Review: Withering Hope by Layla Hagen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: Outfox by Sandra Brown

Format: E-Bookoutfox
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Drex Easton
Heroine: Talia Shafer
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 06, 2019
Started On: August 09, 2019
Finished On: August 13, 2019

Outfox by Sandra Brown tells the story of Drex Easton, an FBI agent who is determined to find a killer who has eluded the authorities for years. Drex’s hunt is a personal one, which makes him relentless, willing to bend the rules if they fit the purpose, all to hunt down a serial predator who has bested the system for far too long.

Drex’s hunt finally brings him to a man known as Jasper Ford, married to a Talia Shafer, which in itself is a deviation from the norm. But from the moment Drex meets Jasper, his hunting instincts go full throttle, being finally able to put a face to the man who had killed eight women or perhaps more, if the stealth under which this particular killer operates is anything to judge his kills by.

Drex’s encounter with Jasper is further complicated by the fact that his newly wedded wife, Talia Shafer, gets under his skin from the onset. So much so that his partners and loyal friends caution him against doing something that could derail an already delicately balanced operation. Things reach a climactic point when Jasper once again disappears, driving Drex to take measures into his own hands.

From the beginning, Outfox is a novel that throws the reader off course by a huge margin. One can guess as much as they want to, but apart from a few circumstances, I for one ended up being completely wrong on my hunches (when I am usually right), which made this a stellar read in my opinion.

In short, I loved Outfox and what it delivered. While I will continue to bemoan the fact that Ms. Brown only releases one novel per year now, the fact that what she does release into the market is always stupendous goes a long way towards easing those particular woes.

How Ms. Brown still manages to take my breathe away with every hero and heroine that she brings to life in her books is a factor that continues to confound me, even when I should know better. Her heroes are intriguing to a point where they are sexy without even trying.

There is vibe that her heroes give without even putting much effort into it. Ms. Brown does not have to go on describing each perfectly crafted muscle on the hero’s body to get the reader to sit up and take notice. He just has to walk into the scene and you are a goner. No matter how many books I have continued to read from Ms. Brown, I am still a sucker for her heroes and I would not have it any other way. In true Sandra Brown style, Drex threw every preconceived notion I had of him out of the window, even as the pages dwindled to reach the very last couple of paragraphs in the story.

When it comes to heroines, Ms. Brown creates women of class, seemingly out of thin air. It is in the way they carry themselves, with dignity and beauty to their character which is not just skin deep. There are many factors which makes a heroine stand out, and Ms. Brown does a perfect job of bringing together just the right ingredients to make Drex and Talia inevitable.

The suspense factor was really done well in the story. Outfox is an apt title for the story because somehow, you never quite figure out what is going to happen next. That takes mastery over storytelling that Ms. Brown has damn near perfected over years of publication. And I for one hope that she never stops crafting these gems. Jasper is a villain who was ingenious in the way he works the system, cunning in a way that makes the heart beat just a tad faster. It was not only Talia who felt uneasy during the scenes where Jasper is featured prominently. He is the sort of character who makes your skin crawl, without even trying.

Outfox is a novel recommended for those who love superbly crafted and tightly plotted thrillers. With just the right amount of romance in the mix to appease readers like myself, Ms. Brown seems to have outdone herself, yet again!

Final Verdict: Just when you think you have got everything figured out, Ms. Brown throws you for a loop until the reader is left running around in circles chasing their own tail. Ms. Brown only gets better with time and Outfox is a testament to just that.

Favorite Quotes

“Talia.” He bent his head lower and nuzzled her just below her ear. “This isn’t only doing my job.” He caught the lobe of her ear between his teeth.
She stirred and whimpered his name. He followed the soft expulsion of breath to its source, her parted lips, and covered them with his. Her mouth was hot and wet and receptive when he pressed his tongue inside.
Unlike when he’d kissed her before, this time she didn’t turn her head aside and angle away. Instead she leaned into the kiss, not just with her mouth but with her body.

When he didn’t think he could withstand any more, one hand didn’t slide off at the tip. It stayed. Fingers dripping lather made teasing rotations around the crest, over it, again, as though testing its tautness, and then something wicked was done to the slit.
Through clenched teeth, he strangled out, “When.”

He turned around and hauled her against him. He tried to pause and register all the incredible sensations that holding her wet and naked against him induced, but his brain was functioning on a more primitive tier.
He gathered up a handful of her hair and pulled her head back, tilting her face up to his. He looked into her eyes, then covered her mouth with his. It was a ravenous kiss. He couldn’t get enough of her, and she was as hungry.

He levered himself up and above her—and was shocked to see tears sliding down her temples into her hair. She reached for him, grabbing at him until their mouths were melded and he had pushed into her.
But he went only far enough to secure himself just inside. There he waited, wanting to commit to memory this moment of feeling her around him for the first time. Then he continued pressing into her until he was solidly imbedded.
She hugged him to her tightly, and it was fantastic, but he had to move or he was going to die. He buried his face in her hair. “If I get too rough, slow me, stop me. I want…I want…Oh, God…”
The mating instinct took over. In spite of his best intentions, his strokes became faster and stronger. A slight shift in his position enabled him to reach deeper, and he did. God, did he.

She opened her thighs and guided him in. He hissed swear words as she slowly sank down onto him and began rocking. He grunted with pleasure. “And I thought the first time was good.” He angled himself up in order to reach her breasts. His mouth was hot and avid, and left her nipples wet with loving.
When he lay back, he gripped her hips between his hands and coaxed her, coached her, cajoled her in the raunchiest language. Several minutes later, on short puffs of breath, he said, “Have at it. That’s what I said. But, sweetheart…God a’mighty.”

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Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Format: E-Bookthekissquotient
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Kiss Quotient, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Michael Phan
Heroine: Stella Lane
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: June 05, 2018
Started On: May 25, 2019
Finished On: June 03, 2019

Thirty year old Stella Lane has a tough time identifying with what is normal for most people; stuff like dating, small talk, sex, husbands and boyfriends, to the point where her mother even suggests using Tinder. On the other hand, Stella has a brilliant mind, a sharp focus that is perfectly in line with her fascination for data; how bits of information comes together and fits together creating patterns where none existed before.

Two years younger than Stella, Michael Phan is of mixed Vietnamese and Swedish heritage and an escort with three years of service under his belt and counting. The excitement he used to have for the job has started to wane – however there is a darker need that drives him to do what he does, the need for revenge upon his father.

Stella facing the daunting task of perfecting her skills at having sex does what any rationally thinking individual would do. At least that is what Stella decides to do; she procures the services of Michael hoping that he would be able to show her the ropes and even teach her how to seduce someone and not feel like throwing up at the same time. But far from what she expects, Michael with his fascinating tattoo and alluring body scent throws Stella off course with the ferocity of need and other emotions that he invokes in her.

Michael, contrary to his own self-made rules on being an escort, agrees to give Stella three sessions whereby which he accepts to teach Stella all that she wants to know. But it is under the condition that no emotional entanglements cloud whatever it is that they are doing, Michael believing that he himself is far too jaded for the kind of emotional attachment he has warned Stella about. But then again, the best laid plans always have a way of being derailed all too well.

So begins the sessions leading to the entanglements that Michael was looking to avoid, and what Stella herself never saw coming. There is an ease with which these two mesh, even though at first Michael is clueless as to why Stella is the way she is; upfront and sometimes seeming to be cruel in the way she gives her honest opinion on things.

The way Michael seduces Stella, one scorching kiss at a time was enough to make me melt. There is a ferocity to Michael’s gentleness that works well with Stella (and me!), which is one reason why it was so easy to fall in love with their story.

Reading The Kiss Quotient, it does not feel like you are reading a debut novel from the author, but it is as if you have been reading Hoang’s novels all your life. There is a familiarity with the way she eases you in, shows you how challenging it is for someone like Stella regarding stuff we tend to take for granted, and the lust and love that blossoms between two people who for all intents and purposes in all likelihood are never destined to meet.

Michael’s family is one that you fall in love with, especially Quan, Michael’s cousin and sparring partner. His role is prominent in making Michael truly understand where Stella is coming from. Stella being an only child faces the sort of pressure that comes from having parents who are well established, with the kind of mindset that believes they know what is best for their child, under all circumstances.

I loved Stella for having the clarity of mind to know what she wanted. That is one of the many reasons why I fell in love with her from the start. Michael has his hangups to deal with, but none of that made him any less appealing. In fact, it made me fall in love that much harder with him. Whatever hurdles that both Stella and Michael had to go through to reach their happily ever after was worth it because Hoang is amazing in the way she weaves complex human emotions together to give the reader all the feels required to fall in love, forever more.

I was sighing by the time I read the last couple of chapters in the book, my throat clogged up with all the emotion that was seeping through the story. Michael was everything, and I mean everything (literally and figuratively), that a woman could ask for in a man. Stella was just as adorable, just as essential in the way she fearlessly falls for Michael, is yin to Michael’s yang, in every single way that matters.

Wholeheartedly recommended. This is one book you should not miss out on if you are a true romance reader!

Final Verdict: The wondrous nature of Hoang’s writing can only be felt by immersing yourself in Michael and Stella’s story. Beautifully crafted, be it emotions or the scorching sex scenes in the book. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

Wet heat stroked over her bottom lip. His tongue. She knew it was his tongue, but closed-mouth kisses made her forget. Another stroke, and shivery sensations cascaded outward. More kisses. In between aching presses of his lips, his tongue caressed her, making her skin tingle.
Soon he was seducing her mouth, stroking her bottom lip, the top lip, teasing the crease. Maybe she parted her lips. Maybe she wanted him to go further. But he didn’t. The closed-mouth kisses she’d liked so much in the beginning were no longer enough. She tried to capture his tongue, to take it into herself, but he evaded her. He brushed at her lips with maddening strokes, dipped inside for the merest second, withdrew, and she kneaded his shoulders in frustration.

He unlooped the bag from his shoulders and let it fall to the ground before he stepped toward her, not stopping until her back was pressed against the open door. He flattened a hand on the door next to her face and leaned down. His gaze dropped from her eyes to her lips. “I’m going to kiss you now.”
“Okay.” He’d shaken her brain into malfunctioning, and apparently that was all she could say now.
He touched his lips to hers, and pleasure jolted to her heart, down her arms, down her legs. Tilting his head, he kissed her deeper. Once. Twice. Again. Until she sighed and leaned into him, tangled her fingers in his cool hair. He claimed her mouth with his tongue in a way that was new and familiar at once. She kissed him back with everything in her, trying to tell him all the things she wasn’t articulate enough to say.

“Let me hold you.”
She inched as close as she could get without actually touching him.
He suppressed a smile. “It might help if you sat on my lap.”
Biting her lip, she crawled onto him and straddled his hips. Fuck, so close. That part of her, opened wide. He went hard in an instant but forced himself to take things slowly. This was about Stella. He expected her to sit stiff as a board until he thought up some kind of sorcery to make her relax, but she immediately settled in close and rested her cheek against his shoulder. When his arms encircled her, she released a ragged sigh and went boneless.

He smoothed his hands up and down her back until her muscles relaxed beneath his palms. That was when he gave in and kissed the underside of one breast. She curled her fingers, and her nails pricked his skin.
Pulling back, he asked, “Are you okay, Stella?”
She cleared her throat twice. “Tell me what you’re planning. Please.”
“I’m going to suck on your pretty nipples and lick them with my tongue.” Her grip tightened on his shoulders.
“That was a bit more graphic than I was expecting.”
“How would you have said it?” He ran his mouth from the underside of her breast up to the place where pale skin gave way to dark areola.
“I don’t know what—”
He covered her nipple with his mouth and sucked hard.
“Michael.”

“I still like mine best.” She put a spoonful of mint chocolate chip in her mouth. The complex combination of vanilla and mint exploded on her palate. Bits of chocolate crunched between her teeth. Perfection.
“Let me try it.”
She held her bowl out toward him, but he didn’t put his spoon in it. He trailed his fingers over her jaw as he tipped her head back and sealed his lips over hers. His tongue speared into her mouth, and the salt of him mixed with the flavor of the ice cream. She didn’t know if she was mortified, shocked, aroused, or all three. With a lingering lick on her bottom lip, he pulled away and grinned, his dark eyes intense and hazy.

Somehow, she found her hands tangled in his short hair. Her body was coiling tighter, grasping at his fingers, so wet now she could hear the slippery sounds every time he drove back into her.
“I’ll stop, Stella. Clearly . . .” His tongue rubbed over her fast and hard, and she clenched helplessly around his fingers. “Clearly, you hate this.”
“Michael.” That breathy, needy voice was hers. She didn’t care. She rubbed her hungry flesh against his tongue, nearly sobbing when he took her back into his mouth.
He sucked with perfect pressure, and she came apart with strong, wrenching convulsions.

“Michael?”
His face was drawn as if in pain. “I’ve been wanting this too long. It’s too good. You feel . . .” He exhaled. “If I move, I’m going to lose it.”
She couldn’t stop herself from smiling. She wasn’t alone in this. “Move.” She arched her back and rocked against him. The motion pushed him in even deeper, filled her.
A raw groan escaped his throat. “Stella, I’m serious. Give me a moment to cool down. This is our first time. I want fireworks for you.”

She brought their lips together and kissed him like he was oxygen and she was short on air. He ran his hands down her back to her hips, cupped her sweet ass, pulled her into his hardness. She struggled to get closer, threaded her fingers through his hair as she poured herself into the kiss.
So soft, every part of her. But covered by clothes. Michael loved clothes, but they locked Stella away. He’d never felt the urge to tear at buttons like he did now. Breaking the kiss, he captured a hand and loosened the cuff around her elegant wrist.
“Clothes off,” he growled.

He eased his hands down the swan line of her spine and hooked his thumbs in the elastic of her panties, pushed the material down her thighs. They were soaked clear through, and the scent of her arousal pushed him to the edge of his control. He almost spilled into her palm. She might be pleasuring him as part of her sex ed, but she was loving it, too. You couldn’t fake this kind of evidence.
After settling her back onto the bed, he tore her panties off, balled them up, and brought them to his nose to inhale her scent. “I’m keeping these.”

“Stella, do you have any idea how hot your—”
“Michael,” she whined, bending her legs restlessly. “Don’t say it.”
He paused. Her words said no, but her body . . . Her chest heaved on ragged breaths, and she was clenched tight around his fingers.
“I think you like it when I talk dirty to you,” he whispered.

He lowered himself over her and kissed her mouth, her jaw, her neck. Hard flesh prodded at her sex. As he slid into her, their eyes accidentally met and locked. Panic spiked. Too raw, too exposed. She tried to look away until she realized the vulnerability she saw was his. Dark eyes gazed deep, seeing her seeing him.
Their bodies picked up an elemental tempo. Hips surged and retreated, claimed, gave. He searched between their bodies until he could touch her right where she needed it. She burned and wound tighter and tighter. Moans tumbled from her lips as she arched into him. Through it all, their gazes held. He saw it all, heard it all. She would have been embarrassed if it weren’t for his smile, the tender way he brushed the hair from her face before his free hand tangled with hers.

The world stopped. All was silence but for their hearts trying to synchronize their crashing.
-He didn’t know how to describe the way he felt seeing her in his clothes, knowing she’d kept his shirt and had been wearing it to sleep all this time, but it was really good. He’d been feeling like this a lot lately—basically, anytime Stella smiled, demanded a kiss, or crossed the room to be near him, but also when they weren’t together. He’d spent the entire past week in a euphoric high, grinning for no other reason than he was thinking of her. No doubt about it. Michael was stupid in love. He knew this was temporary, knew it wasn’t real, knew it couldn’t possibly end well, but he’d done what no escort should do anyway. He’d fallen for his client.

“Why? Did he do it wrong? Was he a bad kisser?”
“It felt wrong.”
“Why?”
“Because he wasn’t you.” The soft look in her eyes killed him. He would do anything for that look. Anything.
He angled her head back with a hand against her jaw, trying to be gentle despite the violence raging in his veins. “Going to kiss you.” He had to. If he didn’t, he would go crazy.
“Don’t. He’s in my mouth. I can still taste him. I can’t get him out.”
He released a fierce growl. “I need this, Stella.”

When she began to lower her panties, he shook his head. He looped one of her legs around his hip as he lifted and pressed her against the tile wall.
She made an impatient sound. “Don’t tease me, Michael. I need you.”
He pulled the crotch of her panties to the side and thrust hard and fast, burying himself inside her. Her breath broke, and she moaned his name. So fucking hot. He stroked his tongue over every inch of her mouth, claiming it as he angled his hips to hit her clit. The tight grip of her body, her sweet mouth, her legs around him, her breaths on his neck—perfection.

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

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Review: The Wicked Ways of a Duke by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-Bookthewickedwaysofaduke.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Girl Bachelors, #2
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Rhys De Winter
Heroine: Miss Prudence Bosworth
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: December 26, 2007
Started On: May 05, 2019
Finished On: May 15, 2019

The second book in the Girl Bachelors series, The Wicked Ways of a Duke by Laura Lee Gurhke turned out to be a delightful read in so many ways, one that I enjoyed perhaps even more than the first book in the series.

28 year old Miss Prudence Bosworth is a girl bachelor, now working as a lead seamstress, a position which she had worked hard 11 years for. A chance meeting brings to her notice Rhys De Winter, the Duke of St. Cyres, who is in dire need of a wealthy heiress.

33 year old Rhys has a pretty good idea of what he wants – a wife who is wealthy enough to pay off the debts his family has accumulated during his absence, a wife who would pretty much let him be as he has no intention of falling in love, ever.

A romantic at heart, Prudence’s fortune comes in the most unexpected of ways. An illegitimate child, Prudence had learnt to support herself through her own hard work, all of which comes to an abrupt halt when her father’s solicitor informs her that she is now the sole beneficiary of a vast amount of wealth, the kind that one only dreams about. But this wealth does come with its own requirement that she marries within a certain period, something a tad difficult given that Prudence has no such significant person in her life.

When Rhys finds out what Prudence is worth, thus begins his scheme of ensnaring Prudence into his life, something he does rather ruthlessly and effectively. Prudence has no idea of the true intentions of the man she falls so hard and fast for, and before she knows it, Prudence is the one who takes that leap of faith and comes clean about the immensity of her wealth, never knowing that it is exactly what Rhys had banked upon. Rhys deserves an Oscar for his performance during the scene that unfolded. If I had not been privy to the information that he had before, I too would have been taken in by the “genuineness” of his performance.

Through all of this and what takes place beyond the marriage, Laura Lee Guhrke exposes to readers tidbits of what makes Rhys the way he is. A childhood that had not seen much happiness, a younger brother who had taken his own life, and a mother who had ignored what had led him to commit suicide. The way Prudence chips away at the iron clad armor around Rhys’ heart and emotions was one that I reveled in. The way that Rhys is helpless in the face of the visceral attraction that exists between the two was something that gave me all the good feels.

When all is said and done, the fact that Rhys grovels, does it so well, and redeems himself was one of the best aspects of this novel. Prudence getting “back at him” in kind was such fun to watch as it unfolded. I adored Prudence and how unconventional she was. There is this refreshing aspect to her character that I found so easy to fall in love with. Prudence might be a romantic at heart but she is definitely not a pushover. That is something I loved about her character from the onset.

Rhys and his past played a lesser prominent role in the story than I thought it actually would. But the truth of the hows and whys when it comes to an event that had scarred him badly and Rhys’s relationship with his mother was one that served its purpose in the story when all is said and done.

Enjoyed the lusciousness that is Rhys and Prudence together. Recommended!

Final Verdict: The many wicked ways in which the Duke of St. Cyrus seduces Prudence is something worth mooning over. Loved Prudence to bits and Rhys forever more!

Favorite Quotes

Prudence stood on her toes and twined her arms around his neck. Her lips parted willingly beneath his, but when he deepened the kiss and his tongue touched hers, she stirred in involuntary surprise. She started to pull back, but his hand tightened in her hair to keep her where she was, and his mouth tasted hers in a lush, openmouthed kiss that was so sensual, so blatantly carnal, she knew he must have learned it from those French cancan dancers. She feared she was equally carnal, however, for when he withdrew, she followed his move, pressing her tongue into his mouth. That seemed to ignite something inside him, for he made a rough sound against her mouth and leaned into her, using his body to maneuver her backward.

Rhys’s hand slipped beneath her skirt and petticoat, then glided up her leg, across her hip and between her thighs, his touch scorching her beneath the thin lawn material of her drawers. The tension inside her continued to build as his fingers eased inside the slit of her drawers, and when he touched the dark curls there, she felt her whole body blushing in response.
“I could stop,” he said, the tip of his finger caressing her in her most intimate place. “Is that what you want?”
She tried to speak, but a frantic, “N-N-N…” was all she could manage, for her body was on fire with shameful excitement, excitement that flared higher with each touch of his fingers.

She couldn’t imagine what could be better than what he’d done to her on the train, but then his hands spread her thighs apart and he opened his mouth over the same special place he’d touched that morning.
She cried out, her body jerking at the exquisite sensation evoked by that carnal kiss, and he stopped, lifting his head a fraction. “Do you love me?”
“Yes,” she panted, her hips writhing, arching upward. “Yes.”
He raked his tongue ever so lightly over the spot where all her pleasure seemed centered. “Say it. I want to hear you say it.”
“I love you, Rhys.” Her fingers curled in his hair. “I love you.”

Rhys turned her body lengthwise on the table, then hoisted himself up, bringing his body fully over hers and bracing his weight on his arms. “Prudence,” he said, reminding himself she was a virgin, thinking to warn her what to expect, wanting to go slow, but the feel of her, velvety hot and wet, against the tip of his penis was such an erotic sensation, he knew there was no time for gentleness or warnings. With one hard thrust, he entered her.
She cried out again, and this time he knew it was not with pleasure. Cursing himself, he kissed her, smothering the sound of her pain with his mouth, hating that he’d caused it, even as he relished the virginal tightness of her.

“Love me?” he whispered, nuzzling her throat.
“Yes,” she whispered, her fingertips caressing his face.
He lifted himself above her, kissed her, nipping her lower lip between both of his. “Say it again.” She began to laugh. “I love you.”
He laughed, too, laughed, by God, in this place, where he’d never laughed in his entire life.

“Come on top of me,” he told her, rolling onto his back, and when she complied, he pulled her skirts up to keep them out of the way and spread her legs over his hips. He then reached between their bodies and hooked one thumb in the opening of her drawers, ripping the thin lawn fabric farther apart to give himself greater access. Gently, he spread her labia with his fingers and thrust upward with his hips, entering her fully.
She sucked in a deep gasp, and he went still. “Did I hurt you?” he asked, dreading that he had.
But she shook her head from side to side so emphatically that her hair came tumbling down to tickle his face. “No. Oh, no.”
Relief flooded through him, followed at once by desperate, hungry need.

She was blushing, her skin awash with a tint of soft pink in the afternoon sunlight. Her forehead glistened with a fine patina of sweat. Her eyes were closed, her dark lashes like tiny fans against her cheeks. Her lips were parted, and between soft, panting cries, she kept touching them with her tongue. Her expression was one of such erotic concentration, with everything in her striving to reach climax, it made him smile. And when she came, in wave after wave, her hand over his, her body clenching around his penis in convulsions that went on and on and on, he felt a pleasure greater than any he had ever known before.

And afterward, when she lay in the crook of his arm, nuzzled her face against his neck and whispered, “I love you,” the warmth that washed over him thawed the icy chill in his soul as the gut-twisting heat of Parisian absinthe and the blistering summer sunshine of Italy had never been able to do.
“This is where we’ll live,” he said.
And as he kissed her lavender-scented hair and listened to the songbirds in the leafy English elms over their heads, Rhys de Winter thought that perhaps his own April had come at last. He dared to believe that he had finally come home.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young

Format: E-Bookbeforejamaicalane_
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: On Dublin Street, #3
Publisher: Penguin
Hero: Nathaniel Sawyer
Heroine: Olivia Holloway
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 07, 2014
Started On: April 28, 2019
Finished On: April 29, 2019

It is no secret that I love a good and healthy (sometimes a not so healthy) dose of angst in my romance novels. Heroes who have lost the love of their lives tend to give this factor to a book, and that is one reason why I picked up Before Jamaica Lane as my next read, the third book in the On Dublin Street series by Samantha Young, a totally new to me author.

Before Jamaica Lane tells the story of 26 year old Olivia Holloway who loses her mother to cancer at the age of 21, and hero Nathaniel Sawyer, who had lost his childhood sweetheart to lymphoma at the age of 18, rendering him to become the commitment-phobe that he is.

Olivia’s lack of experience in terms of flirting, talking to the opposite sex in any manner of interest that goes beyond friendship has meant that her love life remains pretty much nonexistent. Though Olivia and Nate have grown to be close friends, simmering beneath the surface on the part of Olivia is an attraction towards Nate she wills away quite successfully, most of the time.

All of that changes however, when Olivia seeks Nate’s help in honing up her skill-set in the seduction of the opposite sex, having grown tired of constantly being on the outside looking in. What starts out as one friend helping out the other, combusts into something more, something that neither Olivia nor Nate are prepared for.

Nate is a man who prefers to live in the past, someone who has never moved on from the tragic loss of the love of his life. It is as if Nate himself has become the shrine to the woman he had lost, and Nate avoids entanglements at any cost that could jeopardize his lifelong mourning.

Nate does not take to it kindly when he discovers that his feelings have definitely become more where Olivia is concerned. The blow-up that happens as a result was raw and emotionally draining as they come. The real conversations that Olivia and Nate have at different points in the story served to be one of the best aspects, which gives the tale such emotional depth that you cannot pull yourself away from any of it.

Nate’s character was one that I fell in love with, right away. There is this quality to him whereby he is equal spades charming, kind, and so effing sexy that it takes your breath away; he just sort of makes you literally swoon on the spot. And oh my stars, can the man kiss? I believe his kindness was the aspect that pulled me in the most (yes, me, who loves villainous heroes). It goes to show that if an author crafts a character well, the unexpected can always happen. Of course, it does help that Nate is a force to be reckoned with in the bedroom, when and where it matters.

Olivia was just as wonderful. I could not have asked for a better heroine in terms of the tale that unfolded. Even with her insecurities that were understandable, rising up to the challenge, putting herself out there, and taking charge of her love life was something I wholeheartedly supported. Even when it came to the inevitable point of no return between her and Nate, the fact that Olivia believed that she deserved better, that she deserved it all, made me want to stand up and give her the biggest hug she had ever received in her entire life.

Before Jamaica Lane is a story that needs to be read by anyone and everyone who loves romances, angst, and the reawakening of a hero who had lost himself to grief. Wholeheartedly recommended.

Final Verdict: Before Jamaica Lane is a novel that carries enough emotional punch to fell you in one single swoop. Nate will claim your heart and Olivia your soul. This is that book.

Favorite Quotes

His mouth parted, letting me in. I flicked my tongue against his, and suddenly I wasn’t in it alone. He moved his lips against mine, gently licked at my tongue until all I could taste was sugar and beer and Nate. Our kiss deepened.
Goose bumps rose all over my arms, and my breasts swelled against him.
He groaned, the sound vibrating in my mouth.
My fingers tightened in his hair. I couldn’t even remember putting them there.
My chest was pressed against his. I couldn’t remember him putting his arm around me to haul me close.
God, he could kiss.

The pressure built between my legs, and frustration grew along with it. I needed more. More somehow. Clasping my hand around his neck I pressed my knee between his to bring me that little bit closer. Wanting a deeper taste, I sucked on his tongue.
A growl rose from the back of Nate’s throat and suddenly I was pushed away from him. The absence of his mouth was almost painful. It took me a minute to come out of the fog of desire to realize Nate was staring at me wide-eyed, panting.

When that hot mouth of his closed around my left nipple, my hips slammed against him in reaction. ‘Oh, God.’ My thighs gripped him as I urged him closer, my back arching for more as he first licked me and then sucked hard, all the while pinching my other nipple between his forefinger and thumb.
I felt a wet rush between my legs.
‘Nate.’ My fingers dug into his shoulders. ‘Oh, God …’
He lifted his head, his eyes black as he undulated against me, his dick pressing between my legs now, only the fabric of his boxer briefs shielding me from its throbbing heat. ‘You like that, Liv?’ he asked, his voice thick. ‘Like me sucking hard on your nipples?’
I flushed at his crude question but found myself nodding quickly. ‘Yes, I like it.’

At first I was frozen by the foreignness of having him in my mouth, tasting him, feeling him as if he were all around me, as if there was nothing else in the world but him. It felt odd. It felt alien. And I was afraid I just wasn’t cut out for this part of sexual intimacy.
Until I looked up at his face from under my lashes.
This was Nate.
I gathered my courage.
I began to do everything that he asked, and as I did I watched him – watched the color rise in his cheeks; watched the way his chest rose and fell in rapid breaths; watched his fists curl in the sheets around him; watched his mouth open on pants; watched the sheen of sweat build across his skin; watched his abs ripple. And I got off on it.

My breath stuttered as I felt his tongue push the fabric against my clit. ‘Nate,’ I whimpered, my right hand moving to curl in his soft hair. ‘Please …’
He relented, leaning back to remove the panties. I tried to help, but my legs were shaking. After he peeled them off, Nate slid his hands around both my calves and glided his fingers upward. ‘You’ve got fantastic legs,’ he told me quietly. ‘I remember one night while we were watching a movie and you were wearing leggings. It was the first time I’d seen you in anything that showed the shape of them.’ He kissed the inside of my knee and looked back up at me with a fierceness that made me throb. ‘You stretched them out, feet up on the coffee table, and I couldn’t stop staring. I couldn’t believe you’d been hiding those long, gorgeous legs. I dreamt of your legs that night, Liv. I dreamt they were wrapped around my back while I fucked your brains out.’

He was slow and tender, his hands gripping my thighs lightly as he slid in and out of me, every stroke a gradual climb toward climax. His eyes drank me in, watching me pant beneath him, watching my breasts quiver gently against his thrusts, and suddenly he was pushing that little bit harder, moving that little bit faster. ‘Liv, come for me, babe,’ he commanded, his voice guttural. ‘You’ve got to come for me.’

Straddling him, I gripped his hair in my hands and kissed him hard. His arms banded around me and just as easy as that, Nate took back control of the kiss.
Fine, no kissing.
Pulling away, I gently pressed him back with a hand to his chest.
‘Well?’ he asked, his voice low, eyes questioning. ‘What now?’
In answer I began unbuckling his belt, quickly unbuttoning his jeans so I could slip my hand inside. Nate hissed as I fisted him.
‘Feel good?’ I purred across his mouth, a part of me floating on the outside of this little scene and wondering who the hell I thought I was.

‘Take off the nightdress,’ Nate insisted. When I didn’t move, he rubbed a hand over my thigh, his expression gentling. ‘Liv, I want to see you.’
I stilled, tilting my head to the side as I studied him carefully. ‘You do?’
There was so much more in my question than I wished there was.
And just like that Nate understood completely. ‘I want you. I want you to ride my cock and I want you to ride it hard. And then afterwards I want to sit with my friend, eat some food, and watch a movie with her. I’m not going anywhere.’ His grip tightened. ‘Now take off your nightdress.’

I whimpered against his mouth as he sucked in a deep breath.
And then I moved.
I tried to go slow, to take it easy, to build it, but I was too impatient, too desperate for it.
Too greedy.
Too inexperienced.
Yet Nate let me control it.
And by his doing so, we both came hard but much too fast.

I tried to move my arms, but they wouldn’t budge, and I was wickedly surprised to feel swift arousal move through me at the feeling of being completely under his control.
His to do with as he pleased.
With a growl of need he slammed into me and all I could do was take it as he pounded me into the mattress, my cries growing louder and louder until an eyes-rolling-to-the-back-of-my-head orgasm shattered my insides and I screamed his name upon beautiful release.

‘What? You think a bit of leg cramp will turn me off you?’
I half shrugged again.
Nate’s weight lifted from my back, but as he sat up his hands gripped my hips. He jerked my body up so I had to bend my knees to steady myself. I rested on my elbows, the breath whooshing out of me as I stared at him over my shoulder. ‘What are you doing?’
He caressed my ample bottom, his eyes filled with a dark intensity as his knees nudged my knees apart. Without a word he slid inside me.

‘This is me and you,’ he panted, driving faster and harder into me. ‘Don’t ever run. Not from me.’
‘Okay.’ I shook my head against his shoulder. ‘Okay.’
He stilled his fingers on my clit. ‘Promise me.’
‘Nate, don’t stop, don’t stop,’ I whispered hurriedly. ‘Please, I’m so close. I’m so close.’
He rocked up into me and stilled.
‘Nate!’ I keened, my hands dropping to his hips, gripping him behind me. ‘Please!’
‘Promise me. Tell me you won’t run.’ He bit my ear, the nip almost painful. ‘Tell me you won’t run from me ever. And then beg me to fuck you.’

I only had a moment to see the anger flare in his eyes before he rushed me. I found myself gripped by the nape of the neck as he hauled me up against him and started kissing me. It was rough, bruising, nipping, biting, and I gave as good as I got.
Breathing harshly, Nate pushed me back on the hood, insinuating himself between my legs. Shoving my dress up, he leaned over me, eyes black as the night around us, and I arched into his mouth as he pulled the straps of my dress, and the bra underneath, down to allow his lips access to my naked breasts. His hand slid along my inner thigh, his fingers dipping under my panties and pushing inside me.
I cried out as he cursed hoarsely at finding me wet and ready.
And then it was all about desperation.

At first he was rough, wild, hot. I let him kiss me. I let him undress me. I let him lead me into my room. I let him caress every part of my body.
Somewhere along the way he turned tender.
I let him slide inside me and take me slowly, beautifully. I closed my eyes.
‘Don’t,’ he said gruffly, grasping the back of my thigh to change the angle of his deep, slow thrusts. ‘Look at me. Give me those eyes.’
So I let him look into my eyes while he made love to me, until I came with tears in them.
I let him push my uncertainty aside.
I let him back in.

Shoulder blades pressed against the wall, my breasts heaving with breathlessness, I widened my stance, causing Nate’s nostrils to flare. ‘I want your thick, hard cock inside of me now and I want you to fuck me against this wall until we can’t breathe.’
I barely got a chance to see the way his lower abs jerked at my words before he was on me. His kisses were bruising as he slammed into me, pushing his jeans down to free his dick, seconds before he wrapped his hands around my legs, sliding me up the wall, angling my body just right.
He thrust into me.
Hard.
Deep.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: The Marriage Bed by Laura Lee Guhrke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: The Savior by J.R. Ward

Format: E-Bookthesavior.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, 17
Publisher: Gallery Books
Hero: Murhder
Heroine: Sarah Watkins
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 02, 2019
Started On: April 04, 2019
Finished On: April 09, 2019

At long last, we have come to the story of Murhder, the Brother who was expelled from the Black Dagger Brotherhood for atrocities that were only hinted at, and we as the readers were never totally privy to. The seventeenth book in the series, and I believe we have come to a point where the stories are starting to sound repetitive and cliched – God forbid someone say it though.

Muhrder’s story begins when he decides to end his twenty year self-exile of sorts (since his expulsion from the Brotherhood) and seek an audience with Wrath, the King of the vampire species. Varying degrees of emotions seep through the story when Muhrder makes his first appearance, from disdain and outright hostility on the part of the Brotherhood (very hypocritical of them if you ask me, given the many instances of unforgivable acts committed on their part) to the emotional upheaval that Xhex goes through (I couldn’t believe that she never did tell John about her association with Murhder), and finally the emotions of the vampire himself, that came across as the most genuine of it all.

The heroine Dr. Sarah Watkins comes into the picture when FBI starts to pursue an investigation into the “death” of her fiance which had happened months ago. What Sarah uncovers for herself in the process about her workplace RSK BioMed, is one that puts her life instantly in danger, and brings her into close contact with none other than Murhder.

Circumstances bring both Sarah and Murhder to the Brotherhood compound where the attraction that had simmered under extenuating circumstances upon which Murhder and Sarah had first met, comes to fruition. Contrary to what JR Ward has led readers to believe up till Murhder’s own book, there is zero crazy in him if you ask me. In fact, I found him to be sweeter, kinder, and mellower than the rest of the Brotherhood put together, and that was a bit jarring considering all the buildup to his story.

We have gone through Brothers who had their own issues to varying degrees. For instance, Zsadist (as my favorite Brother), displayed the sort of characteristics that you would expect from someone who had been kept in captivity for so long. His struggles were real. His pain was one we felt. His love for Beth when it came, we as readers understood where he came from. The fact that he struggles even now with his darker side is what makes him one of the most realistic characters in the series.

Then there is Tohr, whose story spanned a couple of books and brought him a measure of peace in his newfound Shellan in his own book. Though at times I feel like hitting Tohr on the head and then some, even his story carries with it elements that makes it believable. Even if I want undying devotion from him on the same level that he feels for his deceased Shellan, I understand where he is coming from when he faces difficult days and goes through an emotional roller-coaster every now and then.

But Murhder? There was none of it. Everything just fell into place with no thought, no drama, no consequence. The Brotherhood books usually packs a punch in the sex scenes they deliver. But this one kinda left me cold on most fronts. Perhaps one reason why Murhder’s story ended up being such a disappointment could the fact that his story is relayed to readers through just one single book instead of the story being carried through several interconnected books in the series. I would have liked to see Murhder in his element, in his zone, being the crazy bastard that he was unrightfully accused of being.

Another thing that really really irked me was Xhex. I have never truly gone gaga over her character for one reason or the other. But over time, I have softened towards her because she makes John happy and she does have her finer points as well. But the “secret” that she had carried when it comes to Murhder and what had actually rendered him unstable was unforgivable in so many ways. She let Murhder carry the burden and guilt for so long for something he probably had no control over at that point in time, given what we have witnessed of the Sympaths and what they are capable of in Lover Avenged.

The only thing that was interesting and a game-changer in my opinion, was the revelation of the new villain that comes to light at the end of the story. I hope that whichever direction that Ward decides to steer the series in, she does this particular arc justice, because it just seems redundant to keep going on and on about the Lessers when things seem to have really died down on that front. I don’t believe that there is anything more to be explored in that sense. But maybe, I could be wrong. Omega could have a ton of tricks up his sleeve that we might not know of.

While John and Xhex was once again a centric part of this story, it makes me go a little crazy with how John’s identity continues to remain a secret even though I partly do get the reason why Ward keeps evading the issue.

One more thing that I keep finding extremely cliched is how Lassiter, upon assuming the role of the Scribe Virgin, has suddenly started giving out eternal life blessings to everyone he comes across. Plus, don’t get me started on the continued tirade against humans as the “lesser” beings who are unworthy in every sense according to vampires. Pick something new to grouch about, that’s all I am asking.

I miss reading about characters such as Rehvenge who potentially have more depth to their characters that remain unexplored, while characters like John, Vishuous, and Rhage have started to bore me. I want fresh insight into the lesser explored characters in the series like Xcor and others who probably have more value to add to the books than the seemingly “favorite” characters of the author.

While I did enjoy bits and pieces of The Savior, as a whole, I don’t think I have a lot of nice things to say about the novel.

Recommended for die-hard fans of the series. Because I am pretty sure I am in the minority when it comes to having being disappointed by the last couple of novels in the series.

Final Verdict: Murhder’s story comes to readers who have anticipated what he would be like for so long. My expectations were unmet in every aspect, and I definitely wished for something different.

Favorite Quotes

When it was over, he closed his eyes and dropped his head into her neck. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“You won’t.” Sarah cleared her throat. And then tilted her head to the side. “Do you want to …”
“What?”
“This,” she said as she stroked up her own throat.
As he stared at her in alarm, she said it again. “Do you want this?”
That purr came back, louder, deeper, more urgent. And the sound of it was what put her over the edge again, especially as she imagined those razor-sharp points buried in her vein. Throwing her head back, she moved against his static body, stroking herself on his arousal, riding out the pulses until he started to orgasm along with her.

All things that lived died.
The best that anyone who breathed could do was a skate-by into old age, dodging the slings and arrows of biological failings and accidents, until you could sit back with your aches and pains and mourn the loss of your relevancy, your generation, your place in the population pecking order.

Murhder picked her up and she straddled his hips, his strong arms holding her off the floor. His penetration was a firebrand, nothing slow and gentle this time, his arousal entering her on a one-stroke that went so deep, she nearly orgasmed then and there. Desperate to find a good rhythm, he shuffled them over to a wall, the hard, cool surface hitting her bare back as he braced her against it. Then he pumped into her, his body working hard, churning, dominating.
She held on for dear life.
And only wanted more.

He wanted to track what she was saying and respond appropriately. But she was wriggling around in his hold and that was causing the kind of fiction that males had a hard time focusing through: His cock was hard and ultra-sensitive, her core warm and tight, the slip and slide going right to his head and fritzing out his higher reasoning.
As much as he tried to hold himself back, he started to come, his arousal ejaculating in a series of pumps deep inside of her. He fought it as best he could, gritting his teeth and cursing, and when that got him nowhere, he attempted to pull out—but she squeezed her legs on his hips and arched against him, saying his name in frustration and pleasure.

Kneeling in front of her, he kissed his way down her abdomen, teasing her belly button with his tongue, cupping her breasts as he stared up at her.
“My Sarah …” he groaned as he circled her thigh with his hand. “Give me what I want.”
Lifting her leg, he put it over his shoulder and went in, leading with his tongue, delving into her sex, worshiping her with his mouth. Over the fall of the water, he heard her cry his name and then she fell back into the bench.

Murhder felt Sarah arch as he penetrated her core. He was too rough, he knew he was being too rough … but he couldn’t stop, and she didn’t want him to. She was talking in his ear, begging …
“Harder … do me harder.”
He pulled her leg up, and shifted the angle, going even deeper. And as he pounded into her, the sofa moved across the rug, leaving tracks in the nap. Something fell with a crash. Her hair tangled.
She orgasmed. He did. They did together.

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