Review: The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen

Format: E-Bookthekissthief
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Wolfe Keaton
Heroine: Francesca Rossi
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 06, 2019
Started On: January 08, 2020
Finished On: January 24, 2020

The Kiss Thief is my very first novel by L.J. Shen, the story being one that has popped up on various recommendation lists for ruthless heroes. I am a die-hard fan of anti-heroes, the ruthless and ones disliked by most readers, and loved by the few. Hunting those books down in the world of romance today has become a challenge and yet I persevere. The Kiss Thief was one of the rewards that came my way, thanks to aforementioned perseverance.

When 19 year old Francesca Rossi, the only child of Arthur Rossi, head of The Outfit (organised crime if you will), makes her official introduction to Chicagoan society, the only thing on her mind is to get Angelo, the perfect husband in the eyes of her parents, to kiss her as if he means it, kiss her as the woman he was going to make his wife and enjoy doing it.

That is also the night that 30 year old Wolfe Keaton, a US Senator, makes his presence known to Francesca, and steals the kiss that was meant for Angelo, and in the process upends her entire world. Forced into marrying Wolfe, Francesca at first has no intention of cooperating with a man whose high handed manner irks her to no end, not to mention the derailment of plans to fulfill her dreams of being married to the man she had grown up with and had given her heart to over the years.

However, the force that is Wolfe Keaton is one to be reckoned with, and before Francesca knows it, she enters a world where she learns firsthand what it means to fall in love and lose your heart to someone as ruthless as her husband.

There are scenes in this book that is definitely not for the faint-hearted, which is one reason why I loved the story and the turns it took to bring to us a happily ever after worth rooting for. My dislike for books that fill every nook and cranny of romance genre today lies in the fact that there is nothing worthy of fantasizing about the “ruthless and dangerous hero” that turns putty at the heroine’s hand from the minute they meet.

All the build-up that the author does in painting the hero as someone who has committed unthinkable acts in his life who suddenly, with the least amount of resistance, loses every essence of his character that makes him vitally himself is just tiring. How does that even translate into realistic human behavior? I can understand a character who subtly changes over the years, maybe months into a relationship, but the first time he lays eyes on the heroine, he just does a 180 degree turn on his character? That is foolhardy and as unrealistic as they come in my opinion.

The Kiss Thief certainly did not do that. L.J. Shen has crafted a hero worthy of salivating over and then some in Wolfe Keaton, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about him. From his ruthlessness that serves him well in every single manner, to his inner core of strength and vulnerability when it comes to his wife as he learns to love all over again were facets of the story that fascinated me. I loved the fact that Wolfe was able to give his wife the one thing that was denied from her as she grew up and how in his embrace she found the freedom to be herself and let go.

Francesca was lovely in many ways; she was certainly brought up to fulfill a certain role, but she is a quick learner if ever there was one and able to adapt to situations and the punches as they rolled. I loved her for quick wit, her ability to keep up with Wolfe, and the way she brought him to his very knees towards the end.

Recommended for those who love a hero who is ruthless and loves just as ferociously.

Final Verdict: With a couple of surprising twists and turns, The Kiss Thief delivered a highly combustible read from the get-go!

Favorite Quotes

I grabbed the edges of his suit, pulling him closer. I’d imagined our kiss countless times before, but I’d never expected it to feel like this. Like home. Like oxygen. Like forever. His full lips fluttered over mine, sending hot air into my mouth, and he explored, and nipped, and bit my lower lip before claiming my mouth with his, slanting his head sideways and dipping down for a ferocious caress. He opened his mouth, his tongue peeking out and swiping mine. I returned the favor. He drew me close, devouring me slowly and passionately, pressing his hand to the small of my back and groaning into my mouth like I was water in the desert. I moaned into his lips and licked every corner of his mouth with zero expertise, feeling embarrassed, aroused, and more importantly, free.

Slowly, and despite my better judgment, I crawled into my future husband’s lap. I knew that by doing that, I was raising a white flag. Surrendering to him. Seeking his protection, both from my father and from my own internal turmoil. I flew directly into my cage, asking him to lock me inside. Because the beautiful lie was far more desirable than the awful truth. The cage was warm and safe. No harm could find me. I wrapped my arms around his neck, burying my head in his steel chest and holding my breath to prevent the next sob.
He stiffened, his body rigid with our sudden proximity.
I thought about what Ms. Sterling said about killing him with kindness. Defeating him with love.
Break. Crack. Feel me. Accept me.

Wolfe Keaton was a kiss thief, but it wasn’t only a kiss that he stole. He stole my heart, too. Ripped it from my chest and put it in his pocket. I did what he promised me I would do, and willingly—I spread my legs and begged him, once again, this time meaning every word. “Because you were right. You said I’d come to your bed willingly—and I am. So, take me.”
He kissed me dirty, biting down on my tender lower lip, that was still sore from the accident. “Still not the entire truth, but this’ll do.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Credence by Penelope Douglas

Format: E-Bookcredence
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Kaleb Ver der Berg
Heroine: Tiernan de Haas
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 13, 2020
Started On: January 14, 2020
Finished On: January 19, 2020

Credence by Penelope Douglas was one of the most awaited stories for me by the time 2019 hurtled towards its inevitable end. Released on January 13th, Credence was welcomed with such hope and excitement in my heart, because Penelope is an author who knows how to write a damn good story.

Credence begins at the point where the heroine Tiernan de Haas faces the shocking and untimely death of her parents. Loneliness has always been part of Tiernan’s life, growing up with two people who had loved each other to the point that Tiernan had always been an afterthought. Their death leaves its mark on her, as had life up till that point, until her step-uncle Jake Ver der Berg invites her to live with them.

Deep in the mountains of Colorado lives the Ver der Berg’s, their lives being very much different from what had been the norm for Tiernan. Jake and his two sons Noah and Kaleb take Tiernan under their wing, and from the onset there is a weird dynamics between the three that proved to be a major conflict for me in the way the story unfolded.

I am someone who enjoys authors that push the boundaries and explores taboo tropes in their books. Penelope is an author who does this so brilliantly in most of her books, and that is one reason that I was so excited when I read the blurb of Credence prior to its release. She is also one helluva writer, which is probably the one reason why I stuck it out when so many things just felt wrong for me with Credence.

A lot of readers who felt positively about Credence have been raving about how out of the norm this book is, how it surprises you, and how you should read it without any preconceived notions to guide you. I didn’t have any of those notions when I started reading, because I am someone who usually make up my own mind about books that I read rather than letting the “popular” view dictate mine.

I agree with one thing when it comes to the popular view of Credence; the story was definitely surprising in more ways than one, and definitely not in a good way for me for the most part. I think in Credence, I have found a major turnoff for me when it comes to romance, one that had remained undiscovered up till this point; when the heroine is too loose with her affections when it comes to a father and his biological sons.

It is her step-uncle who is the first in line, and while neither of them professes to anything long-term, the ease with which Tiernan was able to turn herself on and off for the three of them was just jarring for me. Each unto their own of course, but for me, I think I just felt like the Ver der Berg themselves had so many issues to just turn up the testosterone levels on a girl who was barely shy of eighteen, who had not had much love in her life from those who should have loved, sheltered, and protected her.

The psychology of Tiernan was something that bothered me; because it is evident that she has many unresolved issues from the way her parents had neglected her throughout  her life. She had always had whatever riches that money could buy, had had every comfort and luxury the rich can provide, but she never did experience unconditional love, the reason why I felt uncomfortable by the whole vibe of Tiernan being taken advantage of by the three of them. Plus, the way the three of them kept reiterating over and over how she was theirs from that point on was kind of creepy too!

I think one of the biggest reasons why I disliked how Tiernan behaved (apart from my conservative beliefs I suppose), is that her sleeping around added no value to the story. There was no tangible emotional connection to any of the characters that would have made me go crazy over the story, there was no development to her character apart from her losing her virginity and hitting jackpot with three men who could get her off just like that. I couldn’t find anything special that differentiated the guy she ended up with, which was also another bummer in the story. Maybe that is how it is in the modern world. I wouldn’t know.

The way she just fell in love, suddenly, just like that, with the least developed character in the story made zero sense. I am at least thankful for the fact that Jake had enough sense for all of them to step back when he did. I would have preferred had she gotten together with him in reality. Because they actually have conversations with each other that don’t always lead to sex and innuendos being exchanged, and he was mature enough to understand where Tiernan was coming from. Had Jake not stepped back at the point he did, I would probably have turned off my Kindle and banged my head on a wall for the bad porno I was subjecting myself to.

I did enjoy the first half of the book, or should I say the first third of the book where Penelope introduced Tiernan and delivered a gut wrenching beginning to the story. My excitement mounted at that point and plummeted to a quick and painful death thereon after. I just wish that there had been more character development, less getting it off without emotional connections, and more fleshing out of the character who ended up being the “hero” of the story.

That brings me to my other big peeve in the story. The “hero” who not so much as made an emotional connection with Tiernan, much less the readers, ended up being one of the most pivotal characters towards the end. Had there being a back story of how he turned out that way, how his emotions had developed when it came to Tiernan, and what had made him change to a point where he could communicate his feelings with her was an aspect that was deeply missed from the story.

Recommended for those who love anything and everything by Penelope Douglas.

Final Verdict: Credence is one of those books loved & gushed over by many and disappointed the few like myself. I wished for a story that would sweep me off my feet and instead feel bereft of the tangible emotions I wanted to feel from the story.

Favorite Quotes

“Do you feel this?” he growls over my lips as he pushes me into the sink. The thick, hard ridge of his cock nudges my ass, and I groan. “This is what you’re doing to me, Tiernan. It’s not right. Instead of pile-driving the hot tits and ass I came home with, I’m sitting down here, trying to talk myself out of going into your room and giving the teenage piece of ass living in my house a really long kiss goodnight.”
My clit throbs, and I shift on my feet, feeling the slickness between my legs.
“And do I take off my panties for that?” I breathe out.

His taste fills my body, and I slide my hand up, taking the back of his neck and holding him to me. I’m so hungry. So hungry, and I can’t breathe. My blood races under my skin, and it feels so good, but God, I need more.
I need more.
I start to move my mouth and kiss him back, slipping my tongue past his lips little by little, moaning and tasting him until I don’t think I’ll ever get enough.

The nerves under my skin fire, and I feel her heat wrap me up as I push her thighs up higher and drive into her. “Tiernan…”
I kiss her deep, licking her sweat, reveling in the heat inside the cab, and tasting my life all those years ago when I would’ve died happy doing this to someone for the rest of my life.
I look down at Tiernan, her body taking everything I’m giving, and I swear I want to swallow her whole. I’d forgotten what this felt like.
To actually want to make someone happy.

“What do you want?” I ask.
He opens his mouth to speak, but nothing comes out.
And then he lowers his voice, barely a whisper. “I want you to like this.”
I do.
But before I have a chance to respond, he drops me to my feet, twists me around, and pins me to the wall. I gasp as he spreads my legs and thrusts inside of me again, pushing my body up on my tiptoes as he holds my thigh wide with one hand. With the other, he reaches around and slips his hand inside my panties.
“I want you happy, Tiernan,” he says low and husky in my ear. “I want my sons happy.”
He fucks me up against the wall, thrusting faster and faster as I turn my head to meet his lips.
“And I want you to know that no matter where you go,” he tells me between kisses, “you’ll always be ours. We’re your home.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Return to Christmas by Anne Stuart

Format: E-Bookreturntochristmas_2
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Impeccably Demure Press
Hero: John Larsen
Heroine: Madison Simcoe
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 13, 2019
Started On: December 24, 2019
Finished On: December 26, 2019

Return to Christmas by Anne Stuart released in 2019 had me jumping up and down in excitement at the very idea of the new release. Because Anne Stuart is THAT author for me. Return to Christmas tells the story of 27 year old Madison Simcoe and 29 year old John Larsen, in delivering upon the theme of Christmas miracles and love that stands the test of time itself.

It is the year 2020, and Madison who is feeling a bit desolate, a whole lot of disillusioned and a bit lonely decides to cheer herself up by going to the Macy’s Department Store to engage in a little bit of retail therapy. When she gets to Macy’s Madison gets more than what she bargained for when she finds herself transported to the year 1947, and having to rely on the maddening man she encounters, who sets her senses humming.

John would like nothing better than to ignore Madison’s sudden appearance into his life and the way she gets under his skin. An ex-military man, John is hounded by his own demons that are hard to shake off, and it is his ingenuity as a designer that allows him the freedom and leeway to mostly come and go as he pleases within the store.

With Madison in the picture, John finds himself inexorably drawn to her, even when he tells himself that a woman who keeps concocting far-fetched stories about how she came to be is not worth all the trouble. Interestingly enough, the more Madison tries to leave, the harder it is, as whatever it is that had transported her back in time wasn’t done messing with her fate.

Return to Christmas was not exactly what I envisioned for the story to be, but nevertheless I enjoyed most of it and not so much the rest. It is my theory that anything written by Anne Stuart is 100 times better than the any other book that you may alternatively get your hands on, and this one too proved that in spades.

I liked John and Maddie well enough, but I cannot say that I was enamored by them, nor connected with either of them at a deeper level. Madison spent a lot of her time inside her own thoughts which prevented me from understanding where she was coming from at a deeper level. Yes, she was feeling lonesome and feeling an ache she couldn’t define, but beyond that, it was hard to get a read on her character.

John is mellower than Anne Stuart’s usual hero material, which is fine. One doesn’t need to be ruthless to come off as commanding, sexy, and all of those things that makes you hum with pleasure as you read along. I felt that John was a bit under developed as a character. Why? Because I wanted to know more about his past, his likes and dislikes, what made him tick (apart from Madison of course), and I wanted to read about his stint in the military and the damage it had done to him on the inside. That would have made me relate to him more than I did.

I also found it a tad weird that two adults just lived inside a department store throughout the novel. I quite don’t know how I feel about that. The one thing that I did love though, was the epilogue. That was the ultimate ending if you ask me, classic Anne Stuart, leaving the reader sniffling with happy tears.

Final Verdict: Return to Christmas is a novel that delivers on the premise of Christmas miracles and hope in a world that has little of that to offer, and how love knows not the bounds of time and reason.

Favorite Quotes

She stirred again, and her breathing changed. She was coming awake, and she was probably going to be ticked off and embarrassed by where she was, and he steeled himself. Her eyes blinked open, still wet with tears, and she tilted her head back, looking up at him out of those sensational eyes, her mouth still tremulous, and he did what any red-blooded American male would do.
He kissed her.

“So let me tell you what we’re going to do,” he whispered in her ear. “I’m going to undress you. Sweetheart,” he added deliberately, punctuating the word with a bump of his hips against her, and arousal spiked through her—she was back in that restless, anxious longing and uncontrolled, confused need. “And I’m going to dump our clothes on the floor and walk all over them if I want. I’m going to touch you, taste you, anywhere I damned please. You can be on top, but you’re going to be beneath me, in front of me, standing, sitting, any position we can think of. I’m not going to make you do anything you don’t want to do, but you’re going to want to do everything.” His voice was soft, his words terrifyingly erotic, and she closed her eyes, lost in it, lost in him. “Yes?”
It was a question she couldn’t answer, swept away by the crazy sensations racketing through her body. Danger, Will Robinson! She wanted to run, she wanted…she wanted…
“Yes,” she said.

“Condom,” she gasped, wanting to grab his hips and pull him in, to fill this terrible emptiness inside her. He hesitated, just for a moment, and then pushed in, so big, so hard that she almost felt choked, drowning in sensation.
He rested for a moment, inside her, around her, and her skin felt like it would burst into flames. “I don’t have one,” he whispered in her ear. “I didn’t want to be tempted. Didn’t work.”

“Don’t,” she gasped, as stray shudders raced through her body, and his frame reacted to each and every one.
His muscles suddenly bunched beneath her hands, his entire body rigid. “Don’t what? Don’t do this without protection?” He no longer sounded coolly amused—at least she’d pushed him past that point, and he started to pull out, the walls of her sex clinging to him, trying to hold him. “Or don’t do it at all?”
“Don’t stop.”
He thrust back into her, and she gasped as sensations racketed around her body, again, and again, and again, each push reaching deeper, filling her, drowning her in nothing but sex, sweet and sinful, again and again, building to another climax.

She didn’t know who was the more shocked when she licked at the solid column of flesh rising from his body, and then she didn’t think at all, letting her mind dissolve as she leaned down and took him into her mouth, sucking him in deep, and it was wonderful, the feel of him surging into her, pulsing as she drew him in deeper. This was hers—she owned him, she owned this, and she wanted more, she wanted to wrap her tongue around him until he exploded inside her, and she wanted to swallow. She wanted to take everything, but he was too big, her mouth too small, and she almost choked in frustration, his hoarse reaction, his hands in her hair, helping guide her, were almost too much as she tried to take more, all of him.

When he lifted her, turned her, she moved easily, up to her knees as he pushed into her from the back, and the sensation was astonishing as he pushed against something that made her entire body shake, and she still needed more, she needed him to drive away her last fears, she needed him to take her so completely that he held nothing back, wiping them both clean.
“Harder,” she whispered. “Please. Harder.”
The last of his control disappeared, and he slammed into her, so hard that she almost fell forward, but she held on, taking him with powerful, almost feline pleasure, just as she wanted, harder, faster, turning into a cloud of sensation and nothing more, pushing, pumping, almost brutal, and when she came he erupted inside her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: The Loner’s Lady by Jessa Kane

Format: E-Bookthelonerslady
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lyssa
Heroine: John Thorne
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 01, 2019
Started On: December 02, 2019
Finished On: December 02, 2019

The Loner’s Lady by Jessa Kane is one of those quickie reads, perfect when you need something to distract you and tide you over for maybe an hour or two.

I first discovered Ms. Kane when I stumbled across her title Preacher Man, which I of course adored to bits. As most readers, the only thing more I could wish for is for Ms. Kane to write a novel that is full length, so that readers can experience the magic she can weave with her tales, when the tension is drawn tight and the delivery is just right.

Lyssa and her best friend Mason are headed to Catskills to visit his father. Playing pretend girlfriend for the duration of the stay is no biggie when Lyssa makes use of the same “privileges” to ward off unwanted male attention. Mason paints his father as someone who is not one with the times, too set in his ways to understand what it means to be him.

Lyssa is prepared for the worst when she lays eyes on the 42 year old John Thorne, who literally and figuratively takes her breathe away. He is the embodiment of everything she had never known that she wanted, and seeing him in close proximity makes the pretense of being Mason’s girlfriend all that more difficult. Given that the story is just 60 pages, of course the coming together happens just like that, and by that I mean, Ms. Kane somehow made it work. Color me amazed!

I loved the sexual tension, the delivery on it, John and the sarcasm edged thoughts of his that made me laugh out loud. Loved Lyssa, who saw in John the man who would create the perfect blend of storms with her, to ride them out together.

Recommended for those who love quick and hot reads. This one delivers on all fronts!

Final Verdict: The Loner’s Lady is packaged with delicious smexiness and enough emotions to ground you in a way that is hard to put down.

Favorite Quotes

I coax her into a kiss, intending to swallow her screams. I’ve never been much for kissing anyone. But as soon as my tongue is inside her mouth and she’s giving me access to explore, I’m eating at her mouth like a hungry animal. I’ll never be able to live without kissing Lyssa again.

On the next rough invasion of my body, I dig my fingernails into his shoulders and hold on tight, sensing an oncoming storm. That’s exactly what I get.
John falls on me with a desperate sound, releasing hot, rasping breaths into my neck with each slap of his hard sex entering my wet one. He grunts and sweats on top of me, pushing filthy words through his teeth. Words that thrill me because I know they’re borne of pure lust. For me and my body.

My scream of ecstasy cuts him off. Cuts everything off, save the incredible clenching of my flesh, the flood of bliss and completion. I squeeze John’s hips between my thighs and spout nonsense that he seems to understand, because his mouth finds mine and kisses me through the upheaval.
And then he throws back his head and roars like he’s king of the jungle.
His beautiful face, surrounded by his mane of hair, blocks out the sun and if I had any breath left to catch, it would have caught at the sight of him. He’s the ultimate male and I’ve been claimed by him.

“Ready to play rough, wife?”
Without waiting for an answer, I enter her with a swift thrust, reveling in her gratified sob of my name. “Do we ever play any other way?” she gasps, her body already shaking against mine.
I fall forward and our mouths meet over her shoulder in a desperate kiss. “Play hard, love hard,” I grit, canting my hips back and surging forward.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: The Duke by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Booktheduke
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #4
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Hero: Collin Talmage
Heroine: Imogen Pritchard
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 07, 2017
Started On: November 11, 2019
Finished On: November 25, 2019

The Duke is the 4th book in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne, telling the story of Collin Talmage (Cole), Duke of Trenwyth, who is the English Empire’s golden son until fate decides otherwise and takes everything that he holds dear to him. When Imogen Pritchard who works at the Bare Kitten, paying off debts incurred by her deadbeat father meets Cole for the first time, she is spellbound by the beautiful male specimen that he is, and the haunted look in his spellbinding eyes.

That fateful night turns out to be when Imogen loses her virginity to a man whose tender and fierce loving makes her glad that it was him. When dawn comes and they part, even though Imogen might long for a fairy tale ending, her pragmatic self knows that any future between her and the Duke is near impossible, given the vast differences in their societal hierarchy.

A year passes on and when the Duke returns, a mere shell of the man he was, that is when fate decides that even this time around, Imogen and Cole are not meant to be. Two years later, Imogen is a widow, living next door to the Cole, who for some reason cannot stand the sight of the woman whom he believes to be a gold digger, who got the best out of one of his dearest friends.

Circumstances bring these two together again, without Cole being aware of the fact that Imogen is in fact the woman he has been searching for in vain the past two years. Sparks fly as these two battle out their attraction and frustration with one another, which was enjoyable. In the midst of it all, a killer lurks, biding time until the victim that the killer has been after all along can be finally claimed.

I did not end up liking The Duke as much as I thought I would. The beginning was everything I could have hoped for, but towards the middle of the story, there seemed to emerge a deep disconnect between Collin and Imogen which led to my dissatisfaction. Kerrigan took an unusual route to their happily ever after, which was good because it managed to surprise me.

I also felt a bit weirded out by the fact that Imogen’s mother and sister who are very much alive and living with her, never emerged in the story. I believe that also prevented me as a reader from envisioning a more wholesome character for Imogen.

Cole was classic Kerrigan in so many ways. With the mere description of his thigh alone, Kerrigan had me all but salivating over Cole. And Lord, can the man kiss? Sigh! But I believe I would have loved it more had his past being more a tangible part of the story. I would have liked it more had there been more details about his family, the war, his trauma etc. being part of the story, which I believe would have made up for the time during which they were both separated.

An epilogue would also have gone a long way towards making the story more wholesome. I felt that the serial killer angle in the story culminated rather hastily towards the end, which detracted from the enjoyment factor.

However, even with all that did not work for me in the story I still enjoyed The Duke, and Kerrigan is an author I intend to pursue and read because she writes heroes unlike any other and equally strong heroines who revel in the darkness that is such a huge part of the man that they love and adore.

Recommended for fans of the Victorian Rebels series.

Final Verdict: The Duke aka Cole makes you quiver in all the right places. Exploring a serial killer villain in the midst, The Duke was fascinating for the most part!

Favorite Quotes

“Those closest to me call me Cole,” he informed her mouth.
“But … I am not close to you.”
Tightening his arm around her once more, he grasped her hip with his other hand, and pulled her up his startlingly long and muscled thigh with a slow, languid move, until she straddled him as high as his leg would allow. Even through her skirts and petticoats, the movement created an unfamiliar friction against her sex that elicited an alarming but not unpleasant pressure. He didn’t stop until the curve of her bottom settled against his lap. She was aware of a surprisingly insistent cylindrical shape pressed against her. She’d worked at the Bare Kitten long enough to know exactly what it was.
“Far be it from me to contradict a lady, but I beg to differ. You and I are very close, indeed.”

When Trenwyth adjusted his position, his leg rubbed against her so intimately, a stab of sensation caused her to gasp and clench her feminine muscles.
His thigh instantly tensed beneath her and, for a moment, Imogen was terrified that she’d offended him.
Until he did it again.
She had to reach out a hand to the table to steady herself against an assault of wicked pleasure.
His sex hardened against her backside once more, and he leaned up to gather her close. “I have a distinct feeling that you’re quick tinder to set ablaze, aren’t you?” His words slurred a little, but his movements were steady as one hand drifted down her waist and the other up her thigh, angling to meet in the middle.

Imogen thought she’d been kissed before, but she’d been utterly mistaken. His siege of her mouth went on and on until she lost her breath and didn’t care. Her thoughts scattered like a flock of panicked birds chased out of their roost. Even inebriated, his skill with his mouth pushed her beyond her wits. He tasted of Scotch and sin, and Imogen wondered if intoxication was as contagious as a fever, because she felt quite funny.
Just when she thought there was no other place for him to lick, he would begin to suck and nip. To sample and savor. First her bottom lip, then the top before gently capturing her tongue. She thought she’d go mad from the busy sensations.

“Cole?” she whimpered, clutching at him, almost afraid of whatever it was that locked every muscle from her sternum down into uncontrolled pulses.
“Yes,” he growled into her mouth. “Fucking come for me. That’s it.”
The gathering storm broke upon her with scream-provoking intensity. Tears sprang to her eyes as she curled around him, her thighs clenching his as though she rode a powerful steed rather than wave after wave of unimaginable pleasure. Convinced there was magic in his hands, she opened her mouth to tell him so, but all that escaped her was a low cry. Or maybe nothing. She couldn’t tell. Or remember. Or care.

In one graceful move he lifted her, rotated them both, and tossed her onto her back. His body was so big on top of her, pressing her legs almost uncomfortably wide. She wanted to tell him to wait, to give her a moment, but he distracted her with another deep, long kiss.
He released unintelligible words into her mouth, and Imogen knew them to be harsh and filthy. His eyes had glazed over completely now, as though his wits had deserted him, leaving her with nothing but this beast of lust and need.
He lifted himself, arched his neck, and on a smooth, brutal thrust, he was inside her, ripping through the feeble barrier of her virginity as though it didn’t exist, and separating muscles unused to intrusion. The sound he made was more roar than growl, and drowned out her whimper of protestation.

His head dipped low, his body curled around her. So small. So slight. And yet so warm.
Her tremulous breath brushed at his face, her features frozen. Paralyzed. Though her small, pink tongue slipped over her lower lip, leaving a delicious gleam of moisture there.
Fuck, suddenly he wanted to—
Surging up to her toes, she slammed her lips against his with such force their teeth almost clattered together.

He licked at the seam of her mouth, more of a warning than an inquiry, before he claimed it with his tongue. In truth, he half expected her to bite him.
But she didn’t.
The moment a dark groan manifested in his throat, she came alive in his arms, clinging to his shoulders for stability.

Imogen clung to him as he, quite literally, kissed the wits right out of her.
His every muscle was drawn drum-tight as he rhythmically surged against her in harmony to the plunge and retraction of his tongue. He made a sound so foreign to her; Imogen could only identify it as a violent sort of appreciation.
Her throat produced a husky answer that seemed to both thrill and comfort him.

He murmured urgent things against her mouth, low, animal praise that was admittedly harsh and vulgar against the softness of her lips.
But his hand. His hand remained gentle as he spread the plump petals concealing her sex and saturated his finger in the desire he found there.
Their combined exhale was a desperate, throaty invocation. Cole bent farther over her, hungrily latching to the throat she exposed as her head rolled back on her shoulders when his fingers slipped and stroked around the soft folds of her core.

He hit his knees behind her, his left arm stealing around her middle to pull her in, bringing her bare bottom to fit neatly against the front of him. A hot, hard length pressed against the cleft of her ass, impeded only by the thin cloth of his trousers. His grip was iron against her middle; his breath volcanic against the back of her neck.
Then he bit her.
Imogen opened her mouth to cry out, but he’d already begun to lick and lave at the shoulder he’d marked, and her sound of pain escaped as a husky sigh of submission.
It was all he needed to hear.

“Wait—” Her voice sounded too thin. Too low. Too husky to be her own.
“Don’t stop me,” he commanded, though a ribbon of desperation threaded through the order.
So she didn’t.
And he didn’t.
He drove inside her with rough power and searing heat. It was like he penetrated her with lightning, striking at her with his hips and injecting an indefinable current that locked every muscle into futile spasms of blistering pleasure.

Suddenly he was there. Her covers were gone and he replaced them, clutching her to him as he took her offered mouth with ferocious gentility. Clinging to him, she relished the heat building inside of her, answering the scorching flames he licked into her mouth with a demanding tongue. She tasted love on him, love and fear and earnest need.
Desire fanned through her, at once tensing and releasing her muscles. She turned into a puddle beneath him, her legs falling open, her body making way for his weight.
“Good sweet God,” he groaned. “I’m going to taste you everywhere.”

“Cole,” she begged, desperately grasping for his hair. “Please.”
Another pleased groan caused her feminine muscles to clench against the sensual promise in the sound, and she surged against his mouth. He latched on to her then, his clever tongue flicking and laving, creating sensations of overwhelming delight.
She cried hoarse relief to the canopy as wave after wave of crippling ecstasy crashed over her. Her breath came in sobs and inarticulate words. It felt like bliss flowed from his tongue into her body, bowing it with paralyzing spasms until the fingers she’d used to hold him to her now clutched at him to pull away before she expired from ecstasy.

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Review: His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-Bookhiseverykiss
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Guilty, #2
Publisher: HarperCollins
Hero: Dylan Moore
Heroine: Grace Anne Lawrence
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 28, 2004
Started On: November 03, 2019
Finished On: November 09, 2019

His Every Kiss by Laura Lee Guhrke is the 2nd book in the Guilty series. First published in 2004, His Every Kiss tells the story of renowned musician and composer Dylan Moore, who struggles to make music ever since a terrible incident leaves him bereft of his ability to compose, battling insomnia and all other ugliness that becomes part and parcel of life for him from that point on wards.

When Grace Anne Lawrence comes across Dylan at a point in his life when he is feeling his lowest, it is because of Grace that Dylan steps back from the precipice that he had been ready to fling himself off of. Because for the first time in months, in the presence of Grace, Dylan is able to focus on the music that is such an integral part of himself, which he had lost.

When Grace disappears leaving him behind, the story continues five years on. Dylan whose search had not found where Grace had disappeared to, at times believes that she had been a figment of her imagination when he had been at his lowest. When Dylan runs into Grace again, he is determined that this time around, he would hold onto her even if it means working hard to gain that right to be with her.

Grace is wary of Dylan for many reasons, one of them being the fact that she is a woman once burnt and twice shy. There is nothing more that Grace wants than to return home, a home she knows would no longer welcome her because of the shame she had brought unto her family when she left them in pursuit of her passions. Grace is done with men who are creative, who needs her as a muse, who sees her only as a means to an end. In Dylan, that is all Grace sees and nothing more.

Dylan, without being privy to any of what makes Grace so reluctant to give into him, pursues her with a dogged determination that Grace sidesteps with every intention of rejecting his every offer. That is until Dylan comes face to face with the result of one of his many dalliances in the past in the form of Isabel, his daughter.

Grace gives in and comes into Dylan’s life in as Isabel’s governess, and amidst all of it, Dylan is relentless in his need to possess the woman who calms his mind and soul to a point that he is finally at peace from what hounds him day and night. However, it would take more than Dylan’s considerable charms and wit to convince Grace to give in and love him for the rest of both their lives.

His Every Kiss, I must be honest, kind of fell short of my expectations. The beginning of the story hinted at something that could have delivered a richly nuanced story, exploring an illness that affects so many people across the globe. An illness that particularly has no cure and has driven many to a point of madness, the only avenue left being adjusting to a sickness that one would in all probability have to suffer through for the rest of their lives.

I loved Dylan as a character, and felt terribly sympathetic towards him because I could empathize with what he was going through. Grace has a backstory that kind of broke my heart at certain points, but the aloofness with which she treats Dylan for the most part of the story never really won any brownie points for her with me. I wished she had been more welcoming, more understanding, and more emotionally connected to Dylan which would have made their union more believable towards the end.

The one character that annoyed me endlessly was Isabel. I don’t think I have come across a more tiresome child in a novel, who at times made me want to clench my jaw, and hard. I really wanted to love Dylan and Grace’s story, but alas, I must say that there was something integral missing between the two of them for their connection to be believable and tangible for me as a reader.

Recommended for fans of Laura Lee Guhrke.

Final Verdict: With every kiss he lays on Grace, Dylan speaks of a need that goes beyond words. If not for the lack of emotional connection between them, His Every Kiss could have been a marvelous read!

Favorite Quotes

He bent his head, and before she could think, she was parting her lips to take his kiss. A lush, open-mouthed kiss it was, one that sent shimmers of pleasure through her entire body, pleasure so startling she cried out against his mouth.
He caressed her tongue with his own, deepening the kiss. As if her body had a will of its own, Grace gripped the edges of his cloak in her fists, rose on her toes, and met his kiss with the shameful eagerness of a strumpet. So long since she had felt this way. So long since she’d felt this craving for a man’s kiss, his touch, his body. She felt so keenly alive at this moment.

She was wet, and so soft. He pulled back and she arched toward his hand, wanting more and ready to receive it. He bit his lip, feeling the painful bruise of his teeth as he fought to keep himself in check just a bit longer.
“This is what you want, isn’t it?” He dipped into her and out again, stroking the folds of her opening, spreading moisture with the mere flex of his hand.
“Yes,” she gasped, frantic, her face buried against his shoulder, her panting breaths hot on his skin. “Yes, yes. Oh, yes. Ohhh.”
Her hips jerked, and she climaxed with a long, low moan of feminine ecstacy, her thighs clenching around his hand again and again as she said his name.

His hands tightened their grip and he pulled, impaling her on his shaft. Driving out the ghost of the man she had known before. Mine , he claimed her. Mine .
Arms and legs wrapped around him, she followed his rhythm, crying out at her peak, tightening around him again and again as he held her buttocks in his hands and thrust deep within her, all his own passion finally unleashed in a rough, frantic cadence.

“Your hair, Grace,” he said, his gaze lowered to the muslin ribbon that held her braid together. “Let me see it loose.”
She was melting beneath that dark, heated gaze. Her fingers fumbled with the end of her braid, where the ribbon lay against her bare breast. She untied the strip of muslin and began to unravel the plait of hair.
Dylan moved to stretch out and lowered his weight onto his elbows as he watched her fan her hair out loose around her shoulders.
“That,” he said unsteadily, “is a sight I’ve dreamed about a hundred times. God, I wish it was daylight, and I could see all the colors in your hair. Come here.”

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Review: The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthehunter
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #2
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Hero: Christopher Argent
Heroine: Millicent Karolina Lapinski
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 02, 2016
Started On: September 01, 2019
Finished On: September 26, 2019

“Death is inevitable. To fear it is to waste energy.”

The Hunter by Kerrigan Byrne is book 2 in her fabulous Victorian Rebel series, where she writes about rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards who steal your heart and leave you wanting more. The Hunter explores the story of Christopher Argent who is an assassin, whose very nature makes him the perfect killer for hire. That is until Christopher’s services is procured to assassinate London’s darling and the stunningly beautiful actress Millicent Karolina Lapinski (Millie).

Christopher who is always able to detach himself from the lives he has taken thus far is unable to do so when he meets Millie, and in the process puts her and her son’s life in danger. With Millie Christopher for the first time learns the meaning of unthrottled desire. In Millie Christopher sees a woman who drives him crazy with need, and with whom his senses come alive as if he has been waiting for her touch all his life.

Christopher’s darkness lies deeply engraved in him, making him one of the most fascinating heroes I have read of late. I enjoyed The Hunter more than I did the first and third book in the series, the latter of which I read first. The lack of an epilogue is perhaps one of the main reasons why the rating did not go higher. Having gone through the roller-coaster ride of emotions that this book takes readers on, I believe we need an epilogue to let go of Christopher’s story with a heart that believes he got the best of what the world has to offer in terms of love of the kind that perseveres, no matter what.

Christopher’s character is perhaps one of the most emotionally complex characters that the series has offered thus far; his birth in the belly of the beast that is Newgate Prison and the unconscionable violence and tragedy that had been so much part of his life and shaped him into adulthood, marking him for life. I was traumatized by the sheer scale of violence that Christopher was subjected to, much of it with just enough details for the reader to form a full picture.

I found the delve into his psyche the most fascinating aspect of the story. Millie’s son Jakub was just adorable and I believe that he really did make a difference in the way Christopher sees himself. Millie was also such a darling character. She was a match for Christopher in every sense. A fierce lioness where needed and a gentle lover who knows just the right touch; when to press forward and when to give in, which is crucial in dealing with a man like Christopher whose life up till that point had taught him that he was a man unfit for loving and being loved.

Seeing Dorian and Farah was such a nice touch to the story as well, both of them easing into the new roles of their lives as husband and wife made me really happy.

I am so glad for having stumbled across these titles because at the cost of repeating myself, they come with the kind of darkness that I as a reader revel in. Heroes whose darkness is embraced by the heroine rather than embarking on an agenda of reform for the hero which is just plain annoying and unrealistic when it comes to characters who have gone through so much as Christopher did.

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of dark historical romances. This one is all kinds of delicious!

Final Verdict: Christopher is the kind of hero that makes a romance stand out. The Hunter is a novel that takes readers through tumultuous emotions of the kind that delivers!

Favorite Quotes

“It won’t hurt, I promise,” he whispered as his fingers gently reached the nape of her neck, and then her jaw, and paused there.
It already hurt. She ached, ached in places generally best left ignored. Millie’s breath had now been reduced to little more than needy pants. “If you don’t kiss me, I’ll die,” she confessed.
He froze.
Vibrating with frustrated arousal she surged against him, lifting to her toes and grinding her lips against his.
The kiss was as hungry as it was sudden. While his eyes may have been cold, his mouth was hot and tasted of wine and male. She kissed him with abandon, enjoying the way his entire body jolted and went instantly rigid.

His fingers tightened again against her throat, just a little, and she gasped. Then moaned as a thrill of fear titillated down her nerves and settled as a pool of moisture between her thighs.
“Again,” she demanded, her arms winding around his neck, her body rubbing against his like a cat demanding to be stroked.
His curse was lost in the cavern of her mouth, and she knew in that moment that they both needed to see whatever this was between them to fruition.

Her scent filled his nostrils and held him prisoner. Soap, sweat, and something that reminded him of late summer berries. Everything about her enticed him, and the clenching of the muscles beneath his stomach pulled a sound from his throat so desperate, it could have been a plea.
In that moment, he could feel that she lost her fear.
And he lost his mind.

“I wonder…” Her husky voice vibrated through him, sending shivers of yearning down his spine that arced to his turgid sex with agonizing need. “I wonder, Mr. Argent, if you take instruction as deftly as you give it.”
Christopher froze beneath her, his entire being focused on the growing heat between her parted legs, creeping closer to his aching arousal with the graceful arch of her body as she continued to sit back.
“Never,” he breathed. He obeyed no one.
“Not even if I ordered you to claim my lips with yours?”

“Kiss me,” she commanded, rolling her hips back until she was pressed intimately against him, her voice containing a growing desperation that might not entirely pertain to the carnal heat building between them. “Kiss me like you did the night we met. Like a man who captured my gaze across a glowing room and seduced me with a waltz. Touch me as though we are back in that dark corner beneath the stairs of the Sapphire Room and you are Bentley Drummle, nothing more than a harmless, charming businessman.”
“Millie,” Christopher warned, confused by the almost frantic need in her eyes. By the fear and strain that seemed to underscore her passion.
“Kiss me like you never meant to kill me.”

Despite his words, his dreamlike exploration didn’t last. She may have initiated this kiss, but she was a fool if she thought she’d control it. Not only that, but she hadn’t been prepared for it, for the pure blistering intensity of it. His lips were hard, yet full. His movements raw and unapologetically carnal. He kissed her with a wicked mouth, one that issued threats and vulgarities and brutal, albeit sometimes endearing, honesty. He kissed like a man unused to kissing. No artfully applied maneuvers or sensual variations. He kissed like a man about to—to fuck. Like he wanted to pour himself into her, or perhaps crawl inside of her. This was a dominant kiss. A shameless kiss. The kiss of a man who knew his sins and granted himself absolution.
This was the kiss of a killer.

His rough chin scratched at the soft valley between her breasts, and she stiffened when she realized his mouth was drifting lower, leaving her upper half completely exposed.
“What are you doing?” she whispered.
“Your scent on my body, on my hands, drove me mad with hunger,” he said against the plane of her quivering belly. “Once I bathed I wanted it back. I want to taste you until you say my name.”
Dear sweet Lord, she couldn’t let him do that. It was too wicked. God, who was this man? Where was her terse assassin? Where was the man who bent her over and took her with her clothes left on? The one who’d pleasured her in the ballroom earlier and then pushed her away and disappeared? Who knew that in his dreams he was so utterly sexual? That he could set her blood to burning and mortify her at the same time?

Her sob touched him as deeply as he penetrated her. Soft hips spread beneath him in sweet feminine submission.
“Come for me,” he demanded on long, almost punishing thrusts. “Say my name … One … more … time.”
“Christopher.” His name was ripped from deep in her throat. “Please.” A plea or a prayer, he couldn’t tell. It didn’t matter. She whimpered, then screamed. Her body clenched around his cock, bore down on him with a throbbing pressure so intense, he couldn’t fight it.
He closed his eyes, battling the ecstasy building in his abdomen and preparing to burst from him. He clung to the moment, held as long as he could.

His possession was unbelievably slow as he sank inside of her, filling her with a heat she’d not known existed. For a moment they stayed like that as his cock stretched her slick channel and throbbed inside her welcoming body. They both stared, stunned by the incomprehensible intensity of the moment. It was like a thousand bolts of lightning converged within them, between them, and they somehow had joined more than just their bodies.
But fused their souls, as well.

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Review: The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthehighwayman
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #1
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Hero: Dougan Mackenzie
Heroine: Farah Leigh Blackwell
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: September 01, 2015
Started On: August 30, 2019
Finished On: September 01, 2019

Having read and enjoyed The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne, I decided to start from the beginning of the Victorian Rebels series as each of the installments in the series seemed like books I would enjoy, being a sucker for a romance that is darker than is the norm.

The Highwayman is where it all begins, the story of Dougan Mackenzie aka Dorian Everett Blackwell aka the Blackheart of Ben More, and his obsession with Farah Leigh Blackwell, the eight year old girl who had become the sole friend Dougan had made as a boy of eleven years, abandoned to the merciless care at a children’s home.

Two blissful years were all that Dougan had with Farah, until fate intervenes and they are torn apart from each other. Cruelty that is life lands Dougan in prison, and the story continues seventeen years later when Dougan makes his return as the notorious criminal of London.

A proposition to keep Farah safe ends with Dougan tying the knot with her, and thus begins a battle of wits between the two. Dougan harboring the secret of who he is, while Farah believes that she had lost the boy that she had loved and waited for all those years. Dougan’s scars are not just skin deep but rather years of abuse within the bowels of prison had left its mark deep inside of him.

Winning Dougan over is something Farah relishes, as kiss by kiss Dougan unravels, his wife driving him insane with need; the need to touch and be touched, even when he believes he is unworthy of it. Farah proves to be a match for him in every single sense; able to stand his brooding, his passion, his possessiveness and the deep craving he has for the woman he had claimed as his so long ago.

Kerrigan writes dangerous heroes so well that the reader is transported to a time where excitement and danger lurks at every page you turn. Relatable characters make it so easy to fall in love, and the ruthlessness that is part of Kerrigan’s heroes is what makes this heart of mine fall for them, in every single way that matters.

What was most poetic for me in this story was the powerful writing in the scenes that so vividly depicted the inner struggles of Dougan’s soul which warred magnificently with his need for Farah. When that ironclad control of his broke, that was the moment that my heart rejoiced and I couldn’t have asked for more!

Recommended for those who love darkly mesmerizing historical romances.

Final Verdict: The Highwayman sizzles through your veins like the potent force that is Dougan, and lays siege to your heart with the beautiful character that is Farah. Loved!

Favorite Quotes

“Tell me.”
“I will. As soon as you resume washing.”
“I—I’m finished,” she lied. “I’m clean.”
Flames licked at the ice in his blue eye. “You missed a spot.”
An answering heat bloomed deep inside her. Low in her belly, no, lower—in her womb. Farah wanted to hate him. He held her captive. Manipulated her emotions. Used this wicked compulsion to gratify his own perversions.
And yet …
As the soap slid through sparse curls and into the cleft between her thighs, ribbons of unexpected sensation stirred from her most intimate flesh and unfurled across the expanse of her skin. Her mouth dropped open, but she caught the moan before it escaped.
Their gazes collided, the flames in his eyes darkened as his pupils dilated.
He knew.

Farah added a bit of the cream-filled cornucopia to her bite of cake. The wine fed a ribbon of recklessness and she stretched her lips wide over her dessert, overflowing her mouth with a mélange of sweet decadence.
Blackwell’s unblinking eye honed in on her mouth as it struggled to contain the overload of fluffy whipped cream.
The skin around his lips whitened.
Farah searched for her napkin. Right, she’d thrown it at him, because he’d deserved it, and the ill-mannered villain never gave it back to her.
Shrugging, she swiped at the corner of her lips with a finger and lapped at the cream with her tongue.
The wine glass shattered in his grip.

“There’s no amount of preparation for what we’re about to do.” He strode past her, barely giving her an assessing glance, and claimed the seat by her bed as though he owned it. Which he did, of course. Shadows gathered near him as they were wont to do, despite the candles she’d so carefully placed. Cold menace and a dangerous, unstable element rolled off him and reached for her like the mist that blanketed the Highland shores of a morning, shrouding the dangers of the ancient volcanic rock and the shapes of predators.
For a predator he was, that had never been clearer than in this moment.
“Now,” he said in that deep, chilly voice, examining the fine leather of his fitted gloves. “Take off your dress.”

It had been almost twenty years since anyone had touched him in a way not meant to cause pain. To humiliate, incapacitate, and control. It had been just as long since he’d used his hands for a purpose other than defense, violence, or domination.
Farah’s skin. Her flawless, unmarked skin. Free of scars, branded by no one, and belonging to him.
At last.
How could any man bring himself to desecrate such unblemished skin with his touch?
How did he stop himself from doing just that?

Dorian had never in his life felt as much anticipation or found as much pleasure as she had for her cake and cream. Not his wealth, not his luxury, not in the victory over his many enemies. Not until this moment, when the round, tight curve of her hips and ass were presented to him like the spoils of war.
And yet he could not claim it, for the battle was not over. It raged within him. There were blood, casualties, losses of ground and gaining of the upper hand. It was violent. The outcome unsure.
So he sat.
And watched.

Bracing her heels on the bed frame, she took a deep breath and parted her knees.
As the silent seconds ticked by, Farah opened her eyes and stared up at the canopy. Her husband truly was pitiless. Barbaric. Unforgivably cruel. He left her like this, an artless innocent bared for the first time without comfort or care. Gathering her annoyance like a cloak, she summoned the courage to look down at him.
What she saw froze her and melted her all at once.
Between the valley of her breasts and the V of her thighs, Farah saw Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, quake. Not just a shiver, or even a tremble. But great, shoulder-heaving shudders that affected his breath.

If Dorian was a lesser man, unused to patience, torment, and agony, he would have released his seed then and there. But he grappled his orgasm back down, thinking of her hands on his repulsive flesh, letting the fear throw ice into the flames.
Then she parted the inner cleft, dipped inside, and let out a moan that could have aroused Eros, himself. Her finger came away glistening as she pulled it back toward the nub that seemed to demand more attention than anywhere else. When she swiped the moisture across it, her muscles all tensed, and she threw her head back onto the counterpane, letting loose a sound so visceral Dorian’s will snapped.
And he lunged.

“What is it, Dorian?”
“Don’t call me that,” he admonished gently. “Not here.”
“What shall I call you, then?” she asked, puzzled that the intimacy of his first name could be forbidden from the intimacy of their marriage bed.
“Husband.” The word caressed her cheek. “Call me husband.”
Farah felt a tender smile touch the corner of her lips. “What is it, then—husband?”
“Your mouth,” he confessed with all the reverence of a saint and the torment of a martyr. “I’ve dreamed of this mouth.” He lifted a hand to her face, his breath hitching as he traced her lower lip with his glove. “I’ve imagined that word on your lips more times than you realize.”

She tasted like heaven. Like desire and release. Like want and fulfillment. Like woman. His woman. The predator in him was going to dine until he’d had his fill.
And he had a lifetime of hunger to satiate.
The frantic need to struggle against her bindings had leached away from Farah the moment her husband’s mouth had closed over her fingers.
When he’d issued his vulgar threat in her ear, arousal had raced through her with crippling strength. Now his wide shoulders overflowed the space between her parted thighs, and his mouth was doing things that made her bite her lip so hard she tasted blood.
His tongue split her in one long lick. He growled against her, and Farah whimpered in reply, unable to stop herself.

“God, the taste of you. I’m drunk with it.” He moaned, his eyes alight with accusation as he held himself above her, still fully clothed but for the arousal now pressing against the slit of her body. “What have you done to me?”
What had she done to him? “I—I—”
His glove covered her mouth again, stopping words she never would have found.
“I never wanted to hurt you,” he whispered against her ear. “I’m sorry.”
Farah didn’t have time to contemplate just which of his many offenses he was apologizing for before he surged inside her, breaching her virginity.
His glove muffled her cry of pain as Dorian branded her with hot, hard flesh, searing all the way to her womb, or so it seemed.

Farah had thought her part over, that he’d coaxed from her body all the pleasure it had to give. But, to her ultimate surprise, a tight, aching heat bloomed low in her belly, starting in her womb and reaching for the shaft of branding heat plunging and retracting from inside her.
Her lips parted of their own accord, and a small sound of delighted surprise escaped.
Blackwell’s eyes sharpened. Questioned.
Farah’s body answered without thought. A lift of her hips, a press of her thighs, and a soft moan of encouragement.
It was all he needed.

Beneath the dark wool, that long ridge of his manhood flexed and strained, and her body answered as she imagined it always would.
Last night, her husband had put his wicked mouth on her, causing her unimaginable pleasure. Could she have the same effect on him? What if she pressed her mouth against that hard length? What would he do?
She turned her head, running her cheek along the slightly abrading fabric, feeling the heat of the flesh beneath.
“Farah,” He growled a warning.
“Yes?” she breathed, her chest suddenly tight, filled to the brim with anticipation, her body releasing a slick rush of desire.

“You’re mine!” he snarled against her surrendering mouth. “Only mine.”
He might have been able to stop if she hadn’t kissed him back.
Even while grappling with this new beast of fire she’d provoked, she didn’t know the danger she toyed with. Didn’t know the consequences of her actions.
Dorian fought with the strength of a drowning man, but in the end, the beast won out. He’d always known it would.

He breached her body with one brutal thrust. Claimed her with the second. Branded her with his third. She cried out only a little. Her feminine muscles bearing down against his invasion for only a moment before drawing him in.
Mine. He drove forward.
Only mine. He seized the soft flesh of her ass, spreading it for his view. Watching his cock spear into her with deep, devastating thrusts.

He bent over her, the width of his shoulders engulfing the slimness of hers. “I’m like this all the bloody time around you. I hate it. Do you know that? I have no control. I just want to fuck and fuck and fuck until nothing matters anymore. Until we can no longer move our limbs or lift our heads to eat.” He flexed his still-hard cock inside of her. “This is supposed to go away after I come. But it doesn’t. Not with you, wife. My passion is this insatiable perversion.”

The curses he released as she closed her lips over the thick head of his shaft were not all entirely in the Queen’s English. At least, Farah didn’t think so, and she was pretty certain she’d heard them all.
He tasted like salt and sin.
The jerk of his hips as he bowed against her pressed him as far into her mouth as she could take, and still she didn’t hold the half of him.
“Farah,” he groaned. “Oh. Fuck.”

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

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Review: A War like Ours by Saffron A. Kent

Format: E-Bookawarlikeours
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press Inc.
Hero: James Alexander Maxwell
Heroine: Madison Smith
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: February 24, 2017
Started On: August 27, 2019
Finished On: August 30, 2019

A War Like Ours by Saffron A. Kent is one of those novels that does not make for light nor easy reading. It is heavy in a way that makes you think, deep in a way that makes you wish the story would just continue for all eternity, and darkly delicious and sinfully delightful in the way that only Saffron can deliver.

Madison Smith and James Alexander Maxwell’s paths cross each other under the most innocuous of circumstances. Madison who lives with her girlfriend and believes that men aren’t for her, and James who hides from secrets that he harbours, lying to himself and the one person that matters to him the most, day in and day out because he knows he would not be able to handle the aftermath of facing the truth.

What brings these two together is James’ daughter, who brings a lightness to the otherwise at times dark themes explored in the story. There is Madison’s girlfriend who continues to subject her to the kind of toxicity we have been brought up to believe happens only in heterosexual relationships. Madison’s inability to face the truth of the effects of her past which had left a resonating mark deep within her, makes it extremely difficult for her to accept her burgeoning feelings towards James.

James might not like the fact that he is drawn towards Madison, but that does not stop them from exploring the explosive passion that rises forth between them. Madison and James communicates with each other through their coming together, each of them leaving a bit of themselves with the other every single time. Neither of them admits to what is happening between them, that is until things come to an explosive confrontation whereby each lays down the dark and harrowing scars inside them, punching the reader in the gut with the rawness of the emotions that seeps through the story.

While I do not know how I felt about certain aspects of the story, one thing is for certain. I have never read any other book like this where both protagonists are equally flawed and broken to a point where you weep for their pasts and anguish over their future while at the same time, a part of you hopes against hope that everything works out. This is perhaps darker than the other Saffron Ken books I have read thus far, and that is saying something.

James with that visceral guilt of his that had manifested and grown under the abject lack of care from the one person who should have given it to him unconditionally, resulting in the kind of warped psychology that would have broken most completely, was fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time. There is a gentleness to James even then, and there is a ferocity to his need and love that speaks to you on so many levels.

It truly broke my heart when James did the bravest and the hardest thing any parent might have to do in his life. While I know deep in my heart that it was for the best, there was always that tiny part of me that wanted a different resolution in terms of what had happened on that front. But I also know the courage it took for James to do that. So for that and more, I love him, forever more.

In the deepest corners of my heart, I see James and Maddie married with 2.5 kids and nothing but happiness plaguing them. Because they have had more than their fair share of suffering and abject misery to last them for multiple lifetimes.

Maddie’s spunk and protectiveness of James was endearing even in the destructiveness that was the theme of their non-relationship, which I believe was the reason why I fell for Maddie and rooted for her through and through.

Recommended for fans of dark romances which explores aspects of mental health that proves to be insightful. Every single time I pick up a Saffron Kent novel, I am amazed by how her words speak to my mental health issues. For that and more, I would always continue to come back for her stories, whenever they maybe published.

Final Verdict: A story of destructive forces, emotional turmoil, psychological aftereffects of childhood neglect and trauma, and the healing power of love – none of what James and Maddie goes through makes for easy reading, but these are characters who would claim your heart and leave you better for having known them.

Favorite Quotes

I didn’t know who made the first move. But suddenly his hot lips were on mine and I was kissing him, sucking them into my mouth.
He shuddered, and I was right there with him. That first contact felt life-changing, breath-stealing, colorful behind my closed eyes. His taste was just as it should be, masculine, minty with a touch of tart apple juice and metallic blood. I fisted his shirt to bring him even closer. Hard planes of his chest cut into the soft curves of mine.
His arms wrapped around my waist and squeezed tightly, to the point where I filled his mouth with the last of my breath, moaning. It felt like I was dying, and my skin came alive, buzzing and humming.

All while feeding on my lips, he encircled my neck with one hand and tugged my hair with the other. The rough texture of his fingers drove me crazy, making me scratch his shirt-covered back as I locked my thighs around his waist. I pushed my core into his. It was wet, starving for him. Growling, he dug his torso into mine, making me feel his cock through his pants, big and hard.
I’d forgotten how good it could be with a man, how rough and unpolished. It’d been four years since I’d experienced something so dynamic and feral.

“Hurt me. You know you want to.” Her words, dampened by her breath, misted over my lips, and I forgot everything else.
Madison’s fingers tangled in my hair, and she jerked my face down, smashing her lips against mine. My hand slipped from her neck and wrapped around her waist. There was no stopping us—stopping me—after that. I bit into her again, as if she were my forbidden fruit, drinking her moans and lapping my tongue inside her mouth.

I pulled her hair in a sudden grip and yanked her head back, making her moan. I dragged my lips down to the tender part of her neck and sucked her skin into my mouth, gnawing at it. I felt the vibration of her moans in her throat, against my cheeks.
My cock was so hard, the hardest it had ever been, so extremely painful that it was pure pleasure. I dug my teeth sharply into her neck, and she whimpered and shivered, rubbing herself against me. Her skin was so hot, hotter than the summer outside. She loved this just as much as me.

My cock leaked pre-cum, and I wrapped my arms around her waist, locking her in place. We both stared at each other, barely breathing as I pulled her forward to me and, at the same time, shoved my cock inside her. Her head fell back as she gasped, exposing her bruised neck. I groaned, losing the battle to be silent as her tight heat gripped me. It spasmed around me. I squeezed her waist to control myself, or I would come right that second.
I stared down at the juncture where my cock was shoved up inside her liquid core, unmoving. The thick base smeared with her wetness, her core stretching over it, the smell of sex—it hypnotized me. My mind filled with a blank, ethereal space, like everything I knew was wiped from existence. Rationality, beliefs, my very name.

My body hummed with excitement. I bent down and took her nipple in my mouth, sucking on it. I opened my mouth wider, took in as much of her breast as possible.
She was rocking, pulling my hair, begging me to move by lifting and rubbing her hips on mine. I did not move, remaining still inside her. I barely rubbed her clit. I simply sucked on her nipple and played with the other one. I knew she could come like that. She was extremely responsive. I dug my teeth around her nipples and bit down.
Madison screamed and came. She throbbed against my cock and convulsed in my arms. I leaned away and watched her. Her neck craned back as her breasts jiggled with her orgasm. Just like that.

I flicked my finger over her wet curls, looking for her clit. She moaned low as I found it. I kept flicking. She had opened my shirt halfway down and scratched my chest. Without warning, she seized against my cock again, and her eyes fell closed as she came, moaning, writhing, like she was fighting to stay alive. She jerked up the counter, once, twice, thrice as her core drooled and gushed.
A ball of heat originated in my stomach, spread over to my spine, and slid to my cock. I came then, spurting my cum deep inside her.

I coiled my arms around his neck, gripping his hair, and kissed him hard, coating his mouth with my tart juices. He turned hungry, devouring my taste. I took advantage of his distraction and pushed him on the floor. Still kissing him, I unbuttoned his pants and pushed them down. I took his raging cock in my hands, long, thick—it felt longer and thicker though when it was inside me. My pussy contracted, and I slammed down and jammed his cock inside.
His head dug on the floor as he arched his back, his fingers tearing at the flesh of my hips. We grunted in unison, high and out of control. I felt what he felt. A simultaneous burst of pleasure or something equally cheesy that you never understood until it happened to you.

Without taking his eyes off me, his lips searched and found the bruise I’d showed him earlier. He bit down at the puckered skin and I barely suppressed a howl, my mouth falling open, my body convulsing as if electrocuted. My eyes watered. I scrambled to get away from him, from the pain as a kneejerk reaction. But he wouldn’t let me and then my core rippled in a roaring orgasm. My back bowed and shivered under him.
He nibbled on the bruise as he slid in and out, gently. He lapped my blood up and I came again, losing my breath as pleasure tore through my body.

His eyes had turned intense, making my breath shudder. Slowly, he made his way over to me until his body was warming up mine. “I don’t need homework to be able to have exceptional skills, Madison.”
“Are you saying you’re a natural?”
Without answering, he advanced on me and I backed up until my back hit the wall. “I don’t have to…” he whispered, putting his arms around me. “Your screams say plenty.”

He rested his forehead against mine and licked my trembling lips. “Tell me, Madison, do you ever imagine how dying must feel? Knowing that, no matter what you do, it’s not going to be enough?”
I shook my head. No, I didn’t imagine dying. Who would? But now I wanted to. For him. In any case, with his cock hard against my pussy, his fingers around my neck, I couldn’t think much of anything. Then he moved away, only to push my shorts and his pants down our legs so he could thrust inside me in one smooth motion.

He heaved me up by the waist and all but pushed me down to the ground. He tore at my clothes, shoved his cock inside me, fucking me into oblivion.
Those were the times when we truly realized what this was all about. The conversations, the accidental intimacy that had come between us these past days clouded the real purpose of it all. It was simple, really. We were two people who couldn’t not fuck each other.
These small manipulations, these tiny wars kept everything in perspective. They gave us hope that we wouldn’t lose ourselves in each other.

Then he stopped and studied my torso. I imagined it streaked with red. He thumbed my cheek and whispered, “You’re beautiful like this. Crying and bleeding.”
He bent down and lapped my wounds with his tongue. I almost came right then.
We had sex out in the open for anyone to see. And I didn’t care. He moved inside me, sometimes fiercely, sometimes tenderly. We never looked away from each other.
And when I came around his hard cock, a tiny whisper tore out of my soul. “James…”
He came a second after me. He tucked his face in the crook of my neck and sighed against my skin, “Madison…”
We had finally shed our limits, like sloughing off useless skin. Tears that had stopped streamed freely now from the sides of my eyes, down to my hair.

“I’m hungry,” I murmured distractedly, wondering if she’d taste like citrus—tart and sharp.
“Are you asking me to cook you something?” She frowned. “I’ll have you know I cook for no man. I wasn’t built that way.”
“I think you were.”
“Well, I beg to differ. I won’t cook for you even if you pay me.” She cocked her hips and scoffed.
“I don’t think I’ll have to pay you.”
“Is that right?”
“Mmm-hmm. I think you’ll do it for free.” She opened her mouth to say something, but I gripped the back of her neck and pulled her to me, smashing my lips over hers, almost melding them together. She held on to my shoulders and kissed me back.
Breaking the kiss, I whispered, “You’re it.”
“What?”
“The thing I want to eat.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo

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Review: Ask Me Why by Harloe Rae

askmewhyFormat: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Brance Stone
Heroine: Braelyn Miller
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 20, 2019
Started On: November 09, 2019
Finished On: November 10, 2019

Ask Me Why by Harloe Rae is a story that caught my ever roving eye because I am a sucker for an anti-hero or a hero whose most redeeming qualities aren’t visible from the get go. I mean, I can take heroes who are sappy, good to the very core of their existence etc. to a certain level, but I need my fix of anti-heroes, who are in short supply, considering the need for authors to conform to what the current reader-base wants, and how romance as a genre has evolved over the years.

The heroine Braelyn Miller is three years in her road to recovery from the deepest loss that has marked her life; the loss of her significant other Devon, to a senseless accident. Suffering from post-traumatic disorder, panic, and anxiety since, Braelyn gives all of herself to her shop which stocks all sorts of knickknacks for those looking for something out of the norm. It is the abundant candy section at her store that draws Oliver Stone (Ollie), a young boy whose enthusiasm and joy brings undiluted happiness to Braelyn for the first time in a long while.

However, all of that is overshadowed by Ollie’s father, a successful divorce lawyer Brance Stone, who carries his cynicism close to his heart like body armour. With a mother whose actions had left its bitter mark on him, to Ollie’s mother who had removed any ounce of compassion left in his heart, Brance’s only saving grace comes from Ollie, for whom he would brave the store of Braelyn’s, even if it means his entire being prickles and goes on high alert mode in a way that does not sit well with him.

Brance views all women with suspicion, especially given that he knows the effect he has on women at large. However, that suspicion is laced with contempt when he believes that Braelyn is using Ollie to get close to him. Clash is what Brance and Braelyn do at first, their verbal warring such fun at certain points, laced with heavy moments as well. But ultimately the fight goes out of both of them and succumb they do to the thick and heavy desire between them which is almost palpable at times.

I enjoyed Ask Me Why in a large way because I needed the kind of hero that Brance was in the story. I have missed heroes like him to the point I could cry! Ollie contributed in a huge way towards making the story adorable. That is no mean feat I tell you. Especially given the fact that my previous read featured a child who was so tiresome, that I felt like throwing my Kindle at the wall most of the times. Then came Ollie, and all of that discontentment went poof and I was all smiles and love and wanting to cuddle the little guy for all the optimism and inquisitiveness he brought to the story.

I also adored Braelyn. She was hands down, one of the best aspects of the story. Her unwavering strength in the face of such a tragedy was something I could identify with, be it in a little way. It is not easy to pick up the pieces of your life when you suffer such a terrible tragedy, and there is an embedded message of hope in Braelyn’s phases of recovery. One does not get cured overnight, it takes effort and the love of well meaning friends/family around you to keep you grounded and able to take those difficult first steps, one at a time. Her inherent goodness shines through in every single aspect of the story and I couldn’t have asked for a better heroine in any way.

Let me not forget to mention just how much of an effect Brance had on me. He was obnoxious at points where I wanted to throw something at him, but that does not detract from the fact that he is sexy in a way that makes you melt on the spot. Once he turns on his charm, and when he is not even trying, there is a certain way with which he carries himself that does a number on you. The term sex-in-a-suit was invented for men like Brance, and alongside with that confidence of his, I was a mess every time he started talking dirty!

With all that I loved about the book, there were a couple of things that disturbed me as well. I understood why Brance was the way he was; cynical and damaged from the past that had done its number on him. But I found his attitude towards Ollie’s mother to be double standards; he himself sort of agrees to that. He is all for women’s rights and each woman having the independence to decide whether they want to carry a pregnancy to term or not.

But when it comes to Ollie’s mother, Brance was practically the one that “forced” her to do have him. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t even imagine the story without Ollie. I also agree that the way Ollie’s mother treated Brance from that point forward was abominable, but what do you expect when you force someone to do something that they do not want to wholeheartedly? Resentment flares and some people are obviously worse than others. I am not excusing her behavior for one second, but I just found it all to be very hypocritical.

That brings me to the point where things head south in Brance and Braelyn’s fragile beginnings of a relationship. When Braelyn suffers a panic attack (with good reason if you ask me), and Brance did not even try to understand where she was coming from, at that moment I actually hated Brance. For someone who suffers from the same, I understood the panicky, end-of-the-world scenarios that had been running through Braelyn’s mind at that point in time. Once your brain starts running in that direction, it is extremely difficult to rein it in and keep it in check. Because lets face it, our minds tend to have a life of its own; that is one reason why it is so fascinating as well. I would have liked it better, had Brance tried to understand, even a little.

However, I bow down to Harloe Rae’s amazing ability to spin a tale that sucked me in right from the beginning. I enjoyed Brance and Braelyn’s extremely bumpy journey to their happily ever after.

Recommended for those who love a hefty dose of their alpha-holes. Brance is definitely that and more! My first Harloe Rae certainly did not disappoint!

Final Verdict: Ask Me Why is breathtaking on many levels, combining terrible tragedy and heartache with the surprising curve balls that brings immense joy and happiness in life; I loved Harloe Rae’s voice that resonated deep within.

Favorite Quotes

I find a sliver of space to move closer. “Wanna hear a secret?”
“Always,” Braelyn purrs.
“You’re a damn distraction.”
She snaps her fingers. “Guess it sucks to be you.”
Her tactics don’t deter me. “All I can think about is wiping that sad look off your face.”
“I’m fine, other than these inconvenient visits from you.” Her guarded eyes skitter away from mine.
“Don’t lie. You want me. Just once would do. I’d turn that frown so far upside down, you’d never stop smiling.”
“Cocky asshole.” She dips her chin, but I catch the blush staining her cheeks.
I close the distance between us by another foot. “I’ll lick your clit until you scream my name. Then it’ll be my cock’s turn to pleasure you. Over and over until you beg me to stop.”

I shiver when Brance’s hand begins to wander. His fingers drift along the bare skin of my inner thigh. The loose fit of my shorts grants him easy enough access. I sag against the shelf when he reaches my center. Brance shoves my panties to the side with masterful precision. He glides through my slick heat, turning me into a quivering mess. He doesn’t waste time teasing with me, zeroing in on my clit with sure strokes.
Brance rips his mouth away with a snarl. “You’re wicked. This shouldn’t be happening.”
“But it is,” I whisper.

The talking abruptly cuts off when he crashes our mouths together. I moan into the kiss, arching against him. His lips drift up my cheek and temple. The move is almost tender.
“You’re such a pain in my ass,” he growls close to my ear.
I shift against him, rubbing along the hard ridge prodding at me. The empty space inside of me weeps. I curl my fingers on the shelf, but metal doesn’t satisfy me. A chunk of finely toned Brance would do nicely. I want to grip his sculpted ass and soothe any pain he might be feeling.

“Don’t make me wait, Brance. Please.” When the plea drops off her lips, a surge of need propels me forward. I grab a condom from my discarded pants. With calculated precision, I ripDon’t make me wait, Brance. Please.”
When the plea drops off her lips, a surge of need propels me forward. I grab a condom from my discarded pants. With calculated precision, I rip open the foil and roll the rubber down my shaft. I climb onto the mattress and move between her parted thighs. Leaning on an elbow, I lower myself until we’re aligned together. My cock nudges her entrance. Braelyn loops her arms around me. She’s about to let me conquer the deepest parts of her body. I line up with her center and push inside.
Her hips lift and tilt, welcoming me further. I sink to the hilt. We share a groan.
Braelyn’s nails dig into my back. “B-Brance, holy shit. You fit just right.”
I brush my mouth against hers. “So fucking good.”

I crawl backward until my head bumps against a pillow. He reaches behind him and strips off his shirt with one smooth move. I’m antsy, rubbing my thighs together before spreading them apart. Brance undoes his jeans and shoves them down. He stands before me in a black pair of briefs, tenting in the front with his desire.
For me.
I prop myself up and lick my lips. With a curl to my fingers, I beckon him to me.
Brance strokes himself through his shorts. Such a damn tease. “Take off anything you don’t want ripped into shreds.”

Make me feel good.”
“Don’t I always?”
I open my mouth with another plea. Brance lines up and slams into me. A burst of color blooms in my vision. I claw at the sheets and tumble under his spell.
Holy shit.
Brance’s hips grind against me, forcing us closer. There’s not a sliver of space separating our bodies.

When we’re alone again, I arch a brow at my date. “Same side seating?”
“Only way to appreciate these booths.”
“Oh?”
Brance’s palm rests on my bare thigh, drifting up and higher. “Yeah, babe.”
I spread my legs without hesitation. With one touch, I’m dragged under his seductive spell. Those talented fingers roam further, disappearing beneath my dress. I’ve never been more grateful for my choice in clothing. He reaches my satin covered center with no signs of slowing down. I really like the direction he’s taking.
“W-what are you doing?” My tone is barely a rasp.
Brance ghosts his lips over my cheek. “I’ve missed you. Just a little starter while we wait for the main course. Relax, babe.”

I sag against the seat in a pliable puddle, ready for Brance to mold me into his making. The rest of my resistance fades when he swipes across my slit. I’m so wet, almost embarrassingly so. Telltale tingles are already creeping up my legs. The thrill of getting caught. The tender warmth in his searing gaze. His strong strokes against my clit. It’s a recipe for a sharp and powerful climax.
I clamp a hand over my mouth and moan. Tremors wrack my limbs, an eruption cracking through the volcanic surface. My eyes roll back while I shudder in his grip. I do my best not to rattle the booth.
“You’re so fucking sexy.” His voice is a hypnotic pulse lulling me deeper into the waves of euphoria.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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