reason why I love reading so much!

Shadow Lover delivers exactly the sort of novel that only Anne Stuart can. With enough twists and turns to the story to make your head spin and the way she brings the story to life with her quintessential bad boy heroes that readers like myself can never get enough of, Shadow Lover brings to life the very reason why Anne Stuart continues to amaze and wow me, practically with every single book I have read of hers to date.

Almost eighteen years to the day he had left never to be heard from since, Alexander MacDowell returns home, seemingly to ease the passage for his mother, Sally’s imminent death. It is only Carolyn Smith, the only MacDowell who isn’t essentially a MacDowell by birth that seems to harbor suspicions about the man claiming to be Alex. And of course Carolyn has good enough reason to be suspicious when she had witnessed Alex’s murder with her very own eyes that fateful night when everything had gone so awfully awry.

In a family laden with secrets, Caroline seems to be the only one who remains unaffected, the only one who seems to have a strong sense of morality and conscience. Caroline’s only wish is to be completely free of the MacDowell’s family once Sally dies, the woman who had unofficially adopted her into the family and loved her as much as she is capable of loving and showing affection towards another.

While Caroline’s sense of mistrust runs deep when it comes to the charming Alex who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Alex that she remembers and dreams of, she can’t help but be fascinated with all that he makes her feel, the feelings of violent passions that he rouses in her far more disturbing to her peace of mind than anything else. Caroline is determined that she would protect Sally at any cost, even if it means holding her tongue from lashing out with the truth which would certainly have dire consequences.

It is only a master like Anne Stuart that can pull off a novel of mystery as intriguing as this one, the seemingly innocent enough plot filled with so many unforeseeable twists and turns that the reader is taken along on a journey that certainly gets the brain cells revving. And then there is the heat factor involved when it comes to Anne Stuart. The way she brings her hero and heroine alive in essentially every single one of her novels, the mistrust and at times hatred born out of the volatile feelings that they harbor towards one another and later on the spillage of the fierce passion serves to be one of the best aspects to her stories.

I can definitely go on and on about the elements that worked for me in the story to make it one that has earned its rightful place in my “Favorites” shelf, but you’ve got to read it yourself to determine just how enthralling a tale that Anne Stuart can weave. There is just something about her heroes with their lean and strong bodies and of course slender hands of veritable strength that just gets my blood pumping. And I would give up just about anything to meet one of  these heroes in real life.

Final Verdict: Anne Stuart fills every single page with her exquisite mastery. Most highly and definitely recommended.

Favorite Quotes

Her hands had somehow ended up around his neck, her fingers entwined in his long hair. She closed her eyes—she didn’t want to look at him, didn’t want to acknowledge the foolishness of what she was doing. She kissed him, clumsily, and he made a low, growling noise in the back of his throat, one of sheer animal arousal.
The sound made her wet.
He must have known. He slid his hands down and caught her hips, lifting her almost effortlessly, pulling her legs around his waist as he started toward the bed.

“You sure you want me to stop?”
She stared up at him, unable to say a word. She was hot, trembling, shaking with a need more powerful than any she’d ever known. He touched her lip, and his fingers had blood on them. “You bit your lip,” he said. “Bite mine.” And he covered her mouth with his.

“Slowly, Carolyn,” he whispered, pushing her back against the pillows. “No need to rush, we have all the time in the world.”
“No,” she said in a strangled voice. She opened her eyes, and she could see the firelight flickering over their bodies, dark, pagan, magical. “Don’t make me . . . beg.”
He slid his hands up her legs, pulling them apart. “Oh, angel, I don’t want you to beg,” he whispered. “I want to be the one to beg you.”

Her breath was coming in strangled gasps, and she could feel sweat and tears pour down her face. She gripped his shoulders so tightly her hands were numb, and everything was centered around his inexorable invasion, like nothing she had ever felt before.
It was too much, more than she could stand, and she tried to pull away, but he caught her hips with his hands, pinning her against the mattress. “Take me, Carolyn,” he whispered. “You know you can. Don’t be afraid of me. Take me.”

“I thought you weren’t going to touch me until I asked you?” she said in a furious whisper.
“Ask me.” He pushed the shirt from her shoulders, then reached for the waistband of her jeans.
“Go to hell,” she said, and kicked him in the shins.
He caught her face in his hands, holding it still, tilting her mouth up to his. “Ask me,” he said again, his mouth hovering inches from hers.
She stopped struggling. Her face was wet with tears, she looked lost and broken and so damned sweet.
“For what?” she whispered.
“For anything you want.”

“You ran away the last time,” he whispered against her mouth. “Are you going to run away again?”
“Even though I’m a cheat and a liar and a con man and a thief?”
“Are you?”
“Do you care?”
“No,” she said in a fierce little voice. “I want you. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care what you are—none of it matters. I need you.”

“I’m afraid,” she said in a very quiet voice.
“I know you are. And I can’t figure out why. We’ve already done it once and you didn’t suffer any Victorian trauma. You know I won’t force you, you know I won’t hurt you. What’s the problem?”
She stood very still. “I’m afraid I’ll fall in love with you.”
He didn’t know what to say to that. And then a faint, reluctant smile curved his mouth. “Well, you can’t say I haven’t been doing everything I can to keep that from happening.”

“I was in love with the real Alex.”
He could only hope she couldn’t see his reaction. “You were thirteen when he left,” he said roughly. “Thirteen-year-old girls don’t know anything about love. And he was a selfish, spoiled brat who didn’t care who he hurt.”
“I loved him.”
He wanted her to stop saying that. He wanted her to say it again.

He wanted her whether she wanted him or not, but he wasn’t going to make a move.
He didn’t need to. She crossed the room, and before he realized what she was planning to do she sank to her knees in front of him and took him in her mouth.

“Turn over,” he said. “I want you that way.”
He half expected her to object. She didn’t. She did what he wanted, and her strangled cry of pleasure when he pushed back inside her almost finished him.
He wanted, needed to make it last. To take her every way he could think of, and more, so there would be no more secrets between them, no more lies.

She was even tighter from this angle, and he tried to think of something else, to slow himself down, but he couldn’t, all he could think and feel and hear was Carolyn, the soft, desperate little cries she was making, the rich scent of sex in the air, the silky smoothness of her back, the deep, clenching tightness of her.
He reached between her legs and touched her, and she exploded, her scream no longer muffled, a sobbing cry of complete surrender and savage, ultimate pleasure.
And he gave himself up to it, filling her with everything he had left, pouring into her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N