Review: Withering Hope by Layla Hagen

Format: E-Bookwitheringhope
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Tristan Bress
Heroine: Aimee Myller
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 18, 2015
Started On: June 10, 2019
Finished On: June 11, 2019

Aimee Myller is on the way to get married, traveling to her fiance’s vacation home in Brazil. It is just Aimee and the pilot Tristan Bress alone in the flight, a route that both Aimee and Tristan as Chris’s personal pilot has traversed many a time. However, things go awry and the flight crash lands, leaving both Aimee and Tristan stranded in the middle of the Amazon jungle, with no sign that help is imminent.

Tristan is better equipped to handle survival in the wilderness than Aimee is, but that does not stop her from giving it all that she has and hoping enough for the both of them even when it is futile. Tristan with his experience in the military, carries with him the psychological scars that prevents him from interacting much with Aimee at first. But being forced to spend so much time together, especially with someone like Aimee slowly works its magic on Tristan.

As the days fade into each other, the dangers surrounding the two become all too real. As friendship blossoms and turns into heated desire, it is a conflicted Aimee who decides to bid farewell to the man she had been engaged to, the person who had been her best friend all through her life. For when it comes to Tristan, it is a desire that scorches and a love that refuses to be denied.

The conversations that these two engage in, the fears they share, the myriad of words unspoken; all of that and more invokes feelings that is indescribable as you read along. It is as if they are wrapped in a cocoon that nurtures and cradles the fragility of their love in the wilderness. It is as if at any moment, danger could smash through the walls and take away what both of them holds most precious.

Towards the end, it was sheer agony to turn the pages (you are both hopeful and fearing the worst simultaneously); there was pain, sorrow, and tears. But for a love that had persevered through so much, there is nothing but hope that they would endure to live on.

When the epilogue came, I did not know whether I wanted to bawl my eyes out or smile through my tears. In short, I was a mess. For the very first time in my life as a romance reader, I did not know how I could be so happy and so devastated at the same time.

One reads about the concept of soulmates all the time, especially if you are into romance. But in Tristan and Aimee, I believe that the concept came alive for me, for the very first time. They are literally soulmates in every sense. The ending brought to mind a real life story that my father related to us one day; how two people who had been married for most part of their adult life had passed away, just a couple of hours from each other. There are people who literally die of broken hearts, and that teaches the living that true love in its purest form can exist, even amidst all the cruelties that this world has got to offer.

There is so much that goes on in this story that it is hard to put into words the harrowing journey that these two go through to come out safely on the other side. There is love that surpasses everything else in life and that is the kind that Tristan and Aimee found in each other in the dangerous wilderness of the Amazon.

Though Aimee “cheats” on her fiance, at that point, there is nothing I would have done differently, had I being in her shoes. Because it was as natural as breathing to stay alive at that point, the connection that was forged in the midst of fighting for their lives and nearly losing each other towards the end.

This is a story that should be read with a box of tissues ready. You will not be the same having gone through Aimee and Tristan’s journey towards their happily ever after. Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Layla Hagen’s impressive and evocative writing had me on the edge in more ways than one. There is a beauty to Withering Hope that stays with you long after you are done.

Favorite Quotes

The touch of his lips on mine electrifies me, shimmer after shimmer coursing through my nerve endings. His tongue takes mine in a primal claim. Icy shivers splinter my skin, and at the same time, fire awakens deep within me. I’ve never been kissed like this. Ferociously, with absolute, desperate need. I try to temper the heated emotions building inside me. I try to remember it’s wrong. But that fleeting thought is drowned by the heat igniting his lips and hands, and I surrender. Tristan deepens the kiss until I’m out of breath.

I cradle his head with my arms, forcing him to kiss me even deeper. I’m rewarded with a groan. With one swift move, he pulls me underneath him. His expansive chest pushes against my breasts, and a deep throb pulses low in my body. Desire takes a life of its own when he slams his hips against mine, and I feel his need for me—his hard length strained by the fabric of his pants. In a haze, he frees me of the straps on my shoulders and pushes my dress down to my hips, revealing my breasts. His lips dart to my neck, suckling their way to my collarbone and then to my breasts, leaving a trail of fire in their wake that burns away any ounce of control I still have.

“You’re so beautiful,” he says in a breathy voice. In the moonlight, I see his heavy-lidded eyes raking over my naked body. I’m shaking with consuming need. His eyes meet mine, and my need is mirrored in his dark gaze. He cups my backside greedily with one hand and sinks into my core with abandon.
“Aimeeeeeeeeeee,” he grits in the curve of my neck, the feral sound spearing through me.
His hands are everywhere. Grazing the skin on my thighs, cupping my breasts. His passion pushes me to the edge, until I’m brazen enough to let out without restraint the proof of my own passion.

When I can’t tolerate the ache anymore, I pull him to me, kissing him, and rocking my hips against his. He plunges inside me, filling me, ripping whimper after whimper out of me. His mouth dusts my arms, calling my name in deep, guttural sounds that unhinge me. He increases the pace of his moves, thrusting so deep my thighs wobble. Eagerness swirls up inside me as wave after wave of pleasure engulf me, my body surging forward when my release shatters me.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: Secret Desires of a Gentleman by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-Booksecretdesiresofagentleman
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Girl Bachelors, #3
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Phillip Hawthorne
Heroine: Maria Martingale
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 06, 2009
Started On: May 16, 2019
Finished On: May 17, 2019

29 year old Maria Martingale is looking for the right place to set up her very own patisserie, when she runs smack-dab into none other than Phillip Hawthorne, the Marquess of Kayne, the man who takes her back on the memory lane from 12 years back.

Maria had been at Phillip’s mercy when he had interfered with the relationship that had blossomed between her and Phillip’s younger brother. Phillip who had always been the proper one, nary a button nor hair out of place, the man who had always taken his responsibilities seriously, a man who in Maria’s eyes would probably have ice running through his veins instead of blood.

An arrangement is struck between Maria and Phillip which puts both of them in close proximity with one another. And thus tumbles forth a story that was beautifully moving in a way that I have almost forgotten that romances could be. Because it has been that long since a book moved me as much as this one did.

Phillip’s ironclad restraint is sorely tested by Maria, who is the very opposite of what he is, bringing forth memories he had thought were no longer his to revisit and enjoy. Upon the death of his father and the debts under which his family was reeling at the time, Phillip had been forced to grow up and assume responsibility way ahead of his time. Perhaps that is the reason why he is such an excellent match for someone like Maria, who is all fire and warmth – a combination that I enjoyed so very much.

There is a poignancy to this story that stemmed from the fact that the main protagonists had a shared past. The memories of it from Phillip’s viewpoint were what moved me the most. It is usually the heroine’s emotions and musings that wreaks havoc on the reader’s emotions and provides a well spun romance with that angst factor that I love so much.

However in the Secret Desires of a Gentleman, it was the hero’s thoughts, desires, and memories that sucker-punched me with a ferocity that shook me to my core. The deep wealth of passion and desire Phillip has held in check for so long which tumbles forth, giving readers tantalizing glimpses of a man who would hold his own when it comes to a woman like Maria; beautiful, vivacious, and full of life was the best aspect of this book.

The groveling towards the end by Phillip was well done. Or I must say, the proposal. I read from a book recently that love is when you are ready to make a fool out of yourself for the one you love and don’t even realize it. That was in essence what Phillips was at the end. The epitome of gentlemanly behaviour, laying himself bare for the world to see, his love unmistakable, his desire for Maria everything she had ever wanted it to be.

I believe that this would be my favorite from the series thus far. Perhaps my favorite book from Laura Lee Gurhke herself. There is nothing more that I love than a hero that unravels so beautifully, given the right woman. Enjoyed this delightful tale in so many ways. I’ve missed books such as this, wildly evocative and emotional in depth, that one cannot help but want more.

Definitely recommended. For the emotional angst, for Phillip himself. Darling Phillip, oh how I love thee!

Final Verdict: Unraveling Phillip is a journey I would gladly go through all over again. There is just something about a buttoned up hero letting loose that speaks to this wanton heart of mine.

Favorite Quotes

Phillip tensed in his chair as she slid her fingertips beneath her braid and began to rub the nape of her neck. She was clearly unaware of his presence, and he knew that in such a situation, offering a slight cough was the appropriate thing for a gentleman to do.
He did not do it.
Instead, he remained perfectly still as she tilted her head to one side and began massaging the muscles of her shoulder and the side of her neck.
She groaned, and with that tiny sound, lust washed over him, an inexorable wave of heat and hunger that was so powerful, he could not move.

His fingers curled around the nape of her neck and his thumb pressed the underside of her jaw, lifting her face. His free arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her hard against him. She sucked in a startled breath, but she had no time to react before he bent his head and captured her lips with his.
The kiss was not tender. It was hard and hot, bruising her mouth, and yet, she felt a thrill like nothing she’d ever felt in her life before.

“What’s wrong, Phillip? Don’t you trust me?”
“I don’t—” He stopped and cleared his throat. He tilted his chin down and met her gaze in the dim light. “I don’t trust myself.”
“I do,” she whispered, and before she even realized what she was doing, she turned in his arms and pressed her lips to his.
“Then you’re a fool,” he muttered against her mouth. His hands gripped her arms as if to push her away, but then, with a groan, he pulled her hard against him.

Kneeling on the floor, he hovered above her. He was breathing hard, but he did not move.
She opened her eyes. His face above hers bore a harsh expression, almost as if he were in pain; a frown creased his forehead, drawing his dark brows together, and his glittering gaze pinned her to the seat. “Maria.”
It was a hoarse whisper. It was a question. It might have been a plea. Whatever it was, she had no time to respond before his body came over hers, the weight of his much larger frame driving the air from her lungs.

When he slid his hand inside her shirtwaist and his fingertips touched her bare skin, she jerked in sharp reaction, for just that light caress sent shards of tingling sensation through her body. When he spread his palm over her breast, shaping it through the layers of her clothing, she arched upward into his hand. “Phillip,” she moaned, “Phillip, oh, yes, oh, please, yes.”
She was pleading for more. More of what, though, she did not know. She could not even guess.
“Damn,” he swore, his lips brushing her skin, his hot breath making her shiver. “Damn, damn, damn.”

“Maria,” he ground out through clenched teeth. “For the love of God…”
He slipped his fingers inside the opening of her drawers. And then he touched her in her most intimate place, and she cried out at the sharp, piercing pleasure of it.
He began to caress her with the tip of one finger in light circles that seemed like torture. She moaned in protest of this exquisite teasing, and pressed her hips up toward his hand.
“Maria, you are so soft, the softest thing I’ve ever felt,” he murmured against her ear. “I knew you would be. I’ve always known.”

He tried one last time to warn her. “I won’t be answerable for my actions.”
“I know.”
He cupped her face, his thumbs touched her soft, soft mouth. “I’ll take your virtue.”
“That’s all right,” she whispered, her lips brushing his thumbs, sending that lust spreading throughout his body. “I won’t tell on you.”
With those words, his reason dissolved. His honor crumbled. Like a dam breaking, the hungry need for her that he’d held back for so long broke through his resolve and poured through his body like a powerful, raging flood.

Shirt and cufflinks hit the floor as she flattened her palms against his chest, and the warm touch of her hands sent his control slipping down another notch. He fought to regain it, but he couldn’t stop the groan that escaped him as she began to caress his bare skin. “Yes,” he said, his voice a harsh rasp in his throat.
“Touch me, Maria. God, yes.”
He tilted his head back, letting her explore him, savoring her curiosity even as he struggled to keep his arousal in check.

“Take off your chemise for me,” he said. “I want to watch you take it off.”
Mesmerized by the heat of his gaze and the intensity of his command, she obeyed. Reaching for the hem of her chemise, she pulled the garment up her body and over her head, then tossed it over one shoulder and shook back her hair. When she looked at him again, she sucked in a sharp breath, startled. Though his expression was grave, as always, she saw something else in his face, something she had never seen there before. Tenderness.
“Oh, God,” he whispered hoarsely. “God, Maria, you’re so lovely. Even more lovely than I imagined.”

She stared at him, appreciating that he had done this very thing to her countless times in his imagination—undressed her, kissed her, made love to her. All these years, he’d had that ribbon, and he’d thought of this, imagined this. That knowledge sent a feeling through her like nothing she’d ever felt before, a feeling beyond physical sensation, a joy so powerful it was like pain, yet so sweet that it was pleasure, and she knew Prudence had been right. She was in love with this man.

“Maria, I want to take you. I want to be inside you. Do you understand what that means?”
“Yes,” she gasped, but when she felt the tip of his shaft pushing between the feminine folds he had stroked with his tongue, she felt a wave of something different. Panic.
“Phillip?” He heard the apprehension in her questioning voice, and he paused, lifting his body above hers. “It’s time, love,” he murmured, nuzzling her throat, kissing her ear. “I’ve waited so long. I can’t wait any longer to have you.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

Format: E-Bookpunk57
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Misha Lare
Heroine: Ryen Trevarrow
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 21, 2016
Started On: April 29, 2019
Finished On: May 05, 2019

It has been seven years since Misha and Ryen started corresponding via letters as part of a school project which had paired students from both classes. Misha and Ryen had continues on that path long after the school project  is over, and become each other’s confidante along the way. At the same time, both Misha and Ryen had steered clear of using any other mediums of communication, lest what was between them become less special.

All of that changes after one fateful night when Misha completely disappears, leaving Ryen worried, wondering what it is that had put a stop to their communication with one another. At the same time, the new student at school who goes by the name Masen Laurent is far from the “friendly” sort, who manages to stir up trouble in more ways than one. In fact, Masen goes out of his way to be hostile towards Ryen, bringing all her deepest and darkest insecurities to the forefront.

Masen/Misha is on a mission that he would not deviate from and if Ryen had turned out to be less than what he had perceived her to be in his mind; what Ryen had portrayed herself to be throughout their communications, Misha is determined to bring Ryen down from the high horse upon which she is perched. However, what both Misha and Ryen do not count on is the deep-seated attraction between them which refuses to die down, no matter what.

While I enjoyed Punk 57, I would not say that this was my favorite out of every Penelope Douglas novel that I have read thus far. I found the teenage angst and drama often distracting and at certain points, I was definitely rolling my eyes. But at the heart of it all, Penelope Douglas manages to tell a decent story and also surprised me with how she brought the twists and turns into it. Through it all, Penelope managed to create characters who stood out for various reasons, some being less favorable than others.

But at the end of the day it is about where you lead your characters or perhaps where they lead you. Ryen and Misha leads you to a good place in the end and that is what matters. Misha’s confrontation with his mother was the best thing about the story for me, something that I didn’t foresee coming. Those surprises in a novel where you least expect them are the best. The lyrics that Misha writes that were very much a part of the story were highlights too. I just wish I could listen to some of them for real.

Recommended for those who love teen angst in their romances. Penelope Douglas brings in her special magic to it which makes everything work.

Final Verdict: Misha and Ryen’s journey begins at a point where everything is fraught with the ugly bits life has to offer. With Penelope’s intuitive writing, it is hard not to be caught up in the magic the story delivers.

Favorite Quotes

She arches up on her hands, meeting me halfway as her hot, little breaths fan across my lips. Her eyes fall to my mouth.
“What does it feel like?” she asks quietly, reaching a timid finger out and touching my lip piercing.
I groan, challenging her. “You tell me.”
She locks eyes with me as if scared, but then her gaze falls again to the piercing. Opening her mouth just slightly, she darts out her tongue and flicks the ring.
I groan again, unable to keep my eyes from falling shut. The wet heat from that small spot filters across my face, down my neck, and swoops low in my stomach, making my fingers dig into the leather seats.

His eyes drop to my lips, and he leans in, both of our breaths turning shallow, and I can almost taste him.
I lick my lips.
And he loses it.
He reaches down, grabs the backs of my thighs and hauls me up, and I wrap my arms and legs around him, letting out a small whimper. Yes.
I part my lips, running them over the lip ring and savoring the feel as he groans and digs his fingers into my thighs. I tighten my legs around him, needing to feel him.
“Bitch,” he whispers.
“Loser.”
And when I dart out the tip of my tongue to lick the little piece of metal again, he’s done being patient.

“Oh, my God,” she whimpers. “Masen, no.”
“Why not?” I hold her jaw, trailing kisses across her cheek as I pump my fingers inside her. “You think your friends will hate you when they find out you’re a slut who loves getting finger-fucked on a floor.”
I slide my fingers all the way in and back out a few times in long, full strokes, before bringing them up and rubbing her clit. She moans, arching her back, and my cock strains against my jeans, begging to grow.
“Yes.” She licks my lip ring, rubbing her ass into my dick. “I’m afraid they’ll find out I like it.”

“You turn me on.” He cups my face, brushing my hair away from my eyes and a tear off my cheek. “God, you turn me on. You’re driving me crazy. I want you to need my hands on you. Do you?”
I hold his eyes, seeing the pleading in his. Seeing, for the first time, the need. He’s desperate to hear me say it.
And I know right then and there I want to be the only girl he ever looks at like that.

Grabbing my waist, he brings me in close, forcing me up higher on my knees so that my breast is level with his mouth.
“Masen,” I gasp as he grabs my left nipple between his teeth, sending shocks through my system and right down between my thighs. “Oh, my God, we can’t.”
But he sucks the whole damn thing into his mouth, and I grip his shoulders, my eyes flutter closed and not giving a damn that half our class is right outside.
“Yes,” I whimper, losing my breath and wrapping one arm around his neck, holding him closer.

He suddenly pulls away from me, and I look to see him pulling his shirt over his head. I briefly see the rest of the tattoos trailing up his arm and over his shoulder, as well as the few across his chest and stomach.
He pulls me to him again, pressing his chest against mine. “I want to feel your skin on mine.”
He palms my breast with one hand while slipping the other down the back of my shorts and squeezing my ass.
I gaze into his green eyes, both of us breathing hard, but I see him pause, as if he’s suddenly not sure about something. And all of a sudden, I’m not worried about getting caught. I’m worried about him stopping.
Don’t stop.

My chest rises and falls, the incredible feeling wracking through my body, up to my head and down to my feet.
Masen lowers his hand, palming my breast before letting go. He rises up and leans over me, putting a hand on the door behind me to hold himself up as he unbuttons his jeans. My heart picks up pace again.
His hard eyes stare down at me, filled with lust. “Take off the thong, or I’m ripping it off.”

He kisses me, and I barely have time to adjust to him before he pulls out and thrusts back in, stretching me so good.

“Oh, God.” The sounds of the movie play in the distance, and I hear the muffled voices of people not far off.
But all I see is him. His lips hovering over mine, his breath warming my skin, his fucking that’s getting harder and faster as he thrusts between my thighs.
I look up, seeing his hand still gripping the door, the muscles in his arms bulging and tight.
“Look at me,” he whispers.
I drop my eyes back down as I lick his piercing and hear him growl under his breath.

“Masen,” I beg, licking and biting his neck and feeling myself coming again. “It feels so good.”
He slides a hand under my ass and nestles in deeper, grunting as he fucks me rougher. I hear a noise underneath us, from the truck, and I cast a worried glance around. “Go slow!” I plead. “The truck…”
But he growls and comes down, kissing and biting my lips. I slide my hands down, gripping his ass and keeping him close, and he thrusts his dick inside me again and again.
“Yes, yes,” I moan over and over, feeling another orgasm crest as I taunt him with quick, little kisses.

“Show me what you do with it,” I beg.
Her eyes flash up to me, worry and nervousness written all over her face.
I glide my fingers over her hard nipples. “I’ll love everything you do. I promise.”
She shakes her head.
I grip her breast harder, a little whimper catching in her throat.
“Do it now,” I growl, demanding.
Her head falls back, and she squirms a little, clearly turned on, and I moan in her ear, my dick fucking solid.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Lachlan’s Protégé by V.F. Mason

Format: E-Booklachlansprotege.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lachlan (Kaden Scott)
Heroine: Valencia Moore
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: August 15, 2018
Started On: April 19, 2019
Finished On: May 05, 2019

Lachlan’s Protégé by V.F. Mason is spectacular in the spellbinding tale it delivers. Like one of the reviewers on Goodreads has mentioned, V.F. Mason is unapologetic in the way she writes, the darkness that she brings to her stories, and the anti-heroes that she creates.

While Lachlan’s Protégé pretty much gives out similar vibes as Psychopath’s Prey, there are of course the differences that made this book worth every minute I spent reading it. Lachlan’s Protégé begins at a point where other stories would perhaps be reaching their climax. It is the way V.F. Mason puts it forth, taking readers back and forth along a journey where you cannot help but be invested in the lives of the characters you are reading about.

Lachlan, otherwise known as Kaden Scott, is an enigma amongst the circles within which he moves. Lachlan has one goal in life – to seek out the man upon whom he wants revenge. And if it means getting to that goal through Valencia Moore, an innocent who remains largely unaware of the evil that had been so close to her, so be it. In Lachlan’s mind there is no line that he would not cross to reach ultimate victory. What he never counted on perhaps, was that his need for Valencia would surpass his desire for vengeance above everything else.

Lachlan’s Protégé is not an easy read by any means. There is a wealth of emotion packed into this story as it takes readers through the lives of the younger versions of Valencia and Lachlan, both seeming to intertwine at one point. Valencia lives a sheltered life, pretty much clueless to the darker emotions that had clouded the marriage between her parents, which had ultimately broken up, with her mother having never given her any reasons as to why.

Lachlan is the character that makes you bleed profusely in cuts that are small and yet lethal. It makes you cringe in fear and also weep for the boy he was, who through no fault of his own finds himself prey to the darkest elements of society. Being abused at such a tender age, and reaching adulthood pretty much the same way has left its mark on Lachlan, something he refuses to give up, something he harnesses as his weapon of destruction of the same kind who preys on the most innocent and vulnerable.

The ending when it came was spectacular in the way everything came together. What I loved the most was reading the epilogue. Even knowing that Lachlan would never conform to the “norms” that society expects of a “hero”, there is no other sentiment in my heart but love for him. Love for the little boy he was who grew up in a world so cruel, love for the man he was, and love for the man he would always be.

There is a certain kind of acceptance that we all go through when we enter into long-term relationships or marriage with our better halves. For Victoria, it is an acceptance that reaches far beyond what normal couples would have to. But knowing what she knows of Lachlan and what she means to him, even though he may never say the words, it is in the way he lights up her world in all the ways that matter.

This story leaves me with a deeply resonating message. We as a society need to talk more about these kinds of issues, what it means to generations that grow up having gone through abuse so vile that we cannot even comprehend what it is like. We need to do more to weed out the evil, to protect the vulnerable. But we cannot hope to do that if we are unwilling to open our minds and hearts to what it means to actually undergo abuse as such, what it could do to the psychology of the person who undergoes that abuse. People spend their entire lives going through therapy and psychiatric treatment for the same. Seeing the abuser meet a violent end, is perhaps the only cathartic experience under such circumstances.

Final Verdict: Thought provoking and gut wrenching; there is darkness through which light seeps. The best one can hope for is for the light and dark to coexist. Recommended.

Favorite Quotes

Nipping on her sensitive skin, I still her in my arms. Her back arches under my touch when I kick her legs apart a little and slide my hand lower to her pussy. “Do you see how gorgeous she is? Flushed, against me, with her body begging me to touch her and pleasure her. Why would I need any reason but that to want her?” Sucking on her earlobe, I quickly bite it before skimming my lips over her ear, and whisper, “What would you want me to do, Valencia? All this sassy attitude needs punishment, doesn’t it?” She moans, pressing harder against me. “Do you need my fingers?” I probe her a little, just enough to give her clit a little friction through her leggings. “My tongue? I remember you could get off on it for hours.”

He spins me around and crushes his mouth to mine, changing my question into a moan as he slides his hands down my ass and hikes me up, leaving me no choice but to wrap my legs around him while my arms circle his neck.
His kiss is demanding, passionate yet punishing in a way that brings me pain along with pleasure. As if he wants me to forever remember the imprint of it but at the same time hates that he is doing it.
Hates that he needs me.

“Look at you, all flushed and ready for the taking. I could fuck you against the wall now and you’d scratch my back, welcoming every thrust. Right, Valencia?” he prompts, bending me forward, and then I feel my breasts press against the bed, the movement arching my ass up to him, and his hand palms it, molding and then squeezing, earning himself a moan. “But that’s not how I will give it to you tonight. You deserve to be denied a little for all the fucking hell you put me through.” And that’s when he spanks me, his palm bouncing off my ass cheek, and I still.

When I’m about to lose my freaking mind, he rises up, unbinds my wrists, and I hear the foil packet being ripped open. Then I feel him nudge against me, sliding his cock up and down over my heat, spreading the wetness all over me. He murmurs, “Fucking finally,” and enters me, stretching me wide, not even giving me time to adjust to his cock as he drags it out and slides back in, matching my gasp with his as we both groan.
He is right.
Fucking finally.

A moan slips past my lips, and he lets go of my mouth, trailing kisses down my neck while I throw my head back, groaning at his bites that will for sure leave marks for everyone to see.
I don’t dwell on it much as he rolls my shirt over my head and sends it flying behind me. His tongue circles my pointed nipple and licks the tip but then bites on it hard. I cry out in pain, scratching the back of his head, but still seeking his touch as it sends prickles of electricity through my skin.
“There is beauty in the ache, angel,” he rasps, immediately licking the abused flesh and driving me even wilder. “I know you like it long and hard, darling, but tonight it’s going to be only hard.”

I hear the belt buckle being unfastened, and then he places his palms on my knees, bringing me closer to the edge, and with one swift move, he flips me over again, and we end up on the floor, with me straddling him once more. My head goes dizzy and I can barely comprehend what’s going on, as he growls in approval.
“Have to keep you off-balance so you feel nothing but this.” And that’s when he enters me, filling me to the hilt. My arms automatically wrap around his neck as my cry echoes in the room, followed by his low groan, our lips inches away from each other.

My body aches, my nipples pucker, and I moan around the head before sucking on it lightly. What I’m doing must send vibrations through him, because I’m roughly hauled up, and without giving me a chance to take a breath, he tears the nightgown away. I only have time to blink as he throws me on the bed where I bounce, ending up on my back.
My heart stills and then gallops again as I see the expression on his face when he removes the strands of hair that fell over my face.
I think the gentle part has ended and I’m about to be fucked hard.

Sucking her neck, I make sure to leave my mark on it so she’ll always fucking remember who makes her body ache, and before she knows what’s happening, I enter her with one swift move, digging my fingers into her ass, adjusting her for a better angle.
Fuck, she is tight, so fucking tight I almost lose it right there. I catch my breath as she cries out and wraps her legs around me, pushing into my ass. “Move, Lachlan.”
“You are not in charge, darling,” I say, thrusting deep as her breath hitches. “I am.”

Her pussy clenches around me, her mouth hangs open, and her eyes fill with pleasure. A cry tears out of her throat and she falls back on the pillow, her chest rising and falling, my cock still drilling inside her, deeper, deeper, and deeper, finding solace in her heat and seeking the calmness only she can give me.
Then I feel it. The tingling of my spine, my balls draw closer, and finally I spill into her as pleasure unlike anything I’ve experienced before washes over me, almost knocking me out completely.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: The Marriage Bed by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-Bookthemarriagebed
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Guilty, #3
Publisher: Avon
Hero: John Hammond
Heroine: Viola Courtland
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 28, 2005
Started On: April 24, 2019
Finished On: April 28, 2019

The only instance that I am glad when I am “too late to the party” is when I discover an author with a treasure trove of books worth digging through. Laura Lee Guhrke has been that for me ever since I stumbled across her title And Then He Kissed Her. Since then, I have been reading her books on and off again, and I have enjoyed each of those reads immensely. Laura Lee Guhrke is the kind of author who does away with the details that are not needed, brings just enough angst to the developing story, and delivers so beautifully on the sexual tension she builds along the way.

I came across this particular title in my continued search for similar books as that of Sherry Thomas’ novel, Ravishing the Heiress. It is a novel that has been on my re-reads shelf since I first read the book in 2012. I wanted a similar kind of story that would deliver a ton of angst, and though both the stories have a great number of differences to them, I loved each in their own way.

It is 1833, and it is common knowledge among the peers of London that Lord and Lady Hammond (John Hammond and Lady Viola Courtland) cannot stand each other. Each goes out of their way to avoid one another, an estrangement that has lasted nine years which had definitely left its mark, especially on Viola who had felt the betrayal anew every single time John had taken on a new mistress in the wake of their separation.

A sudden turn of events changes things overnight, when suddenly John wants an heir from Viola, which means a return to their marriage bed, a thought that scares and repels Viola at the same time. Viola had stumbled head over heels in love with John when she had laid eyes on him at the tender age of 17, and that love she believes has long since died a painful death, buried deep within the scarred remnants of her heart.

John is adamant that Viola return to him, even though Viola makes him work to earn his entrance back into her life, bit by painful bit. John is a man who has never understood or perhaps known love in its purest of forms. Childhood had left its mark on the boy he had been, who had grown into adulthood without understanding the very nature of love and how to reciprocate that feeling in return.

When responsibility of his title had been thrust upon him, he had not been ready to take it on, especially not with the mountain of debt that had come along with it. Marriage to Viola had been a practical decision for him, but the one thing that had not changed is how his wife still has the ability to seduce him in ways he had never forgotten.

What makes The Marriage Bed stand out is how Ms. Guhrke handles everything. Without vilifying any particular character, she does an admirable job of bringing to light the complexities of human emotions and the ties that bind us when all is said and done. Viola had been young, with a heart full of passion and love, which was not reciprocated on the part of John, especially the part on love. A man who keeps his past buried and buried well, John does a good job of hiding from the demons that haunt him, a fact that comes to light as these two come together once again.

While what John had done while married to Viola would not win him any points, he did what any man in his position would have done, especially during the time. His wife had turned him away, and he had been too proud to ask her what it is that had made her do what she did. Viola’s maturity years later and her friend Daphne’s advice played a huge role in changing her perception of John towards the end, and giving their marriage a chance once again. Their marriage had been all about passion at the beginning, with no time taken to get to know one another, to find a common ground – which as Daphne explains, is important for any long lasting relationship.

At certain points in the beginning (since I never did read the first or second book in the series before jumping into this title), I disliked Viola and her at times seemingly impetuous nature. However, I fell completely in love with her at a very significant point in the book towards the end, and I believe Ms. Guhrke made the journey towards that a very worthy one. I absolutely adored the ending. Definitely could not have asked for more after all the emotional upheavals that the story delivered, in spades.

Final Verdict: Unconventional and realistic, with characters who are extremely flawed making the story relatable on many levels. Ms. Guhrke definitely knows how to tell a story!

Favorite Quotes

“Don’t. People are watching us.”
Being John, he ignored that. “If you have forgotten all about passion, and it is my fault, then I need to rectify my mistake, don’t you think?”
“John—” She broke off, forgetting whatever she’d been about to say as he kissed her ear and his thumb began to caress the line of her jaw.
“I could think of all sorts of ways to remind you,” he went on. “If you let me.”

He made a rough sound against her mouth and broke the kiss. He leaned sideways and with a sweep of his arm cleared the desk, sending the stack of books toppling off the side and onto the floor. Then his hands cupped her buttocks and he lifted her to set her on the desk.
He reached for the sash wrapped around her waist, untying the bow with a hard, quick tug. He parted the edges and pulled her dressing robe apart. His fingertips touched her breasts through her nightgown, brushing back and forth over the hardened nipples. Pleasure rose within her, pleasure long forgotten, pleasure that made her gasp and shiver with excitement.

His body was wet, his mouth was hot, and the feel of both disintegrated any resistance left in her. Like a dam breaking, the hunger she had been holding back for years was unleashed in an instant. With a cry, she turned and wrapped her arms around his neck. She caught his mouth with hers and kissed him, a hungry, open-mouthed kiss borne of being so long without him, of being alone and hurting. She clung to him now, kissing him with all the passion she had denied to him and to herself.

He pressed his hips against her, and she felt his arousal, hot and hard against her tummy. She took him in her hand, her fingers not able to completely surround his shaft, and she stroked him, her hand exploring the shape, a shape still so familiar.
He stopped her. “I want to be inside you,” he said with sudden urgency. He grasped both her hands in his and pulled them both down onto the bed. Then he rolled her onto her back and his knee moved between her thighs, urging her legs to part.
“Open for me,” he groaned, settling his body over her, resting his weight on his forearms. “Now, Viola, now.”

He gave a hoarse cry smothered against her hair and slid his arms beneath her, crushing her against him as if he couldn’t get her close enough, thrusting as deep as he could. He shuddered violently as his own pleasure was at last unleashed, and his body went rigid as the warmth of his climax poured from him into her.
He collapsed on top of her, breathing hard against the pillow. His hand came up to stroke her cheek. “Viola,” he groaned. “Oh, God, Viola.” He sucked in deep breaths of air, pressing kisses against her hair and her ear and her temple. “Meant it,” he told her in a hoarse, fierce whisper. “Meant every damn word.”

He made a rough sound and stopped her. He caught her hands and shoved them away. Gripping her shoulders, he pulled her to her feet. He kissed her hard and his hands began tugging at her skirts, pulling them up, quick and desperate, out of control.
Tossing up yards of silk and muslin, he wadded her skirts between them, then he gripped her buttocks in his hands and lifted her. “Wrap your legs around me,” he ordered, and when she did, he impaled her against him as he pressed her back against the wall.
“Oh God, oh God,” he groaned, and thrust into her hard—once, twice. Then he came, tremors running through his body as he climaxed.

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

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Review: Preacher Man by Jessa Kane

Format: E-Bookpreacherman
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Erotic Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Joseph Stark
Heroine: Mila
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: February 23, 2019
Started On: April 10, 2019
Finished On: April 10, 2019

I’ve done it.
I’ve made her my wife.
I’ve satisfied her.
I’ve claimed her, made her mine.

Preacher Man is a classic example of a properly done novella that delivers nothing but a healthy dose of smut. My first Jessa Kane turned out to be delightful in many ways, and perhaps delightful is too tame a word to convey the kind of scenes that she delivers in this short story.

Preacher Man is told in the first person, in both the hero (Joseph Stark) and the heroine (Mila)’s point of view. Mila is drawn to Joseph like a moth to a burning flame, as if the glow from the fire has been growing brighter by the day, beckoning the “evil” within her, or so she thinks. Little does she know that the town’s new preacher, who turned up just a year back, is just as drawn to her as she is to him.

Joseph is a man who is the furthest thing from a preacher. Having led a questionable life in the past, Joseph is a man with enemies who could do anyone he brings close to him a lot of harm. However, even that does not stop his possessive self from claiming innocent Mila as his own and ensure that she is his, forever.

I loved the short story this delivered, perhaps the perfect antidote from the lackluster reads that had disappointed the romance reader in me from the couple of books I had finished just prior to this. At least with a novella, you understand that there would not be much character building that would happen, but in Preacher Man, Kane did just enough to satisfy the need in me to make an emotional connection with the readers. I would have been disappointed had it been otherwise.

While there was an aspect to the story that I could have done without (I have never understood this need to call your partner daddy and I don’t think I ever will), I enjoyed the rest of the book with the sheer abandon that comes only from having a great book in your hands.

The epilogue tucked at the end made my day. I so love myself a hopelessly smitten couple, and a dangerous hero (otherwise), who is nothing but a possessive sweetheart when it comes to the woman he loves, above all else.

Recommended if you love a good smutty novella.

Final Verdict: Smut of the feel good variety! Kane delivers steam that accelerates not just your pulse but sets into overdrive your imagination in ways you never thought possible!

Favorite Quotes

“You wore this scrap of nothing to tease me, didn’t you?” I growl, ripping my mouth away so I can see her face when I thrust my cock into the notch of her thighs. Watching Mila’s eyes roll into the back of her head, feeling her legs begin to shake, I do it again and press my mouth to her ear. “You knew you’d break me.”
“I hoped so,” she hiccupped, her knees digging into my ribs. “I’ve been hurting so bad.”
“Shhh. I’m going to make it all better.” I lick my way through the hollow of her throat, using my hold on her bottom to ride her up and down my cock. “I’m going to fuck the ache away every day for the rest of your life.”

More moisture coats my thighs under Joseph’s watchful blue eyes and he groans, falling to his knees on the floor, lunging forward on his elbows to lick me straight up the center. A scream catches in my throat, my vision wavering. H-he licked me. There. A sensation I’ve never known gathers in my middle, a storm full of thunderheads preparing to break. And that’s before Joseph finds that secret nub at the very top of my flesh—I never thought to look that high—batting it with his tongue, before lightly sucking. Then he’s alternating between the gentle suction and rolling the flat of his tongue over me, side to side, teasing it with quick, little flickers.
“Oh my God,” I scream, my head thrashing side to side on the pillow, wrists yanking at the bonds. “My God, my God, my God.”

I can’t wait any longer,” I growl, coming to a kneel and unbuttoning my shirt as fast as I can, ripping it off and throwing it aside. Until I’m shirtless, I forget my tattoos have been hidden from view since coming to town.
But I remember when Mila’s eyes go as wide as silver dollars.
“Daddy,” she breathes, raking me with her gaze. “You are a bad man.”
With my teeth bared, I take hold of the neckline of her dress and rip it down the center, leaving her completely naked. My personal virgin sacrifice—and she’s even more incredible than I could have ever envisioned with her dusky nipples, rounded hips and open thighs. I take my cock and smack it against her pussy, spend dribbling from my tip to slip into her folds. “I’m your bad man now, little girl.”

I grind down one more time on his ample girth and let myself fly. Coming. I’m coming. Freefalling through a star studded night sky, my eyes rolling back in my head and everything below my waist squeezing hard, pulsating, pulsating and then I can do nothing but shake while relief courses through me, adrenaline still whipping in my blood stream. And love. My heart won’t let me forget about that.
I watch through half-mast eyes as the man who embodies love to me groans through the throes of his own peak, his hips jackknifing up and lifting me out of the water, his hands yanking me up and back, up and back on his lap, forcing me to ride him straight through to the end, the warmth of his spend jetting inside me.

“Brace your hands on the tree,” I rasp, unbuckling the belt of my dress pants. “I’m in need.”
“Me too,” she hiccups, doing as she’s told.
The act of lifting her hands has raised the hem of her white dress and I lift it higher now, overcome by the sight of her thighs, her supple butt cheeks. An emerald green strap of silk is tucked down the center—one of the new thongs I bought her—and I pull those panties down now, letting them fall at her ankles. I reach around the front of her body to slide a finger through the folds of her pussy, ensuring she’s warm, wet and ready, before I grip my cock and cram it up inside her, grunting into her smooth neck, growing louder with every inch she accepts. “Tilt your hips back,” I growl.

I reach under my dress and tug down my panties, goose bumps flying up my skin at Joseph’s starved expression, the way he groans when my panties hit the sand, that huge part of him bulging behind his fly. Wide eyed, I bite my lip and hitch my legs up around his waist. “Is it playtime, Daddy?”
Joseph fumbles with his zipper and finds my entrance with his erection, bouncing me five, six, seven times until I’m fully impaled and we’re both moaning. “It’s always playtime when we’re alone, little girl.”
And with the sea roaring behind us, we play fiercely, we love obsessively.
We begin our forever.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

Format: E-Bookahungerlikenoother_kresleycole
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Immortals After Dark, #2
Publisher: Pocket Star
Hero: Lachlain MacRieve
Heroine: Emmaline Troy
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: March 28, 2006
Started On: January 25, 2019
Finished On: April 10, 2019

A Hunger Like No Other is the second book in the Immortals After Dark (IAD) series by Kresley Cole. Having read the first book in the series, I remained somewhat confused by the characters that seemed to come and go, and the concepts that Cole explores in these books. Or maybe I am just dumber than the average reader, most of whom have nothing but wonderful things to say about the series.

A Hunger Like No Other is a novel that has been listed as one of the best romances published throughout the years. This book is one reason why I have been wanting to give the IAD series a go. Though I remain confused even after I was done with the story, and currently have no intentions of going through the rest of the books (though this might change if I get bored enough and want to read something different), I did enjoy bits and pieces of the story as it unfolded.

The second book in the IAD series tells the story of Emmaline Troy, aka Emma the Timid, half vampire, half Valkyrie and Lachlain MacRieve, King of the Lykae. Lachlain has been a captive for thousands of years until he scents his mate above the catacombs of Paris in which he has been held prisoner. There is very little Lachlain would not do to claim his mate and that is how the story begins, with Lachlain making his escape and going in pursuit of Emma.

Emma’s character was harder to place for me; she grew up in the care of her foster mother and “aunts” who knew their place in life unlike Emma. Her need to seek answers about her parents had been the reason behind her visit to Paris, and in the course of the events that takes place after meeting Lachlain, she finds that the truth can be often harder to digest than going through life not knowing what that entails.

Lachlain’s struggles with the nightmares left behind from his captivity prove to be why his character came off more authentic than that of Emma. Through all of it, there was no doubt when it comes to his true devotion to Emma and her pleasure, even at the cost of hurting his own self. From Emma, that did not materialize until towards the latter half of the novel, until the point at which she redeemed herself.

I just wish that the multitude of characters in the novel were related in a manner that is more coherent than it is now, so that the dumber than average reader (like myself) can make sense out of it all, without feeling totally lost as if in the midst of an untraversed jungle.

Recommended for fans of the series, fans of urban fantasy novels with a healthy dose of romance, and fans of Kresley Cole.

Final Verdict: Lachlain’s devotion to his mate for life, Emma, is reason enough to dig through the story to get to the good stuff. Loved all that was Lachlain.

Favorite Quotes

He flicked his claw down her blouse and sliced it and the flimsy bra beneath open, then slowly brushed the halves past her breasts. She struggled, but it was useless against his strength. He studied her with a greedy gaze as rain splattered down, stinging her naked breasts. She was shivering uncontrollably.
His pain was so sharp it nauseated her. He could take her or he could tear open her unprotected belly and kill her….
Instead he ripped open his own shirt, then placed his huge palms against her back to draw her to his chest. He groaned when their skin touched, and electricity seemed to flash through her. Lightning split the sky.

He bent down to wash her legs front and back, and scrubbed the grass and mud from her knees. When he rubbed toward her upper thighs, she shoved her legs together. He gave a frustrated growl, then stood to draw her back against his chest, until she could feel him prodding her. He started the same leisurely exploration of her front, one arm bent by her side, his hand clasping her shoulder.
Suddenly his callused palm cupped her breast. She would fight, or scream—
“Your skin’s so damn soft,” he murmured in her ear. “Soft as the silk you wore.”
She shivered. One compliment, and Emma—who’d never suspected she was easy—relaxed somewhat.

“But you said,” she whispered, devastated that she’d believed him. She hated being lied to, especially since she could never lie back. “You said….”
He stilled. With a deep growl, he released her leg and hit the wall again. Her eyes widened when he grabbed her and turned her around. Right when she was about to scratch him, bite him, he pulled her into his arms again, her back against his chest. He shoved her hand to his erection, inhaling sharply at the first touch. His voice gone guttural, he said, “Stroke me.”

She resisted for longer than he would’ve if he’d been starved. Finally she dabbed the tip of her tongue at her lip, then licked there. Her eyes turned silver. To his shock, he went instantly hard.
Her small fangs shot longer. She had sunk them into his arm before he could blink.
With the first draw, her eyelids fluttered closed and she moaned; he went dizzy with sexual pleasure, feeling on the verge of coming.

He placed his hand on her thigh, rubbing upward, but she withdrew her fangs and flung herself away, rolling to her side. He sat on his haunches in shock, trying to compose himself, baffled by his reaction.
“Emmaline,” he said in a broken voice as he took her shoulder and turned her to her back. His eyes widened as her wee fangs grew smaller. Her eyes turned blue once more, and she rolled them with apparent ecstasy, falling back, her pale arms over her head. As she stretched and writhed, her nipples puckered tighter. Then she gazed up at him with her full, red lips curling. The lass had a smile such as he’d never known—

Unable to stop herself, she eased forward, took his shirt with her fists, and sank her fangs into his skin. Rich warmth and pleasure exploded within her, and she moaned against him. She felt his groan reverberating beneath her lips. When she almost toppled over from the rush of sensation, he bit out, “Straddle…me.”

“Release me from my vow, Emmaline.”
She didn’t respond, wouldn’t release him, and damn it, it had begun to matter to him if he broke his word to her. Her only answer was spreading her knees wider over him, then slowly, sensuously rubbing his length between her legs, with only his trews and her silk between them. “Ah, God, yes, Emma,” he grated, shuddering with need, disbelieving that she was doing this to him.

“Tell me one thing about you that I doona know,” he demanded.
When able to force her gaze to his face, she debated, then finally said, “I went to college and got a degree in popular culture.”
He appeared impressed, but of course he hadn’t been around this time long enough to know that most people thought pop culture was a do-you-want-fries-with-that degree. He nodded, turning toward his room, and because he didn’t expect her to, she said, “Tell me one thing.”
When he faced her again, he did appear surprised she’d asked. His voice gravelly, he answered, “I think you’re the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen.”

“Emma.”
His voice was broken.
“Hold out for as long as you can,” she said, stroking his length once. His eyes closed with pleasure.
He felt her breath first, making him shudder. Then her slick lips, then her tongue darting and flicking over his flesh. Ah, she had a wicked little tongue—
Sweet God, her bite.
He gave an anguished groan, falling back on the bed, only to immediately raise his hand to cup her face and his head to watch her mouth on his cock. He was a twisted man…. “I had…no idea. Always like this,” he growled. “Always.”

She perceived him moving, then…felt his mouth on her sex. She cried out with shock and pleasure. He was lying on his back beneath her, her knees spread over his face, his arms wrapped over her back, hugging her down. She couldn’t move if she tried.
He groaned against her, arms tightening if possible. “Dreamed of tasting you again,” he growled. “Almost as much as fucking.”

“Oh, God, yes! Lachlain, please.”
He drew his tongue from her, entering his finger. “Please what?”
She was panting, near mindless. “Please make me for once…please let me have—”
“Come,” he commanded, with a palm coming down on her ass and a thrust of his finger as he resumed sucking and licking. She screamed and her body clenched instantly, shuddering her through her first orgasm, making her accept the explosion of pleasure. His hands were on her, roughly palming her cheeks, shoving her against his mouth, licking relentlessly.

He put one arm solidly around her waist. “Waited so long to be inside you.” He ran his other arm under her, over her breast, and clenched her shoulder from underneath, holding her immobile. “I claim you for my own.” He plunged into her.
She screamed again, this time in pain.
“Ah, God,” he groaned. “So tight,” he bit out with another buck of his hips. She was so clenched around him he could scarcely move.
She gasped, her eyes watering from the searing pain. She’d known they wouldn’t fit.

Licking, biting, suckling her, slaking his lust on his mate. Unable to tamp down yells, growls, his need to taste her wet flesh. Too rough with her. Needed to fuck her harder. Couldn’t stop driving into her.
With the last of his will, he shoved himself away from her.
Her claws rent the ground in frustration, her hips undulating for him. “Why?” she cried.
“Canna hurt you.” His voice was not his own.
“Please…come back inside me.”
“You want this? Like I am?”
“Yes…need you…exactly as you are. Please, Lachlain! I feel it too.”
The moon had claimed her too? At her words, he gave himself over to it.

But they only made it to an empty hall before he pressed her against the wall, cupped her neck, and demanded once again, “You’ll stay with me?”
“Always.” Her hips arched up to him. “You love me?”
“Always, Emmaline,” he grated against her lips. “Always. So damn much you make me mad with it.”
When she moaned softly, he lifted her so she could wrap her legs around his waist. He knew he couldn’t have her here, but the reasons why grew hazy with her breaths in his ear.

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

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