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.

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

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Review: Cold & Deadly by Toni Anderson

Format: E-Bookcoldanddeadly.jpeg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice: Crossfire, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Dominic Sheridan
Heroine: Ava Kanas
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 12, 2019
Started On: March 25, 2019
Finished On: April 01, 2019

Cold and Deadly is the debut book in the Cold Justice: Crossfire series by Toni Anderson, one of my favorite romantic suspense authors out there. Cold and Deadly begins with a funeral proceeding for FBI retired agent Van Stamos, who had allegedly taken his own life with the service weapon FBI had gifted him after thirty years of service. Special Agent Ava Kanas is the only one who doubts that Van had taken his own life, which brings her under the focus of Supervisory Special Agent Dominic Sheridan, who at first is skeptical of what Ava has to say and suspicious of her motives.

In his mid-thirties, Dominic is an expert in the Crisis Negotiation Unit, and comes from well connected family. Ava is a rookie agent, having being mentored by Van before he left service. Even though Van had all good things to say about Ava when they had crossed paths prior to his death, Dominic is not a man as easily persuaded, which is why he has a hard time at first when Ava comes out with her theory that Van could not have taken his own life. That is until the funeral proceedings is interrupted by a deadly sniper willing to take as many lives as possible with every bullet fired.

Once Dominic discovers that there could be truth to Ava’s hunch, that is when things get interesting in the story, bringing in favorites from the Cold Justice series to complement the team we meet in this book. Ava, acting as Dominic’s bodyguard, comes face to face with a past she would rather forget if she could, and the close quarters in which they both operate breaks down the walls holding the tide of desire between them at bay.

With the hunt fully on in pursuit of a killer who is cunning in the extreme, it is a race against time that Dominic and Ava embark on, to find the truth behind the spate of killings targeting specific FBI agents.

I loved Cold and Deadly to bits. Now here is a story that delivers on both fronts; romance and the suspense, in spades. A hefty dose of sexual heat and romance, with nail biting suspense is what any romantic suspense fan could ask for, and Toni Anderson certainly delivers with this number.

Though Ava started off as a bit defensive in the story, understandable given where she was coming from, I fell in love with her soon after. Her dogged determination to pursue the truth, even at great cost to her own career and reputation is one reason why I loved her. There are no pretenses to be had with Ava, which is how I love my heroines. Any character that acts wily and plays hard to get just because, gets on my nerves big time. But Ava is a perfect balance of independence, vulnerability, and playfulness which came to light during scenes of passion between her and Dominic.

In Dominic (sigh, Dominic), Toni created the perfect male specimen (if ever there is such a thing). I am not kidding. Dominic is off the charts hot in a way that is indescribable. He just walks into the story and practically owns the page he strode on. There is arrogance that comes from multiple years in service, and given that he is a top notch hostage negotiator who got where he is by honest work when he could have taken the easier path to “success” was what earned my admiration for him. Bottom line? I loved Dominic and could definitely read more about heroes like him. A reader can send out hints, can’t she?

What was most intriguing about the story for me was the case that brings about all of the present events, culminating in the deaths of multiple FBI agents. That kind of premise deserves its own book, so that readers like myself can crawl under covers with our Kindles and get startled every time the wind blows a hefty gust, bringing with it thoughts of creepy houses in woodlands and makeshift graveyards that haunt.

Can’t wait to see where Toni takes characters like Charlotte Blood and Dominic’s boss, Chief Negotiator of the FBI, Unit Chief Quentin Savage. I even checked Toni’s website to look up a date of release for the next book to no avail. That is how excited I am!

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Cold & Deadly is wonderful debut striking that perfect balance between romance and suspense. With fascinating new characters and favorites from the Cold Justice series; what more could a reader ask for?

Favorite Quotes

God, she felt good. Tight. Hot. Aroused. He made sure every thrust hit all the good spots, angling her hips to doubly make sure. His injured shoulder was feeling no pain right now.
He wanted to take it slow, but the desire cruising his blood was stoking his body to a boiling point. He counted to one hundred in French to stop himself losing it. Even when Ava spasmed around him he held on until he could breathe again, slowing it down, wanting it to last forever.

As she started to tighten around him for the second time, he locked his arms around her hips and slammed into her so forcefully he was worried he might hurt her. Then she cried out again and they climaxed together, him gripping her tight and holding back a roar that would have brought backup bursting through the door.
Ava shuddered and sank against him, their hearts beating in unison.
Holy shit.

She straddled his thighs and he watched, glad that the light from the adjoining room spilled through the open doorway brightly enough to reveal every detail.
He slid his hands between her legs. Her pupils widened as he sank two fingers inside, driving her up onto her knees in shocked surprise. Her muscles clamped around him as he found her g-spot and made her cry out.
Her post-orgasmic smile made his toes curl. She inched forward and took hold of him, rubbing the head of his cock against her clit until he was the one squirming.
“Dear God, Ava, if I don’t get inside you soon…” he pleaded.

She held herself still long enough for him to catch his breath, and then she started moving. Riding him slowly at first, finding a rhythm and a depth that pleased her. And he hung on for the ride, gripping her thighs like a man dangling off a cliff. If she didn’t have bruises tomorrow it would be a damned miracle. And still he couldn’t let go. Finally, her breath caught, and he drove harder, deeper, pushing for that climax. Wanting and needing nothing except to share that moment with this woman.
It started like an explosion from his balls to his tip, a warm rush that filled him with exquisite joy.

“I guess you’re awake.” Her voice rose sharply as he pinched the tip her breast.
“I’m awake.” His voice was deep and sent a ripple of anticipation through her body.
She heard the rustle of a wrapper, and her mouth went dry with want.
He parted her thighs and didn’t even check that she was ready for him. He knew. He knew how turned on she was and how desperate she was for him to fill her up.
She groaned when he did. Panted and clawed the sheets as sensation rocked her. His thrusts made her want this never to end, never to stop. To lie here forever with that delicious friction gliding through her body, ratcheting the tension higher and higher until her nerves felt like guitar strings about to snap.

“Dom,” she groaned.
He lay flat against her, taking most of his weight on his elbows, but still immobilizing her with his strength, only the tip of him inside her, making her hungry for more, making her want to back into him and take him deeper.
“What?” His breath brushed her ear before his teeth bit gently into her earlobe.
“Please…” It was as close to begging as she’d ever get. As close to telling him how much she wanted him—not just his body—but him, all of him.
What was it about this man that hooked into a woman’s blood stream and made her addicted? No wonder women turned up on his doorstep with offerings.
Fuck me and I’ll bake for you. Fuck me and I’ll do anything…

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

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Review: Bitterleaf by Lisa Gregory

Format: Paperbackbitterleaf
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Jove
Hero: Jeremy Delvin
Heroine: Meredith Whitney
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 01, 1983
Started On: March 15, 2019
Finished On: March 18, 2019

Bitterleaf by Lisa Gregory aka Candace Camp was first published when I was just barely one year old. Since this book has never been released in the eBook format, I purchased a used paperback copy of the novel sometime back. This book was listed in one of the recommendation threads I had been searching through way back, in my attempt to find novels where plenty of angst is to be had in a story that brings together two strong willed characters in a marriage of convenience.

When Bitterleaf begins, 21 year old Meredith Whitney, considered plain and gawky because she is taller than average and is not considered a beauty that would turn a man’s head, goes to Charleston with her stepfather Daniel Hurley. Meredith’s mother had died sometime back, leaving her with her stepfather, whom she had grown to love and respect in time. Under Daniel’s hands, Bitterleaf, the homestead where Meredith had grown up, had flourished and prospered, making Meredith a wealthy woman in her own right.

It is when Meredith, in her bid to escape the companionship of her vapid cousin Phoebe steps out into the market with her stepfather that she faces the man who would change her life in ways she would never have thought possible. Jeremy Devlin, a member of the aristocracy, whose uncle finally has enough of him and sends him on his way to the colonies as an indentured servant, finds himself purchased by none other than the man accompanied by the haughty woman whom he promises to teach a thing or two, if he ever has the chance.

Even though Jeremy finds Meredith to be plain and lacking in terms of beauty, there is something about her that draws him to the “Amazon” that she is in his mind. Jeremy prefers women who are more comely, but it is Meredith and the way she looks at him, with innocent wonder in her eyes that makes him burn.

For Meredith, laying eyes on the tall and sapphire-eyed Jeremy is the end to life as she has known it. Meredith, who had considered herself above those ruled by their want for pleasures of the flesh, finds herself wanting something that she herself does not even understand. It is perhaps owing to this and Jeremy’s frustration with Meredith that culminates in the resulting events, causing a rift that practically defines the whole story from that point onward, casting a dark shadow on every interaction that takes place between Meredith and Jeremy, especially when they are “forced” into a marriage of convenience.

I wanted to like the story, I really did. After all, this had all the ingredients that should rightfully satisfy my appetite for the less than conventional/accepted romances by readers today. To a certain point in the story, everything did work for me. But from the point where Meredith couldn’t seem to come clean about what was bothering her, how she started to continually grate on my nerves (now imagine poor Jeremy who actually had to put up with her?) was the point of no return for me when it came to my dislike for Meredith as a character.

Meredith turned out to be a tiresome, hateful in some ways, unable to look beyond her own insecurities that are of course ingrained deeply in her psych. However, for me, just like a man’s inexcusable behavior towards the heroine is not forgiven all because of what he may have faced during his childhood, I hold the heroine too to the same standard. I found Meredith wearisome especially when it came to not being able to see Jeremy’s desire for her for what it truly was – desire for the woman he wants above anything and anyone else.

Meredith never gives Jeremy the chance to explain things, which once again puts a black mark against her already laborious character. I dislike couples who detract from the enjoyment of the angst that should rightfully be present in a book such as Bitterleaf, but Meredith’s way of being unable to open her mouth without something scathing coming out of it, her self righteousness above everything else was certainly the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to Meredith and the story itself.

I felt that the story would have been better had Jeremy left and Meredith finally had to face the erroneous assumptions she had made about a man who would would have given her everything. She should have learnt the hard way that Bitterleaf alone wouldn’t give her lifelong happiness. The way one of the secondary characters left the story was also a bit of a sore point. While I understood Meredith’s jealousy, I found her inability to forgive and move on a sore point, especially when nothing had actually happened. For me whatever good that was Meredith was overshadowed in a large way by her critical nature. Her inability to look beyond and see the larger picture.

In the end, I skipped through huge chunks of the story just so I could reach the ending because I had invested a lot of time in reading Bitterleaf, not to to mention the first half of the story that was enjoyable.

Final Verdict: Bitterleaf’s name is synonymous with a character trait that defines the heroine. I expected more from the story than a woman who could not look past her own insecurities.

Favorite Quotes

“Jeremy, what are you doing? Stop this at once.”
He chuckled. “Your voice lacks conviction.”
“You startled me, that’s all.”
An eyebrow quirked in disbelief. He dropped her glove on the ground and placed his hands on either side of her face, imprisoning her head and forcing her to look at him. For a long moment, he stared into her green-brown eyes, and then his face lowered. Meredith closed her eyes and sought to pull away, but his grip held her firm. Jeremy’s lips took hers gently, moving upon them in exploration as if he had all the time in the world before him.

At first his kiss was harsh and angry, more a demand than an expression of feeling, but at the touch of her soft lips it didi not remain so for long. His lops gentled as he tasted the sweetness of her mouth. He worked at her with tongue and lips and teeth, exploring, hungry, until she responded with a whimper and her arms came up to curve around his neck. Her tongue met and matched his, easing tentatively into his mouth.
Jeremy shudderedm hurled violently into a relam beyond reason, aware of nothing but the supreme pleasyre he held in his arms. He rained wild kisses across her face and neck, mouthing the soft flesh of her throat, nibbling her sensitive earlobes. Meredith moved in his arms, unable to absorb the multitude of delights he showered upon her.

Suddenly his lips dug into her fierecely. He wrapped his arms around Meredith, pulling her down with him until they both knelt on the floor. Jeremy pressed her torso against his firm body, savoring the thrust of her breasts against his chest. “Meredith,” he breathed. Holding her, he lay back on the floor, pulling her on top of him. It seemed to Meredith a surprisingly natural place to be.
With one hand he shoved down the bodice of her dress, and his mouth trailed down her neck and chest to explore her breasts. He made asoft, wordless noise as he took her nipple into his mouth and felt it harden at the touch. The sound stirred Meredith almost as much as his caressing tongue. She felt strangely weak and melting, itching, yearning.

Jeremy drew back, panting. “God, you tempt me. But I won’t take you like this, on the floor of the study. Not the first time. We shall splendidly be married and marvelously naked in our own bed. I wanted to give you a taste of what you’re ‘buying.’ Perhaps there will be women who snicker, but you can bet there isn’t one who wouldn’t trade places with you, because you’ll wake up smiling. They’ll pretend to pity you, but in reality it’s envy they’ll feel, thinking about the nights you spend tumbling in my bed, well-serviced, while their own husbands are out wenching at the tavern or sporting with a slave girl or too tired or lazy or old to give their wives pleasure. They yearn, my love, they hunger for a young, healthy male like a mare in heat. Believe me, they’d grab at what you have. They’d pay any price to have the sleepy, well-loved look your face will wear. Maybe you bought me on the auction block, but I’ll give you more than you could ever pay.”

“Jeremy,” she sighed when his mouth released hers.
He nibbled at her earlobe, sending bright shivers all through her. “Say it again.”
“Jeremy?”
“Yes.” His breath came hard, in short gasps, his skin as burning and damp as that of a man in the throes of a swamp fever. “My name. You’ve never said it. Jeremy.”
“Jeremy,” she repeated in wonder that he should want her to say his name.
“Oh, Meredith, Meredith.” His mouth was running wild over her neck and shoulders.

“Oh, Jeremy, you won!” Meredith’s eyes sparkled.
The hand that had lifted her up fastened behind her neck and turned her to him, his mouth sinking into the softness of hers. The warmth that had mushroomed in her belly now shot through her enture body. Meredith didn’t give a thought to the other spectators. Instead, she wrapped an arm around Jeremy’s neck and pressed her lips against his. He was hot, his shirt damp beneath her hands. Her nostrils were filled with the pungent odor of horse and sweat. Boldly, instinctively, her tongue flicked out to scoop up the tiny droplets beading his upper lip. Her movement interruped their kiss, but Jeremy didn’t seem to mind. He made a startled, almost animal growl deep in his throat. His free hand slipped beneath her volumnious cloak, straining her against his body, and he kissed her with even more passion, his tongue raking her mouth.

His hands went to the sash of her wedding gown, untying the knot and letting the belt fall. Slowly, savoring the moment, he shoved back the heavy velvet robe, exposing her body clad only in the almost transparent nightgown. She heared him catch his breath and glanced up. His face was flushed, the eyelids heavy, shuttering the intense blue gaze. The dressing gown crumpled silently to the floow as he studied her. All mockery fled from his face as he looked at the swelling mounds of her breasts, nipples dark against the thin material. His eyes moved downward, taking in the smooyth line of her legs, hazily revealed beneath the cloth, all the more tantalizing for their faint concealment. Meredith watched him, braced for a jest or offensive mark, but none came. She sucked in her lower lip, Jeremy’s eyes darkened to a deep midnight blue. “Meredith.”

He began to move within her, but unlike their earlier lovemaking, he thrust again and again. Instead of satisfying her ache, it seemed to make it grow until Meredith involuntarily rolled her head from side to side. Jeremy pounded into her, and she arched up to take him in more fully. She wanted all of him. And something more. She didn’t know what, but the urge was deep and driving.
But Jeremy knew. At her whimper of frustration, he began to move faster, his hips churning, carrying her with him to a new universe of blinding pleasure. He hurled her higher and higher, until she was gasping for breath and clutching at his back, her nails digging unthinkingly into his skin.

Purchase Links: Amazon | AbeBooks

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Review: Crazy Like a Fox by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookcrazylikeafoxas.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Peter Andrew Delacroix Jaffrey
Heroine: Margaret O’Rourke Jaffrey
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 01, 1997
Started On: March 09, 2019
Finished On: March 14, 2019

Crazy Like a Fox by Anne Stuart begins when Margaret O’Rourke Jaffrey, with her nine year old daughter Carrie in tow, finally makes her way to her deceased husband’s family in order to recoup and find her footing once again. Having had a less than stellar marriage with Carrie’s father Dexter, it was the last thing that Margaret wanted; to finally admit defeat and seek the help of the Delacroix family.

In the midst of the Delacroix family, Margaret finds the mysterious Peter Andrew Delacroix Jaffrey, the Delacroix who by all accounts is a lunatic, looking for a reason to go off the hinges at any moment’s notice. Margaret cannot explain why she is drawn to Peter, why she finds him fascinating when she rightfully shouldn’t, and at the same time has distrust for him running through her veins.

Peter has been in a jail of his family’s and his own making ever since the events surrounding the death of his former wife. A man who had everything he could have desired, Peter’s downfall had come from his marriage to a woman who had wanted more. Along with her death, the blame of which had fallen squarely on him, Peter had found himself biding his time, waiting for his cousin Wendell to prove his innocence, sort of lost in the midst of the sea upon which he had been tossed adrift. That is until Margaret walks into the family home and makes him want again.

Crazy Like a Fox sounds like a title that would deliver a humor-filled read. While the book has its witty moments (it is Anne Stuart after all with her acerbic wit), the book delves into two characters who have been lost for a long while. Margaret had made the mistake of marrying a man who had wanted the next high that gambling would bring his way, a wayward character if ever there was any, leaving both herself and Carrie destitute when he had left this world.

Peter is the character that is truly intriguing, Anne Stuart’s masterful creativity bringing forth a someone you cannot figure out at first. Peter is a character that is revealed to readers in layers, his story emerging in bits and pieces that makes the story that much more intriguing. I loved the unveiling of his character as much as I loved the connection forged between the two lost souls himself and Margaret are, and the resolution to a mystery that had been a miscarriage of justice right from the start.

Anne Stuart’s intelligent heroes & equally witty heroines always reel you into the story without fail. An innocent man doubts his own sanity while the madman responsible for it all lives among them, waiting and biding his time. The wildcard that changes it all proves to be Margaret and her daughter Carrie, infusing Peter’s life with the vitality and vigor it had been lacking since a long while back. Loved the awakening, the connection, and the happily ever after.

Definitely recommended.

Final Verdict: Anne Stuart’s books age so finely that you don’t even remember how long ago the book was written, because each word inexorably woven with the other presents readers with sheer magic.

Favorite Quotes

Taking her arm, he pulled her away from the tomb, away from an approaching group of tourists, back into one of the shadowy alleys. They were alone, sheltered from sight, separated in time and space from the crowds around them. “That’s Marie’s speciality,” he said, reaching his hands up to cup her face. “Trust her.” His mouth moved down to touch hers, softly. “Trust me.” And he kissed her again, just as lightly, his mouth teasing hers, drawing her into a response she couldn’t help but give.
He tasted of champagne and pancakes. He smelled of the night and smoke from the ceremonial flambeaux. He felt warm and solid and real, no phantom at all. Sliding her arms underneath his cloak, she made a small, whimpering sound of surrender, of a longing so deep she couldn’t begin to understand it. And her mouth opened beneath his.

“Thank you for everything,” she said, knowing she sounded stilted. “Goodbye.” She turned and opened the door.
She was unprepared for his reaction. Catching her arm, he whirled her around, enfolding them both in his voluminous cape, and this time when his mouth met hers it wasn’t gentle, or teasing, or quietly seductive. His kiss was harsh, full of demand and despair, and she wrapped herself around him and returned the kiss, lost in the same sense of desolation.
Then abruptly he released her and she sank back against the doorway of the old building, her breathing rapid, her eyes shut.
“Next time, Marguerite,” he whispered, “I want to see your red hair.”

His hands moved down to cover her breasts, and she made a tiny, almost indistinguishable sound of protest. That protest drifted into a sigh of pleasure, and she dropped her head back, her hair flowing over both of them as he caressed her breasts through the thin lacy barrier of her bra.
And then the barrier was gone. His hands were warm and rough skinned against her sensitive breasts, and his mouth was at her neck, drawing her, drawing her. She turned, opening her eyes for a moment, staring up at him with a dazed expression, and then his mouth caught hers.

Deliberately he pulled her toward him, his hands rough on her arms, not allowing her any escape.
She had no intention of escaping. She slid her arms around his waist, moving against him, and her mouth reached up for his.
He stumbled against her, pushing her up against the wall, his body covering hers, pressing against every square inch of her, and his hands cupped her face, holding her still for his devouring mouth. He kissed her lips, her eyelids, her cheeks, her nose, then returned to her mouth, slanting across her soft, giving lips and drinking deep. She gave a little cry deep in the back of throat, one of desire and acceptance. She didn’t care.

“Let go, Peter. Let me leave, drive away from here, out of your life. Please, Peter. Let me go.”
And they both knew she wasn’t talking about anything as simple as his hand on her arm.
“Marguerite,” he said, his voice low and sorrowful. “Chère. I’m not that crazy.” And he pulled her slowly, carefully, into his arms, giving her plenty of time to pull back, to fight, to resist.
“Oh, Peter,” she whispered. “I am.” And rising up on her toes, she kissed him, pressing her mouth against his, opening it slightly, touching her tongue against his lips.
His response was a muffled growl of longing as he threaded his long, beautiful fingers through her hair and kissed her back.

He yanked his clothes off, his eyes never leaving hers. He stripped off her jeans and threw them halfway across the room, and then he covered her body with his, with his long, lean, muscled beauty that was unlike anything she’d ever seen. She wanted to touch him, to treasure him, to delight in him, but his mouth was on her breasts again, suckling them deep, his hands were between her legs and she was damp and aching for more. She reached down to hold him, but he’d already moved on top of her, between her legs, hot and heavy and ready for her.
“I can’t wait,” he whispered, his voice harsh with desire and an impossible restraint. “Come to me, Marguerite.” And he sank into her, deep and hard and wonderful.

“Scream for me, Marguerite,” he whispered in her ear. “I want to hear you scream.” And he reached between their bodies and touched her, deftly, as he surged against her.
She did scream then, as he’d wanted, as she never had in her life. She felt her body dissolve, even as he surged and shuddered against her, and the flames engulfed them, destroying and devouring them, until there was nothing left but ashes.

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

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Review: In Bed with the Devil by Lorraine Heath

Format: E-bookinbedwiththedevil
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Scoundrels of St. James, #1
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Lucian Oliver Langdon
Heroine: Catherine Mabry
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 24, 2008
Started On: December 29, 2018
Finished On: December 30, 2018

In Bed with the Devil by Lorraine Heath is the debut novel in her Scoundrels of St. James series. Lorraine Heath is an author who writes evocative tales of romance, that basically punches you in the gut with the depth of emotions they invoke from the reader. In Bed with the Devil seems to be a favorite amongst readers, which is why I picked this number up to read, after having read When a Duke Loves a Woman and the book having failed to deliver on all those things I expected from a Lorraine Heath.

The hero Lucian Langdon, the Earl of Claybourne (also known as the Devil Earl) is a man who believes himself to be a fraud owing to his childhood, having escaped a life of being part of a gang of ruffians in the London streets. Having no recollection of the events that preceded his life to a certain point, Luke might have grown up by all appearances to become an aristocrat, but beneath the surface, he has remained a scoundrel at heart.

Lady Catherine Mabry seeks Luke’s services for an act that would be considered nefarious by society’s standards. But Catherine is a courageous woman who has single-handedly being taking care of her bedridden father in the absence of her brother who had left and never returned. For Catherine to watch her friend live a life of abuse is something she cannot take anymore, the reason behind her seeking the services of a man who had tempted her senses since she had been an impressionable seventeen year five years past. She cannot explain what it is that had beseeched her to invite him to events since then, invitations that Luke had never acknowledged, and five years later, Catherine finds herself at the doorstep of the man himself, propriety of society be damned.

To find Catherine in his home is the last thing Luke would have expected, especially having returned home after another night of delaying the inevitable; asking Frannie Darling for her hand in marriage, something Luke believes to be his destiny given how their pasts entwine so deeply. Catherine seems to invoke in Luke a torrent of feelings that Frannie does not, but Luke is determined to stay true to his course, even if his heart might say otherwise.

Through the events that takes place in the story, a bond forges between the two, something Luke tries to allude to the fact that they spend so much time together. Catherine’s strength of character is immense throughout the story, the one defining factor in the novel that made me fall so completely in love.

I so adore a heroine who is not constantly trying to prove herself in the story, someone who is comfortable in her place, and shows bravery and courage where it matters. Catherine was that sort of heroine for me. She has no qualms about who she is, what she wants, she has no artifice when it comes to the opposite sex.

Even though Catherine knows that her reaction towards Luke has always been out of the norm, that does not stop her from seeking him when there is a need for it, and even when Catherine knows that her heart is in danger, that doesn’t stop her from giving all the love she has in her heart to Luke, all the while knowing that Luke has a different destiny in mind for himself.

Luke himself was admirable in so many aspects as well. Simply put, I loved him. There was a vulnerability beneath that cool demeanor of his, a soul that needed to belong under that facade of indifference. When the truth comes to light in the final couple of chapters in the book, this is where once again Catherine’s remarkable character shines through.

I so did love the ending, seeing Heath’s evocative and gut wrenching writing emerge.

Final Verdict: Realistic, evocative, and beautiful in prose; In Bed With the Devil was just wonderful.

Favorite Quotes

“Catherine?”  
A warm hand cradled her cheek, turned her head. She gazed into eyes so silver, so filled with concern. “Think about something else,” Claybourne ordered.  
She shook her head, trying. To her mortification, she flinched and released a tiny squeak when she felt something sharp being jabbed into her flesh.  
Claybourne leaned near and then his mouth was blanketing hers, skillfully plying her lips apart. Oh, the fool, did he not fear that she might bite down—
He tasted of the whiskey that he’d ordered her to drink, and she wondered if he’d needed some to fortify himself for what she was about to endure.

He’d covered her mouth with a blistering kiss before he’d thought it through. He could tell himself that he was bored with the dinner, bored with the conversation, but the reality was that it was driving him mad to watch her sip wine, to gaze at her slender throat and shoulders, to see her smiling at Bill when Luke wanted her to smile at him.
As he swept his tongue through her mouth, he knew it was wrong, but he wanted her, wanted her in a way he’d never desired Frannie. He wanted Catherine rough, he wanted her tenderly. He never thought of taking Frannie to his bed. He thought of marrying her, he thought of having her as his wife, but carnal images of them together never filled his mind. With Catherine, he saw a kaleidoscope of their contorted naked bodies.

A fine sheen of sweat coated his throat. Sweat belonged to laborers, not gentlemen, but she kissed his throat anyway, felt his pulse jump beneath her lips. Felt her own pulse leap when he buried his fingers in her hair and blanketed her mouth with his own.
She didn’t know what she’d expected. Something quick, painful, but still somehow exquisite. But this was more than she’d ever imagined. Beautiful in its intensity, frightening because she didn’t know how she’d live without it when it went away.

“Does it hurt?” she asked.  
“God, no.”
She slid down, enveloping him in her silky wetness. He almost spilled his seed then and there. Instead he clenched his jaw, fought for control. He ran his hands up her slender back, slid them back around to her breasts, and began to knead her soft flesh.
Dropping her head back, she moaned. Then she began to ride him as though her life depended on it.

But his body wouldn’t be held back. He bucked beneath her, his deep feral groan nearly drowning out her cry of satisfaction, her back arched, her face carved in an expression of awe and wonder. Shudders wracked his body as the pleasure coursed through her.
She went limp, falling to his chest, spent. He wasn’t sure where he found the strength to wrap his arms around her, but he wanted to hold her close too much not to find the energy. He thought he could lie there forever. If he died this moment, he’d die content.

“Why do you have to be so damned courageous?” he asked as he kissed her neck, her ear, her throat, her chin.   She wondered if he’d want her if she weren’t, but she wasn’t brave enough to ask, so perhaps she wasn’t as courageous after all.  
“Don’t talk,” she murmured as she kissed his temples.
He took her slowly, as though he realized this would be the last time, savoring each thrust, creating memories with each touch. There was nothing frenzied about their joining. Rather it was simply an appreciation that they’d escaped the fire, a celebration of survival, and perhaps in a way, a farewell.

His mouth was hot, desperate, eager. She was more than ready for him when he drove himself into her, like a man possessed, a man running from his past, a man unable to see his future. He pumped fast and furious. She met his eagerness with her own, digging her fingers into his firm buttocks, riding him as he rode her.
His powerful thrusts had the headboard knocking the wall, the pleasure rippling through her in undulating waves. There was madness here, and she didn’t care. She cared only about him losing himself in her, and her losing herself in him.

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

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