Review: It Must Be Love by Rachel Gibson

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: AVON
Hero: Joseph Andrew Shanahan
Heroine: Gabrielle Breedlove
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 07, 2000
Started On: July 28, 2021
Finished On: July 29, 2021

Needing to read a book that would bring all the feels and then some, I decided to take something out of the backlist of Rachel Gibson’s published works, and found myself reading It Must be Love, bringing together two protagonists who are the very opposite of each other in every single sense.

35 year old Joseph Andrew Shanahan (Joe) is a law enforcement officer who has been shadowing the moves of 28 year old Gabrielle Breedlove for the past couple of days. Fifteen years as a police officer, and Gabrielle is the first person to get the jump on him, which hurts his pride. Gabrielle and her business partner Kevin comes under investigation upon suspicion of using their curio shop to deal in stolen antiques, and Joe remains unconvinced that Gabrielle might be as innocent as she claims to be.

Forced to play boyfriend-girlfriend for Joe to get the evidence he requires means that the situation creates for the kind of moments that makes it hard to turn away from the blistering heat and desire that flares to life between them. Neither Gabrielle nor Joe believes that they are right for each other, but then there is no denying the other half of your soul, is there?

I had such fun reading this novel, and picking this was the right choice at the time. I love the uniqueness that is Ms. Gibson in her books – she brings together the classic alpha male who literally makes you swoon and then some, and it is always an experience to see how the smart-ass heroine brings them to their knees before all is said and done.

Like I said earlier, Joe and Gabrielle are the antithesis of each other, which makes it hard for either of them to see the qualities that actually draws them together. Joe, who has a colorful childhood growing up with four older sisters, is chauvinistic in his way, and wants a woman who is low maintenance, would be a good housewife (after all, he does not like to cook), would pick up after him, and also enjoy fabulous uninhibited sex of the kind that he does.

Meanwhile Gabrielle, who has an unconventional childhood at best traveling across the country with a mother who claimed to have psychic powers after their “summer of awakening”, wants a man who is enlightened and physically appealing – a tough combo to find if ever there was one. Gabrielle would rather chew her arm off than admit to the fact that Joe gets under her skin in a way that makes it impossible for her to deny how much she is affected by everything that is Joe.

However, being forced to engage as a couple means looking beyond their initial impressions and finding common ground, which leads them to give in to the heady desire and strong connection between them. While both Gabrielle and Joe are reluctant in their own ways, Joe has a harder time reconciling with his reaction towards a woman whom he considers to be crazy and not so right in the head.

I loved Joe, his chauvinism and all – I found it adorable the way he fell so helplessly for the woman who drove him stir-crazy in many ways. I loved Gabrielle too; for all her need for an enlightened man, she is no match for the charm and intensity that is Joe in every sense. Yin to her yang, it is Joe that resists towards the end, until he too of course has no choice left, but to surrender. I also had such fun getting acquainted with Gabrielle’s mother, Joe’s family, alongside with the unruly mouthed parrot of Joe’s!

Recommended for fans of Ms. Gibson and romances that features two opposites, whose journey towards their happily ever after is always a delight!

Final Verdict: It is nothing but love that draws together two people at odds with each other; what is fascinating is their journey towards reconciling with that love, which is where Ms. Gibson excels at!

Favorite Quotes

The kiss was tender, almost sweet, and she fought to keep her eyes open, fought to remind herself that the lips brushing hers, as if he really were her lover, belonged to a hard-nosed cop with a black aura. But at that moment, his aura didn’t feel black. It felt red, the sultry hot red of passion, his passion, surrounding them both and urging her to surrender to his persuasive touch.
She lost the fight. Her eyes slid closed and her lips parted. He coaxed her mouth open, and his tongue touched hers, hot and slick and enticing a response. She pressed her mouth against his, deepening the kiss, and gave herself to the sensations surging through her. He smelled good. He tasted better.

Teasing even as he soothed her with his mouth. Her position against the wall arched her back and thrust her breasts into his hard chest. Her nipples drew tight, and when he deepened the kiss, Gabrielle got all squishy inside. Hot liquid pooled low in her abdomen and dragged a moan from deep within her chest. She heard it but barely recognized it as coming from her.
Then she heard something like Joe clearing his throat, but standing within the hypnotic influence of his deep red aura, she wondered how he could clear his throat when his tongue was in her mouth.
“When you get done with the handyman, Gabe, I need you to look over those invoices for that damaged shipment of sushi plates.”

“You don’t believe I’m trigger happy?”
She shook her head. “I don’t believe you’re reckless, or that you’d take someone’s life unless you weren’t given a choice.”
“Maybe I’m as cold-blooded as the papers said. How do you know?”
She answered what she knew to be true in her heart. “Because I know your soul, Joe Shanahan.”
Joe looked into her clear green eyes, and he almost believed she could see inside him and know something he didn’t know with absolute certainty.
She licked her lips, and he watched the tip of her tongue slide to the corner of her mouth. Then she did something that stopped his heart and sent pure lust slamming into his groin. She bent her head and kissed his thigh.
“I know you’re a good man.”

He reached for her and covered her mouth with his. He recognized the taste of her full, sweet lips, as if they were lovers. As if he’d known her forever. He slanted his head to one side, and her mouth opened to him, hot and slick and welcoming. He felt her shudder as his tongue touched hers. Her arms twined around his neck, and she clung to him. The front of her bibbed dress brushed his bare chest, while her hips arched toward him, pressing into his rock-hard erection. Joe grasped her waist, and instead of playing it smart and shoving her away, he ground his pelvis up against her. The pleasure was exquisite and painful. Throbbing agony and ecstasy, and he wanted more from her than a kiss.

He opened his mouth to tell her she had great breasts, but all that came out was a tangle of swear words as he spread the bead of oil across the tip and circled her puckered flesh.
Gabrielle swayed and placed one of her hands on the back of his neck. She pressed her moist lips to his and gently sucked his tongue into her mouth. Joe smeared oil all over soft breasts and smooth belly. He wanted her. He’d never wanted anything like he wanted to give into the aching lust pounding his groin.

“Do you remember the night I walked into your backyard and found you floating in the kiddie pool?”
“Mmm-hmm.”
“I wanted to do this.” He leaned over her and placed his palms beneath her shoulders. He lifted, then nestled his face in her cleavage. He placed soft kisses between her breasts as she ran her hands across his bare shoulders and down his smooth back. She wrapped one leg around his waist and pressed into him. A low groan tumbled deep in his throat as he pressed back, shoving his hard erection against her crotch. Everything in her consciousness focused on him, the pleasure of his touch, and the dull ache between her legs.

“Put your hands behind your head,” she ordered.
Suspicion shone in his eyes, but he did as she asked. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to blow your mind.”
“That’s a bold statement.”
Gabrielle just smiled. She’d taken six months of belly dancing, just enough to know how to roll and undulate real good. She raised her hands high in the air and rotated her hips as she swayed. She closed her eyes and lost herself in the feeling of him touching her deep inside. “You like this?”
“God—d da—mn!”
Her smile grew, and with him buried deep inside, she blew his mind.

He knelt before her, placed her foot on his shoulder, and grasped her behind in his big hand. He combed his finger through her short pubic hair, then tilted her pelvis toward his mouth and kissed her there. She leaned her head back against the shower wall as the tension inside her built tighter and tighter. Then he stood and she wrapped her legs around his waist. His smooth, hot erection slid against her bottom, and she shivered.
“This is my favorite part,” he said, lifting, then lowering her onto his engorged penis, burying himself deep inside. “Touching you where you’re all hot and slick. Where it feels so good. Where you feel so good.”

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

Review: A Daring Proposition by Miranda Lee

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Guy Haywood
Heroine: Samantha Peters
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 1992
Started On: July 26, 2021
Finished On: July 27, 2021

A Daring Proposition by Miranda Lee delves into the story of 25 year old Samantha Peters, who has been in love with her 36 year old boss Guy Haywood for the past five years. The unrequited love becomes too much for Samantha to handle, and the story begins when she informs Guy of her intention to quit which needless to say, is not well received at all.

Guy finds it hard to believe the reasons Samantha gives for wanting to quit and walk away, especially when he sees no problems with the working relationship that they have going. Unable to stop Samantha from leaving, things however change, when Guy’s father is hospitalized, and Samantha finds the solution to her problem; become the mother to the baby that Guy wants, without having to go through the conventional route of marriage to do so.

Samantha believes herself to be sophisticated enough to handle such a “relationship” with Guy, but reality of course, proves her wrong at every turn. Guy meanwhile, has to confront with the fact that Samantha is not what he has pegged her to be, and that she might just end up being the only woman to stake a claim on his heart before all is said and done.

I really wanted to enjoy this story because I am a glutton for punishment and adore stories focusing on the unrequited love theme. However, Samantha was such a problematic heroine for almost 3/4th of the book that I got quite fed up at certain points. Her inner monologue sounds unhinged through most places and her constant need to blame Guy for going along with what she wanted; i.e. become lovers and impregnate her was not something I liked overly much. Samantha is a grown up woman, who should own up to her decisions that she makes – which I failed to see in her.

Samantha is the one who decided to offer herself up to Guy because obviously her love for him makes it difficult for her to walk away as easily as she might have wanted to. Furthermore, Samantha seems to believe that Guy could love her just like that and talks about common sense which would direct him to love her; when has love ever been about common sense?

At most points, Guy seems to be the most sensible of the two and needless to say, the fact that Samantha annoyed me made the story lose its rating. Things only started looking up when Samantha finally got what she proposed to do, and stopped blaming Guy for the decision she took with her eyes wide open.

I also believe that the story would have been more satisfying had the reader been privy to the Guy’s feelings as they developed; I was not feeling the heat from the hero towards a large chunk of the story and the lack of any attraction that Guy was feeling towards Samantha really stumped me. It indeed would have been fun to see him brought to his knees with love and want for his Samantha. I also missed seeing the kind of sexy times that Ms. Lee’s books are famous for materialize in this story, which detracted from the enjoyment factor.

Recommended for fans of Miranda Lee.

Final Verdict: Samantha’s unrequited love for her boss results in the most daring proposition of all; make her the mother of his child, with no strings attached!

Favorite Quotes

Suddenly she couldn’t bear the uncertainty, the darkness. She had to know what he was doing, what was happening. Hands trembling uncontrollably, they lifted to the knot.
‘Don’t!’ he commanded instantly, his hands closing over hers, taking them down. ‘Don’t,’ he repeated in a raw whisper, and placed her hands on his bare chest.
They jerked away as though stung by an electric shock. ‘You’re naked!’ she accused, voice shaking.
‘No,’ he soothed, sliding his arms around her waist and drawing her to him. ‘I’ve still got my trousers on. See?’
‘I…I can’t see,’ she reminded him in a daze of erotic excitement.
‘Feel, then.’

‘Move with me, Sam,’ he urged.
She did, grasping him tight and close, searching to devour him with an all-consuming ardour.
‘Hell,’ he muttered once.
She felt the changes in her body, felt the gradual increasing of tension, the relentless tightening of her internal muscles, but had no idea where they were leading. Eventually her fingers began to dig deeply into Guy’s back and a tortured moan punched from her throat. Perhaps sensing her imminent release, Guy scooped his hands under her buttocks and lifted her into him, his penetration more devastatingly complete.
She climaxed immediately, her back arching from the bed as her body was gripped by contraction after contraction of sheer electric pleasure.

She felt mesmerised, like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car, standing there staring at him, unable to move or say anything. He came up to her and curled surprisingly gentle hands over her shoulders, easing her startled body over and back against the wall next to the door.
His first kisses were soft and patient, teasing her lips open, waiting for the groan that finally fluttered from her throat. Then his hands lifted to her face and he was holding her captive for the velvet heat of his tongue as it plundered her mouth, over and over. She was gasping by the time his lips slid across to an ear then down her throbbing throat, his impassioned words sending tremors of desire richocheting throughout her body.

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

Review: Wed By Proxy by Alice Coldbreath

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Brides of Karadok, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Guy Randall
Heroine: Mathilde Martindale
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 07, 2019
Started On: July 24, 2021
Finished On: July 26, 2021

Book 1 in the Brides of Karadok series by Alice Coldbreath turned out to be a great read in many ways. Taking on the theme of a marriage forced upon the main protagonists, Wed By Proxy brings to the forefront a heroine who is daring and innocent at the same time, and a hero who is cynical and world weary in a way that is all too understandable.

24 year old Mathilde Martindale is a heroine who is twice widowed and now married to a third husband, all by proxy, having never experienced marriage in its lived reality. Tired of being kept away like an unwanted pest, Mathilde decides to take matters into her own hands, and with the held of her three friends, she puts on the guise of a boy and travels to her husband’s home, determined to be more than a wife in name only.

When 31 year old Guy Randall is confronted with the woman who claims to be his lawfully wedded wife, at first Guy is not impressed, nor does he want to believe a word that comes out of her mouth. After all, Guy had been forced to sign the papers of his betrothal to the woman who stands before him, and as far as the rumours go, his wife does not want anything to do with him.

But Guy’s resistance is no match for Mathilde, who for all her innocence when it comes to the marriage bed, is aided by a book entitled The Seduction of a Virtuous Knight, and Guy does not know what hits him when she tries to practice the seduction wiles as laid out in the book.

The happiness that Guy finds with Mathilde however is a short-lived one however, unless he is willing to trust his bride and lay his heart on the line – the hardest thing he has ever had to do. But if Mathilde has showed him anything, it is that courage can overcome one’s deepest fears and lay open life’s endless possibilities at your feet.

I enjoyed Wed By Proxy, which has all the classic elements that is synonymous with stories from Ms. Coldbreath. The heroine who has led a sheltered life up to the point, who nevertheless amazes you with her spunk and ingenuity. The hero who is the perfect package; cynical, world weary, and a tad dangerous – but falls like a ton of bricks for the woman who lays siege to his heart.

I enjoyed how Guy put up a token of resistance to ward his wife off, but alas, her charms proved to be too much for Guy, and succumb he does, in the most beautiful fashion. The touch of angst towards the latter half of the story increased my appreciation. After all, a love story without angst in the mix is just never right!

Recommended for those who adore historical romances filled with mirth, warmth, and love!

Final Verdict: Wed by Proxy is the kind of story you read on a cold night, cozied up in bed. It is the kind of story that heats you up from the inside and leaves you warm in the afterglow!

Favorite Quotes

“Guy,” she whispered. “Please.”
“Anything,” he found himself answering shakily.
“Please don’t stop.”
He swore filthily, and she didn’t even murmur a reproof. Just stared at his lips in unspoken invitation.
“I don’t know how long I can do this,” he confessed, his voice raw. Already without conscious thought, his hands were sliding down around her sweet little rounded backside. He wasn’t good at sweet.

“Just a while longer,” she pleaded, and unable to resist, he crushed his lips to hers. Already, gentle is going out of the window, he thought with a regretful pang. She moaned against his mouth, but didn’t part her lips. Gods, he wished she would. He had thought only moments ago he would pass out from the sweetness of her lips alone, but now he wanted a taste of that mouth. Like the filthy beast he was, he drew his tongue along the seam of her lips and felt her gasp right the way through his body. Her open-mouthed surprise was too good an opportunity to miss. His tongue sought out hers, and when he found it, the kiss exploded. Gods, this was all that mattered.
This was his. He reveled in the sensation, his body reeling at the pleasure that flooded him.

Seizing her hips, he dragged her across his lap, to where such movements would maximize his pleasure. She stilled a moment, and drew back her head, her eyes very wide. They regarded each other, panting hard.
“Is that—?” she ventured. Words seemed to fail her.
He cleared his throat. “Should we stop?”
Her answer was a swift cry, “No!”
“Mathilde—” But she forestalled his words by grabbing one of his hands between hers and lifting it with great daring to her bosom. He sat very still as she placed his large paw over the rapid rise and fall of her breasts. Now he lost the ability of speech, as he closed his hard, callused hand upon the soft swell of flesh there. “My gods,” he whispered.

“Guy?”
This hadn’t happened in The Seduction of a Virtuous Knight, so she wasn’t prepared for any of this. Maybe she should have read on further? She glanced down and found her exposed breasts heaving, her dress hanging around her waist in tatters. Oh my gods! In trepidation, she sought to meet Guy’s gaze, but he was sat back in his chair, devouring her splayed figure with his eyes, his expression ablaze.
“I’m going to consume you, utterly,” he rumbled with intent.

Torment. That was what he had called her touch, and she understood now, as her back arched, and her fingers twisted in his dark hair, pulling and clasping, but never deterring him from his purpose. But it seemed her own torment was not to be withstood. It built and built and suddenly she went hurtling right over the edge with a startled yell. The next thing she knew, she was being dragged off the table, back into Guy’s lap. More specifically, onto his — what had he called it? His cock.

One of her arms was tight around his neck. Her fingers tangled in the hair at his nape. She was whimpering into his mouth, and the world just did not exist for him outside of the hot, wet slide of their kiss. The soft swell of her cleavage gently rubbing against his chest was not enough. He managed to insert one hand between them, and grabbed Mathilde’s already plunging neckline, dragging it down until he could feel those pink little nipples against his chest. Mathilde gasped, but even his lust-addled mind could tell it was with pleasure and not shock.
“Yes, Guy,” she moaned, dragging her hard nipples through his chest hair. This was what she had wanted? Nice was not a strong enough word for it.

“If you go…” she started direly.
“Yes?” he said setting the candle down with a thud and sitting down on the bed. “Let’s hear it,” he said. As if unable to stop himself, he grabbed her upper arms, yanking her forward so she was practically in his lap. “If I go? What will you do?”
“Don’t bother looking for me on your return, that’s all,” said Mathilde. “For I won’t be here.”
“You’d leave me? You’d dare to…” he broke off his words as she nodded at him mutinously. He stared at her a moment. “Would you indeed?“ he said grimly, and suddenly his mouth was on hers in a punishing kiss, that gave no quarter.
Mathilde drew back her hand to push him away, but at that instance, he slid one hand into her hair and groaned roughly against her mouth. She melted. Gods, she had missed this so much. The physical connection with him.

“This won’t be gentle,” he growled in her ear. “I’m too far gone for that consideration right now.”
“I don’t care,” Mathilde answered recklessly. His hands were at his crotch, unfastening the ties there, shoving down his breeches. Mathilde sobbed with relief when he slid between her thighs. She clasped him to her.
“Yes, Guy!” she urged him on.
He swore again, and if she wasn’t so ready for him already, the way he shoved inside her would have been brutal. As it was, they both immediately stilled. “Mathilde?”
“All’s well,” she panted, grasping his shoulders. “Hurry!”
“Gods,” he whispered, and started moving. She could feel him struggle to loosen his hold on her hip and shoulder, to pull his powerful strokes, but he was too far gone.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo

Review: When Life Happened by Jewel E. Ann

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Levi Joseph Paige
Heroine: Parker Joy Cruse
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 03, 2017
Started On: July 17, 2021
Finished On: July 23, 2021

When Life Happened by Jewel E. Ann, published in 2017, is going to be tough book to review. Not because the book was bad, but because it was exceptionally good and held me spellbound from start to finish. This is going to be a book tough to read if you are the judgmental sort, but if you believe in the fragility of human emotions, if you believe that we are all bound to make mistakes or even find love through those mistakes, then this book is for you.

26 year old Parker Joy Cruse needs independence from her family, even if it means moving a short distance from her parents place – freedom meant freedom. But Parker’s new neighbours turn out to be more than she bargained for, especially when she starts developing feelings for the very married husband of the household.

Parker is the person who basically chairs the “I Hate Cheaters” club, having been on the receiving end of the heartache and pain that she nurses in her heart. Her fractured relationship with her identical twin sister is testament enough to this fact. Parker who sees the world in black and white suddenly finds herself confronting the shades of grey in the midst, having to contend with her burgeoning feelings towards the one man she should not want.

But then tragedy strikes, leaving not just Parker wounded in the wake. However, life happens, and in comes 33 year old Levi Joseph Paige who dominates Parker’s world once again. Unable to grieve openly and publicly over the loss, and when Levi offers her the chance to break free from the circus that is her hometown and well-meaning parents, Parker decides to take Levi up on his offer and travel to Arizona with him.

Thus begins the journey on which Parker comes to terms with the love that she found and lost in such a brief moment in time, and once again confronts the feelings that comes to life with the merest touch from Levi. In Levi, Parker finds the love that she has been waiting for, for the past 26 years of her life. However, Levi is a complex man who harbours his own scars, the blame he shoulders over what took place in the past keeping him in an emotional cage of life’s making. At the same time, Parker’s secret is one that could destroy the fragility of the relationship between them, unless both of them are willing to look beyond and have the courage to face the consequences, bitterness, and the beauty that life is in its glorious complexity.

Needless to say, I loved this story to pieces. Jewel E. Ann is an author who knows how to draw out the intricate emotions of readers; you can love or hate what she makes you feel – I choose love because I read for the pleasure that stories bring, especially how they engage all my emotions and leaves me wanting more. When Life Happened is that kind of book, and I would not have it any other way.

The title of this book aptly describes what the story would deliver – but don’t be fooled into thinking you would be able to predict what would happen. I for one have never come across an author who dared to do what she did with this story, and boy, did she deliver it well. I was sucker-punched and left to gasp in the wake of the immensity of the feelings that were coursing through me. I was expecting a miracle to happen at any moment, but then again, that is not what life is about, is it?

I kept asking the what-if questions, even towards the latter end of the book, but I guess that is also in reality what life is like. Some people prefer to live in the what-ifs, and let life pass them by, while those that prefer to be grounded in reality move on and make peace with their lot in life.

When Levi stepped into the pages, I was once again shaken up by just how quickly he laid claim to my heart. Parker who lost her self worth at one point in time, finds not one, but two men in a short span of time, both who recognizes the value of Parker and wants to lay down the entire world at her feet.

The angst and heartbreak towards the end broke my heart, but I believe it was pretty much needed to bring the collective emotions of Parker and Levi full-circle. They both needed to accept, heal, and move on individually to be able to love each other and sustain their love through life’s curve-balls that would come in time.

Recommended for those who want to read a romance that would sweep you off your feet and engage all your emotions. This one delivers in spades!

Final Verdict: When Life Happened teaches us of life’s unpredictability, about the shades of grey in the midst, and about the endless possibilities that is life! Loved this in a way that is indescribable!

Favorite Quotes

“Out of control hormones are no excuse.” She rinsed the plates and set them beside the sink.
“Desire is very powerful.”
Parker reached for the handle to the fridge. “I don’t buy it.”
Before she could make sense of what was happening, Gus whipped her around and pinned her to the refrigerator door with his body, chest to chest. He pressed his hands flat to the door on either side of her head as she flattened hers to it just below her hips.
She tried to speak as his eyes stripped every ounce of her confidence. His warm breath touched her lips as he licked his, hovering an inch above hers. When her mouth opened to protest or scream, nothing came out.
“Parker,” he whispered in a deep, throaty voice.

“You’re what?” His hand moved up her shirt, stopping at the edge of her bra as his knee moved a fraction.
So. Fucking. Wrong.
“Confused,” she whispered.
“And?” His fingers caressed her abdomen.
Her muscles clenched. “Gus …”
She looked up at him and blinked, sending tears running down her cheeks.
He pressed his knee into her until her hips involuntarily bucked against it. She grimaced and more tears filled her eyes as her body betrayed her again.
“Tell. Me.” He gritted his teeth and stroked her again with his leg, and again her pelvis rocked into it.
As she squeezed her eyes shut, her hands gripped his shirt, warring between the need to push him away and something else too terrifying to admit.

“But, Parker?”
As she turned toward his voice, he grabbed her arm, yanked her into the garage, and pinned her against the wall.
“If you’re going to tell Sabrina about our kiss, it sure as fuck isn’t going to be the lame, drunken kiss at the bar.”
“Wha—”
He silenced her by smashing his mouth into hers, delivering a kiss that obliterated every thought in her head. When his tongue probed into her mouth, sliding against hers, she tried to push him away. He cradled her face to deepen the kiss even more and when he moaned, she did the unthinkable—the unforgivable: she laced her fingers through his hair and kissed him back.
Gray. A terrible color. The murky water where sinners thrived. Parker Cruse was a hypocrite. A cheater. And in need of another change of underwear.

“Parker …” He kissed her hard again. She released her breasts and threaded her hands through his hair. His hands began to unfasten his navy cargo shorts, exposing the hard bulge barely contained by his briefs.
“N-no …” She broke their kiss. “Not sex.”
Gus’s hands gripped the counter on either side of her as his forehead rested against hers. “Jesus, Parker … o-okay.” His ragged breaths washed over her face. He nodded against her. “No sex.”
“No sex.” Her voice quivered as her hands clawed at his back.

Her arms and legs pulled him closer as her heels dug into his backside—every move greedy and mindless. Gus released the back of her head and slipped his hand under her bottom so he could thrust harder against her, each vying for more friction.
“I’m going to … stop …” She dropped her head to his shoulder and her teeth dug into his firm flesh.
He growled as she bit harder, returning the favor as he sucked the sensitive skin along her neck, rocking their bodies together over and over.

Parker saw Levi, but she felt Gus. Pieces of him lingered everywhere. She could close her eyes and taste him on her lips, smell the hint of leather and spice cologne in the crook of his neck, feel every muscle of his back beneath her fingertips, and hear his “I love you” echoing over and over.
He was the wind. The moon sketching shadows. The shiver along her skin at night when she shut off the lights and whispered his name. He promised her everything and left her with nothing. How could nothing—a deep, hollow hole—feel like something so tangible, like her pain had its own pulse.

He jabbed her entrance with the head of his cock.
“Jesus…” she gasped “ …Christ …”
He pressed his hand to her back, pushing her forward until her hands rested on his legs.
“Flub up?” He chuckled. “I’m not that drunk. Hold on, this could be a rough ride.”
He lifted her up a couple inches and jerked her back down onto him.
“Fuck!” Her chin dropped to her chest and the second his right hand slid between her legs, she saw the stars.

Levi toed off his sneakers while he removed his shirt dropping it to the ground next to her bra. Parker’s breath caught when he feathered his fingers down her arms.
“How do you do that?” she whispered.
“Do what?” He clasped her hands slowly bringing them above her head and then back behind his.
“Make me feel like you’re the first man to ever touch me?” She fisted his hair and arched her back as he ghosted his hands back down, under her arms, around to her belly, teasing them just below the waist of her panties before inching up to her breasts. She moaned when he cupped them, and then she pushed them even more into his hands.
“Because…” he dipped his head and pressed his lips to her shoulder “…my touch is the only one that will ever matter.”

Levi crawled between her spread legs, kissing his way up her body. She played with his hair again like her fingers couldn’t get enough as he tasted his way up her abdomen. Her lips parted, eyes locked on his. He hooked his arm under her knee as his mouth covered her breast. Watching her eyes the whole time, he pushed inside of her.
She sucked in a sharp breath, eyes heavy but still focused on him, as her hands curled into his hair.
Pulling back slowly, he plunged into her harder.
“Levi …”
The bed jerked beneath them.
He kissed his way along her neck up to her mouth. “I think it’s pretty clear,” he whispered.

“How I feel about you, it hurts in here.”
The slightest flinch flashed across his face. Then he pressed his lips to her hand. “I’m going to take the pain away … you’ll see.”
He plunged into her the rest of the way.
“Levi …”
“How does it feel?” He kissed her neck.
“Levi …”
Gripping her hips, he set the pace.
“Like a drug,” she whispered just before her mouth crashed to his, catching the ultimate wave of addiction.

“Tell me, Mister World Traveler, what is your greatest memory, the one you’ll never forget?”
He squatted down in front of her, resting his hands on her legs. “That’s easy. Overcast sky. Barren field. Blue pick-up truck. Pizza. Twelve-pack of beer. And the woman who owns my world.”
“Liar,” she whispered as her heart nearly exploded.
He laid a sound kiss on her lips then grinned. “No Lie Levi.” Standing, he walked to the door. “I love you. Don’t you ever fucking forget it.”

“Don’t tease me again, Levi.” Parker blinked open her eyes. The games were over. She saw nothing but love in his eyes. “Make love to me, Levi, but do it like—”
“Like you’re the last woman I’ll ever want for the rest of my life.”
Parker couldn’t breathe from the impact of his words. She was going to say “like we usually do,” but he had to step in and remind her one last time that after twenty-six years, her heart had found its rightful owner.

As soon as her dress fell below her breasts, he gripped them, kneading them until she arched her back, breaking their kiss. “Levi …”
She released him from his briefs and stroked him. He hissed in a breath, leaving one hand on her breast. His other hand grabbed the crotch to her panties and pulled it to the side as she guided his erection to that very spot.
“Stop.” He pulled back a fraction. His hand on her breast moved to the back of her neck, and he rested his forehead on hers. “I love you back,” he whispered through ragged breaths. “I love you back so fucking much I’m certain it’s the only thing I have ever done in my life that’s one hundred percent selfless. But this isn’t us. I don’t want to have pissed-off-at-the-world sex with you.”
“Levi …” She panted, holding tight to his cock. “I kinda need this to happen.”
He nodded, still leaning into her forehead with his. “Agreed.” He laughed a little. “But it’s I-love-you sex. I-need-you sex. My-whole-fucking-world-revolves-around-you sex.”

“Levi …” she whispered breathlessly as her heart pounded in anticipation.
“Shhh …” He eased off her panties, ghosting his lips along the back of her legs and over the curve of her ass.
“Fuck!” Her muscles clenched. “Did you just bite my ass again?”
He chuckled while his tongue glided over the spot. As he stood, he lifted her right leg and plunged into her. Bending over her back, he whispered in her ear, “My whole … fucking … world.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Her Baseborn Bridegroom by Alice Coldbreath

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Vawdrey Brothers, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Mason Vawdrey
Heroine: Linnet Cadwallader
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 22, 2017
Started On: June 20, 2021
Finished On: June 24, 2021

The first book in the Vawdrey Brothers series, Her Baseborn Bridegroom by Alice Coldbreath was such a fun book to read. Riding the high of my first novel from Ms. Coldbreath, I wanted to delve into one more book from hers, just to experience the sheer magic of a historical romance done right, all over again.

The story begins with 24 year old Linnet Cadwallader getting ready for her marriage, arranged for her by her uncle. When the puppet groom that had been arranged fails to turn up, and in his place comes his baseborn brother, Sir Mason Vawdrey, things take a rather interesting turn. Taking matters into her own hands out of sheer desperation, Linnet asks Mason to marry her to which Mason agrees.

From the start, Mason turns her life upside down by seeing the extent to which Linnet’s guardians controlled her life in order to be the recipients of the fortune that is in her name. Linnet’s uncle and aunt basically makes her a captive in her own home, using the excuse that she was too sickly to venture out and do more. All of that changes with Mason, as from the start, he allows her the liberty and freedom to be the mistress of her own home. I thoroughly applauded the fact that this particular arc was not dragged on for an eternity before being properly dealt with.

As their married life begins, both Linnet and Mason are in for surprises, with Linnet learning that she too shares the passionate nature of her husband’s when it comes to the marriage bed. For Mason, it is discovering that when it comes to his wife, his possessiveness for the very first time extends to a significant other, something that he has pretty much avoided all his life up till Linnet that shakes him up.

The best thing about this story was Linnet; she was amazing in every sense. Sheltered pretty much all her life, taught to think that her freckles were an affliction, and robbed of her right to make decisions for herself, the way she sparkles and shines is what made the story. The bravery she shows when Mason turns up and tells her what she has been sort of expecting to happen won big points from me. It is that bravery that lands her with Mason, who would most likely have walked away if otherwise. Linnet has a way of taking matters into her own hands – case in point, when she wants to gain her stamina and to the point where she got a “salve” for bigger boobs (you will have to read the book to enjoy the mirth and sensuality on that score).

Mason was a darling too! Sexy, broody, commanding, and most of all possessive of his bride in a way that soothes Linnet’s ravaged soul, I thoroughly enjoyed the way he kept rationalizing away his developing feelings for Linnet, trying to evade the possibility that he was head over heels in love.

Ms. Coldbreath has a way of developing the story line that shows to readers how the physical and emotional intimacy develops between main protagonists, who for all intents and purposes are complete opposites of each other. I would say that Her Baseborn Bridegroom delivered well on that score!

Recommended for fans of beautifully spun historical romances. Ms. Coldbreath is a gem of a find!

Final Verdict: Her Baseborn Bridegroom is the kind of novel that has you screaming with laughter one minute and melting from the heat next; Ms. Coldbreath definitely knows what she is doing!

Favorite Quotes

“Be calm wife,” he breathed against her temple, and she felt his mouth brush against her.
She puffed out her breath and dragged in a deep breath. “If . . . if you just give me a moment to accustom myself . . . ” she asked beseechingly. “I promise I’ll do everything you say.”
“Yes,” he agreed in a low, rough voice. “You will,” and in an unhurried move, he dragged his hand down until it lay between her breasts. Then his mouth was on her throat, and Linnet gasped when she felt his tongue lick her there. He shifted again, until his mouth was next to her ear. “Sweet,” he whispered. “You taste very, very sweet Linnet.”

“You please me, wife,” he said gruffly and lowered his mouth to hers where he kissed her entirely differently from how he had kissed her in the chapel. Their kiss there had been chaste and close-lipped. Now his mouth moved over hers in an intimate exploration. His tongue teased and prodded and invaded her mouth in a wet, hot slide that left her gasping and clinging to him, bewildered and reeling. And then his fingers were performing the same dance between her legs, petting and stroking and making her gasp into his mouth both in dismay and in shocked delight.

“I think I’ve been pretty considerate this last month,” he said and reached out to palm one of her small breasts. Linnet gasped. “The candles by the bed,” she choked out.
“I want to see what I’m doing.”
“But last time—”
“Last time I was feeling considerate. Tonight I’m not.”
Linnet blinked at him. Was he annoyed? She could almost swear his eyes were glowing. His other hand yanked the covers down, exposing her pale naked body to his roving gaze. Linnet cringed, but when her eyes flew to his he had a strange expression on his face that she didn’t quite recognize. It wasn’t disappointment, she realized with relief. No, not disappointment. It was almost . . . proprietary?

“Hmm, such sweet, sensitive little breasts,” he said huskily. “Do you like that?”
She bit her lip and squeezed her legs together, trying to shift against the pillows. “I—I’m not really sure . . . ” she said breathlessly.
At her slight movement, his other hand glided down, down until his fingers slid right into her curls and then the core of her, making her cry out in surprise.
He gave an approving growl. “It seems like you do, Linnet.”
She tipped her head back to look at him as his finger slid up inside her. Her cheeks felt scorched. She held her breath.
“Nice and wet for me,” he said thickly. “When you’re in my bed, that’s what I expect. You, naked and wet. Not to hear you talking about other men.”

“Linnet,” he gasped and thrust into her.
“It doesn’t hurt,” she murmured and felt his face turn into her neck.
He planted his palm at her side, lifting most of his weight off her and onto his arms.
“That’s good,” he said richly and thrust again, harder this time. “That means,” he groaned loudly. “I don’t have to hold back this time.”

“Next time,” he said. “You’ll find release when I’m inside you.”
Linnet’s head jerked back, but his eyes had already drifted shut. She stared at him in confusion, mulling over his words from earlier. “You can’t mean for me to sleep naked every night, surely?” she asked drowsily before tucking her head back into his chest.
“I do,” he answered. “And you will.”

He heard her gasp again and then her hands were travelling restlessly over his back. “Please Mason,” she whispered. “I want you to move like last time.”
He squeezed his eyes shut, luxuriating in the feel of her all around him, clasping him tight. “I will,” he promised groaning. “Just give me a minute. You feel so good, Linnet.”
“So do you,” she whispered back.
He wanted to be gentle and considerate, but he knew he wasn’t going to be. Then he remembered he hadn’t been last time. I want you to move like last time, she’d said. His eyes snapped open to look at her, but it was too dark to catch her expression. “Like last time?” he echoed, not quite believing his own ears. He’d been angry last time. Jealous, his conscience corrected him. He’d been a boorish lout. Loud and energetic. He hadn’t held back.
Her hands slid down his ribs to grip his hips, sparking his lust even further. “Yes,” she said huskily. “Please, Mason.”

“Um . . . ” she made no move to lie back. He stared at her. Was she trying to test his goddamn limits? He wondered incredulously.
“What?” he asked unable to help himself. What the hell did she want from him now?
“Well, for maximum efficacy,” she mumbled almost incoherently, “You have to . . . ”
He craned his ears to catch her words. “What was that?” he asked sharply.
“ . . . Lick it off,” she whispered, shamefaced.
He stared as she turned rosy pink all the way up her neck to the tips of her ears. There was a rushing sound in his ears and the next thing he knew he had yanked her forward into his lap so she straddled his steely erection.

“Ohhhhh,” she whimpered, arching her back and pressing even more firmly into his embrace, his hungry mouth, his rock-hard cock. “Oh, Mason!”
Her voice was so breathy, like a siren. His blood pounded in his head with the need to possess, to take from her sweetness.
“Was this what you wanted?” he asked her in a low growl, panting against the delicate swell of her bosom.
“Yes,” she answered dreamily without a trace of guile, her hands still running through his hair.

He caught his breath at the sight of her: naked, pale, and scattered in golden freckles. Beautiful. All mine. He shook his head again, his thoughts confusing him. It seemed to him now that he could barely remember a time that he had not been attracted to her. He tipped her onto her back and covered her with his body.
“Kiss me, Linnet,” he said huskily as he took her mouth. Gods, she felt so good. He groaned as he felt her palms move down his sides to his hips. “Touch me some more,” he whispered against her jaw.

“Husband?”
For some twisted reason, he felt pure pleasure at being addressed thus whilst deep inside her.
“Wife,” he whispered huskily, lowering his brow until their foreheads touched.
For one moment, they both stared into each other’s eyes, hovering on the brink of bliss together, and then he felt her tip over the edge, her cunny tightening and convulsing around him until with a shout he found himself spilling inside her. Holy hells. He dropped his face into her neck and concentrated on keeping the top of his head intact. He felt Linnet’s knees squeeze into his still-moving hips as she gasped into his shoulder.

He shuddered. “Linnet!” A sharp groan. “Holy hells!”
She licked and licked all around the top and down the sturdy shaft until he was shaking and she was running out of ideas.
“Just . . . Stop,” he gasped.
“Stop?” When she tried to lift her head to look at him his hands tightened on her hair holding her in place.
He swore, low and dirty.
No, that couldn’t be right, thought Linnet, narrowing her eyes. When he did it to her he took her all the way to rapture.
“Just—oh fuck, put me in your mouth,” he gritted out.

“Just how close are you, my leopardess?” he whispered and rubbed the pad of his thumb against her.
Linnet tensed and then cried out as her pleasure burst forth and engulfed her. She hung on for dear life as Mason hammered into her with renewed vigor, right the way through her own blissful tremors until, at last, he shouted his own release, pressing his hips forward and crushing her between his big hard body and the door as he spent himself inside her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo

Review: A Bride for the Prizefighter by Alice Coldbreath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

Review: The Doctor by Nikki Sloane

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Series: Nashville Neighborhood, #1
Publisher: Shady Creek Publishing
Hero: Greg Lowe
Heroine: Cassidy Shepard
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: August 29, 2018
Started On: June 13, 2021
Finished On: June 14, 2021

The Doctor by Nikki Sloane, debut book in the Nashville Neighborhood series is my very first read from the author, giving me a taste of her titillating writing style which drew me in from the start.

19 year old Cassidy Shepard has been dating her boyfriend Preston Lowe for three years, with their senior class having even voted them “Most Likely to Marry Their High School Sweetheart”. However, Cassidy starts to feel a change in how Preston sees her and treats her, and the final straw comes as both of them are back home for the holidays and Preston’s callous attitude just becomes all too much.

Usher in Greg Lowe, none other than her ex-boyfriend’s father, the savior in every form when it comes to Cassidy’s inner turmoil over the breakup. Greg is a trauma surgeon working long hours, who is mostly never around and looks younger than he is. A simple touch from Greg offered as comfort, changes the dynamics between the two and lets Cassidy know that the heat that she feels with his touch is not just one-sided.

Thus starts the sexiest and at times raunchiest affair that I have come across in a book of late, which definitely kept the pages turning. Though initially when the transition from father of the ex-boyfriend to the new lover happened just like that, I was a trifle bit apprehensive that the story line would not work. But somehow, when all was said and done, Ms. Sloane did make it work.

At some point in the story, I was of the mind that every woman should have a Dr. Lowe teach them or show them the wonders of sex and lovemaking as it should be, by making their partner feel cherished, desired, and coveted all at the same time. But alas, real life does not offer Dr. Lowes’ in abundance.

Since the story is mainly told from the first person point of view (Cassidy’s), the way Greg feels is a bit hard to decipher, except of course that when it comes to the kink, of which he has a lot up his sleeve. The doctor definitely knows his way around the bedroom and then some, if you ask me. But through the conversations that takes place on the side, there emerges the picture of the man that Greg is deep inside; sensitive to the needs of his son to a point where he had neglected living a life of his choosing.

While Cassidy (as expected), acted bratty at certain points through the story, Greg seemed to take those things in stride, which I guess is love in its truest form? You accept the person as they are because life without them would just not be worth the heartache and loneliness.

Fabulously hot sex (explains the number of quotes with this review), with just enough of a plot line to keep the emotions engaged. Recommended for those who are looking for their next smutty read. This one delivers in spades and Ms. Sloane definitely deserves the title of Queen of Smut!

Final Verdict: Sexy, commanding, thoughtful, and sensual describes Dr. Lowe; every woman deserves one, in bed and out of it!

Favorite Quotes

Warning sirens blared in my mind, but it was useless. His gentle, hesitant kiss roared loudly through my body, drumming back any other sound. His soft lips moved against mine, cautious and testing, and I answered back. Even more, I encouraged. I opened my mouth to welcome his seeking tongue.
He drew in a sharp breath through his nose as our reckless kiss deepened, but it didn’t stop his exploration of my mouth. Behind my back, his palm urged me into him, and his grip on my face firmed. His lush tongue dipped past my lips, slid against mine, causing goosebumps to burst down my legs.
I couldn’t think, breathe, or even move as he kissed me, because I worried I’d break the spell.

I gripped the edge of the counter and moaned as he stirred careful circles over my clit. The tiniest touch from him caused me to flinch and shiver. Ecstasy rocketed up and down my spine like lightning. His mouth was pressed against the side of my neck, and my hair fluttered with his rapid, uneven breathing.
Like last time, I was both feverishly hot and frigid cold. My nipples tightened and protruded through my unlined bra and tank top, as if wanting to be closer to him. It sent me into chaos. The way his skillful fingers stroked and touched me, I was going to melt into a puddle.

Could he read my thoughts through my eyes? “If I kiss you,” he said, “that’s it. I don’t think I’ll be able to stop.”
I exhaled softly and stared at his lips. I was here, ready. Desperate. “Then, kiss me.”
He moved fast, sealing his mouth over mine and stealing all the air from the room.
The kiss was explosive. Heat flared from where his lips met mine, spreading outward like wildfire, engulfing me. I cased his neck with my hands, pretending to steady him when I was really stabilizing myself. Everything went weak inside me. My bones turned to jelly.

“Fuck.” He whispered it as he began to drag the panties down and nuzzled his face into the cradle of my lap.
“Oh my God.” I gripped his broad shoulders. His lips followed the descent of my underwear, kissing each new spot of my flesh he revealed.
I was going to explode. Burst into a million pieces and flutter to the ground like burnt confetti. His mouth inched along the top of my slit, and something like panic gurgled in my system. I wasn’t supposed to do this, but dear God, how I craved the slippery slide of his tongue, desperate for him to go lower.

I clutched at the comforter beneath my body—like having a physical handle on something would help. The sensation was too intense. I wanted to control it, but I’d have better luck holding back the waves of the ocean. He had his mouth on me, and part of him was inside my body.
Claiming me. It made me want more. I shouldn’t, but I wanted all of him.
This thought was my undoing.
“Shit,” I groaned, locking up as the orgasm surged. Heat flooded through my veins, searing my nerves. I fell into a million pieces while pleasure roared up and down my body, leaving me cold and flushed as it subsided.

He was right at my entrance and began to push, easing inside. I locked my legs around him so tightly, his hipbones dug into the insides of my thighs. Greg’s eyes were as dark as coffee, and the color deepened as he advanced. He watched intently, studying every breath I swallowed as he claimed me.
Oh, shit, the uncomfortable stretch felt good. A delicious shiver tore through my body. I reached up a hand to cup the side of his face and held on to him, even as my lips rounded into a silent moan.
“Fuck,” he uttered so quietly, it was a ghost of a word.

I arched off the mattress, pushing myself into his hands, wriggling against his hips beating against mine. Gone was the unsure girl I’d been before. Beneath Greg, the sexual woman I’d always wanted to be came alive.
He looked stunning as the fading light from outside played across his chest, his expression intense and focused. I didn’t bother holding back the whimpers and sounds of enjoyment, and he didn’t either. He grunted and sighed as he rutted into me, both taking and giving pleasure.

I was slick between my legs, and faint sweat clung to my skin. It was the same for him. It beaded at his forehead and glossed his face. We looked so good together. I tightened my hold on the smooth post of dark wood, bracing myself so hard, my muscles strained.
My pulse thundered as he slipped one hand down, his fingertips searching my slit. He strummed there, making me gasp.
“Shit,” I cried out, arching back so my head rested on his collarbone. Even with my head tipped back, I watched the mirror through my half-lidded eyes. How could I not? His powerful body behind mine, fucking me into oblivion, was a sight to behold. I’d never forget it as long as I lived.

“You want to hear about my fantasies, Cassidy? Because there are a lot, and they are very, very bad.”
Just like me.
I nearly said it out loud, but I’d turned to liquid under his mouth. I couldn’t catch my breath as I swallowed a gulp, so I nodded enthusiastically. “Tell me. I bet I want to do them all.”
He made a sound like I’d stroked a hand over his erection, even though I hadn’t yet, and his face took a dark, sexual cast. It was primal and gorgeous.
Greg’s mouth slammed into mine, his tongue pushing past my lips and invading. This kiss wasn’t like the others. It was blistering, and punishing, and rewarding. He shoved a hand up my shirt and gripped my bra-covered breast, all while his mouth fucked mine.

“Show me,” he commanded again. “You put on that dress, so I’m not the only one with bad thoughts.”
The wickedness of his order had me trembling against the dresser, and the brass pulls on the drawers rattled quietly. I stared at the glide of his hand over himself, each pass making him harder and bigger. A dull ache inside me burned, and I grew hot and slick between my legs.
The dress was supposed to make me feel powerful, yet I was powerless to stop the sigh from seeping from my lips, or the way my hands clawed at my skirt, hitching it upward.

“What happens to bad girls, Cassidy?”
I froze. I hadn’t realized we were playing a game, and now it was clear it was my turn. My move. I could answer any way I wanted. Tell him bad girls got sent home, or put in time-out . . . or fucked.
I balled the sheets into my fists, closed my eyes, and pressed my cheek to the bed. Hopefully he wanted the answer I was going to give.
“They get punished,” I breathed.
It was immediate. There was a whoosh of air, and the smack of skin registered before the sensation of his spanking did. The sting radiated up my backside, rippling outward. I bit down on my bottom lip. No one had ever hit me before. Not Preston, not my mom, and certainly not the father I’d never met.
“You deserved that,” Greg said in a seductive tone, “didn’t you?”
“Yes,” I panted.

And then he was there, nudging. The tip of his hard dick pushed and intruded, one delicious inch at a time.
“Oh, Jesus. Oh, God,” I babbled through my short gasps of breath. “Yes, that’s it.”
His sigh was heavy with satisfaction, and I felt it mirrored inside me. He slipped deeper as his hands grasped my waist and pulled me back onto him. All the way until his pelvis was pressed flat against my ass, and he was so hard inside me I couldn’t see straight.
We stayed motionless, me bent over the bed and him standing behind, just breathing and enjoying the way it felt. Fuck, it felt so good. He throbbed inside me, and my body squeezed in reply. And even though we weren’t moving, blood thundered through my veins. My pulse sped along, banging loudly in my ears.

“You like that?” he asked darkly.
“Yeah.”
He did it again.
And again. His hold on my hair began to ache, but I said nothing. As his tempo picked up, his grasp on my arm tightened, drawing me further back toward him so my spine was shaped like a U. He pounded into me, our bodies slapping together with a punishing, angry rhythm, and it was sexy. I listened to the sound of us fucking and grew wetter and hotter.
“Fuck, your pussy is insane.”

My whimpers of enjoyment swelled and grew frantic. Tingles raced up and down my legs. Every inch of my skin felt alive. The slap of his body against mine hit all the right spots, inside and out. My mind focused in on a single need, the desperate release of tension.
“Oh,” I gasped.
“Uh huh,” he encouraged. “I’m gonna come. You’re going to make me fucking come, Cassidy.”

Greg leaned forward, set his forehead against mine, and watched me intently as he tugged at the knot behind my neck. Tension went out of the strings. He caught one and used it to peel the wet cup away from my breast, exposing my already-erect nipple to the night air.
His arms wrapped behind my back, causing me to arch upward, and I stared at the stars in the sky above us as his mouth closed on my breast. He licked, and sucked, and bit softly at me, and I made all the quiet cries of pleasure he’d told me he loved hearing. I couldn’t stop myself, even if I had wanted to. The empty ache between my legs was constant and throbbing.

He’d untied my bikini top slowly, but now he attacked the knots at my hips, yanking them open. I gasped as he jerked the fabric away, tossed it into a heap, and nuzzled his face between my legs. The rough, coarse ends of his beard brushed against my inner thighs. I clenched a hand on the back of his head, holding on as his tongue probed the most intimate part of me.
His kiss was electric. It jolted me with a shock, and I cried out on every long, deliberate lick he delivered. I moaned as he fluttered and massaged the tip of his tongue against my clit. Sparks shot across my skin, making me convulse. Greg wrapped a hand around each of my thighs and pushed them back toward me, opening me further to him.
The pleasure was intense. Like nothing I’d ever felt.

“This is my fantasy,” he said. He rubbed the tip of his cock on my slit, making me squirm and shift. I needed him inside me. Couldn’t he see how desperate I was? His gaze moved along my body until it connected with mine. “My fantasy,” he continued, “every day since I saw you out here with him.”
My mouth dropped open in surprise then rounded into a silent moan as he pushed himself into me. It felt like he was everywhere. Inside my body, inside my mind, inside the deepest recesses I didn’t allow myself to go. It couldn’t be his fantasy—because it was mine. I tried to tell him, but his first thrust was so powerful, all I could do was grab the cushion beneath us and hang on.
“I was jealous. So unbelievably jealous.” Greg widened his knees, which were tucked under my spread legs, and pumped his hips a second time. I recoiled with pleasure, and a victorious look lit up his eyes. “Watching him get to fuck you, when I wanted it to be me. I wanted it to be like this.”
Oh. My. God.
I was a stick of dynamite, and his confession cut the fuse in half. One spark and I was done for.

“I wanted it to be you,” I said in a blur. I hadn’t even admitted it to myself, and now here I was, saying it out loud. “After I saw you—” How far should I go with this? Should I tell him all of it? “I closed my eyes and imagined I was with you.”
“Oh, fuck,” he said and descended upon me.
The intensity of our movements went wild. Finding out our dark appetites matched each other was liberating, and we reveled in it. His rhythm changed from seduction and passion, and crossed into a territory that was more primal.

“You’re flushed. Breathing hard.” He seized my wrist, pressed his index finger to my pulse point, and peered down at his watch, counting the seconds. “Your pulse is elevated.”
I had no idea my wrist was an erogenous zone, but in Greg’s hands, every inch of my skin felt that way. I swallowed a breath. “I’m having a reaction to something.”
God, his expression was corrupt and victorious as he walked me backward toward a wall. He feigned concern. “Any idea what’s causing it?”
He wasn’t playing fair, but I liked it. “No . . . Doctor.”
The second the words left my mouth, we burst into flames. His lips slammed against mine at the same instant my back hit the wall. His hands were on my waist, then under my shirt, sliding over my belly and skimming upward. I clenched the lapels of his coat as our tongues tangled with each other, battling for control. He won, of course.

“I want you to take off your clothes, get into my bed, and make yourself come.”
I gasped, but he wasn’t finished.
“You,” he said, “playing with yourself in my bed? Fuck.” He smoothed a hand down his leg, straightening the swell that threatened. “That’s my fantasy. I want you rolling around in my sheets, making them smell like you. Make that whole room smell like sex by the time I get home.”
My mouth hung open, and then I closed it with an audible snap.

I jammed my hand in between my body and the bed, fumbling toward his expert fingers to slow him down and control the pace, but I was much too late. My climax hit me like a gunshot and ricocheted through my body, burning a thousand degrees. A desperate cry burst from my lips as pleasure flooded my core. It was followed by spiderwebbing tendrils of satisfaction, sweeping along my limbs as I convulsed beneath the crush of his strong body.
“Yes,” he murmured. “Yes.”
And then the muscles in his chest went rigid. His body locked up for a half-second and began to shudder in mindless jerks. I could feel every throb of him as he spurted his orgasm, wave after wave. It was intense and overwhelming.
I went hazy in the aftermath.

“I’m not going to touch you.” He declared it loudly, his voice ringing in the cavernous space, traveling up to the balcony of the second floor.
Anxiety ratcheted inside me. “What?”
“I’ve spent the last year wanting you, but I wasn’t able to touch. Tonight, you’re going to see what that’s like.” His gaze drilled deep down into me. “You’re going to watch what you do to me.”
“I don’t understand,” I sputtered, shifting on my heels as I stood before him, only an arm’s length away.
“You know how many times I imagined you coming to me? How badly I wanted you to seduce me?” He rolled his shoulders back in the chair and widened his legs, getting comfortable in his seat. “That’s my ultimate fantasy, Cassidy.”
Oh. My. God. My chest tightened. “You want me to seduce you?”
The smile that curled across his lips was like the devil’s, and it was fucking hot.

Since I understood the game now, I went in for the kill. I closed the space between us, threaded a hand through his thick hair, and lifted my leg, pulling his lips to where my body was hot and slick. His eyes went wide and then closed, happy to fulfill my request.
I hooked one leg over his shoulder.
My knee threatened to buckle at the first swipe of his tongue, and the grunt he gave was erotic. I held my tenuous balance as he stroked and massaged my clit with his velvet tongue, giving me the most intimate of kisses. The scene played out before me. His head was right beside the black band at the top of my thigh-high stocking, his mouth moving over my bare, pink skin.

The bra slid away from my body, releasing my breasts, and I dropped it delicately on the floor. It cost more than my last paycheck, after all. Greg tipped his forehead toward me, letting it rest against my collarbone, and I arched instinctively into him. The whiskers of his beard pressed in the valley between my breasts, and—good God—it felt so good when I moved, rubbing my heavy, tingling skin against his face.
He sighed, and the beautiful sound reverberated through my core. “Fuck,” he said, long and low.
Between my parted legs, I felt the swell of his hardening dick, and I swiveled on him, grinding against what I wanted inside me. The chair beneath us creaked, but not from my movement—it was his tight grip on the wood.

My moans and whimpers swelled as the heat inside my core surged. I writhed on him, casting my head back as I jerked his face into me, yanking on his suitcoat. I crushed his head to my heaving chest, undulating like a girl possessed, and shivered as his mouth locked around one of my nipples.
“Oh, God, yes,” I cried.
The stream of words came from him rapid-fire. “That’s it, fuck me.”
His hands suddenly moved. One gripped my thigh, and the other slid onto the small of my back. His palm and fingers pressed into me so hard, my bare skin dented around it. He pushed and pulled, urging me to ride him faster.
“Come on me.” His words were law—no alternative. And as the orgasm dug its hooks in, pulling me upward, he sensed it. “Fucking yes.”

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Re-Read Review: The Unfaithful Wife by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequi
Hero: Nik Andreakis
Heroine: Leah Andreakis
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 1995
Started On: June 02, 2021
Finished On: June 07, 2021

When it comes to The Unfaithful Wife by Lynne Graham, the title itself indicates that this would be a stormy, angst-ridden read in every sense. That is exactly what Ms. Graham delivers, and I enjoyed every single heady sensation that this number brought to the forefront at every turn.

The story begins with Nik Andreakis and Leah’s marriage having reached its five year mark. Leah is the classic definition of the abandoned wife, the lonely years she has spent without any emotional support from her spouse or otherwise leaving its mark on her. Leah agreed to the marriage because of her father, who had basically emotionally blackmailed her into tying the knot with a man she had wanted from the start.

Leah knows that Nik despises her for reasons unknown. But when Leah is just about ready to move on with someone else and gather the courage to ask for separation from Nik, the inevitable happens – Nik comes for her, and states his intention to claim her as his.

I have no memory of having read this title before, but looking up my Goodreads reading history indicates that I have indeed read this in 2010. While my rating was considerably lower back then, reading this once again after 11 years proved to be more eye opening. I was better able to understand the undercurrents in the story and appreciate how Leah stood up for herself even though she had been brought up to be submissive all through her life.

While Nik’s cruelty did not win him points for him at the beginning (but then again where is the fun in the hero who is saccharine sweet), I could understand where he was coming from as well. For someone like Nik who had wanted the freedom to choose his bride, being forced and blackmailed into a marriage had been a pill bitter to swallow. When Leah learns of Nik’s side of the story, she finally understands how Nik could have misunderstood the machinations behind their union and despised her for what had taken place.

However, even though Leah and Nik may want to ignore each other, the passion that flares to life between them (which had in reality drawn them together when they had initially met, which kick-started the chain of events leading to their marriage), is hard to ignore, especially when Nik is determined to claim Leah as his, once and for all.

Insane jealousy, a whole host of arguments which clears up the misunderstandings, crazy heat and intense sex brings Leah and Nik together in a way that makes for combustible reading. Unlike most stories from Ms. Graham, I loved this more so because of Leah – how she basically lays it out for Nik to make him see the despicable manner in which he had destroyed her for the past five years. I felt like bringing out my nonexistent pompoms and doing a cheer dance for Leah, just because.

This novel has the hero groveling, with Leah having the courage to walk away from Nik and making it on her own. She would have been just fine even if Nik had not come after her, but then again, where is the fun in that? Nik had to eat humble pie, understand the worth of the woman that he loves more than life itself, and do a bit of groveling just to experience the bliss of their happily ever after.

Definitely recommended – don’t let the first couple of chapters fool you, this novel surprises you in a way that is heartwarming when all is said and done.

Final Verdict: The Unfaithful Wife is chock-full of goodness – heartbreak, heat, and intense emotions from all ends. If you love angst-ridden romances, this is a must read!

Favorite Quotes

‘Nik…’
His mouth came down on hers with mesmerising expertise and prised her soft lips apart. She stopped breathing. He gathered her closer, sealing her to every abrasively male angle of his taut body. Her back arched without her volition, increasing that contact. His tongue drove into the moist, tender interior she had yielded and explored. A river of fire flowed through her and she quivered, leaning against him, winding her arms sinuously round his neck. Darkness beckoned behind her lowered eyelids, the heat in the pit of her stomach twisting like a hot wire through her trembling length.

Before she could move, Nik caught her up in his powerful arms and dumped her down on the divan behind her. He came down on top of her so fast that she hadn’t a hope of evading him. Waves of shock coursed through her.
‘You’re my wife,’ Nik growled down at her, as if that were sufficient justification.
‘Let go of me…you’re flattening me!’ Leah slung back at him in fury.
‘Maybe you’ll get to like it.’ Nik shifted sinuously above her and meshed one hand into her tumbled hair. He stared down at her for a long, timeless moment. ‘Theos, I am so hungry for you, I ache,’ he muttered raggedly.

He rolled over, carrying her with him, and dispensed with her T-shirt by whipping it over her head. He uttered a savage groan as her unbound breasts rubbed against his hair-roughened chest and a split-second later she was lying flat again, his hands shaping the pouting mounds he had discovered.
She shut her eyes, gasping for breath, all reasoning power wrested from her. He found a distended pink nipple with his mouth and she dug her hips into the mattress, her back arching, a wildness she had never known tearing at her.

‘You are mine,’ Nik grated in a voice so tortured that she didn’t initially realise that he had spoken in English.
She wasn’t listening anyway. He was apart from her. She didn’t like it. She lifted her head and touched his sensual mouth with her lips and then, more daringly, with the tip of her tongue, unconsciously imitating what she had learnt from him. He shuddered and accepted the invitation with a raw passion that consumed her, his arms banding so tightly around her that she could barely breathe.

Wonderfully warm and relaxed, Leah gave a sinuous little wriggle and the hard heat of the body next to hers tautened. Her lashes lifted. She looked up into smouldering black eyes, fringed by ebony lashes. The impact of those eyes was mesmerising. Her blood leapt in her veins and her heat raced. She felt dizzy, breathless and utterly dispossessed of all rational thought.
A fingertip stroked along the lush ripeness of her lower lip. ‘Open your mouth for me. I want to taste you,’ Nik urged huskily.
Held fast by his searing gaze, she instinctively obeyed and with a stifled groan of satisfaction he crushed her slender form to him, his hands sweeping over her hips and her back as his hard, demanding mouth took hers with savage intensity.

Leah felt her body stretch to accommodate his raw invasion, the sensation still new enough to shock, and then he moved inside her, creating an insatiable need that burned through her entire body. Unconsciously her fingers dug into his smooth, muscular back, her breath sobbing in her throat with every urgent thrust. Ecstatic sensation took over as he possessed her so thoroughly that she was driven out of her mind with sheer, splintering pleasure. And when release came it consumed her utterly for long, timeless moments and then dropped her down gently into sweet, drowning languor.
‘Heaven is said to come to he who waits,’ Nik murmured silkily, curving her confidently into the damp, hot heat of him. ‘But I was always a speculator…and patience is not one of my virtues.’

And she did forget, the same instant that he brought his mouth swooping down into explosive connection with hers. The smooth control she was accustomed to was absent. Nik unleashed a passion that devastated her. It was no slow, gentle seduction of the senses but an erotic assault in which clothes were thrust aside rather than removed. Excitement took over, blanking out everything but her body’s insanely instinctive need for him.
She gasped and threw her head back as he drove into her, rejoiced in his answering groan of satisfaction and from that point on there was nothing but wild sensation, rising to ecstatic heights she had never touched before and finally throwing her over the edge into a shattering release.

‘Yes,’ she moaned, arching her back in sudden delicious torment as he skimmed his knuckles down over her taut stomach and then spread his hand, holding her where she most needed to be touched but denying what every skin cell longed for.
‘I don’t know where to begin,’ he muttered thickly against her swollen mouth, and she could feel him, hard and hotly aroused against her thigh. ‘I want…I want everything you have to give.’

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Review: The Reluctant Husband by Lynne Graham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: The Bride in Blue by Miranda Lee

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Wedlocked
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Jonathon Parnell
Heroine: Sophia
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 25, 1996
Started On: May 02, 2021
Finished On: May 02, 2021

I have forgotten the countless number of times I have indulged in The Bride in Blue by Miranda Lee, one of my favorite Harlequin romances to revisit time and yet again. However, it is also amazing that I have never put down a review of this book for whatever reason, which I aim to rectify this time around.

The story begins with Sophia the bride wearing blue on her wedding day, to be lawfully wedded, not to the man whose child she is carrying, but to his younger brother who steps into take her beloved Godfrey’s place to do the right thing. From the start, Jonathon Parnell had rubbed Sophia the wrong way – he was just too much of everything, and being the distraught bride mourning the loss of the love of her life certainly does not make it easy for her to see him any other way.

There is a powerful connection that exists between Jonathon and Sophia. While Sophia might be naive and inexperienced not to know that, Jonathon does and that is the singular most reason why this story is so appealing on multiple fronts. There are those readers who would find Sophia annoying – and I admit, she is annoying at first, because like everyone else, she is quick to judge Jonathon without understanding the dynamics that drives his behavior.

When Sophia finally starts to see the undercurrents that exists within the family and how Jonathon is the pariah for some reason, the man who is always on the sidelines left wanting – though his cold and aloof manner would hardly tell you anything, that is when Sophia starts to realize the true worth of the man who is her husband.

The sexual desire that awakens in Sophia is a foregone conclusion when it comes to Jonathon; readers will have to experience Jonathon for his animal magnetism to understand why, not to mention the fact that he harbors a secret he is unwilling to part with when it comes to his reluctant bride.

At the cost of repeating myself and sounding gushy, I so love this story. I would say this is Miranda Lee at her very best, delivering a hero that makes you literally melt from the way he just strides into a room. Yes, Jonathon is that kind of hero. Once Sophia starts to see Jonathon in a new light, you can see the feisty side of hers emerge; the woman who gives it her all when it comes to loving and protecting Jonathon.

The angst factor was just right, and the sexual tension that permeates throughout the book heady enough, and I could not ask for more! Sophia’s fantasy when it comes Jonathon, when at last she is ready to accept him as her husband in the truest form – well, you will have to read on to find out!

Recommended for the sheer effect of Jonathon as he wreaks havoc on your senses.

Final Verdict: The Bride in Blue is the kind of book that stands the test of time, the reason why when I read for pleasure, my chosen genre would always be romance!

Favorite Quotes

‘Say “I will,”’ Jonathon hissed into her ear.
‘I…I w-will,’ Sophia stammered, to her mortification.
‘God,’ came the low mutter from beside her.
Jonathon bit out his ‘I will’ as if he were giving a guilty verdict for murder. When the celebrant pronounced them ‘as one’ in a flowery way, followed by a sickening smirk and a ‘you may kiss your bride’, Sophia darted Jonathon an anxious look.
She didn’t want him to kiss her but she couldn’t really see how they could avoid it. Everyone else knew their marriage was a sham, but the celebrant didn’t. Jonathon looked just as reluctant to oblige, but, seeing perhaps that he had no alternative, he took Sophia firmly by the shoulders, turned her his way and bent his head.
Sophia steeled herself for the cold imprint of his mouth on hers, so she was somewhat startled to find that the firm lips pressing down on hers were quite warm. Her eyelashes fluttered nervously, her mouth quivering tremulously beneath his. His mouth lifted, and for a second he stared down into her surprised face. Something glittered in that cold blue gaze.
Then he did something that really shocked her.
He kissed her again.

Jonathon’s eyes narrowed on the rapid rise and fall of her chest. ‘Are you saying you want to go to bed with me?’ he asked, his voice disbelieving.
Sophia kept her eyes steady on him, even whilst her cheeks were burning. ‘I can’t say I do, but I can’t say I don’t. I haven’t had much experience in such matters. But you must know you’re a very attractive man, Jonathon, and I’m sure, a very experienced one. What do you think?’ she rashly flung at him. ‘Could you make me want to go to bed with you?’
Those blazing but oddly cold blue eyes seemed to seer through her dress, their fire heating her skin, their ice freezing her nipples into hard little pebbles. With breathtaking and incredibly sensual slowness, his gaze travelled upwards, leaving behind a parched throat and parted panting lips. At last he reached her eyes, her large, liquid brown eyes which grew larger as they glimpsed the power within that ruthlessly sexual gaze.
Oh, yes, she realised breathlessly, he could make her want to go to bed with him. But it would be nothing like what she had experienced with Godfrey. His kisses would not be sweet or soft or romantic. There would be no meeting of souls, only a meeting of bodies. Hard, panting bodies, reaching for each other in a strictly primitive passion.

‘I shouldn’t be doing this,’ he muttered against her lips, groaning a type of despair, she thought, as the last millimetre between them was crossed.
And then she didn’t think anything. There was nothing but his mouth, hard on hers, his hands tightening on her flesh.
When his mouth lifted momentarily on a raw moan, she gasped for air, only to instantly have his lips back covering hers and his tongue, hot and wet, surging deep inside. Wild swirls filled her head, the blood pounding in her temples. She pressed her hips against his, whimpering a need she had never felt before.

Standing there as he was in the moonlight, with his shoulders squared and his fists curled, his chest still rising and falling with the physical effort of that savage swim, he presented an image rather similar, Sophia fancied, to that of a primitive man who’d just forded a flooded river. Soon, he would stride on home to his cave where his woman would be waiting with food cooking over an open fire.
But this caveman wouldn’t want to eat straight away. He’d been away, after all, for days, seeking out new hunting fields. What he suffered from was hunger of a different kind.
Sophia could see him now, eyeing his scantily clad mate with hot eyes, then coming forward to grab a clump of her hair at the back of her head, bending her body back till he could suckle on one of her bare breasts like a starving infant before dragging her back on to their rough bed of furs at the back of their cave and vanquishing his hunger, not once, but several times.

He crossed the carpet with huge strides, looking larger and larger with each step till he towered over her. She lifted rounded eyes to his narrowed ones, her tongue suddenly thick in her mouth. A flood of nerves consumed her, bringing with it a trembling deep inside.
But even as her apprehension built, so did her desire, her eyes clinging to his, her body unconsciously straining towards him.
He ripped the nightie from her body, rent it in two from top to toe and threw it aside before sweeping her shaking body up into his arms and carrying her to the bed. He held her briefly against his damp body, hot eyes raking over her naked flesh before spreading her out on the quilt then swiftly stripping himself. Sophia was stunned by the speed with which he loomed over her, a dark silent force that breathed but did not speak.

‘No, don’t stop,’ she cried a second time when he abandoned what he was doing.
He didn’t stop. He merely started replacing his mouth and hands with his body, making her gasp when she realised he was as large there as he was everywhere else. A sob caught in her throat, her eyes squeezing tightly shut against the pressure of his titanic desire seeking entry into her almost virginal body.
When he suddenly achieved the unachievable, slipping deeply inside, Sophia’s eyes flung wide. All discomfort had ceased, the only sensation one of being thoroughly and very satisfyingly filled. What Jonathon was feeling, she couldn’t tell. He didn’t look at her from where he was still kneeling between her legs, his hands under her buttocks, his concentration seemingly on that area where their flesh became one. His face was in shadow, but his stillness suggested a silent savouring of their union.

Jonathon, however, had driven her mind and body into a crazed frenzy from the first moment he’d kissed her tonight. Yet they weren’t in love with each other. It hadn’t been making love, what he’d done to her on this bed, what he was still doing to her…
His name was torn from her lips, a lost, bewildered cry which called for him to explain how she could feel like this when there was no love involved, to comfort her in her confusion, to hold her till this cataclysmic experience released her from its tenacious grip.

You’re so lovely,’ he muttered, his eyes narrowed upon her. When he ran the back of his fingers across the tips of her breasts, she gasped aloud. He groaned, and dropped his head.
‘God, Sophia, do you have any idea how much I want you?’
She simply stared at him, unable to say a word.
‘I need to have you right now,’ he went on, sweeping her up into his arms. ‘No foreplay. Nothing for you but the knowledge that I’ve never been like this with any woman before. I haven’t a hope of controlling myself as I did last night. Believe me, I guaranteed that performance by swimming in a cold pool till I was almost exhausted. It took the edge off my need. Not so this time,’ he told her as he strode back into the bedroom. ‘This time I will be appallingly quick. I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to frighten you, or disappoint you. But I must do this. Don’t say no.’

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