Review: Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookonceuponamaidenlane.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #12.5
Publisher: Forever Yours
Hero: Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell
Heroine: Mary Whitsun
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 14, 2017
Started On: June 02, 2018
Finished On: June 03, 2018

Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt, a novella set in the Maiden Lane series is readable as a standalone. However, for the diehard fans of the series like myself, the story of Mary Whitsun, a character that we have witnessed growing into her womanhood is definitely one too good to pass up on.

Set in 1747, London, Mary is out and about on her full day off for the week, browsing in a bookshop when she encounters Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell. The chance meeting changes Mary’s life forever in ways she has never expected, and before she knows it, she is taken into a residence of confluence and finesse, as a family’s long lost daughter and finds herself to be betrothed to none other than Viscount Blackwell himself.

Mary has a lot of adjustments to make when it comes to settling into her new life. The most unsettling aspect of it perhaps being the way her body responds to Henry. Building castles in the air is not for the likes of Mary, but she does get drawn into the web of desire, sensuality, and want that is Henry in his entirety. But ofttimes, fate has a cruel way of taking away from you what you want the most, unless you are willing to make a sacrifice that could either make or break you.

I loved Once Upon a Maiden Lane, undoubtedly so. After being a trifle bit disappointed with certain aspects of the last book in the series, Duke of Desire, I was totally enamored by the charged sexual tension deliciously entwined with the rest of the story as it happened along.

I loved both Mary and Henry, and couldn’t have asked for more. Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Once Upon a Maiden Lane is a succulent little morsel of a delight. Loved, loved, loved!

Favorite Quotes

He examined her as if he could see through the silk of her bodice, through the whalebone of her stays, to all her vulnerable places underneath.
She felt her nipples tighten almost painfully as he watched her, and she wondered wildly: did he know what his examination did to her?
Did he know that her center was melting because of his eyes?
Holding his blue gaze was an almost-unbearable torture.
Just a corner of his mouth curled up as he stared into her eyes, and she had her answer.
Oh, he knew all right.
The realization should’ve sent her running from the room in embarrassment. It didn’t.
Instead she raised her chin in challenge.
The curl of his lips widened into a true smile.

She’d never been kissed before.
This…this was…a revelation. His mouth was hot on hers, his chest firm. She could smell him. A lemon scent, perhaps from his hair, and a hint of tea.
She felt her controls slipping. Felt him urge her on—toward what she wasn’t sure. She mustn’t. She mustn’t.
But part of her wanted what he offered.
Freedom. Sensuality. Bliss.
His tongue ran along her bottom lip. She tentatively opened her mouth, answering him, gasping in sudden wild heat when she felt his tongue touch hers.
Only to have him abruptly let her go and step back.
“I beg your pardon,” he said, his voice husky. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

He stepped closer so that his chest almost, almost touched the tips of her breasts, and she was forced to tilt back her head to keep her eyes locked with his. He bent and murmured in her ear softly. Intimately. “Only a small time to learn your likes and dislikes. Your favorite foods. The thing that disgusts you the most.” He paced around her, and she was reminded of how he’d stalked her in the sitting room. His voice came from over her left shoulder. “What authors you like to read. What you look like when you laugh from your belly. How your tears fall. If you like to stroll in the morning or if you’d rather laze abed. If the sound of an orchestra makes your heart sing or leaves you unmoved. How to make you smile and how to make you sob.”
His breath was hot in her right ear, and Mary shivered, closing her eyes to keep herself calm.
“I want to learn all of you. I want you to know me in return. When I next kiss you, I want you to welcome my lips like a lover instead of a stranger.”
She inhaled sharply. This was like a waking dream, for this man, this fascinating, handsome aristocrat to speak to her so bluntly.
So passionately.
“Do you want that as well?” He was in front of her now.
“Yes,” she said, opening her eyes to meet his gaze boldly. “Yes, I do.”

He took possession of her lips without any sort of hesitation, parting them and running his tongue along the inner edge of her bottom lip.
Mary stifled a moan as pleasure burst through her body.
She’d wondered if what she’d felt with that first kiss might just be an oddity. Something that couldn’t be replicated.
But it hadn’t.
It was he—Henry.
He slid his tongue into her mouth, moving forcefully even as he angled his face against hers, his arms pulling her close against his chest.
She felt taken. Captured. As if he commanded her at the moment.
As if he could do anything to her.

He lifted his lips from hers and looked into her eyes.
“That’s it,” he said, unsmiling. It was as if he were searching for something. “You’re so beautiful like this. So open and wanton, all your defenses down. I want to keep you like this forever, hanging on the edge of my hand, weeping over my fingers, desperate and undone. Mary, my Mary. Darling. Let go for me and only me. Let go for me now.”
And she did, her soul, her body flying apart.
She let go and fell, her limbs shaking, gasping for air. It was awful. It was bliss. It was like nothing she’d ever felt before.
And when she opened her eyes she saw his eyes locked on hers.
His beautiful, witty mouth was twisted, and his gaze was somehow tender. “Darling Mary, you destroy me.”

She clutched at him. At his buttocks and his shoulder. Moving her hips up to meet his descent. Spreading her legs even wider.
Feeling the jolt when he rubbed her just there.
Sweat slicked his back, hot and real, and he moved faster now, his hips thumping into hers.
She felt the tension build, felt his penis thrust in and out of her, felt her body coil tight.
He hitched his hips and made a swiveling motion on her and stars exploded behind her eyelids, white and sudden, hot and bright, shattering her.
She gasped into his mouth as he kept kissing her, his tongue claiming her, his lips rough and hard.
Until he jerked his mouth from hers and gasped, his head arching back, his eyes squeezed shut. She could feel heat pulsing into her even as he cried out her name.
She watched him, wanting to remember this moment forever.
She. She had brought him this pleasure.

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

greatread

ARC Review: The Lullaby Girl by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-bookthelullabygirl.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Series: Angie Pallorino, #2
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: James Maddocks
Heroine: Angela Pallorino
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 14, 2017
Started On: May 14, 2018
Finished On: May 20, 2018

The Lullaby Girl by Loreth Anne White is the second book in the Angie Pallorino series, books centered around the lead female detective, aka Angela Pallorino (Angie). These are not standalone books, so if you want to immerse yourself in the ‘dark’ escape that this series provides, you will have to read the books in order. I say dark escape because Loreth’s books delve into the darker side of suspense with just enough romance going for it to suit readers like myself.

The Lullaby Girl begins two weeks or so after The Drowned Girls end, rather eventfully I must add. With Angie taking down a serial rapist turned killer (Spencer Adams) working her now life partner (of sorts), Sergeant James Maddocks, Angie’s life had considerably turned upside down since the hunt for Spencer had started. Angie, who had then being working sex crimes, had been partnered with James, the man she had tied to a motel bed and drowned herself in him on her way to oblivion – Angie’s method of escape from the voices that hound her.

Since then, Angie and Maddocks had managed to bust wide open a case that has all the elements that makes society gasp in indignation and fear. A rapist & killer who mutilated his victims, who had found easy pickings aboard a ‘pleasure vessel’ known as Amanda Rose, which had also exposed dirty politicians that had benefited from the operations.

While Angie had been placed on leave until the investigation into the culmination of the Spencer Adams angle in the case had ended, Maddocks meanwhile had continued the probe into the human trafficking of young girls and how far the tentacles of the case reaches.

Angie had in the meantime, started inquiries into her childhood, the lies which had pretty much defined her existence having come out into the open during the strenuous hours spent on the case. It is as Angie digs her heels into finding out more, that two detectives seek her out on a cold case of a DNA match with Angie’s, bringing home the possibility that Angie must have family somewhere that could possibly have been looking for her all these years.

With her position as a detective in the department at peril and placed in the social media division, Angie has no choice but to go along for the ride, if only for the ‘benefits’ being on the job would bring in the line of her own investigations. But resent the punishment, she definitely does.

So finds Angie going along with the investigations into her past, while Maddocks pursues the leads on his case, which takes on Russian organized crime amidst international human trafficking angle which brings takes the case to a whole new level. But it is when these two separate and distinct investigations collide that things take a turn which brings the whole house of cards tumbling down.

The Lullaby Girls proved to be just as engrossing a read as it’s predecessor. Angie’s character was just as thorny, perhaps more so owing to the different upheavals that her life has been subjected to along the way. Angie doesn’t see the destructive path she is on, though it is hard not to empathize with what she’s going through as well. She has had her whole world turned upside down, and to come to know that she had had a life that was vastly different from what she remembers to be her childhood, enables her to understand her affinity with crime solving and sex crimes in particular.

The inability to see the “difficult” side of her character prevents Angie from seeing the punishment she is given at the department for what it is; that it had been owing to her actions and behavior along with her strained relationships with her partners, and her lack of ability to follow orders while keeping a level head about it.

This of course makes Angie lash out, and lash out she does, which makes things pretty difficult for Maddocks. Because for Angie, there is nothing more vulnerable than letting someone into her life to a point where he would have the ability to destroy her whole world, if it ever comes to that. Angie likes control, well let’s be honest, who doesn’t. But then again, Angie’s need for control makes it almost impossible for her to see the damage she is doing to her own life, the relationships she forges with everyone around her, and her inability to connect with people long enough to forge meaningful relationships with them.

And then there is Maddocks. Whose own life has clearly not been a walk in the park. The case which forces him to return to his old haunts brings back the memories of a failed marriage, his idealistic views on what his life should have been like, his frayed relationship with his daughter, and most of all, his tendency to be attracted to the broken that needs fixing, which explains Angie and his need for her in his life.

Like I said in my review of the first book, if it were any other man but Maddocks, he would have washed his hands off of Angie and walked away a long while back. But there are reasons which makes Maddocks stay, reasons which I as the reader see for myself when I keep wading through the complexity that is Angie. There is that damaged side to her character which is hard not to empathize with, and there is that wonderful person she could be if there wasn’t so much darkness clouding her life, a person that peeks through from within the layers every once in a while that makes Maddocks’ patience worth it.

Angie coming full circle with her past and uncovering the roots of her beginnings was something to behold. I enjoyed every single minute of it, rooted for Angie with every fiber of my being, and held my breathe every single time things started heading south. But life holds little meaning, if it ain’t for the struggles which you triumph through.

Recommended for fans of thrillers and suspense novels that keeps you at the edge, because a book that doesn’t make you sweat for the characters you root for, ain’t a book worth reading.

Final Verdict: The Lullaby Girl delves deeper into the psyche of Angie and brings to the forefront the horrors of sex-trafficking, taking on the world of transnational organized crime, delivering a story as informative & unsettling as they come.

Favorite Quotes

People don’t understand the toll that job can take on a police officer or his family. They don’t know how we all have to tiptoe around the ugly side of the job, the mood swings, the depression, the drinking.

He caressed the line of her jaw with his thumb. And something fierce and angry erupted inside her—a desperation to burn down her own insecurities, to kill the pain, to blind herself to the fear of what her own memories might reveal, the realities that she might have to face about what had happened to her in childhood. She grabbed his tie and yanked him closer. Drawing his head down, she reached herself up and pressed her mouth hungrily to his. His lips were cold from outside. He hesitated a nanosecond before suddenly cupping her buttocks and jerking her hips tightly up against his pelvis. His mouth bore down on hers, forcing her lips open. He slid his tongue inside, met hers. Lust blinded Angie as she felt his erection stiffening against her belly.

His eyes, intense, held hers as he allowed her to pin his wrists above his head against the floor. Angie straddled his hips and slid the crotch of her skimpy panties aside. Widening her knees, parting her thighs, she sank down onto the hot, hard length of him. With a bliss-filled sigh she spread her thighs farther, making him go deep, deeper. And she began to rock her hips, creating friction deep inside the core of her body. Her breaths came fast, faster. She rocked harder. She became slick around his erection. Her body began to tingle. A hot, raw anger exploded, ripping through her gut, driving her wilder. She closed her eyes, put her head back, mouth open wide, panting, her skin going damp. And she rode him hard and fast and half-clothed, forcing her mind back, mentally reliving that very first night she’d spent with him at the Foxy Motel. She gasped suddenly, froze, then cried out as muscle contractions slammed through her in rolling waves, taking control of her body.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

amazingread

Review: Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas

Format: E-bookbirthdaygirl.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Pike Lawson
Heroine: Jordan Hadley 
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: April 05, 2018
Started On: May 10, 2018
Finished On: May 12, 2018

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas is a story that takes on a favorite trope of mine – the forbidden love factor that brings a ton of angst to the story. I can’t quite remember how I came across my first Penelope Douglas novel, but the title Corrupt was definitely the kind of book that made me sit up and take notice of the talent that Penelope wields when it comes to romance novels of the darker edged variety.

Birthday Girl begins with the heroine Jordan Hadley opting to celebrate her birthday by going to the theater to treat herself to an older 80’s flick while she waits for her boyfriend Cole to pick her up or find another way to hitch a ride home. It is at the theater that she meets by chance, a man who at first makes her a little wary, but as their time together at the theater progresses, Jordan finds that she is super comfortable with him in a way she doesn’t let herself be with people she usually meets. Before the night is through, both Jordan and her mystery man are in for a surprise; it turns out she was sitting together with none other than Pike Lawson, Cole’s father.

Thus begins a story that made for an excellent read, a book that I resented having to put down, and that has not happened in such a long time that I had even forgotten what that feels like. Three days after the “post-theater incident”, Cole and Jordan move in with Pike, and it is during this period of time that a bond that had been formed inside a dark movie theater over which two souls had connected, strengthens and fights to overcome the gigantic hurdles in front of them.

Pike definitely does not want to be lusting after his son’s girlfriend. That is not the kind of person he is. But Pike finds that Jordan is the kind of woman he has always dreamed about settling down with, and beneath the tough exterior of a man hardened by the bitter experience that had been his ex-wife, lies a heart that yearns for a loving home with a wife and kids of his own. But Pike knows that it is a dream that would have to remain as such, with him close to hitting 40 years old, the age gap between him and Jordan being reason enough to leave her alone.

Shared dinner conversations and other moments of companionship brings Jordan and Pike closer, while things head south between Jordan and Cole. However, even then, Pike is a man who fights his inner desire to claim Jordan for himself, even when Jordan tests his self control too many a time. But it is a fight that Pike loses spectacularly to Jordan, and Birthday Girl includes such scrumptious scenes of sex together with high doses of sexual tension that it is difficult to remain unaffected by everything that happens.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of the review, conflicts that are part of a trope like this comes with a ton of angst, and boy, did Penelope deliver on it. She manages to write scenes that make an emotional wreck out of you one minute, turn you on to the point of pain the next, and deliver so fabulously in a fashion that leaves you wanting more. Always more.

I loved both the main protagonists in the story. Jordan, though comparatively much younger than Pike, was his equal in every single way. She is yin to his yang, the woman who completes all those missing pieces to his life. With a heart that yearns for a family of her own, Jordan has this dream that mirrors that of Pike’s owing to her childhood. Though she was not abused, neglect had left its mark, and having never really known of her mother, Jordan yearns for the wholesome family life which echoes with the unvoiced needs hidden deep inside the complex man that Pike is.

Pike lashes out, of course; whats a man to do when his deepest longings come wrapped along with his darkest nightmare, i.e. hurting his son, the child he never really got to have the experience of watching your child grow to be an adult. Pike is a man who gave up his dreams to provide for his son, and the very idea of “betraying” his son on such a level makes Pike feel as if he deserves no better than the misery he feels when he denies the need he feels for everything that is Jordan.

Jordan’s character meshes well with Pike’s because she has a wisdom and maturity to her that doesn’t jive with boys of her age. With Pike in her life, Jordan has no need to look at another man twice because with him, Jordan feels secure, safe, and wanted in a way that she has never dreamed possible. The way Jordan looks after Pike in her way, providing for him a place of solace, and a home was one of the best aspects to the story.

The period of separation was painful, but a much needed one, for Pike especially, to come to terms with the depth of his feelings for Jordan, the woman who owns his heart. The epilogue was just the right touch, giving readers the joy of experiencing a tiny part of their happily ever after, and I loved, loved, loved Penelope for providing us with that glimpse into the future.

Definitely recommended, for anyone and everyone who loves an off the charts hotter than sin hero who resists and gives in so magnificently.

Final Verdict: Birthday Girl is one of the best contemporary romances I have read of late, hitting all those spots just right. Penelope Douglas is definitely an author worth keeping an eye on. Utterly delicious! There’s a beauty to the sensitivity and raw honesty that Douglas portrays that does the trope justice.

Favorite Quotes

[Jordan]: My orgasm is cresting again, my nipples press painfully into the tiled wall, and it feels so good between my legs. I want him. I want him on me. I want to know what he feels like.
Reaching behind me, I don’t think. I grab a loofah and slide it between my legs. The netting chafes my clit in a way than sends me over the edge. I roll my hips into it, wanting to feel anything, because it’s him in my head and that’s enough. His smell surrounds me, his mouth sucks my neck, and he’s hefting me up, so he can slip inside me. It’s rough and hard, his hands on my tits one minute and his mouth stealing my breath the next. God, his tongue tastes good.
The orgasm tingles deep, building and building, and Cole’s father is fucking me so good.
I come, the wave washing over me, and I cry out in silence, breathing hard but making no sound. God. I collapse against the wall, nearly crumbling as I shudder, the orgasm drifting down my legs and making my knees week. I squeeze my eyes shut and shake through it until it ebbs away, leaving me light-headed.

[Pike]: “All kidding aside, Pike,” he goes on, “she is exactly your type. You shouldn’t be alone with her.”
Yeah.
I know.
I just hope he’s the only person who’s noticed.
“Thanks for the intervention,” I tell him, “but even if I were attracted to her, I’m capable of controlling myself.”
“You’re not seeing yourself from my perspective.” He looks out the front windshield, solemn. “You look at each other like…”
“Like?”He swallows, an unusually troubled pinch to his brow. “Like the two of you have your own language.”

[Jordan]: He reaches around, taking my face in his hand and his hot breath in my ear. “Don’t threaten me with shit like that. If you want to act like a brat, then maybe you should get grounded like one, huh?”
I almost laugh through the tears drying on my face. “By all means,” I taunt. “I’m dying to see how you try to take control of me. You can’t even get Cole to do his chores, and when was the last time a woman got hot in your bed? You’re not even a man.”
He growls and slams his palm into the house in front of me.
I jump.
And the next thing I know, his hand is in my hair, and my head is being twisted to the side as his lips crash down on mine.
I whimper, the feel and taste of him flooding me so hard my clit pulses between my legs. Oh, shit. My eyelids flutter closed, the heat and adrenaline diving from my chest to my groin in the span of a second.
He pulls back. “Fuck.” And his fist tightens in my hair.
But he comes back in, his mouth covering mine, demanding more, and I can barely catch my breath. I’m hot all over.

[Jordan]: “I love how you worry about me and want to protect me,” I say. “But a girl has needs, too, and eventually, I’ll have to find another man who can do your job better.”
Rage burns behind his frozen stare, but he doesn’t blink.
“Another man will kiss me,” I breathe out, “and take off my clothes and go at me in his bed, in his shower, and spread me wide over breakfast on his kitchen table…”
Pike’s lips are almost twisted in a snarl, and he’s breathing hard—in and out, in and out as he glares down at me.
It’s there. I can feel him. It’s like we’re wrapped up together, the heat between us almost suffocating, and all he has to do is reach out and pull me into his arms.
Take me.
I wait.
I’m yours. Just reach out and take me.
But he doesn’t.
He just stands there, and tears burn at the backs of my eyes as he hovers, unmoving.
Unwilling.
My heart is breaking.
I shake my head. “You don’t have a clue what to do with me, do you?”
I scoff and push away from him, but then suddenly, he grabs my arms hauling me back to him. I gasp as he puts his hands under my arms and lifts me off my feet, bringing me face to face with him like I’m five years old.
“Oh, I may be out of practice, little girl,” he bites out in a threatening tone, “but I think I’ll figure it out.”
And he brings me in, kissing me and stealing my breath so hard all I can do is wrap my legs around him and hold on.
Fuck yes.

[Pike]: Goddamn her.
Goddammit. I’m not stopping. Fuck it. I can’t.
She just kept pushing and pushing, hitting all my buttons, everything she knew would bring me to this, and I wanted her to. In the back of my mind, I always knew I couldn’t not have her.
I grab her ass in my hands and drop us down to her bed. She unlocks her legs and straddles me, our lips never breaking contact. I love her mouth. Hot and sweet, and she teases me with that tongue—flicking and brushing in ways that drive me insane.

[Pike]: “I hated feeling like that,” she pants.
“Like what?” I run my hands all over her, gripping and squeezing as she breathes over my mouth and grinds on me, making me painfully hard.
“Jealous,” she says.
It takes me a moment to remember we were fighting about April being here. Slipping my hand up her shirt, I take her breast in my palm, and she lets out a little gasp. I groan at finally having her in my hand.
“I know,” I say. “When you left the party with that little shit tonight, I was so pissed.” I bite her bottom lip between kisses. “Like I was fucking seventeen again and someone else was taking what was mine.”

[Pike]: “You said you wanted me to eat something.” I remind her. “What do you want my mouth on?”
She drops her eyes, staring at my lips. “Um…” She swallows and caresses her inner thigh, moving her hand up to the V. “Down here.”
“And what’s down there?” I play with her, staying just out of reach every time she moves in for a kiss. “Use your adult words, Jordan. What do you want me to kiss?”
“Um,” she stammers, turned on and dying for it. “Um, my…”
My…?
She comes in for my mouth again, but I pull away, making her bare her teeth in a quiet, little growl.
“My…”
“Yes?”
“My, um… my cunt,” she whispers.
My eyebrows shoot up, surprised. I wasn’t expecting that word, actually, but okay.
“I want you to kiss and suck on it,” she breathes out, begging. “Make me come?”
And I squeeze my eyes shut for a moment, my dick fighting against my jeans for room to grow.
Fuck.

[Pike]: “Pike,” she whimpers, clutching my head to her body and falling back on the bed.
Jesus, I’m fucking high. I’ve wanted this for so long, and I finally have her, legs spread on my bed, body begging for me.
I suck on her clit first, stretching it into my mouth and going back in again and again, making her squirm and desperate to come. I lick her up and down, swirling my tongue around over her nub and getting drunk on her scent and taste. After a minute, I lose control, though, and I’m kissing and nibbling her everywhere. I curve my arm under her thigh and grip it for support as I feed off her, doing it as much for me as her. Her back arches off the bed when I flick her with my tongue, and she moans.
I keep doing that until she’s panting so fast I know she’s ready to come apart. Palming one of her breasts, I keep my head buried between her legs until I feel her stomach start to shake and then she sucks in a deep breath and freezes as the orgasm takes hold.

[Pike]: Slipping my hand under her, I grip her ass and press our bodies together, the world spinning behind my closed eyes. Having her under me, skin on skin…my cock is so hard, I can’t take it.
This is mine.
Leaning back on my heels, I roll on the condom, never taking my eyes off her.
“I’m a little scared,” she says, worry creasing her brow.
I halt, trying not to squeeze the fist around my cock too hard.
Scared?
“What if I make too much noise?” she whispers.
And I exhale, relieved she’s not having second thoughts. I stroke my cock and come down on her again. “Pull up your shirt, Jordan,” I whisper back. “I want to see your tits when I fuck you.”

[Pike]: Reaching down, I hold her eyes as I fit my tip at her entrance, and then I grab hold of her hip and thrust inside of her, immediately overcome with the feel of her and my body shaking.She arches her neck back and closes her eyes, moaning, and her breasts bounce with the movement
“Oh, fuck, fuck…” she cries. “Pike…”
“I know, baby.” You feel so good.
I thrust again and she clutches my waist to hang on as I slowly pick up the pace, sinking deeper inside her and mesmerized by her body underneath me. I dip down, sucking on her breast as she moans and whimpers.
Coming back up, I kiss her mouth, and she does that thing where she licks my tongue, and I’m spiraling.
“Jordan, fuck,” I breathe out, thrusting faster and harder until the only thing I hear is our bodies coming together.

[Pike]: I grab her ass and arch up, taking a nipple in my mouth again, sucking and tugging and then moving to the next one in a frenzy. She leans into me, never slowing her pace, and I can feel the sweat gliding down the small of her back.
I suck in air through my teeth, my muscles tensing, and I’m close. I flip her back over, hungry to be in control again, and her head falls at the side of the bed, too close to the bedside table. I grab the edge of it and whip it away, sending it toppling over, lamp and everything crashing to the floor.
She whimpers and kisses me, caught up in the madness of the moment, too.
“Don’t stop,” she pants. “Don’t stop. I’m gonna come again.”
I press my forehead to hers, both of us damn near hyperventilating as I thrust over and over again, trying to think of anything that won’t make me come, but she feels too good, and I’m too fucking lost.

[Jordan]: “I couldn’t wait to get home,” he whispers. “You don’t know how hard I was trying to control myself today.”
“How hard?” I work at his belt, frantic to get it off.
“I was in the worst fucking mood,” he growled. “I couldn’t get you out of my head. All I wanted was this.” And his hands scale down my ribs, and he pushes me back and forces my shirt and bra up over my tits. I fall to the table, and he dives down, biting and tonguing my nipples.
I close my eyes and moan, squirming under him and arching my back, not sure if I’m trying to get closer to his mouth, or if it’s too much to take. I can feel his lips all the way to my toes.
Heat fills my wet pussy, and I watch as his hot tongue flicks over the hardened bud of my nipple, my clit throbbing so hard I can’t breathe. I shake, an explosion of pleasure wracking through me and warming my insides. My eyes roll into the back of my head, and I cry out.
Shit! Shit, shit, shit…
I shudder, opening my eyes, a little in shock.
I look down, seeing Pike staring up at me. “Did you just come?” he asks, his eyes rounded in surprise.
I swallow, my mouth suddenly parched, and nod. “Yeah. I think so.”
His eyebrows shoot up. “You like your breasts kissed, huh?”
“I like it when you kiss anything on me.”

[Jordan]: My shorts drop to the floor, he whips me around, and I plant my hands on the table to support myself. I hear a wrapper crinkle and then the clank of his belt as he opens his jeans. My thighs shake, so turned on by what’s coming. Thank God the blinds are closed.
Arching my back, I open my legs for him and look over my shoulder. “I’m sorry I did that to you last night,” I say.
He pulls his cock out of his jeans and rolls the condom on, and then comes in, wrapping a hand around my neck and kissing me hard.
“Well, not really sorry, I guess,” I pant against his lips. “This makes it worth it.”
Hell yes. He’s so hot right now. Well, he always is, but…
Pulling down my panties, he grips me where my thigh meets my hip and guides his cock to my entrance. Once it’s crowning me, he pulls my hips back to him, and I’m sliced in two, gasping and shuddering as his dick slides deep inside me.
“Oh, my God,” I whimper, my head dipping, because I’m shaking so hard.

[Jordan]: “You can go again later, right?” I ask over my shoulder.
“You’re insulting me,” he growls in my ear. “You think I can’t keep up with you?”
“I just really want to…”
“Want to what?”
I open my mouth, whispering against his lips as our bodies meet again and again. “I want to suck you off.” I rub my lips over his, taunting him. “I want to feel you in my mouth.”
He exhales hard, baring his teeth and closing his eyes. “Jordan…” He shakes his head almost as a warning.
I kiss him, our lips hovering over each other as sweat glides down my back. “You want your cock in my mouth?” I whisper.
He bites my bottom lip gently and lets it go. “Say it again.”
“I want to suck your dick,” I say again.
His cock pounds me like a hammer, and I curl my toes, feeling my orgasm crest.
“I want to lick you,” I whisper, “and taste you and make you come.”
His fingers dig into my flesh, and the tops of my thighs ache from where they keep hitting the table, but he’s making me come again, and nothing in the world has ever felt this good. I’m almost there.
I flick his lip with my tongue, feeling fire spread through my thighs and rock my insides. “Please?” I whisper, backing up into his dick and chasing it, too. “Fuck my mouth tonight?”
“Jordan, Jesus!” he cries out, and he grabs my shoulder at the neck and pounds me so hard, I can’t speak even if I wanted to.
We both come, my knuckles turning white as I dig my nails into the wooden table, tensing, and tightening every damn muscle in my body.

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

outstandingread

Review: Dearest Ivie by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookdearestivie.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #15.5
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: “Silas” Montasilas, son of Mordachy the Younger
Heroine: Ivie Hannaford
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 13, 2018
Started On: May 08, 2018
Finished On: May 10, 2018

Dearest Ivie is a novella set in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, that fits in between the titles The Chosen and The Thief. What makes Dearest Ivie so notable is the fact that it steers away from the lives of the King, the Brothers, and their shellans. It takes readers away from all that and delves into the lives of ordinary civilian vampire population. If you are thinking that a story as such wouldn’t be half as interesting, you would be wrong. And let me tell you why.

Dearest Ivie, as the name goes, tells the story of Ivie Hannaford, a nurse who works with Havers, and is sort of hopeless when it comes to romance and dating. Probably to do with the fact that Ivie is the sort of person who tends to say what is on her mind and that is a character trait not be received well by most. I found Ivie’s character endearing and hilarious in equal doses and I loved her all the more for it. Sarcastic wit always gets to me, and Ivie had that in spades, especially in a story that needed it owing to the angst factor well delivered when it came to Silas, the hero.

Silas turns up in Ivie’s life rather unexpectedly, but is no less potent in the feelings that he invokes in her from the start. A bit elusive and secretive, Silas however takes Ivie’s breath away. Ivie comes from a huge family, her father Hirah, the six-five, bearded and tattooed hulk of a man who was one of the most lovable characters I have come across in the series. I fell in love with him from the very first moment he stepped into the story and that was it. Ivie is what you would call someone from the middle class or lower class perhaps, but Silas belongs to the glymera, the aristocracy, and comes from one of the founding families of the race.

However, it is not Silas that has issues with their different stations in life, but Ivie, who has a bit of reverse snobbery going for her, until Silas sets things straight – I totally loved him in that moment, for calling out Ivie on her behavior. But what was really tragic was how Silas keeps a secret from Ivie, a secret of the kind that might just be too much heartbreak for Ivie when all is said and done.

Like I mentioned earlier, Dearest Ivie was such a gem of a read. It had everything going for it. Snark and wit, a lovable heroine who knows what it means to be steadfast and loyal in the face of extreme challenges in life, a hero who is sexy, beautiful, and above all, kind-hearted and Ivie’s other half in every sense. How Ward managed to convey all that in a simple novella, I would never know. But then again, she is the genius storyteller and I am just the reader who cannot get enough of her books.

When I turned the last page, I wished to read more novels on vampire civilians – if the men are even half as sexy as Silas and the women are just as quirky and adorable as Ivie, I would consider it a novel/la that would make my day.

Recommended; even if you have never read a Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, this is totally awesome and can be read as a standalone!

Final Verdict: Dearest Ivie is one of the sweetest books I have read from a series that certainly does not do sweet. In the midst of all the danger and darkness that is Black Dagger Brotherhood, Dearest Ivie stands out for the laugh out loud humor & the beautiful characters. Loved!

Favorite Quotes

Opening her door, she leaned out into the carpeted corridor…and there he was, coming down to her, his smile as big as hers, his body just the same, his face just the same.
His scent just the same.
No suit this time, and that was good. Instead, he had on a black cashmere sweater and a set of slacks that were dark gray. He looked polished, expensive…delicious.
“Hello, stranger,” she said as he stopped in front of her.

“Do you mind?” he whispered.
“I’m sorry, what?”
But then he was taking her face in his hands and lowering his head—and she was pulling him down to her mouth, his lips the only thing she wanted in the world.
It was quite possible she moaned as he kissed her. Or maybe that was him. Who cared.
They shuffled inside and she closed them in, and then she was against him and wrapping her arms around his shoulders. It was a long while before they eased back, and even when they did, it was just their mouths. Everything else stayed close.
Silas’s eyes were heavy lidded and glowing as he stared down at her. “Hi.”

His mouth dropped down to hers again, his lips plying at her, his tongue coming out and licking for permission to enter. Broad, warm hands slipped around to her waist, and her breasts got tight as they met the wall of his pecs.
It was clear he was aroused.
And that got her even hotter.
But then he was cursing and putting her back from him. “Damn it. I promised myself I wouldn’t—”
“Do I look like I’m complaining over here?”

They ended up on the couch. She had no idea how they got there.
One minute, Ivie was standing against him, the next she was on her back and Silas’s weight was pushing her into the cushions. And then, when she parted her thighs, he accepted the invitation, settling himself between them, the hard ridge of his arousal stroking at her core through their clothes.
Rolling her hips, she arched into his body, and the groan he let out registered as a caress that went down into her abdomen.
When he pulled back, he was panting, his eyes at once glazed and hyper-focused. “Ivie…”

Silas sat forward and took her face in his hands, in that way he did. “You would do that for me?”
“Of course. I mean…well, you look like you could use it. When was the last time you fed?”
He answered the question by virtue of his scent, that spice of his flaring, his eyes going to her wrist, which was bare.
Instantly, she was hot all over.
“Not there,” she said huskily. “Here.”
Moving her dark hair to the side, she stroked her jugular. “I want you here. At my throat.”
His chest started to pump up and down, and a growl permeated the silence of her apartment. “Are you sure?”
“Oh, yes.”

With hands that were rough, Silas grabbed on to her and all but threw her on her back on the couch. And then he was on top of her, pressing her down into the cushions, his pale eyes volcanic, his body strung like a steel cable, his fangs elongating.
In a voice that was deliciously demanding, he said, “Even if I can’t stop?”
He wasn’t talking about taking too much from her vein. No, as he rolled his hips so she could feel his arousal, she knew damn well he meant sex.
“I don’t want you to stop.”
“There isn’t a lot of time. I have things I have to do at home. I won’t be able to stay afterward—”
“Shut up and get into me.”
He didn’t require any more urging than that. With a tremendous hiss, he bared his canines and bit her neck hard, the pain lancing through her body and translating into pure pleasure by the time it reached her core.

He still had his coat on, and that fine wool was all texture against her hyper-sensitive nipples, the hard ridge at his hips pushing into her core and then retreating until she was going to lose her mind, his scent a roar in her nose.
“I need you,” she barked. “I need you in me—now.”
Somehow he heard her, or maybe he had reached the same desperation she had—either way, he retracted his hips and moved one of his hands between them, yanking at the tie on the waistband of her scrubs as she helped by pulling them down and kicking them free along with her panties.
And then he was jerking at the fine leather belt he wore. She took over, pushing his hand out of the way as she freed the buckle, the button, the zipper.
The length of him was hard and hot and long in her hands.
And the sound he made turned her body into a tuning fork, the bass vibrating through her.
She was too impatient for the feel of him inside of her to do much exploring, and as soon as his head was at the heart of her, she pushed her pelvis forward so he sank in deep.

And then he was moving in her, pumping with thrusts that sent the top of her head into the armrest, a creaking noise rising up from the sofa’s supports, the banging sound probably the windowsill taking a beating. Or maybe the wall. Who cared.
Gone was the aristocrat with the nice manners and the polite words, the arching accent and the expensive clothes. Silas was utterly dominant as he took everything she had and demanded more, his pace rough and powerful, a male’s lust unleashed without restraint.
And she just wanted more.
As if he read her mind, he hooked his forearm where his palm had been, cranking her even tighter under his heavy weight, his hips pounding into her, the lower half of his body swinging freely—
Until he locked against her with a punch of his thighs, his erection emptying into her as he continued to suck at her throat.
All she could do was hang on to his shoulders.
And pray he never, ever stopped.
Sure it would kill her, but what a way to go.

Stroking her, his lids lowered and he growled, “Give me your mouth, female.”
He pulled her to him by the back of the neck and then she felt something between her legs that was hot and blunt.
Ivie sat down on his arousal, and they both groaned and jerked. Controlling the tempo, she rolled her hips and used her knees to go up and down, the pleasure so acute, she couldn’t decide whether to close her eyes so she could concentrate more or keep them open so she never forgot where they were and what they were doing.
Her release was overwhelming and he was right there with her, even though they were straining in the confined space, and their clothes were tangled, and oh, crap, the bucket seat was sooo in the way, and also the console—how great was it that none of that mattered?

“What do you most want to be remembered for?” she whispered.
His lids lifted and his eyes shifted to her own.
“My love for you.” He blinked slowly. “I wish to be best remembered for how much I loved you. Of all the places I’ve gone and people I’ve known and things I’ve done…my love for you is the purest representation of who I am. It’s the best of me, of who I am, of my soul. My love for you…is everything of me.”
Ivie teared up even though she did her best not to give in to emotion. “Silas…”
“Please don’t forget me. I know I’m probably supposed to tell you to move on with your life and dwell on this little slice of time we’ve been given…but just…take me in your heart wherever you go. It will be the life I wished I’d lived, by your side, enjoying the gift of time and health with you.”

“I thought you needed an oak of your own right now,” Rubes said gently from behind.
Ivie’s father was standing in the middle of the corridor, those biker boots planted on the fancy runner, his hands on his leather-clad hips, his tattoos gleaming in the low lighting because, of course, he had come without a jacket on.
Ivie squeezed her cousin’s hand in thanks and then she ran for her sire.
She hit Hirah like a car going out of control at full speed. And like a concrete pylon, her father didn’t budge. He just put his heavy arms around her and held her tight.
“He’s dying, Daddy. He’s dying…”
Her father didn’t say a thing. He let his strength do the talking as he kept her from collapsing in a heap in the hall.
“I love him so much,” she turned her face to the side and squeezed her eyes tight. “And he’s dying…”

And later, much later, she would reflect that it was then that she became an adult. Standing in that corridor, in her father’s embrace, she fully came into her maturity.
The thing was, when you were young, and you went to your parents for support, nine times out of ten, they could fix whatever was wrong. They could glue the broken rudder back on your sailboat. Throw a Band-Aid on a cut. Feed you when you were hungry, put you to bed when you were exhausted, hang out with you when you were alone. They could help you find what was lost, make the storms go away, buy you an ice cream when someone was mean to you for no good reason.
Parents, when you were a child, were the source of it’s-gonna-be-all-right.
But as Ivie leaned on her dad, it was as an adult.
He couldn’t fix this, and she knew better than to even ask.
“I’m so sorry, little girl,” he said in a voice that cracked. “I’m so sorry…”

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

awesomeread

Review: The Thief by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookthethief.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #16
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: Assail, son of Assail
Heroine: Marisol Maria Rafaela Carvalho
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: April 10, 2018
Started On: April 25, 2018
Finished On: May 04, 2018

The sixteenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward brings to readers the much awaited story of Assail, son of Assail, and Marisol, the beautiful human female that has haunted him in a way that no woman ever has before. Both Assail and Marisol are characters who have more or less led a life of criminal activity. Marisol because it had been the only way of life she had known and grown up with, the kind of life that had meant security for her grandmother for whom she would do just about anything, even if it means walking away from the one man who makes her soul sing.

Assail had fallen into the life of crime mostly out of a need for something to validate his existence. After the attack of the Lessers on the members of the glymera (vampire aristocrats), Assail had taken over the drug trade that had been left solely for human traders ever since Rehvenge left that part of his life altogether. Along the way, Assail is seen as someone for whom there is no line he would not cross, even if it means trading with the Lessers themselves. It is not about the money for Assail, and his dangerous habit of indulging in the goods takes its toll, until he willingly puts himself into rehab under the care of Doc Jane.

Because vampires have huge physiological differences in comparison to humans, the detoxing takes its toll on Assail in a way that no one foresaw. With his life hanging on the balance, it is his cousins that seek Marisol’s help because there was no other avenue left to reach out to him.

Marisol, having grown up with a religious Catholic grandmother, even as she defies conventions that religion dictates of her, she is bound by her faith in God. That is the one reason why she leaves with her grandmother even as her heart breaks in half when she has to leave Assail. At the time, it had been solely to act upon the promise she had made unto God, should she ever manage to escape the ordeal her life of crime had thrown her way. Making a clean cut and a life in hiding is what Marisol is prepared for until she returns to Assail’s side once again.

Marisol has no idea as to the true nature of what Assail is, and as Assail returns back to the fold of the living and regains his full strength, it becomes more complex as time passes to keep a lid on the bonded vampire that is unleashed every time they are together. But would Marisol be able to look beyond all that and see a man of worth behind what he is, and accept all of him? That is the question that haunts Assail as he sets out to convince his Marisol that they are meant to be together.

On the sidelines, the story of Doc Jane and Vishous takes a turn for the worse. Continuing from what happened in the book The Chosen, Vishous sets forth on a path that has the potential of destroying the bond between him and his shellan for good. While a lot of readers were put off by Vishous and his sentiments that drove him to this point, I actually understood where he was coming from. I guess it takes one who can admit to their own failures to empathize with an individual on their failings as well.

Vishous comes from a place of pain which he does not identify as such. Jane says as much when the finally let it loose, the frustrations, the fears, and the disappointments that had been festering between them for a while. Jane with her duties as the healer at the Brotherhood compound, takes her duties seriously, perhaps all too seriously.

Similarly, Vishous, the son of a deity, the most highly intelligent of the Brothers, takes his role just as severely. Which leaves them practically with no downtime, and especially with everyone else of the Brothers finding that one thing that acts as the glue that reaffirms the love they have for their shellans, Vishous is seemingly adrift in an abyss that he does not particularly understand, which is something rare for someone like him. Vishous has mummy issues that would probably fill up pages and pages of a psychiatric manual and all of that and more leaves him in a position of vulnerability, even if that does not excuse his behavior.

I wonder though, when all was said and done, and Jane and Vishous managed to talk it out and deal with everything that had been problematic between them, whether Vishous doesn’t yearn for a young of his own. Even if he is of the mind that he does not want one, and Jane seems oblivious to such a need within herself because lets face it, she is not in a position to offer that dream to Vishous, I wonder if this issue wouldn’t come up time and yet again between them. Vishous might be more of a ‘softie’ than anyone gives him credit for. It is those who appear hardened from years of neglect and parental issues that are often most in need of love and families of their own. I hope I am wrong, but then there is this feeling that I cannot quite shake off.

I believe The Thief actually brought to the forefront a lot of issues that needs addressing in terms of Scribe Virgin, the abandonment of the old ways of life of the Chosen, and the neglect in the Sanctuary that might cause serious harm if left to own devices. For instance, Throe and his formidable army that he is forging out of a book of dark arts seems to have been stolen from the Santuary, when previously that would not have been possible. There is also the need for record keeping in the Sanctuary which has also been abandoned, which is crucial for the survival and continuity of the vampire race and their way of life, as tumultuous as the changing times might be.

Up next seems to be Murhder’s story, a character that seems to excite me on many levels because his past is a mystery that needs unraveling. One thing I missed dearly was seeing my beloved Xcor settling into his life with Layla and the twins. I would love to read or catch a glimpse of them sometime in the next couple of books. I also hope that Assail does find that calling in his life that would keep him from getting into “trouble” all over again.

Recommended for fans of the series!

Final Verdict: JR Ward definitely cannot write the BDB series fast enough to suit fans like myself. The Thief concluded the chapter on Assail and Marisol’s story, and leaves readers hankering for Murhder’s story that is to come. Now, that is how masterful storytellers get it done.

Favorite Quotes

Marisol laughed, and then she took him in hand—and now he was the one gasping and rising up for more of her touch.
“Please…” he groaned.
“I couldn’t agree more.”
Straddling his hips again, she angled his arousal…and sat down, impaling herself in the most marvelous way.
Assail’s eyes rolled back, and his body drank in the sensation of completeness. “My Marisol…”

Assail extended his tongue and was done with any preamble. He licked up the center of her, flicking the top of her sex. Then he sealed her with a kiss.
The groan she tried to stifle made him smile, but then he had work to do. Sucking her in, then licking at her, he took his time, enjoying the feel and taste of her, the warmth and the rush—and greedy for even more, he spread her knees farther apart, his hands locking on, squeezing.
The lapping sounds were loud in the silence of the room—and so was her breathing. And both got their volume turned up as he started flicking at her, his tongue a darting, dancing tease that had her hips jerking back and forth as she rode his face.

His penetration was so fast and deep she yelled. And then she didn’t know what the hell she did—and she didn’t care.
Vishous was dominating by nature, a force in the world that wasn’t to be denied. And he had sex in exactly that way: He pounded her furiously, his body clapping against hers, the structural integrity of the marble wall she’d put her back against the only reason they were still standing.
And even that was a “maybe” instead of a “definitely”: At the rate he was going, he was liable to fuck her right through the stone and out onto the lawn—and she loved it. She loved the near-violence, the knife-edge of pain, the sense that she had walked into the woods and found a snarling beast and laid herself down so it could take her.
He was the out-of-control that she otherwise didn’t let into her life. And she had missed this. She had missed him.

Sometime after sunrise, Jane had her face in a pillow. Her naked body was flat on the mattress, and her legs were spread, and there was good reason for both. A huge weight was on top of her, moving, penetrating, the rhythm like waves in the ocean at high tide. Her hands were held down, big palms pressing on them, keeping her in place. Fangs, sharp and delicious, were sunk into her shoulder, the bite deep.
How Vishous managed to be in all those places at once was something to ponder—at a different damn time.

When he put one of her hands on his arousal, she started stroking him—and he climaxed immediately, coming on her belly, the ejaculations hot and powerful. In the back of her mind, she had a split second of disappointment that he had finished so soon, the session ending before it got started for her.
She couldn’t have been more wrong.
Before she knew what was happening, he was lifting her up and she was grabbing on to the top of the stall’s glass panels. Suspending herself at his hip height, he entered her core with a hard shove, the penetration slicing through her with an erotic sharpness. And as he began to move inside of her, an unusual tingling flowed throughout her body, as if her blood had turned to sparkles.
So hot. So heavy. So hard. And then his mouth was at her breasts, his dark head moving as wet suction locked on her nipples.

“I love you, too, Assail.” She leaned in and kissed him. Then ran her tongue across the points of his canines. “Man, I am so turned on—”
Before he could help himself, he snatched ahold of the nape of her neck and yanked her to his mouth. After he kissed her hard, he set her back so he could meet her eyes.
As the scent of her arousal flared, he knew she was staring at his fangs as they descended from the roof of his mouth.
“I will never hurt you with them,” he said in a guttural voice. “Ever. But if you want them—”
“I do,” she breathed. “I want you to do…whatever you do.”
Without thinking about it—and even though the door was not locked and there were people around—he took her hand and pulled it under the sheets. Placing her palm on his erection, he rolled his hips.
She took over from there. As they kissed, and his hand found her breast through her fleece, she stroked him.
It did not take long. And even though his fresh stitches stung as he worked with her rhythm, the pleasure was so great, he started coming almost immediately—and he didn’t stop.

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

greatread

Review: The Drowned Girls by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-bookthedrownedgirls.jpeg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Angie Pallorino, #1
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: James Maddock
Heroine: Angie Pallorino
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 20, 2017
Started On: March 03, 2018
Finished On: April 21, 2018

Loreth Anne White’s voice in the romantic suspense genre is one that resonates with readers like myself who need that dark edge to their reads. This makes Loreth’s books heavy reads, and mind you, they can get quite heavy because they delve into the darkest and most forbidden aspects of humanity itself. But for all that and more, Loreth’s books are unbeatable, and I would never have it any other way.

If I am not mistaken, this is the very first series of books that Loreth has written, interconnected in terms of stories and characters with one another. Entitled “Angie Pallorino” after the lead female detective in the series, The Drowned Girls as the debut novel deals with crimes of the kind that would make a woman look twice over her shoulder in paranoia, lock their doors and double and triple check to see whether they are actually locked, and worry about the whereabouts of loved ones, especially if they deviate from the normal hours they keep.

Angie Pallorino works on sex crimes at the Victoria Metro Police Department. Angie comes with issues that are layered with issues, and she is one of the most complex female leads I have ever come across. Angie has a way of dealing with the darkness inside of her, the voices that won’t quit, that feeling that has always hounded her that the life she has been living wasn’t really hers. Did I mention that she was complex? Yes, Angie is the definition of the word itself.

Usher in Sergeant James Maddocks, the newest recruitment to the Department, who is actually hired for the job that that Angie herself has been eyeing for quite some time. Coupled with the fact that the guy Angie randomly hooks up with at her pickup bar the previous night, the man she had labeled as “Mr. Big Dick”, and made her react in a way that was totally unlike her when it comes to her anonymous hookups turns out to be the one and the same? Needless to say, the tension and sparks between the two were very much a part of the unfolding story.

When a Jane Doe is discovered by a tour guide, with signs of mutilation of her sex organs, with a cross carved into her forehead, the tingles running up and down Angie’s spine tells her that this was no ordinary criminal that had done the deed. That it in fact looked like the perpetrator that Angie and her now deceased partner had been after for serial rape cases that had landed on their case pile, a lead that had gone cold for two years, now surfacing once again, and in a way that does not bode well at all.

When a second dead body surfaces, also bearing similar marks on her body, thus begins the investigation to find the person behind the heinous crimes. With the newly elected mayor reportedly having promised to make the city “great again”, the department is under enormous pressure to deliver, and to deliver fast and without bumbling it up in the need to rush.

What unfolded was way more than I bargained for, even knowing that Loreth is capable of taking a story in a direction that readers usually wouldn’t see coming. There are multiple threads running through the story the entire time, and in hindsight I wondered if that could have been the reason as to why one of the most crucial aspects of the story didn’t get much time – i.e. the villain and how he came to be who he was.

The discovery of his premises, the fate of his father when he was young, and the theories that had been floating around about what had made the monster out of a child who had seemingly looked happy in his childhood pictures was one that I wanted to read about. I feel that when authors write about evil personas such as the villain, they do so after a ton of research, and its not easy to craft a character as such without investing a lot of time on them. The villain in his own right, in novels like this, becomes part of the main protagonists in the story that unfolds. But, given the direction that the story took, taking readers onto sex crimes on an international scale, I suppose the villain that brought so much horror to the minds of the readers was a little overlooked in the end.

But, that does not by any means indicate that the story was lacking. The furthest thing from that in fact. I was fascinated with the multitude of connections, the painstaking work involved in terms of investigations, the interviews, the tedious work of corroborating witness statements etc. that goes into crime solving – not just solving a crime but making the charges stick.

However, in the end, it was Angie’s actions that came to the forefront; her “rash” actions that had saved the lives of two very important people in her life, or two people who could become the most important in her life, that changed the ending.

Loreth has an ability to bring to life a scene in a way that makes you feel like you are walking right through it. Every single aspect of the scene from the chilly, foggy, and wet weather of the region in which the story takes place, to the creepy characters you encounter along the way; all that and more are more or less alive, in front of you, like a myriad of images that goes through your mind as you read along. That is one of the aspects to Loreth’s books that makes them so darn difficult to put down and makes you crave for more.

Detective James Maddocks aka Mr. Big Dick (I like the sound of that way too much), is the type of hero that makes you swoon, even without realizing it. There is a way about him that just soothes those jagged edges to you, makes you simmer down a little, sit up and take notice of a man whose tamped down sexuality makes it all the more prominent perhaps. James and his life story takes a backseat to the baggage that Angie brings to the table. Angie is the one whose past comes roaring to life, making her question every single thing that has been part of her life narrative as long as she could remember. Her volatile temperament certainly does not help, and if it were a man less patient than Maddocks, they would just walk away and wash their hands off of her.

But then there are the moments in which Angie shows that side of hers that is vulnerable, hurting, and in need of someone that understands where she comes from. This is in fact the place from which she takes on the offensive; in her mind, lashing and fighting out is way better than letting people know exactly where to prick and prod if they intend to hurt her. Plus, the crimes that she works on? They are the kind that would probably make you go home and drown your sorrows in alcohol or worse when it gets to be too much. Or in Angie’s case, her outlet comes in the form of random sexual encounters with strangers, the high she gets out of being in control of the setting, when in reality her life is spiraling out of control and there is nothing much she can do about it.

If this is your very first read from Loreth, worry not. She has a couple of standalone romantic suspense titles that are absolutely to die for. I for one, can’t wait to find out what Loreth has in store for Angie and Maddocks in the next couple of books.

Final Verdict: Involuted and engrossing, The Drowned Girls is an eye opening tale of human depravity at its most obscene perhaps, because it speaks to parts of your conscience that everyone tries to hide from. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

We all lie.
We all guard secrets—sometimes terrible ones—a side to us so dark, so shameful, that we quickly avert our own eyes from the shadow we might glimpse in the mirror.
Instead we lock our dark halves deep in the basement of our souls. And on the surface of our lives, we work industriously to shape the public story of our selves.

There is none righteous, no, not one. —Romans 3:10

Angie shut out the voice, opened her thighs wider, and sank deeper onto his dick. She rocked her hips faster, filling herself, making herself hurt. She was close, so close, and he could feel it. He bucked under her, wilder, wilder, thrusting his cock up into her. She tried to pull back, to deny him full pleasure, but suddenly she froze, her entire body going rigid, as if in rigor. Her breath caught in her chest, and she held still a moment, red lights pulsing, bass beating. And suddenly, she came, her vision blurring, a cry suffocating in her throat as her muscles contracted and released in hot, rolling waves. She collapsed onto him, her breasts against his rough chest hair. He was still hard inside her as aftershocks continued to ripple around his erection.

He called after her. “You got a name there, warrior princess?”
She paused, hand on doorknob, and the devil on her shoulder whispered, Yes, you can control this. You can stop anytime you want to . . . Besides, she was only human. She could have a life. It wasn’t as though it was forbidden to have a relationship. As long as she held the reins, all the control.
“Angie,” she said.
Silence.
“You?” she asked.
He smiled slowly, one side of his mouth curving slightly higher than the other. “I’ve got your number.” He paused. “Angie.”

Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will bear silent witness against him. —Locard’s exchange principle

. . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. —Romans 3:23

The rules twisted down into a hot vortex of total oblivion as her mouth, her hunger, her aggression met his, tongues tangling, mating, rough, taking. He fisted her hair, tilting her head farther back, as his other hand slid down her spine. He cupped her buttocks and yanked her hard against him. His shirt was completely plastered to his body, and she could feel every inch of his muscular contours under the wet fabric. She could feel the long hardness of his big, gorgeous dick straining against his zipper as he pressed against her pelvis. Heat pooled molten between her thighs. Dizziness swirled, and her knees began to buckle out from under her. She wanted him. All of him. Inside. Deep and fast and hard and rough. Out here. Right now.

Naked, Angie sat on the edge of the bed, Maddocks standing between her legs while she undid his pants, a lust building, boiling, deep inside her. She slid his pants down his hips and that gorgeous dick swelled free. She caressed him, taking him into her mouth, holding his hips as she worked him with her lips, her tongue. His hands clamped down hard on her shoulders, his fingers digging deeper and deeper into her skin as she stimulated him to the point that he groaned, fisting her hair. He stopped her suddenly, pulling her off his wet erection by moving her head back. His gaze, dark, dangerous, locked with hers, and he shoved her backward and hard onto the covers.

He moved slowly at first, achingly slowly, and a tension of another kind built inside her as she wiggled to free her hands again but couldn’t. And her eyes flared wide. She was struggling to breathe.
He gave a powerful thrust, and he was inside her, up to the hilt. She gasped, and he moved his hips harder, driving himself yet deeper. Her eyes watered as he began to fuck her, his heavy, muscled build pumping her deep into the bedding, her hands trapped high above her head.

“Please, Maddocks,” she whispered. “Please.” He swallowed, his muscles beginning to shake against his battle to suddenly control himself, sweat slicking over his skin, and suddenly he gasped, and came powerfully, uncontrollably, inside her, his fingers digging into her flesh as his body took charge, shuddering him inside her. Tears filled her eyes as Maddocks, spent, lowered himself slowly down onto her, then rolled onto his side, withdrawing from inside her.
“Angie?” he whispered, his eyes refocusing.
Tears leaked out from the corners of her eyes, onto his covers. And she still ached with desire, and she felt shame, defeat, guilt. He stroked her cheek and moved a damp tangle of hair off her face. “Did I hurt you? What is it?”
She shook her head, unable to voice it, unable to tell him what was going on, unable to understand herself. And she was filled with embarrassment.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured. “So sorry.”

His vision swirled as he thrust and entered her hot wetness. She sighed softly as if with relief. Maddocks moved slowly, tentatively at first, rocking into her, and she met each of his thrusts with soft, sure movements of her hips—a pace as old as time, a rhythm that matched the waves upon which his boat rocked. And inside him a blinding pressure began to build. He could feel her growing hotter, hungrier, beginning to move faster. He thrust harder, faster. She wrapped her legs around him, hooking her ankles behind him, taking him tight into her arms, as if she couldn’t get him deep enough, as if she wanted to absorb and consume him wholly.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

amazingread

Review: The Beast by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookthebeast.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #14
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Rhage
Heroine: Mary
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 05, 2016
Started On: February 27, 2018
Finished On: February 28, 2018

The Beast, 14th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series seems a trifle bit “odd” an installment. Yet I suppose there was the need for a brief “reprieve” so to speak, to give other unfolding events the time to catch up to a point where all hell would break loose. The Beast nevertheless proved to be a fabulous read because what JR Ward does, she does in style whenever it comes to the series.

The Beast focuses on one of the old-time favorite couples in the series; Mary and Rhage, who got their story in the second book. Rhage is the Brother with the “curse” from the Scribe Virgin (the mother of the race), which had left him with a beast inside of him, which requires that he be in control of his emotions that can reach high octane levels given the right circumstances. Mary is the one person who has the ability to tame both Rhage and the Beast inside, both of whom love and adore Mary equally and just as ferociously.

By the end of the last book, the relationship between Mary and Rhage were beginning to show signs of strain, just like any long-term relationship would have its ups and downs. Rhage doesn’t even know where his discontent stems from, the hollowed pit of a feeling inside of him that he desperately craves to fill without trying to acknowledge its existence.

The opening scene of The Beast is one that could have taken the whole series in a direction that would have left a lot of broken hearts in its wake. But luckily for everyone involved, it turned out that Rhage’s act of defiance in the face of Vishous and his warning proved to work out just fine. But that moment defines a pivotal point in the lives of Mary and Rhage as a couple, because it leaves both of them at crossroads over the moments of clarity the situation had exposed them to.

In the end, everything does work out well; Rhage and Mary gets to the crust of the issue between them, and a solution presents itself which answers to the needs of all parties involved. All the while, I kept waiting for a final showdown with the Omega, who makes an appearance in the story. The eerie moments that Vishious and couple of other Brothers witnessed, was by far the most interesting moments in the story as it unfolded. By the end, I was still waiting for a scene that never emerged, which makes me wonder what sort of ingenious plot has Ward in store when it comes to a final showdown between good and bad; or in fact whether it is ever going to happen.

Another aspect of this novel that did not settle all too well with me was how Throe, second in command to Xcor of the Band of Bastards who had plotted to take down Wrath the King and assume the Throne for themselves, suddenly turns out to be the bad guy. Throe never came off as someone who was full of himself, narcissistic and egoistic enough to warrant such a radical change in his personality and the direction he chooses to take once Xcor lets it be known that his ambition to overthrow the King was no more. While the rest of Xcor’s soldiers fall in line, Throe decides that he would do what is needed, with or without them.

There was no prior indication that revealed that Throe, who had once been a member of the vampire aristocrats, actually wanted back the glamour and the glitz that would afford him the high life. His loyalty to Xcor and the Band of Bastards had been absolute, even though he had been forced to join them initially. In time, he had become one of the most formidable fighters, and of course with the kind of loyalty that warranted he be the second in command. All of a sudden, Throe is shacking up with a glymera wife who is unhappy with her spouse, and plotting ways to get rich enough to afford whatever plan he has hatched in order to assume his “rightful” place in life. Maybe I might have missed something in one of the books, but I just haven’t been able to wrap my head around it to make enough sense.

The Beast also ushers in the end of an era; where the Scribe Virgin ups and leaves. There were moments in the story where I kept wondering whether she was depressed, and then I wondered whether deities could get depressed. In the end, perhaps I was right, because it felt like Scribe Virgin was “misunderstood” by the race she had given birth to, that she had tried to direct and command to follow the old Laws and way of life which had slowly crumbled to dust while she had watched on. It is as if what had been sustenance for the Scribe Virgin had ceased to exist, which meant that she had been slowly being robbed of her strength and that indomitable will of hers. Vishous being the one to find it out was perhaps a turning point in his non-relationship with the woman, who is in fact his Mahmen.

Interesting developing plots still remain; story of Xcor and the Chosen Layla, and Assail and Marisol whose stories are still set to continue. Xcor’s story is the one that I want to read the most and hide from at the same time. Because I would not be able to bear it if there is even the slightest injustice done to his character. There was also one other point that caught my attention, held it, and made me sit up a little. The emergence of Dr. Manello’s sister in the midst of it all. I am waiting to see what interesting turn that mini-plot might take.

Final Verdict: The Beast takes readers through the changing lives of the Brotherhood and the world of the Vampires and the rapidly evolving dynamics between good and evil. It also brings to the forefront the struggles of Rhage and his beloved Mary as a couple. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

The hospital bed’s mattress shifted as she stretched out next to him, and her palm moved under the sheet, traveling oh, so very downward. Spreading his legs to give her all the access she wanted, he arched his head back and bowed his spine toward the heavens as she gripped his erection. Shouting her name, he felt the beast surge as well, the dragon riding the crest of pleasure along with him, while still staying leashed.
As if it had learned its good manners.
“My Mary…” And then he gasped. “Oh, yeah.”

“Oh, God, I need you,” Mary said as he slammed the door shut, manually turned the dead bolt, and popped her up off the floor.
As she grabbed the bottom of his muscle shirt and yanked it over his head, the thing got caught on his nose, nearly shearing his nostrils off. But like he gave a fuck? And then her shaking hands were clawing at the zipper on his leathers.
“I need you in me, hurry—I need you.”
“Oh, fuck, Mary, you have me—” The second her hand came into contact with his cock, he arched back and shouted something. Her name? Something about the Scribe Virgin? F-bomb? Again, who the fuck cared. “Let me get you—”
Next thing he knew, she was off the shelf, at his hips, and pushing him back until he slammed into the opposite side of things so hard cans of soup bounced down and rolled across the floor like they feared for their lives.
“Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaary—”
That mouth of hers sucked his erection in deep, and though the warm, wet hold and suction were out-of-this-world erotic, what was even hotter? The sense that she was so fucking desperate for him, she couldn’t wait for him to get his pants down and hers off.

Mary sat down hard on his cock and both of them cried out. Then she leaned forward, propped her hands next to his head, and began pumping her pelvis, his erection going in and out of her sex, their bodies slapping together, Rhage’s eyes latching onto her as she stared back at him with a combination of fierce determination and utter adoration.
She still had her coat on. The thing was flapping around her, and though he would have loved to see her breasts and her neck, her stomach, her sex, he was too caught up to be any kind of coordinated with his hands and his thoughts.
It was just really fucking awesome to be wanted like this. Ridden like this. Taken like this.

As she grabbed onto his back, she felt the beast surge under her nails, the tattoo rising up and creating a pattern in his skin as if it wanted to get out.
“Mary,” Rhage said into her neck. “Oh, fuck, Mary…”
At the sound of his hoarse voice, an orgasm hit her like a lightning strike, the pleasure making her call out as he punched his pelvis into her again and again while he ejaculated.
When they finally went still, she stroked his spine, petting the beast, which surged under her touch. And it was so strange. In moments like this, even though it was crazy, it seemed like the three of them were together.

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

greatread