Review: Don’t Kiss the Bride by Carian Cole

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Jude Lucketti
Heroine: Skylar
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 31, 2021
Started On: March 15, 2021
Finished On: March 17, 2021

Carian Cole is a new to me author that I found through my Kindle Unlimited recommendations. Being the huge fan of May-December romance tropes that I am, Don’t Kiss the Bride seemed to be right up my alley, with a marriage of convenience theme in the mix.

18 year old Skylar who is going through her last year of high school, is someone who has it tougher than most in life. Skylar makes ends meet by working after school and suffers from an eating disorder brought on by neglect. Her father having left Skylar and her mother to their own devices, she is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to even taking care of her own health, both physical and mental.

As luck would have it, Skylar’s run in with 34 year old Jude “Lucky” Lucketti brings her the fortune of a lifetime. Jude, a sexy, broody construction worker, from the first time he meets Skylar, there is something about her that tugs at his heartstrings and makes him want to protect her. When Jude becomes privy to the extent of Skylar’s plight at home, he offers the seemingly perfect solution: to enter into a marriage on paper only, so that Skylar would be under his care which would get her the help that she needs. They would just be roommates or rather housemates, nothing more, nothing less.

Jude himself comes from a broken family, his father having left their home when he was seventeen. Jude blames himself for the black hole into which he had sunk at that point, running around with the wrong sort of crowd and losing his way. He blames himself for how his sister went missing and it is perhaps one of the reasons why he is so driven to help Skylar by moving her into a better environment where she could recover in peace.

What Jude does not factor into the equation is how he is drawn to Skylar on a level that would be frowned upon by many and shunned by society at large. The fact that Skylar seems to be drawn to him just as much only makes him more determined to stay firm and true to his original plans when they initially said their I do’s. But fate has a way of bringing two halves of one soul together and there is no fighting the tide when the need is as ferocious as the waves that break ashore during the violence of a summer’s storm.

I loved this story for so many reasons. Carian Cole’s writing is beautiful and draws the reader in like an old friend whom you have come to call on after years. Within the pages you find the comfort of the words spoken by that friend, which both ravages and soothes your inner being.

I loved Jude in all his glory. He is charming, sexy, broody, and kindness itself when it comes right down to it. Haunted by his sister’s memories, Jude is someone who is torn between being the platonic husband on paper only to being Skylar’s husband in its truest form. The struggle is only too real when the desire between them pushes all his buttons. Once they give in, there is no stopping where it takes them in their relationship, as fragile as the bond maybe when they start out. When Jude’s past comes calling, it is then and only then the reader is exposed to the darker elements of Jude’s soul which I absolutely loved!

I loved Skylar; who wouldn’t? She is a survivor amidst everything else. She is strong, beautiful on the inside and out, and an old soul at that. She finds affinity with Jude on many levels, desires to be his above everything else, and is willing to understand that the lifeline he offers is the only way she can get herself onto the road of recovery. When Skylar embraced the darkness within Jude, that was when I knew that they would be able to weather any storm that may come their way.

I admired the fact that Ms. Cole did not make light of the recovery of the mental health aspects explored in the story. Skylar’s mother was beyond help – her husband had tried and so had Skylar. There is a point at which those around you can no longer offer you the help you need; when you refuse to acknowledge the need for that help. That is a message that we all need to understand as the world increasingly battles with rising numbers of mental health patients.

Getting over mental health issues is a tough and lonesome journey for the one that suffers from it – no matter how much those who love you may surround you, there would always be aspects of it that you would have to suffer through on your own. Which is why I found Ms. Cole’s take on Skylar’s journey to recovery something I could relate to – there was no magic pill nor therapy session which was the hallelujah moment – but rather it was a process as it should rightfully be. There were triggers which made it difficult for Skylar to push past her fears and those were the moments Jude’s understanding mattered the most, and I loved Jude for being sensitive a soul enough to know when those moments presented themselves.

Society would judge the relationship between Skylar and Jude to be an uneven one; after all, Jude is the one who has the financial independence that allows him to look after Skylar. He is also the mature adult in society’s modern definition, and it was with sensitivity that Ms. Cole handled those aspects of the novel as the story progressed. I found the relationship between Skylar and Jude evening out as Skylar came to her own self when she started to make progress in her recovery. The fact that she is as fiercely protective of him as he is of her made my heart full in ways I cannot express.

During one of Skylar’s inner monologues regarding Jude, she thinks along the following lines, “I’m captivated by the hard and soft sides of him—rough in just the right moments, but so incredibly gentle in the perfect moments, too. Jude may not talk much, but his touch speaks a thousand words.” I was right there with Skylar and found myself nodding along with her sentiments of who Jude is. I don’t think I can sum up his character better even if I tried.

Highly recommended for fans of Carian Cole, those who love age gap romances, marriages of convenience, and heroes whose contrasting sides makes you melt on the inside.

Final Verdict: Don’t Kiss the Bride carries such a surprising mix of sweet tenderness with darkness of the kind that speaks to your heart!

Favorite Quotes

I put my hands on his chest and slide them up to his shoulders. As he bends toward me, I close my eyes and lift one of my feet up into that flirty flamingo pose we see in movies.
Our lips touch softly, until he tilts his mouth over mine, capturing my lips with his. A barely audible gasp escapes me and he inhales it with a slow, sensual suck of breath. His hand squeezes my cheek, and then he pulls away, slowly dragging his thumb across my jawline before he turns to Carol and walks off to speak to her.

Neither one of us makes an effort to move. We stay there, quietly breathing together. Our entwined fingers slowly dance against each other. Hers long, soft and thin. Mine thick and calloused.
Resistance crumbles, and I turn toward her face, just inches from mine.
I don’t know who kissed who. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was her.
Doesn’t matter, because my mouth is on hers when it shouldn’t be. But fuck, her lips are soft and sweet, and I can’t resist one more taste of her.

“Is that what you want?” His lips touch my nose, then wait, hovering just a breath away.
I nod as we breathe against each other. “Yes.”
My answer is a subtle invitation. If he chooses to accept it, then any touching or kissing from this point forward won’t be an oops or an accident.
It’ll be a conscious choice. A decision we made together right here on my bed.
Fisting my hair, he gently pulls my head back, angling my neck up toward him. My eyes fall closed as he presses his lips to my throat and holds them there, warm and soft, before lightly sucking. My breath catches when he slowly drags his mouth up to briefly touch mine—whisper soft and gentle—before lifting up and bringing his lips back down to the base of my throat. Open-mouthed, teeth grazing.

When I reach for his pants, he nudges my hand away.
“No,” he whispers with his mouth against my ear and his fingers buried inside me. “Tonight, I just want to fuckin’ devour you.”
In a blink, he disappears under the blanket and quickly lowers my sweatpants. His mouth joins his hand between my thighs. His tongue laps at my throbbing clit, his lips cover me, so warm and wet.
I turn into a quivering, wet, orgasmic, lovesick mess.
Closing my eyes, I let go of everything, cling to him, and let myself get lost in us.

“Kiss me,” she whispers, pulling on the chain of my necklace.
I can’t resist anymore.
Grabbing her waist with my free hand, I pull her hard against my body and crush my lips down on hers. Her gasp of surprise fuels the fire she’s already stoked with her inviting touches and perfect words. I move my hand over the curve of her ass and down to the back of her bare thigh, lifting her until she hops up and wraps her legs around my waist.
Kissing wildly, I kick the bedroom door shut with my foot, then push her back up against it. Breathless, she snakes her arms around my neck.

Effortlessly, he lifts me up and lays me down on top of his puffy charcoal comforter. I lie back and watch him as he removes my shoes, then stands between my legs as he unzips my shorts and tugs them down, along with my panties.
“I think I just want to stand here and look at you all night,” he says, inching his hand languidly up my thigh like he’s got all the time in the world. His eyes sweep over me and he gives his head a little shake. “You’re so fucking beautiful.”
I peek at him through my lashes. “I could say the same about you.”

“Touch me,” he says, his voice hoarse with desire.
I stroke him slowly, gripping him in my palm and caressing the hot, damp tip. His head bows down, his hair falls over his face, his eyes close. My heart swells with adoration and lust for him. Leaning forward, I put my lips against his flat stomach. His ab muscles flutter deliciously as I rain a slow trail of kisses from hip to hip. I feel like a little kid on Christmas morning, getting an amazing gift in the form of sexy tats and an incredible body all wrapped up with a big red bow of sweetness on top. He groans and grabs my shoulders, pulling me up to meet his lips, kissing me with such hunger I can’t breathe
.

“I want you,” I whisper with my lips against his ear.
“You’ve got me,” he whispers back.
The tear of the foil packet permeates the silence of the dim room, and a few seconds later his hands are on my outer thighs, his fingers digging roughly into my flesh. He pulls me closer and thrusts into me balls deep, stretching me to take his full length. I let out a gasp that’s half-pain and half-pleasure. I don’t even care that it hurts a little, because watching him lose himself inside me is like watching art come to life. The way his tattoos, shiny with sweat, flex with his muscles. The way his long hair flies around his head with every thrust. The rivulets of sweat dripping down the center of his chest. The bite of his teeth into his lower lip as he drives into me.
Pure. Hotness.

“Don’t mess with me, Skylar. You’re not gonna like it if I put my hands on you like this.”
I reach up and touch his cheek, running my finger over the dark stubble. He stares at me through half-closed, dark eyes.
“Try me,” I whisper.
Without wavering, I hold his gaze. Whatever he needs right now—I’ll do it. I’ll be it. He’s been my rock since the day we met—never wanting or expecting a thing in return. He’s not drowning his feelings in the bottom of a bottle on my watch.
Suddenly, his hand flies up and grabs the back of my neck, pulling me hard to meet his lips. He kisses me ferociously, his tongue carrying the bite of whiskey. He palms my breast, twisting, pinching, and tugging my nipple between his fingers until I cry out.

“I don’t want you looking at me.” The anguish and self-hatred in his voice and in his eyes rip my heart in two.
Turning on my side, I reach for him, wanting to kiss all the hurt away. “Lucky—”
“Do it or get the fuck out.”
With a quiet nod, I flip back over onto my stomach, and he grabs my hips, pulling me up onto all fours and yanking me back to meet him at the edge of the bed. His hands grip my waist and he drives into me hard, fast, and unforgiving. Moaning his name, I clutch the comforter in my hands, head down, as he slams into me, his balls slapping against my wet pussy with each pounding descent. I’ve never had sex from behind, and it’s painfully primal but so intensely erotic. I don’t know if I should be ashamed or proud of myself for enjoying the raw, animalistic sensuality of it.
And him.

When I arch my back, pushing to meet his thrusts, my walls clench around him again and again as wave after wave of orgasm rolls through me. As I’m reeling from the last of the lingering shudders, I cry out when he suddenly pulls his cock out and pushes me flat down, covering my entire body with his. The length of his stiff shaft wedges between my ass cheeks and spurts hot cum onto my lower back. He bows his head down into my neck and kisses my shoulder blade, biting my flesh and panting heavily, whispering words like wet and tight and so fuckin’ perfect. A shiver of ecstasy cascades down my spine. He stays there for a long time, with his sweaty chest pressed against my back, and I revel in being entirely enveloped by him, trapped in his powerful embrace.

My head falls back against his shoulder and I turn to kiss his neck, nipping at him with my teeth. Water splashes as his hand dives between my thighs like a shark. Two thick fingers zero in on my G-spot, curving upward with precision and rubbing rhythmically. Whimpering, I grip the sides of the tub to steady myself as I rock back and forth, thrusting up into his hand, then back against the ridge of his cock.
He grasps the side of my face and turns me to him. Our lips clash, breathless and needy. He crosses his legs over mine, pinning me down. My body is buzzing, my hips rolling up and down, back and forth. The tip of his thick cock pushes between my ass cheeks, nudging my pulsing entry.

He untangles his legs from mine, grabs me beneath my knees, and bends each of my legs up over the edge of the tub, spreading me wide over him. I grasp the slippery sides of the porcelain as he lifts me by my hips, positions me over his cock, then lowers me down onto him.
“Holy shit,” I gasp as he spears my pussy hard and deep.
Cupping my ass with one hand, he guides me up and down his shaft while his other hand reaches between my thighs, circling and lightly slapping my clit.
I feel his lips on my wet back, kissing a trail up my spine to the curve of my neck. His breath is ragged, matching mine, as we move faster and harder, splashing hot water around us in waves as my body plunges deliciously down onto his.

Grabbing her throat, I pull her up to me and kiss her deep, delving my tongue into her mouth until I own her every breath. She pants against my mouth with her small hands splayed across my hips.
I pull out almost completely, and she gasps in frustration. Resting the tip of my cock against her entry, I cup her face in my hands and kiss her lips softly, then pull away, hovering just millimeters from her mouth. Slowly, I push into her just a fraction. Her wet lips envelope me, deliciously tight and hot.
“Give it to me,” she begs.
“Look at me,” I whisper. She opens her eyes and stares into mine, and I watch her eyelids flutter half-closed when I feed my cock into her inch by inch. She looks so fucking beautiful and sensual, it takes all my self-control not to cum instantly.

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookDepo

Review: Lola Carlyle Reveals All by Rachel Gibson

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Maximilian Javier Gunner Zamora
Heroine: Lola Faith Carlyle
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 01, 2002
Started On: February 6, 2021
Finished On: February 12, 2021

Rachel Gibson is an author who delivers stories that are rife with humor, filled with tons of sexual heat, and love of the kind that leaves a lasting impression on you. It has been a long time since I indulged in a book by Ms. Gibson, and while I have forgotten just exactly how this landed in my TBR pile, I have not forgotten just how much I enjoyed this number and the emotions that coursed through me as I read along.

30 year old Lola Faith Carlyle is in a bit of a fix, with her naked pictures ending up on the internet, thanks to her ex-fiance’ who does so to bail himself out of financial difficulties. An ex-model who graced billboards and the cover of many a magazine, Lola is someone who dealt with severe anorexia at the height of her career. Having started her own mail order lingerie line two years ago, Lola takes a mental-health vacation to flee from the mess that had come out of the publication of her photos.

36 year old Lieutenant Commander Maximilian Javier Gunner Zamora could not be more different from Lola if he tried. Officially listed as retired from US Navy, Max owns a security consulting firm which takes him on missions paid for by the US government in ways that leaves them the luxury of plausible deniability if ever shit were to hit the fan, Max is someone who leads a life on the edge. The latest mission that Max is on goes awry and he is on the run for his life when he encounters none other than Lola, and is forced to take her hostage.

At first, the animosity between Lola and Max reeks from the pages. Max is no fan of delicate women and Lola has an aversion to everything that Max represents. But as these two face off and also work through their differences to make it out alive in one piece, the attraction that simmered below the surface from the get-go bursts forth and there is no stopping the tidal wave of desire that overtakes them both.

Max is wary of the way he reacts to Lola, being someone who hates weakness of any kind, be it towards imbibing in alcohol or women who makes a man lose his mind. But in Lola, for the first time, Max finds someone who might bring him to his knees and reform the adventure seeking soul inside of him that lives for his next mission. Max is a commitment-phobe if ever there was one, while Lola seeks to find someone worthy of investing and giving her all, and Max is definitely not it.

I loved the coming together of Lola and Max. Even through their distrust towards each other at the beginning, the reluctant conversations between the two were revealing of where they were both coming from. I enjoyed this facet of the story rather than Ms. Gibson developing their characters via narrative writing. I also loved the fact that Max tries to polish his language around Lola, just because. Max has an innate need to claim Lola for his own in a way that is all consuming, and that is one of the reasons behind the angst factor in the novel which I adored.

The only reason why this did not earn 5-stars was due to the lack of an epilogue. I loved the fact that Lola was willing to meet Max halfway when it came right down to it. Love often comes with making difficult choices, which may in the short and long run mean living with and loving someone who time and yet again puts their life on the line. Asking a man to give up what they love is just as unfair as a woman being forced to give up on doing what they love, all because their partners cannot handle the total package.

What makes Ms. Gibson’s books such fun is the fact that she writes heroes who are alpha to their very core, a bit chauvinistic, and all male where they are concerned; this makes it extra entertaining when they fall so hard for the woman who changes everything!

Recommended for fans of contemporary romances that makes you laugh and squeal in delight. Ms. Gibson always hits the mark just right!

Final Verdict: Lola Carlyle Reveals All is a highly delightful romance of two opposites who clash and love just as fiercely. There is nothing left to do towards the end, but surrender heart, body, and soul!

Favorite Quotes

“I want to go home, Max.”
He stared down into her face and brushed his warm palm up her spine. “I’ll make sure you get home,” he said. Then, for the second time in less than twenty-four hours, he lowered his mouth to hers.
“How?” she asked against the soft brush of his lips.
“I’ll think of something.” Then he kissed her.
This time there was no question of his intent. The firm press of his lips to hers made his intentions perfectly clear. He wasn’t helping her breathe, and he wasn’t asking permission. His finger plowed through the sides of her hair, brushing it back from her face and lifting it from her shoulders. He held her face in his palms, tilted her head back, and took advantage of her parted lips. His tongue swept into her mouth, warm and slick, instantly po
ssessive and consuming.

The yacht rode the waves of the ocean, pitching the deck starboard before righting once again. Max spread his feet wide and let the natural rise and fall of the yacht grind his hard penis against her. The erotic rhythm drew a deep groan from his chest and left her aching for more.
He slid his moist mouth to the side of her throat, and Lola leaned her head to one side to give him better access. The tip of his tongue touched her ear, then he whispered her name, a warm caress filled with rough longing.

“Do you want to know what I thought about you that first night?”
“Honey, I think that flare gun pointed at my chest said it all.” He wrapped his hand around her lower calf and tugged. Before she knew how it happened, she was on her back and he was over her, his hands planted on the ground on each side of her head. “And despite you having tried to kill me, I want you more than I’ve ever wanted any other woman.” He lowered his face to hers. “But I think you know that,” he said right before he kisse
d her.

The languid kiss seduced and teased until her every thought narrowed and focused on the liquid warmth of his mouth. Heat flushed her breasts and stomach and pooled between her thighs. She ran her hand up the taut flesh of his arms, over his shoulder, to the side of his neck. She slipped her fingers through his short fine hair and he groaned into her mouth.
Max pulled back from the kiss and looked up into her face. His harsh breath caressed her cheek as his blue eyes burned into her. The way Max stared at her, all dark intensity, made her feel beautiful and desired and a
live with anticipation.

He sucked in his breath. “You’re not a screamer, are you?”
Not tonight she wasn’t. “I’ll control myself.”
That seemed to be what he needed to hear, and he cupped her between her legs. “Jesus,” he groaned, “you’re already wet.” His fingers slid beneath the crotch of her panties, and he parted and touched her slick flesh. She whispered his name, then turned her face into his shoulder. The tips of his fingers brushed her where she was most sensitive, and she bit the hard muscle at the top of his arm.
“Lola.”
“Hmm?” She kissed the spot she’d bitten.
“Nothing. Just Lola.” With each stroke of his fingers, he fed her intense desire and shut out everything but her need to feel him inside of her.

With unsteady hands, she brought his face to hers. Their gazes met and held as he began his entry. He pushed the broad head of his hot penis inside of her, then his hips rocked back and forth. A slow and easy rhythm, giving her time to stretch and adjust before he grasped her thighs, and with one final thrust, he buried himself fully. Lola gasped and grabbed hold of his shoulders. He filled her completely, the heat of him burning her up inside. A moan she could not control poured from her throat and she wrapped one leg around his waist.
Max sucked in a breath and held it. Beneath her hands his muscles had turned to stone. “Lola,” he whispered against her cheek. “God, you feel incredible. So hot.” He pulled halfway out, then lunged forward. “So good.”

“Lola, open your eyes and look at me.”
She managed his request, but barely. Her whole world was focused on where his body joined hers and the intense rush of sensation that had taken over and was forcing her to meet each plunge of his hips.
“I want you to look at me. I want to see your eyes when I make you come,” he said, then he got his wish as the first wave of orgasm took hold and pulled her into its fury. Her body arched and she clung to him as his body drove her into the vortex of hot, mind-numbing pleasure. She opened her mouth, and he kissed her, swallowing her long moan, taking everything she had, then demanding more.

He took her jaw between his fingers, tilted her face up, and lowered his mouth to hers. He pressed kiss upon hot kiss on her lips, then his moist tongue invaded her mouth and spread fire through her blood and warmed the pit of her stomach. She combed her fingers through the sides of his hair and held the back of his head. Standing within the partially refurbished parlor of his home, Lola felt the instant he lost control. The kiss turned hotter, wetter, feeding. He kissed her as if she alone were responsible for the breath in his lungs.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple Books | BookDepo

Review: Dirty Sexy Inked by Carly Phillips and Erika Wilde

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Dirty Sexy, #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Mason Kincaid
Heroine: Katrina Sands
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: April 05, 2016
Started On: January 30, 2021
Finished On: January 31, 2021

Earlier this year, I signed up on Passionflix, an application the likes of Netflix which is all about bringing the romance books that we love and adore to life as movies and series. I was following the movie series Gabriel’s Inferno, and that is how I ended up with Passionflix on my iPad and gorging on the few movies available on the application, one of which turned out to be based on the first book of the Dirty Sexy series, Dirty Sexy Saint. Needless to say, the movie intrigued me enough to want to read Dirty Sexy Inked, the second book in the series, even though there were hints that a movie based on the the story too would be forthcoming.

I have never read a book from Carly Phillips before, or if I have, I do not recall ever reading one. So Dirty Sexy Inked turned out to be from an author whose voice combined with Erika Wilde (another new to me author) made me feel right at home as the words flowed around me, taking on my most favorite trope when it comes to romance, i.e. the friends to lovers trope.

Mason Kincaid and Katrina Sands have been friends since they were fourteen years old. The story begins where the first book ends, with Mason’s brother Clay and the love of his life Samantha deciding to get married. It is as Mason and Katrina embark on the journey which takes them to Vegas for Clay’s wedding which changes things at such a rapid pace in their relationship, leaving them both reeling in more ways than one.

Katrina does not recall a time she has not been in love Mason, even though Mason himself remains clueless to the fact. Mason is a man-whore if ever there was one, preferring his sex straight up, without the commitment. Even though Katrina holds hope in her heart that one day Mason would wise up and see her as more than just his best friend, every single time he sidles up to a woman and takes her for the ride of their lives, that hope dies just a little.

So when the opportunity presents itself in Vegas and Mason and Katrina collide in a haze of lust and mutual need for one another, they both agree on one thing – that what happens in Vegas would stay in Vegas. However, things get a bit more complicated than that, with Mason’s inability to reconcile with the mind-blowing sex he has with Katrina and their agreement that it would be a one time thing, warring with his need to claim her for himself.

It takes a lot of soul searching for Mason to come to terms with why he is the way he is and for him to finally accept that his heart belongs with his one and only, but a shadow from their past nearly proves to be their undoing before things turn out for the better.

I loved Dirty Sexy Inked. Both Mason and Katrina are the type of characters that you root for and fall in love with and I found my heart yearning for them to move past the misunderstandings and finally be together. But at the same time, I did revel in the angst factor resulting from the said misunderstandings. I know. I am a total mess when it comes to being a romance reader, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Katrina and Mason both have baggage from their childhood which they carry through to adulthood. Katrina’s trauma is all too real and Mason, no matter how much he tries to shy away from the fact, is more affected by his abandonment issues than he lets on. In each other, they find the understanding, solace, love, and kink of the kind that answers each other’s needs and it was soul-stirring to read about how they both get there.

Recommended for fans of the authors and the series. If you are a romance reader who loves this trope, you won’t be disappointed. And the best part? You can totally read this as a standalone.

Final Verdict: Dirty Sexy Inked is an uncomplicated friends to lovers romance that is sinfully sexy and sweet in the best possible way.

Favorite Quotes

The moment their lips touched, a jolt of blistering heat shot straight to Mason’s dick and the word friendsno longer applied. Because a friend wouldn’t take possession of this woman’s hot, sweet mouth and kiss her hard enough to bruise. A friend wouldn’t wrap those long, blonde strands of hair around his hand so he controlled the slant of her mouth beneath his and the depth of the kiss. And Jesus Christ, a friend definitely wouldn’t slide a hand down his rigid stomach, curl her fingers around his stiff cock, and squeeze him tight.

“Tell me you want this,” he demanded gruffly. He needed to hear her say the words.
“I want this,” she begged enthusiastically as she tipped her hips up, seeking the fullness of his shaft. “Fuck me. Please.”
He slid his free hand around to her bare breast and flicked his finger against her taut nipple, making her gasp and her entire body jolt from the sting. Oh, yeah, she liked that. A lot.
“How do you want it, Kitty-Kat?” he rasped.
Her lips parted and her lashes fluttered shut, as if by doing so she’d be able to hide from his penetrating stare. “I need it hard,” she murmured. “Rough. Deep.”

He groaned and shuddered as his mouth continued to consume hers, even as his mind railed against the thoughts tumbling through his head. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. He wasn’t supposed to feel so desperate and wild, and knew this driving hunger was unlike anything he’d ever felt with any other woman before. It was all Katrina. She destroyed his self-control, made him feel so crazed with the primitive urge to mark her and brand her as his so no other man would ever touch her.
Mine. She’s all fucking mine.

Jesus . . .” he rasped. His legs started to tremble as she pulled him to the back of her throat once more and swallowed around him. “Need you so fucking bad . . . Your mouth is so hot, so greedy . . . I’m going to come so fucking hard . . .”
He drew quick, shallow breaths, and then his shaft pulsed against her tongue, his hips jerking erratically as he climaxed with a raw shout of pleasure that gave her an equal amount of satisfaction. When he was completely spent, he dropped his head against the wall and released her hair, allowing her to finally move.

“Feel that, baby?” he asked as he rolled his hips, grinding his cock against her drenched folds and coating himself with all the slick moisture from the last orgasm he’d given her. “I already came once in your mouth, and I’m already so fucking hard for you again.”
She bit her bottom lip as he continued to rock against her core, the pressure and friction making her body come alive all over again. With each intentional stroke, the ache between her thighs became an unrelenting throb, and she gyrated her hips against his erection, giving him a dirty, filthy lap dance that had him clenching his jaw and his chest rising and falling with harsh breaths.
A dark, dominating growl rumbled in his chest, and his fingers dug harder, deeper, into the soft flesh of her ass. “That’s it, Kitty-Kat. Rub your soaked pussy all over my dick. Make yourself come on my cock.”

Before she had a chance to fully recover, he’d rolled on a condom, and then his hands were gripping her waist and lifting her up on her knees so that he could position the head of his cock at her opening. Then he pulled her down on his shaft, plunging so hard and deep she cried out at the initial shock of it.
She was impaled to the hilt, and he didn’t move. When she opened her eyes and looked into his, she realized he was giving her a moment to adjust before he let loose, and there was no doubt in her mind that she was in for a rough ride. She could feel the tension in his body from holding back and the pulse of his cock inside her, could see the muscle in his cheek tick as he slowly slid his hands down to her hips.

His mouth came back to her ear, his voice dark and possessive. “You ready to come apart for me, baby?”
“Yes,” she pleaded.
He exhaled a harsh breath and pumped his fingers in and out of her, hard and deep, while his thumb worked her clit in fast, relentless circles. So many sensations rocketed through her, and she tightened her fingers around the ones he’d laced with hers above her head, needing an anchor as her body shook from the force of her climax.

He grabbed a handful of her silky hair and pulled her head farther back, until his mouth was against her ear. “Choose, or I’ll decide for you,” he demanded sharply, and snapped the wooden stick against her thigh.
She jumped from the unexpected smack as a squeak of surprise escaped her throat. “Your hand,” she replied quickly.
Releasing her hair, he moved back in front of her and put the ruler aside since he wouldn’t be needing it. “Pull your skirt up, all the way to your waist. Show me what belongs to me.”

Guiding the tip of his cock along her wet crevice, he found her opening and pushed the head inside just a few inches. A needy sound escaped her, and she shamelessly rocked back against him, seeking more of his length.
Giving them what they both desperately needed, he grasped her hips and slammed into her in one driving thrust, burying his shaft balls deep inside of her. She swallowed back a cry as he filled her, and he groaned at the way her body tightened around his cock as he tunneled in and out of her.

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Review: His Valet by S.M. LaViolette

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Decadence, #2
Publisher: Crooked Sixpence Press
Hero: Stephen Chatham
Heroine: Joseph Edward Leather
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: May 19, 2020
Started On: January 23, 2021
Finished On: January 28, 2021

His Valet is the second installment in the Victorian Decadence series by S.M. LaViolette. The story brings together 27 year old Joseph Edward Leather (Jo), who has been employed as a valet to 42 year old Stephen Chatham for quite sometime, and falls in love with her employer along the way, a man who wouldn’t look twice at her for all intents and purposes.

Jo is someone who has been working since the tender age of seven years. Her father had taught her to be nothing but exemplary in her servitude. Devotion is all that has been ingrained into her, not to mention the fact that she has spent her entire life pretending to be a man, the only way of life she has ever known. Even if it meant foregoing own sense of self-dignity, that is what Jo’s father drilled into her and her brother, and that is the code of ethics by which she lives.

Jo does not ever dream of a conventional happily ever after nor marriage for her. The only thing that she yearns for with every fiber of her being is to be with Stephen and when the opportunity presents itself, indulge she does for the five nights she pretends to be someone else.

When the truth comes out, Jo knows that the price she would have to pay would be immense, and even then, she is ill-prepared for the white hot anger that rules every decision Stephen makes thereon. Stephen, who has been burnt once and is twice shy, loathes deception of any kind. In Jo, Stephen sees only what he wants to see, and therein lies the battle which he must wage and win over himself, if Stephen and Jo were to have any chance in having a future together.

I loved the story line and the main protagonists better than I did those in the debut book of the series. Stephen is a compelling character and with Jo, he finds the answer to his every desire, the whys of which he doesn’t want to look into too closely lest it takes him in a direction that is far too uncomfortable for him to ponder on.

Jo’s character is the one that shines bright in the story, and I believe it is as Ms. LaViolette intended it to be. Her character makes one question their conceptions about the gender which they identify with, and it is something that I have never really thought much about. But Jo’s predicament is all too well understood, given how she was brought up and the fact that she has never had the freedom to understand enough to choose who she wanted to be.

It is with the enigmatic Mr. Smith that Jo truly finds the freedom to explore her mind and conscience, and to understand herself enough to be comfortable in her own skin and most of all, to love her own self. And it is those terms upon which Stephen must try to reconcile his own feelings with, if ever these two were to have their own version of a happily ever after.

The second lead game was strong in this novel; which is often felt when you are watching Korean dramas that strongly rely on love triangles to bring the angst factor forward. For me, the fact that I fell hard for Mr. Smith and my heart wept for him spells trouble with a capital T. It means that I am in a shit load of trouble even before Ms. LaViolette has released Smith’s own story, which I do not think I would ever be ready for. The fact that most fans of this series would want to get their hands on his novel is a foregone conclusion, and a Goodreads discussion on the author’s page proved me right.

Ms. LaViolette mentions that she is actually 3/4 through with his story and had to stop, because she too is learning that Smith is a difficult character who views sex and love to be completely separate and views love to be rarer than the practice of fidelity to someone. He is neither an easy person to love nor a nice person and his past even shocked Ms. LaViolette as she wrote the book.

So here I am hoping that one day soon, Ms. LaViolette gets the courage to start where she left it off and give us the story of the character that all our hearts collectively yearn for. I know it wouldn’t be an easy read by any means, but it would totally be worth it.

When all was said and done, Jo and Stephen did leave me with one burning question at the end – how would they fare as they go through the different phases of life together in their relationship; would either of them want more than the other can give? Would it always be enough, for her to be his valet and he her master in a way? I don’t think there are any easy answers to any of these questions.

Recommended for fans of Ms. LaViolette and fans of dark erotic romances in a historical setting.

Final Verdict: Thought provoking is not a phrase you would usually apply to an erotic romance, but in His Valet, Ms. LaViolette has outdone herself in giving readers characters that leaves the strongest impression on you!

Favorite Quotes

His lips curved into a smile she never thought she’d see directed toward her. “Lift your skirts higher for me.”
Her hands responded to his order just as they always did, and his gaze dropped to her thighs. He’d somehow managed to take off her other slipper without her being aware of it.
“I want to leave your stockings on,” he told her as she lifted her hem, exposing her shaved sex.
Heat flared in his eyes, dark, smoky and explosive—just like the savage, uncontrollable peat fires Jo had once seen when she’d been a girl. “God, yes. You are exactly the way I like,” he murmured. “So smooth, soft, sleek.”

“Should I ease in slowly, or do you want me to get it over with?” “Get it—” The marble phallus had not prepared her for the sensation of his thick, hot, and remarkably long organ sliding into her body. “My God you’re tight,” he whispered against her ear when he paused. “Is it terribly painful? Should I give you more? Or wait?” More?! She’d thought he was already all the way in. He was bloody huge and Jo was afraid she might scream if she opened her mouth so she clenched her jaws tight and whispered, “More.”

“Not yet,” he hissed between clenched teeth, his hips pounding without mercy. “Not yet, not yet, not—fuck!” He threw back his head and roared, driving into Gillian so hard that her head bumped Jo’s belly.
“Now,” he ordered, hilted in the other woman. “Come now.”
Jo’s back spasmed and arched, until it felt like it would snap, and she hurtled over the edge into oblivion.

“Hello, Stephen.”
Stephen slammed the armoire door and strode toward her without speaking, pulled off her hat, tossing it aside, and crushed her mouth with his, as if he’d not seen her in a year, instead of only a night.
She gave as hard as she got and they were both breathless when he finally pulled away.
“Hello, Josephine.”

“Do you like it, Josephine?” he asked in a voice that was rough with restraint.
Jo pressed herself against him, the action pushing him deeper, causing a dull pain to radiate from where they were joined. She felt the change in his body, the subtle loosening of control, like a rope that had been cut and was beginning to fray faster and faster.
“Fuck,” he said, groaning. His arm slid around her waist and his fingers fanned over her belly, holding her body against his while he invaded her inch by inch by inch. Just the thought of what they were doing—so filthy and primitive and wrong—made every muscle clench.
“Josephine,” he whispered, shuddering.

Stephen whispered in her ear, his voice harsh. “I can’t restrain myself much longer, Josephine. Do you want it?”
“Yes, Stephen. . . please.”
Stephen must have made some sign because Julian left her body and stepped back, his cock jutting heavy and slick in front of him, his expression tense with the effort of holding back his orgasm. It was Jo’s turn to smile and then she closed her eyes and opened her body to the man she loved, heart and soul.
Stephen’s pounding became savage, his hips pumping mercilessly now. “I’m going to come in you, Josephine. I’m going to—” he gave loud, guttural cry as he thrust deep and froze, holding her in an unbreakable embrace while his cock spasmed and flooded her with his seed.

When his mouth slanted over hers, her hands did what they’d been wanting to do for weeks and slid around his smooth, muscular torso. He groaned and pulled her against him, his arm like an iron strap around her waist.
His mouth was silken and tasted like liquor and smoke from his strangely fragrant cigars. His kisses were as firm and hot and powerful as he was.

He grazed her breast with his teeth and she whimpered as he slid a hand down the front of her trousers, beneath the waistband, and then stopped on her mound, groaning. “Oh, God, I love a shaved cunt,” he whispered into her breast before dropping into a crouch and grabbing both sides of her placket and then ripping her trousers right down the middle.
Jo gasped. “Oh, no, but—”
“Hush,” he muttered, yanking the string that held up her drawers. “I’ll buy you another dozen pairs. Good Lord your body is beautiful.” He dropped to his haunches and spread her lower lips with his thumbs and plunged his tongue into her, his moan vibrating through her body.

“Stockings stay on while I fuck you, I think,” he said, panting as he knelt between her spread thighs, staring down at her with black eyes that were heavy with need. “This is an emergency, darling, and I’m going to ejaculate with shocking haste. But the next time will be up to my usual standards.”
Jo laughed breathlessly and spread wide for him as he placed his beautiful cock at her soaking entrance and slammed into her, pulling her tight to his body as he entered. He held her full for a moment, his eyes locked with hers, his chest rising and falling as if he were being chased.
“How do you want it? Hard, hard, or hard?” he asked.
Jo couldn’t help laughing. “What was that third one agai—”
He began to fuck her with furious, violent thrusts, his teeth gritted and his jaw clenched as he pounded into her, angling his hips for the deepest penetration. He worked her so savagely she knew there would be bruises.

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Review: Till Dawn Tames the Night by Meagan McKinney

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Dell
Hero: Vashon Blackwell
Heroine: Aurora Dayne
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 1991
Started On: January 20, 2021
Finished On: January 22, 2021

Till Dawn Tames the Night by Meagan McKinney brings to readers the story of 19 year old Aurora Dayne who is set to travel to Jamaica with her modest belongings in tow, which includes a unique bejeweled locket, the sole legacy from her dead father. Little does she know that the journey she embarks upon puts her at the mercy of none other than 34 year old Vashon, a ruthless privateer with an agenda for vengeance that has carried him thus far, who is in pursuit of the very locket that she holds.

When these two opposites meet, sparks of course, fly. When a series of events ensures that Aurora is Vashon’s prisoner, the clash of wills begins in earnest, Aurora on her mission to reform a man who is driven by hatred and consumed by the memories of his past riddled with darkness.

I really wanted to love the two main protagonists of the story. Vashon was something fierce and determined, with a ruthless edge to him that I crave in my heroes. While Aurora, though innocent and sheltered for the most part, had the sort of fire in within her that refused to take everything he dished lying down. I was set to enjoy them both, but alas.

What annoyed me to no end was how Aurora wanted to reform Vashon. She continuously bickered about his actions, is always shocked by the violence that surrounds him, even when he does what he must to protect what is his. In my opinion, any redeeming qualities that comes forth should come of one’s own volition – it should never be forced upon the character at any point in time. Aurora nagging about Vashon continuing on his path of vengeance wasn’t how I wanted the changes to come about.

Or here is a wild thought; how about just accepting someone for who they are? Vashon does not try to change Aurora, maybe because she is so perfect? I hardly think so. There are plenty of romances that work with heroes who embrace their darkness and whatever redeeming qualities they have, whatever softness they show, are partial to the heroine for whom they would risk everything and lay down their very life for. And that is enough, if you want your characters to stay true to who they are, because some characters have reached a tipping point that makes it difficult for them to become mushy cuddle bears.

The saddest part is that this story had so much potential and could have ended up being so much more. As things stood, I skipped chunks of paragraphs and went for the end. An epilogue would also have been much appreciated.

Recommended for fans of Meagan McKinney.

Final Verdict: In Till Dawn Tames the Night, Ms. McKinney brings to life a heroine who would stop at nothing to reform the hero, be it nag her way towards the redemption of his character.

Favorite Quotes

He was so close she could feel his breath warm and enticing on her cheek. As her fingers uncurled against his chest, she rediscovered the pleasure of caressing him. She explored his front, textured with hair and rigid with muscle, and she never imagined mere flesh could be so hard and implacable. Beneath her hand she felt his heart drumming against his ribs, and she was amazed to find it quicken as he drew her to him. Her own heart beat wildly as his arm encircled her waist. At last the moment seemed to come when they would meet, and even the ship seemed to steady for their encounter.

She looked up at him. She didn’t really want to know his despicable rules, but since she was under his domination until they arrived in Grand Talimen, it was inevitable she would learn them. Resentfully she nodded her head.
“Rule number one,” he said in a husky voice, “is all ship’s spoils belong to me . . . and to me alone.”
He lifted her hair and as if his lips were a brand, she felt him place one fiery kiss upon her nape. Her hair was still damp from its washing, and he seemed particularly entranced by the way the delicate curls clung to her hairline. She closed her eyes, unable to bear what he was doing. His kiss only reminded her again of that wretched dream, and she trembled just from the thought of the power he had over her.

He moved to leave the bed, but before he went, he woodenly placed a kiss upon her tear-stained cheek. Desperate to make him stay, she summoned a womanly guile she never knew she possessed. She waited for his lips to leave her cheek and just when they did, she turned her head and her lips met with his.
Their kiss was sublime. Never in her most wishful dreams did she believe a kiss could be like this: a man’s heart and soul distilled into one soft motion of his lips. He made her want him with a desire that surpassed the physical, that grew and grew until she was almost made wild by it. Losing her self-consciousness, she slid her hand between them and let her palm mold to the grid of warm muscle over his torso. Her other hand reached up and caressed his beard-roughened cheek. Their kiss deepened.

She put her hand in the water. Another fish, a brilliant cobalt-colored one, flitted up and bumped her palm. Frightened, she snatched it back, then giggled at her folly. She turned to Vashon, but she wasn’t prepared for the expression on his face. He was staring at her so intensely, he fairly took her breath away.
“Vashon—” she began, but he didn’t let her finish. He lowered her legs until her feet touched the sandy bottom and her dress clung wetly to her hips. Then he pulled her to him and kissed her like a sinner seeking salvation, the doomed begging for redemption. In her mind she thought about fighting, but it would be useless. The way he so violently held her to him, he’d refuse to let her go.

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Review: All the Missing Pieces by Julianna Keyes

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Chris Sherwood
Heroine: Reese Charlotte Carlisle
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 21, 2020
Started On: December 04, 2020
Finished On: December 05, 2020

28 year old Reese Charlotte Carlisle lives a life mostly in seclusion, ever since her life had changed so drastically upon the scandal that had broken her family apart. With her father in jail, her brother no more, Reese is all alone in the world and she prefers the anonymity her current life affords her. The only voice she allows herself is the meaningless one night stands she engages in on occasion, assuming different identities that suits her when the mood strikes.

On the fateful night she comes across Chris Sherwood, Reese is Denise, a dental assistant who is divorced and loves dogs. Something about Chris shakes her up in a way she does not like, and even though she thinks that she got away scot-free, that is hardly the case.

Before Reese knows it, Chris worms his way into her life and by the time she realizes the blunder she has made, it is too late to walk away unscathed. It is then Reese is forced to face the past she put on the back burner and truly assess what her father had done, putting her at risk and at the mercy of those who may not think twice about putting her in harms way.

All the Missing Pieces is romantic suspense at its finest – the first novel of its kind by Ms. Keyes. I have enormously enjoyed Ms. Keyes’ writing in her contemporary novels such as Time Served and Going the Distance. While her Burnham College series and other young adult novels have been a hit or miss with me, this novel I tell you, hits all those spots and then some.

The brilliance of Ms. Keyes as a writer explodes unto the pages with All The Missing Pieces, and the story clawed its way into my heart from the very start. The Julianna Keyes that I fell in love with when I first stumbled upon Time Served, which resulted in me quickly catching up with her entire backlist of published works, echoes with every single word in the story. Her writing has become more refined and forceful in a way that readers will definitely take notice of in this novel.

All The Missing Pieces is entirely written in the first person from Reese’s point of view. Rather than making the reader feel as if they are losing out on essential details, it somehow adds to the lure the story presents. What I loved most about the novel is that there is no repetition, no tiresome inner monologues, no rehashing details to death in the lengthy read that this turned out to be. I loved the fact that with this novel, Ms. Keyes has let her creativity take her to places where she might never have gone otherwise. I loved the fact that she has created a character that you can root for amidst everything that was happening.

The ending when it finally came, seemed fitting. Some readers however may not like Chris for what he does, but I understood where he was coming from, and it made the connection between Reese and himself all that more meaningful given the history. A brand new start with the man who forced his way into Reese’s life and forged that connection initially based on lies and half truths, coming to her finally as who he is, with no secrets between them was poetic to me.

The most brilliant aspect to the story is how Reese’s character evolves throughout – from the spoiled rich girl to the woman who is on the run from life itself, to becoming the stronger version of who she can be, while tending to the broken girl within, who died a brutal death in the wake of the truth behind her father’s actual treachery.

Never let it be said that authors venturing into new sub genres is a bad thing. Ms. Keyes has proven her talent in weaving a story that stands out amidst everything else. Recommended for fans of romantic suspense!

Final Verdict: With All the Missing Pieces, Ms. Keyes proves her mettle as a writer and her mastery when it comes to shifting through different sub-genres in the world of romance!

Favorite Quotes

“Still think you want this?” he murmurs.
“Let’s find out.”
The last thing I see is the tiny quirk of his mouth before he kisses me. There’s nothing soft or sweet or searching about the way he kisses, and it’s a relief. It says he gets it. He gets that this is one night only, we’re not soul searching, we’re not bonding, we’re not falling in love. This isn’t a getting-to-know-you type of fuck. Th
is is getting-off-and-getting-gone.

I scrape my nails up so I can anchor us together, using him for balance as I slip my other hand between us, feeling the soft rub of the denim, the smooth cotton of his briefs, then, finally, him.
He hisses when I grip him roughly, tugging hard, punishment for making me wait. He gets the hint and pushes two fingers into my panties, tormenting me.
“Do it,” I order. “Hurry.”
He buries his face in the side of my neck, and I feel his lips on the delicate skin, his teeth, the suction. He’s going to leave a mark.

He moves harder. Faster. He plants a forearm next to my head. I can smell him; sweat and laundry detergent. No expensive cologne, no hair products. His five o’clock shadow scrapes my cheek and I wince, but I don’t complain. I just feel it.
He kisses me, messy and unfocused. He seems like the kind of man who should be out here, who does things earthy and raw, who has dirt under his nails and knows how to change a tire and fuck a woman and not ask too many questions.
I wonder who he thinks I am.
The question makes me explode.

There was a time I loved attention. I wanted my picture on every cover, every website. I didn’t care what they said, as long as they said something. Now I don’t want to be seen. I want to be forgotten, ignored, uncared for. And for a long time, I’ve gotten my wish.
A feeling comes over me, one that has nothing to do with sex. One I try and fail to fight. I do my best to keep my eyes on his hand but they rise of their own accord, locking on his in the glass. He’s watching. He’s everywhere.
I shatter. I cry out and clutch at him, and he catches me when my knees give way. Everything inside me is lurching and convulsing in endless, artless waves of pleasure.

He doesn’t make me wait this time, urging my thighs apart so he can have better access. He can have everything right now. Absolutely everything.
Chris does this the way he does everything else, with his own brand of slow and steady and rough and sure. I’m melting so fast I have to lean back to brace myself against the dresser, arching my hips to his face. He doesn’t ease up when I’m moaning and shaking, my stomach flexing, one hand clutching his hair, making sure this doesn’t end until it has to. Until I can’t take it anymore. Until I’m covering my mouth to stifle sounds I’ve never heard before.

I kiss him like there’s a chance everything will be okay, like it’s possible. He doesn’t know this kiss is a goodbye and an apology. He doesn’t know that with every second I’m promising myself I’ll stop, even when my panties are gone and he’s pushing inside and I’m so ready for him.
“Reese,” he mutters, the words slipping through my hair, warm against my scalp. He threads his fingers through mine and rocks his hips, making me shudder. The pressure of him is wonderful, but it’s my name on his lips that does it for me, that feels better than anything else ever could. He tells me to keep my eyes open and this time I do. When he looks back on this moment, I want him to know it was as real as I could allow it to be.

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Review: A Governess Should Never… Tempt a Prizefighter by Emily Windsor

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Governess Chronicles, #1
Publisher: Senara Press
Hero: Seth Hawkins
Heroine: Matilda Griffin
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 09, 2020
Started On: November 26, 2020
Finished On: December 04, 2020

“But had I known such a love as ours existed, I would have searched forever to find you..”

A Governess Should Never… Tempt a Prizefighter by Emily Windsor as the title indicates, brings two very unusual protagonists together; a retired pugilist and his governess, whose backgrounds are as different as night and day. When 31 year old Seth Hawkins seeks a governess for his 13 year old daughter, the last thing he expects is for a lady like Matilda Griffin to apply for the position and turn his entire life upside down.

Matilda is on the run from her guardian, until such time that she regains control of her own life. She seeks refuge in the unlikeliest of places and finds it, by convincing her employer that she is more than qualified in the tutoring that Seth requires for his daughter.

As the days pass, a friendship is forged to life between Seth and Matilda, which kindles the slow burn of desire between them. Seth may be a retired professional boxer, who used his brawn and body to make his way and get out of the poverty ridden life he would otherwise have had to endure throughout his life, but he is a man who is keenly intelligent, with a heart that yearns for love as much as Matilda’s does. Matilda may have grown up in a more affluent household in comparison, but loneliness had been her one constant companion, which she had kept at bay through the books that enriched her life.

Finding common ground between herself and Seth is surprising for Matilda, but it doesn’t stop her from seeking more, to understand the complexity of the man who holds her heart. Their deeply meaningful conversations are one of the reasons this book stands out, especially the frankness with which Seth claims her after all is said and done. He is a gentleman to his very core and the man who answers the need that flares to life in Matilda as a woman of her own right.

I enjoyed my first Emily Windsor, even though I was a bit hesitant at first to pick this up because of a number of reviews which weren’t all that positive. But then, I don’t usually rely on other reviews all that much and choose to make up my own mind about what works and what doesn’t for me, and it has served me right for the most part as it did with this one. Like most romance readers, unusual main leads intrigue me in stories, and I am delighted that I did give this a chance.

I loved the slow awakening of desire and the emotions of the more tender variety that burgeoned to life along with it. I loved how both Seth and Matilda were protective of each other, how they saw the best in one another, and how they both yearned to spend the rest of their lives with none other than the other.

Recommended for those who love beautifully spun historical romances featuring the not your usual variety of hero and heroine. You won’t be disappointed!

Final Verdict: There is just something beautiful about historical romances done right, a magic that lingers in the air when you are immersed in the story. That is what I found in A Governess Should Never… Tempt a Prizefighter.

Favorite Quotes

Miss Griffin moistened her lips, and his jaw twitched, an involuntary tremor coursing within.
“May I?” she asked.
At his nod, she took a run for the nearest shelf and brushed a finger reverently over the book spines.
Seth shuddered and watched as her lips unconsciously curved in utter delight.

All might have been fine; it may well have ended there; he would have drawn back.
But her hand clasped his shoulder and then climbed till her fingers twisted in the short hair at his nape, nails lightly scratching, yanking him close and crushing their lips together.
Ferocious need erupted, spiralling his control and grinding it to dust.
He hauled her tight, a hand to her curvaceous rump so that she half-straddled him, a scalding heat upon his thigh, and he kissed down her neck, nipped her throat, the shadows a colluding partner to his endeavour.

“Matilda, I warn you, if you strip to your chemise, I will kiss you.”
“And I shall want you to,” she whispered, knowing it to be the truth.
His jaw firmed. “And if we kiss on this occasion, Matilda, I will not cease.”
“And I shall not want you to.”
His breath hitched, rumbled. “And if I do not cease, then fair warning, I will never let you go.”
“And I shall not want you to,” she whispered once more, conscious of what she was saying, that she wished for a lifetime of adventures with this man.

“May I?” he growled, elegant diction beyond his capability.
She smiled her acquiescence and he tugged laces, then wrenched, kissed the skin above her chemise – smooth and with the scent of meadows.
The corset fell away, in harmony with his breath.
Crisp white linen hinted at curves, shadows beneath implying treasure beyond his most feral imagination.
And oh, how he had imagined. Night after anguished night.

“Seth,” she gasped.
“My beautiful, exquisite Matilda,” he whispered, and with those words – ones no one else had ever applied to her – that tightness released and the rosemary-scented room ceased to be as her eyelids closed, rapture flooding to every tip of limb, submerging her beneath warmth and light.
With a rip of cotton, a heady, muscled weight was upon her, powerful hips and thighs parting her legs further before a thrust against her core, raw and rude and resolute.

“My Matilda,” he bit out, low and agonised. And he dragged back, only to plunge anew, a guttural grunt locked in his throat.
The tightness caused a sharp inhale but the rapture of before still simmered, and as he rocked, gentle and short, that hurtling bliss returned – faster and tauter.
“More,” she gasped, aware he held back from whatever he wished to do, aware his strained arms and clenched teeth hid a sharp longing. So she caressed his back, scratched those magnificent buttocks.
His hips jerked, and a growling Seth began to pound. A broad hand claimed her thigh, hitching it aloft as she cried out, and he plunged deeper.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Once Touched, Never Forgotten by Natasha Tate

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Stephen Whitfield
Heroine: Colette Huntington
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 01, 2011
Started On: November 19, 2020
Finished On: November 21, 2020

Once Touched, Never Forgotten by Natasha Tate tells the story of super executive Stephen Whitfield and pastry chef Colette Huntington, who embark on an affair lasting a period of five months, which leaves Colette in love and pregnant with Stephen’s child. Both of them had entered the affair with eyes wide open, with zero expectations from one another except for the good times in bed. Or so they both told themselves until Colette disappears, ending their affair and leaving Stephen reeling in its wake.

Five years later, their paths cross again, and this time, the secret that Colette holds close to her heart is revealed, which ties them together in a way that Stephen is unwilling to overlook. Demanding that Colette be his, once again it is treacherous waters these two traverse, as emotions run high and love overlooked leads to heartbreak.

I seriously wanted to like the story that unfolded. The writing was good, easing the reader into the story in a way that makes you feel totally at ease. At the same time, the sexual tension was off the charts hot, with Ms. Tate’s ability to take the story from zero to hundred, just like that.

What I had problems with was Colette as a character. I understood that she was only looking out for herself at first, when she resisted Stephen at every turn. Then it was her unborn baby that she wanted to protect from being treated as a responsibility if Stephen were to be put in that untenable position, given what she knows of him and the very scant little discussions they have had on commitment and love up till that point.

At the same time, I felt that Stephen had more heart to him than Colette was willing to give him credit for and was more sensitive than Colette when it comes right down to it. Both come up from screwed up backgrounds, which of course means that each carries a shit ton of baggage when all is said and done. While Stephen understands the psychology behind Colette and what drives her to reject him time and yet again, Colette never attempts to do the same for him, which is where it rankled.

I felt like Colette never did fight for Stephen and the love she supposedly felt for him, being to hung up on her past. Instead, Stephen is the one who does all the chasing, pursuing, and convincing – which means as a reader I felt cheated because I want both protagonists to be in it wholeheartedly, to understand what each other did wrong for there to really be an equal partnership based on love and trust for the long term.

Recommended for fans of Natasha Tate and those who love combustible category romances. Stephen definitely does heat up the pages!

Final Verdict: Affairs embarked on with the best of intentions often leads to emotional disaster – Once Touched, Never Forgotten is all about that and more as Stephen and Colette finds their way back to each other again!

Favorite Quotes

“Do you know I still dream about your hair?”
The low rasp of his voice, soft as velvet, made her tremble. He must have detected the subtle shiver along her flesh because his grip tightened against her shoulders and he dragged her closer. As much as she wanted to pull free, another part of her responded to the demanding strength of his touch, to the command underscoring his nearness.
Lifting her hands to push him away, she froze when her fingertips touched the warm thickness of his wrists. Her thumbs pressed against the channel of tendons at the base of his palms while her fingertips involuntarily recalled the hard landscape of bones and flesh in his forearm. She heard his swift intake of breath, watched his chest expand and rise, and her hands refused to abandon his smooth, hair-dusted skin. Time stretched, grew taut, while the silence beat between them.

Before she had a chance to prepare herself, his warm palms cupped her face and tilted her mouth toward his. Her startled inhale did nothing to deter him, and his dark head dipped toward hers with unerring accuracy. Her fingers flew to his forearms even as the muscled wall of his chest bumped her breasts, pressing her against the closed door while his mouth covered hers. The fiery, voracious, delicious assault of his lips stunned her. Consumed her.

He stared at her mouth, that lush, kissable mouth, while one hand moved inexorably up along the silk spine of her dress and to the back of her arched neck. He wanted to taste every centimeter of her defiant, trembling softness, to explore the fine, delicate curve of her upper lip, to nip at the lush, petal-smooth swell of it until she moaned beneath him.
Just thinking of how she’d respond, he felt the hairs along his arms lift, priming him for the battle he fully intended to win.
She stared at him, her hazel eyes huge and alarmed within her flushed face, while her hands shoved blindly at his shoulders. “Stephen—”
He caught her protest with his mouth, every last sense focused on the exquisite fit of her lips beneath his.

His expression was intense as he walked around the desk and then held her against the back of one of his armchairs. His hands, pressed tight against the base of her spine, were steely against her softness, the iron muscles of his thighs pressing heated awareness along her flesh despite the layers of clothing between them.
Low against her pelvis, she felt the hot, insistent pressure of his arousal, undeniable in its masculine quest for satisfaction. “Stephen,” she gasped.
“Kiss me,” he growled, his hips grinding against hers while a treacherous dampness gathered between her legs. “Kiss me and I’ll consider a compromise.”

Slowly, he drew her feet wide, planting them beside his spread thighs. He moved to her knees next, his warm hands pressing them open beneath his intense gaze. His nostrils flared and his eyes darkened with arousal as his attention dipped.
Exposed, open, and flooded with a damp, yearning heat, she swallowed against the searing touch of his gaze upon her shadowed flesh. A sweet, shocked tremor of embarrassment and desire leaked through her chest, making it difficult to breathe. She knotted her hands against the supple leather of his chair, gripping the edge of the armrests while he stared at her. She remembered how he’d looked at her every time they’d made love, as if there were no one in his world but her. She could read his arousal in the huge, hard bulge between his legs, in the darkened crests of his cheeks and glittering eyes. And for the first time in over five years she felt beautiful. Wanted.

And still he plied her flesh, his tongue invading her with devastating softness. The savage sensation of losing control, of quivering atop a chasm of release so acute, had Colette fighting for control at the same time as he urged her surrender. Her heart thrashed within her ribs, she could no longer keep her eyes open, and her knees pulled high as she rocked and rocked and rocked against his mouth. Exquisite pleasure twisted high as he consumed her, until the steady slide of tongue and lip and heat became too much, too intense, too … too everything. She catapulted into careening spasms of rapture, contractions cresting in wave after wave as she shuddered and groaned.

Thoughts failed her as she reached the summit, her body trembling and spasming with each delicious stroke. An aching combination of desperation and love filled her heart to brimming as Stephen gripped her hips, drawing out the pulsing pleasure of her inner muscles. Clenching him deep inside, she leaned to balance against the granite plane of his stomach while he found his own bucking release. Watching the play of emotions in his face, knowing that she’d brought him the same intense pleasure he’d brought her, made her want to weep.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Harlequin

Review: Reclaim by Aly Martinez

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Release Series, #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Camden Cole
Heroine: Nora Stewart
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 12, 2020
Started On: November 13, 2020
Finished On: November 18, 2020

Reclaim, book 2 in The Release series by Aly Martinez is a story that I have bided my time for since having read the first installment, Release. The first book ends on a note that makes the reader extremely curious about the fate of Nora Stewart, whose past is entwined with the main protagonists from Release and oh so steeped in darkness – but there was only so much that the reader was privy to at that point.

Reclaim takes us to a time when Nora is 11 years old and meets 12 year old Camden Cole for the very first time. A friendship is forged between the two that fateful summer, and while promises were made, Nora believes that Camden broke them, just like her mother who abandoned their family when she was just a mere seven years old.

What happens next is a series of tragic events that leads to disaster of epic proportions, until years later, Nora and Camden’s paths cross again. With the heaviness of words unspoken between them lingering on, of a love that both feels acutely nevertheless, of so much time wasted while Camden had patiently waited for his one and only, I felt a keen sense of loss even when the story was well and over.

While I understood that Nora’s past required her to come to terms with a lot of things, that she needed to forgive herself and love herself enough to be able to have a long-lasting relationship with anyone, I could not quite understand why neither of them wanted to reach out to the other prior to the time period in which the rest of the story unfolds.

Perhaps, this hollow feeling emerged from the fact that I had a particular vision in mind when I thought of how Nora’s story would unfold. Don’t get me wrong; I did enjoy their story for the most part, but I cannot feel sad about the time wasted, when they could have been together and worked through a lot of the issues together. Perhaps this time apart was needed in part for Camden to also be in charge of his destiny for him to be able to finally be with Nora in a most fulfilling way.

Perhaps due to the time factor, and because the story takes place over periods during which there was too much darkness in especially Nora’s life for there to be light, I missed the sexy scenes of passion that should have rightfully existed between the two. In a way that also left me feeling cheated towards the end.

Recommended for fans of Aly Martinez and fans of The Release series who have been dying to read Nora’s story!

Final Verdict: Nora and Camden’s story is one of missed chances and a love that runs so deep, it stands the test of excruciating trials & hardships until at long last ultimate triumph is reached!

Favorite Quotes

“Do you…” Kiss. “…ever think—”
“Mmmm,” she hummed as my tongue teased at her earlobe.
“…about me…”
She shivered in my arms and moved closer until her core found my length straining against my boxers.
I hissed at the contact, barely able to finish my thought. “…at night?”
Her fingers latched onto my hair and she pulled my mouth to hers, hovering mere millimeters away. “You’re the only man I’ve ever thought about.” Her warm breath filled my every inhale. “Every night, Cam.”
I kissed her hard and fast, sealing my mouth over hers as though oxygen were my enemy.
Fuck. Me.

He entered me with a devastating control, the muscles on his back flexing with every thrust. It wasn’t long before he found a rhythm that drove us both wild. He uttered gravelly words into my neck, my name punctuating all of them, and I clung to him, ripples of pleasure building within me.
Unsure how much longer I could hold on, I locked my legs around his hips and urged him deeper. “Oh, God, I’m close.”
“Give it to me, Nora,” he ordered, his rhythm quickening.
My resolve snapped, and with a shattering climax, I unraveled beneath him.
“Yesss,” he hissed. “That’s it, baby. Oh, fuck, that’s it.”
One last drive and he seated himself to the hilt and emptied inside me.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Beautiful Monster by Sara Cate

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Hero: Alexander Caldwell
Heroine: Sunny Thorn
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 09, 2020
Started On: October 26, 2020
Finished On: October 31 , 2020

Love cannot be replaced. The love someone denies you cannot be filled by someone else.

Beautiful Monster by Sara Cate tells a story that surprised me in many ways. Drawn to pick this up because of the huge age gap factor, I found more than enough to keep the pages turning which set my senses humming.

The almost 20 year old Sunny Thorn lives with her mother and elder sister, both of whom drives her crazy in their own ways. Having tried going to college for one semester and failing to fit in, Sunny had yet to go back, and it is when 40 year old Alexander Caldwell moves in next door and offers her the chance to paint a mural at his home that things start to change for both of them.

Alex is a man who is at a loss as to how to turn his life around. Tired of meaningless sex and the trouble he always gets himself into, Alex makes a vow to himself that the next time he sleeps with someone, it would mean something more than just for the sake of having sex. Sunny however tests that resolve of his time and yet again, and even though Alex feels like beating himself up over the fact that he is lusting over someone so young, neither of them can help themselves as the connection between them becomes too fierce to ignore.

One thing leads to another, and Sunny and Alex gets involved leading to a disastrous conclusion that was inevitable at some point. However, it is up to both of them to forge their individual paths back to one another, if their love is worth all that and more.

This is the first time that a romance book has delved deep into the effects of past relationships and meaningless flings on one’s life. Usually, books tend to skim over those details, but in Alex, Ms. Cate has definitely given us a deeper view into how it can actually affect one’s psyche when one loses sight of the boundaries that one must adhere to even in the pursuit of pleasure and happiness.

Sunny’s character was beautiful in so many ways. She might be young age-wise, but she is mature and wise in a way that was telling, why she turned out to be such a good fit with Alex in the long run. Though the age factor does hinder the progress of their relationship at the beginning, it fades into insignificance given how they both feel about each other. I loved Alex as well. Perfect mix of sexy and battle-scarred in the emotional sense.

Recommended for those who love their steamy sex wrapped up in emotional goodness. My first Sara Cate certainly did not disappoint.

Final Verdict: Multi-layered with complex characterization with that dollop of sexy to keep the pages turning; Beautiful Monster made for splendid reading!

Favorite Quotes

“I didn’t give you your birthday present,” he says, holding me so close to his body that I can hardly breathe.
“What is it?”
Moving my hair out of my face, he leans down, his face a breath away from mine.
“Happy birthday, rain cloud.” Then his lips are on mine. They are so soft and warm, and I nearly melt from this unexpected moment. I feel his hands travel up my back until he’s digging his fingers into my hair and tilting my head. His tongue slips through my lips, and I have no idea how I’m still alive because I swear, I haven’t taken a breath in minutes.

“Lie down,” he commands, and I listen. My mouth feels dry, and the only sound I can hear now is the thrumming in my ears and the shaky intake of our breaths.
Alexander leans over my body, placing a hand next to my head while the other travels up my thigh. “Has anyone touched you here, Sunny?” he asks, his voice shaking.
“No,” I cry, pleading with him to touch me. “Please,” I beg.
“Please what?” he asks, looking into my eyes.
“Please touch me,” I gasp, feeling so vulnerable.
“I will,” he says, teasing me, drawing circles between my legs. “Know why?”
“Why?” My voice is strained.
“Because I want you to know how it’s supposed to feel when a man touches you.”

“Don’t stop,” I gasp, reaching up for his kiss again. My fingers claw at his back, feeling the sheen of sweat there as he picks up speed.
He calls my name as he buries his face into my neck, his fist still clutching my hair as the other engulfs me in a tight embrace. We are glued to each other, lost in a trail of ecstasy when he finally lets out a guttural roar, slamming into me so hard my body seizes again, the warmth exploding between my legs.

“Harder,” she gasps, clutching onto my neck, and I oblige.
“Who do you belong to, baby?” I pull her off the counter, hanging her legs from my hands as I pound her gentle flesh, her moans growing louder and higher.
“You, Alex. I’m yours, all yours.” Her voice is so strained I know she’s close.
“That’s my girl.” I feel her coming, pulsing around my cock, and it practically milks the cum out of me.
Trailing my lips down her face to her mouth, I carry her back to bed, both of us still panting. This time, I don’t have a hard time sleeping.

He pulls into the driveway, and I’m already unbuckling. Just as he puts the car into park, his hands are around my legs. Before I know what’s happening, I’m straddling his hips in the front seat of the car. He crashes his mouth against mine, and I let out a moan when the thickness in his pants rubs against my clit. My panties are so wet already, I’m sure I’m making a mess all over his lap.
“Sunny,” he breathes against my lips, thrusting his hips up against me. “Get a rubber out of the glove compartment.”
My heart beats even faster when I don’t move for the box, and it almost makes me shake with anticipation when I whisper back. “I’m on the pill, Alexander.” The second half of his name comes out in a whimper as he grinds against me again. He lets out a groan and bites my collarbone gently. His fingers stretch my panties to the side, rubbing the pad of his thumb through the moisture pooling there. I’m s
o desperate for him to fill me, I could cry.

“How was your run?” she says with a gasp as I turn her around, her back against my chest.
“Not as good as this,” I murmur with my lips on her shoulder. Cupping her soft tit in my hand, I drag my tongue along the back of her spine. She lets out a heavy sigh, arching her back and pressing back against me like she’s begging me to enter her.
As I slide my dick easily into her folds, I wonder how I went so long without this. When I’m inside of her, it feels so fucking right. And not just because it’s like heaven, but because Sunny and I fit. Every goddamn thing between us is meant to be together.

“Tell me you’re going,” I say with my teeth next to her ear.
She moans in response, and I rear my hand back, landing another sharp sting against her ass.
“Tell me.”
“I’m going,” she cries.
“That’s my girl.” My hands run the length of her body, trying to memorize every inch. “I love you so much it hurts, Sunny.”
“Show me,” she gasps, and I feel her tears run over my fingers as they graze her lips.

Just as we pass a dark alley, I’m swept away from the sidewalk, and I meet his chest with a crash, stealing the breath from my lungs. I don’t even bother gasping for air. All I care about is his lips, so when he leans down, I wind my arms around his neck and pull his mouth to mine.
We kiss each other hungrily, his body grinding against me like it’s the first breath we’ve taken in months. He moans into my mouth as I devour his lips. I will never let him go; I tell myself. Now that he’s back in my arms, there is no way I can let that go.

Purchase Links: Amazon