Review: Fighting Redemption by Kate McCarthy

Format: E-bookfightingredemption
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Ryan Kendall
Heroine: Finlay Louise Tanner
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 02, 2013
Started On: February 15, 2016
Finished On: February 15, 2016

Fighting Redemption by Kate McCarthy is a book that came to my notice because it was featured quite prominently in the list of Goodreads Reader Choice award for 2014. I have this tendency to keep delaying reading certain books; God knows why. Finally, this February, I took the plunge and started reading, and I have to say even though I wasn’t as wowed like most readers who have voted for this book have proclaimed to be, I could definitely see where the appeal lies.

Fighting Redemption begins in a way that makes the reader believes that the ultimate worst has happened. But trust me, that is so not the case. From the moment Ryan Kendall returns home, having spent six years in the Australian Army, one look is all it takes for him to know deep in his heart that he needs Finlay Tanner like the very air he breathes.

Fin and Ryan’s story is one that goes way back into their entwined childhood. Ryan getting the short end of the stick when it had come to his childhood. Ryan had always held the dream of getting away from everything and forging his own path. But it comes at the cost of leaving Fin behind, the only woman who has ever mattered and who ever will.

While I could get the whole pain of his childhood that made Ryan the way he is, determined to leave it all behind even when he knew he would never be able to let go of Fin, I always have a problem with heroes and heroines who are willing to go the whole nine yards and beyond with the self sacrificial behavior. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I do get where most of them come from. But putting both their selves in pain that could have been avoided otherwise, and in the meantime ending up with the wrong people because of that and regretting it for a lifetime, those are things that makes me wonder whether the two of them even deserves to be together.

The pain of the separation and the angst of it all might add to the story. But just like certain tropes like heroines getting pregnant and not letting the hero know gets on some readers’ nerves, I guess this particular tidbit in romance novels raises my ire.

While I was not all that moved by how Ryan continued to oscillate between letting Fin be and wanting her for himself, I could certainly see why the story is highly readable in all aspects of it. My problem lay with how I felt watching Fin just give and give until she pretty much had nothing left to give, while Ryan continued to play yo-yo with her feelings.

In my view, Ryan seemed to love the army more – which was perhaps the reason why I had such a hard time loving him like most readers did. Fin was courageous, the kind of woman we call as strong, because they stand up for themselves even when the going is tough and do what needs to be done. For me, Fin was the reason I kept going. Fin in the end made the story!

Recommended for those who love strong heroines and military heroes.

Final Verdict: A soldier’s fight with forgiveness for himself; tugs at the heart!

Favorite Quotes

“Maybe you don’t, but I don’t get it. He was violent towards you.”
She huffed, her exasperation clear. “He wasn’t. We had an argument. You punched him.”
Ryan nodded, drawing in a deep breath of satisfaction. “I did, and I won’t apologise. Not for that, because I’d do it again.”
She stood in front of the armchair Jake vacated earlier that evening and sank into it. “We’re just going around in circles,” she muttered wearily.
He looked at her, drowning in the desolate green depths of her eyes. “I want you, Fin,” he finally admitted. “So damn much I can’t sleep from it. I lie in bed at night and I dream of my lips on yours, my mouth tasting every inch you. I want to fuck you until I go blind from it and even then I don’t think it would ever be enough.”

“Are you happy now?” she hissed as she grabbed a pair of jeans from the shelves.
His eyes on her ass, he muttered, “What?”
She threw the jeans at him and he caught them when they hit him square in the chest. “This. Us. Yes, okay? I want you. Is that what you want to hear? That I dream of you too?” she choked out. “Your hands on me, inside of me, and I ache too.”
Ryan took a step towards her.
“Don’t.” She snatched the jeans out of his hands and tugged them on.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured.
Fin turned, rummaging for a top. She pulled one off a hanger and tugged it on furiously. “You’re sorry. I’m sorry. Everybody’s sorry. Well it’s just one sad, fucking sorry situation, isn’t it?”

“Don’t say his name. Tonight you’re mine. If Ian wanted you as much as he fucking claims he does, he’d be here right now where I am, dragging out every last minute he could get with you.” Ryan’s hands slid down the small of her back and underneath the elastic of her panties until his hands gripped her ass. “He’d be the one touching you.” He leaned in and bit her earlobe sharply before licking it better and she shivered. “He’d be the one tasting you,” he breathed in her ear. “But he’s not here. I am. I’m the one touching you. I’m the one holding you, because you’ve never been his.”

She shook her head and wrapped her legs around his hips, squeezing him. “Fuck me, Ryan.”
Ryan drew back and looking into her eyes, slammed in again. “Nothing, Fin …” he breathed.
“Nothing?”
“Nothing…” he slammed in again “…has ever felt more beautiful than you do right now.”
Christ. He didn’t just love her, he fucking adored her. He’d give his life for her if he had to.

“I forced you to have sex with me,” she whispered.
He froze.
Straightening his back, he looked down at her, his eyes searching her face. “Is that what you think?”
Fin nodded mutely.
“That’s so far from the truth I can’t believe you’d even think it. I have a thick skin, baby,” he told her, his wide shoulders crowding her back against the cool tiles, “but you’re under it. You’re buried in there so deep it’s like I was born with you in my soul.” His eyes slowly ignited as he slid soapy hands over her hips. “When I’m near you I’m consumed by you—your smile, your eyes, your heart. Even though we’ve never been together, you’ve always been mine, and even if I never get to keep you, you’ll still be mine.”

He pulled away. “Turn around.”
She turned blindly, giving him her back.
“Brace your hands against the wall and lean forward.”
“Ryan?”
“You can trust me, Fin.”
Fin nodded. She’d never trusted anyone more than she did Ryan. When she did as he asked, he grabbed her hips, yanking her back further. One hand fell away, and then he was there and pushing inside her. A moan broke free and she didn’t even know if it was him or her.
With both hands back on her hips, he slid all the way in. “Oh fuck,” he breathed. “My beautiful Fin.”

Ducking his head, Ryan took her lips hard, his tongue thrusting inside her mouth and tasting her wildly. Tearing away, he looked at her for a long moment, his chest rising and falling heavily against her own. “I want to say I love you too, but it doesn’t seem enough.”
With a shaky hand, she brushed away the silky strands of hair that caressed his forehead. “Say it anyway,” she whispered.
“I love you, Fin. I’ve always loved you. Right from the moment you walked up those steps at school, you tripped your way right into my heart. I won’t ever stop. I’ll love you longer than the stars that live in the sky.”

“If you keep looking at me like that, we won’t be going anywhere except inside where I can fuck you hard enough to block out the entire world.”
Fin’s mouth went dry. The soft streetlight cast Ryan half in shadow, adding a dark intensity to the hard planes of his face. His wide shoulders and the tanned muscles roping his arms and chest were illuminated flawlessly. Her eyes fell to the waistband of his jeans, and her hands, now on his hips, eased the hem up slightly on his fitted shirt, baring a small sliver of skin. She skimmed her hand across his warm, taut stomach, letting her hand slide around his torso and glide up and over his back.
Fin looked up at him from beneath her lashes as Ryan shuddered beneath her touch. “I want you.”
He exhaled audibly, dipping his head and sweeping her lips up in his, their pressure hard and wild as her heart thumped madly. She dug her fingers into his bare skin and he groaned. “I want you too. All the damn time.”

Oh God, what this man made her feel. Even as her legs trembled, aching from their straddled position over his hips, Fin felt she could keep moving like that forever.
Ryan scraped his teeth over her skin, biting the tender skin before pulling free. Both hands now on her hips, he slammed inside her, her body jolting with the force as pleasure shattered her apart.
“Fuck,” she heard him mutter as her body clenched around him. Her eyes fluttered open to find him watching her intently. His lips were parted, his cheeks flushed, and when he came, all his muscles pulled tight as he ground his body inside her, growling her name wildly.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Levelling the Score by Penny Jordan

Format: E-booklevelingthescore
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Simon Townsend
Heroine: Jenna
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 1, 1988
Started On: December 24, 2015
Finished On: December 24, 2015

Leveling the Score by Penny Jordan was recommended to me by KC on Goodreads. I had been hankering for short reads that would deliver on the romance and the angst, something that the older Harlequin novels are famous for. I had even resorted to reading some of my favorite re-reads, books that I keep on standby for occasions just like that, where I don’t want to venture into reading anything new, all because I want to indulge in a book that I know for certain would deliver exactly what I want.

Leveling the Score is a difficult novel to review. First published in 1988, this book proved to be highly readable even with all the problems I had with the story. I guess that alone tells the talent that authors like Penny Jordan wielded back in the day.

Jenna and Simon Townsend’s lives had always moved amongst the same circles when they had been younger. Simon being much older than Jenna had meant that even though Jenna crushed on him like no one before and since then, her feelings remained unreciprocated – or so she thinks. Fast forward a couple of years, and it is Susie, Jenna’s best friend and Simon’s younger sister that brings Simon back into Jenna’s life, a most unwelcome entrance if Jenna has anything to say about it.

When the story initially began, I was rooting for Jenna, without even knowing what Simon had done to her – believing it would be something deplorable like making fun of her feelings for him. But as the story progressed, I realized that whatever had taken place had happened only in the figment of Jenna’s imagination. Yes, Simon is sarcastic and a tad cruel at times, but I have read of heroes who are more cruel to their heroines in books, even books written by Penny Jordan herself.

In the end, I felt sorry for Simon. The story having never been told in Simon’s point of view meant that it was difficult to find where Simon was coming from. But, it was evident and clear as day to anyone who has a modicum of sense in them that Simon was completely into Jenna, something that Jenna in her clueless nature or I would rather say, in her attempt to be the “martyr” of her own making, refused to see. Because Simon’s thoughts weren’t part of the story, the reader needs to take his feelings for Jenna in a bit of a state of suspended disbelief. Most of the time, not having the hero’s point of view can be fun, extremely so if the heroine’s side tells of reactions on the hero’s part and if she doesn’t play the dumb card to get out of accepting what is right in front of her. Alas, the latter was the case in this story.

In the end, of course Simon and Jenna do get together, Jenna finally believing that Simon loves her and her alone. Like I said earlier, I waited to see what it is that Simon had done that was so wrong – apart from dating other girls when Jenna used to stay at their family home. I didn’t find it to be something unforgivable, all the more so because I just found Jenna to be outright silly.

Even with all those points of contention I had with Leveling the Score, it managed to deliver a story that delivered a good read.

Recommended for fans of old school Harlequin romances and fans of Penny Jordan.

Final Verdict: A heroine who gets on the nerves and a hero you try your damndest to figure out!

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

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ARC Review: Imaginary Lines by Allison Parr

Format: E-bookimaginarylines
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: New York Leopards, #3
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Abraham Krasner
Heroine: Tamar Rosenfeld
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 14, 2014
Started On: October 31, 2014
Finished On: November 2, 2014

I fell in love with Abraham Kramer when I was twelve years old.

Tamar Rosenfeld had fallen in love with Abraham Krasner when she’d been just twelve years old. Growing up with him had only intensified the feelings and at the age of 19, Tamar decides to put her heart on the line and confess of her undying love to the man himself. The rejection of her love, the answer that Abraham only sees her as a little sister gives Tamar the jolt that she needs to cut ties and heal her broken heart and get over her injured pride. Until four years later, she moves to New York as a sports reporter.

New York is where Abraham lives, his career as a New York Leopards linebacker ensuring that. When Tamar comes to New York, Abraham is determined that he get to spend as much time as possible with her as their schedules would allow. And the more time Tamar spends with Abraham, the more she goes onto realize that she had been kidding where her heart had been concerned, where she had convinced herself that she was so over Abraham. And Abraham certainly doesn’t make it easy for Tamar to move on; he pursues her with a relentlessness that Tamar finds she can only resist so much before giving in.

Imaginary Lines is a story told in first person in the heroine’s point of view. Being the third book in the New York Leopards series and having never read the two books published before this one, I would say that the fact I wasn’t left with a question mark in my head where the secondary characters were concerned is a pretty good signal that this book can definitely be read as a standalone.

Imaginary Lines proved to be a novel experience for me in my journey as a reader of romance. Tamar and Abraham are both Jewish coming from big Jewish families. I’ve never read about a Jewish couple, about their customs and food of choice for celebrations and such and thus it was an interesting exploratory journey of sorts for me. Many a time I used the search the web function on my iBooks to find out what a delicacy mentioned in the story looked like, which holiday were they talking about etc. I even managed to read a bit on Judaism on the religion section of BBC, something I’ve been meaning to do for quite sometime. So all in all, Imaginary Lines turned out to be quite the informative journey for me.

I loved the subtle hint of humor interwoven into the story. There is a sense of humor to Tamar that is hard to resist and if you can read a couple of chapters with a straight face, well you are a person in more control of your emotions than I would ever be. Tamar and Abraham, both turned out to be equally likable characters who are strong, so much in love with each other and yet true to who they are individually. I loved Tamar for having the guts to stand up for what she believed in, facing all that crap because she dared rattle around what pretty much everyone else had thought an area of football that she should have just left alone. Abraham turned out to be the sweetest guy! I sort of expected him to get pissed off and storm off, but he proved me 100% wrong by sticking with his woman and standing by her side even through the most difficult of time. That in essence is what true love is all about.

Being a story told in first person, which is something I don’t like for obvious reasons, yet somehow I get roped into reading books featuring just that, it wasn’t easy to garner Abraham’s emotions, something I felt the lack of. I wanted to see Abraham’s reactions, read deep into his mind, see his thoughts and the way he viewed the shared past of his and Tamar’s childhood. I think the novel would have provided a more wholesome experience to Abraham’s character if the author had integrated his point of view into the story as well. That being said, Tamar seemed to see into who Abraham truly is, seeing beyond the facade that Abraham puts up with the rest of the world giving Abraham a true sense of homecoming after four long years of separation.

Though the story seemed to lose focus on Abraham and Tamar during the first half of the story, it definitely picked up the rest of the way and gave an enjoyable read that is recommended for fans of sports romances. Abraham and Tamar would definitely end up being a favorite.

Final Verdict: Childhood friends to lovers; not your usual run of the mill story!

Favorite Quotes

He groaned and leaned back. The lamplights silhouetted him perfectly, light and dark. Dreams made real. When he looked back, he cupped my face in his hands. “I’ve been resisting doing this for years.”
I just stared. I was melting. I was hot clay under the summer’s sun.
He let out a soft sound of desire. The air between us simmered with need, and my whole body yearned toward him. I could barely think, couldn’t blink. Small breaths slipped in and out of me like the hopeful flutterings of a hummingbird and then his lips were on mine.

The air shimmered between us. With each breath I took, I could feel my body pushing against his, my breasts full and aching as they strained against the fabric of my shirt. My hands smoothed down over his biceps, smooth as carved marble under my fingers, living marble. His hands ran down over my body, coming to rest in the small of my back, holding me tight against him. I ached for those hands to keep moving, to keep roaming. My breath hitched but our locked gazes never faltered.
He pulled me down and kissed me.

When the door snapped closed I turned, heart in my eyes, hot and wild as the man striding across the room toward me. He pushed me up against the wall, and we were kissing, tangled in each other, his tongue parting my lips with exquisite skill until I was moaning under his ministrations. There was nothing anymore, just him and me, the sensation of tongues and lips and sliding hands. His hand pushed my dress up around my hip and curved down around my ass. It slid up to the inside of my leg, and toyed with the thin cloth.

And then he lost control, wild now, plunging and plummeting, so quickly that we were both ablaze. There was no control anymore, no anything, just the fierce dance of our bodies, the beat, the rhythm, the everything, and I wanted more and more and I was blind except for him, it had always been him, and it would always be him—
He let out a great shout, a great noise that ripped from his throat. And then I felt the crystalline desire break me apart, a shattering of tension, bringing a great, crashing wave of pleasure and relief that lost the world to me. There was no world. Only the forever of the night and the brightness of the moon, carrying me on a dizzying rush through the stars. I was awash in desire and joy and happiness, aware of only one thing.
Only Abraham.

He withdrew and then slid back in, slow at first, and then increasing in speed and force. It drove me mad with desire, and I rocked against him, helpless and wanton, meeting each thrust with my own, until I was wild with want and empty of thought. We were hot and fast, light lightning, a storm after a dry spell. We were the roaring ocean, the brightness of the moon, the inexplorable tide that tied them together. I let out a cry and clung to him, and he to me, and we were lost together.
Lost and found.

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

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Review: The Slow Burn of Silence by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-booktheslowburnofsilence
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Snowy Creek, #1
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Jebbediah Cullen
Heroine: Rachel Salonen
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 24, 2014
Started On: October 31, 2014
Finished On: October 31, 2014

I seem to be running through a streak of good luck where new to me authors are concerned. The Slow Burn of Silence was a novel recommendation I got off of Amazon that has been sitting tidily in my to-be-read pile for a while now. Recently, my interests have veered towards finding good romantic suspense novels and The Slow Burn of Silence coming with raving reviews turned out to be my next read of choice.

27 year old Rachel Salonen is enjoying her engagement celebrations in Bali when she gets the shocking news of the deaths of her sister and husband. Returning home to find that her sister had appointed her as the guardian of their eight year old daughter is the first wave of flooring news that Rachel receives followed by the name of the actual father of her niece. Life as Rachel knows it comes to a standstill and six months later Rachel finds herself without a fiance, fearing the return of Jebbediah Cullen (Jeb), father of her niece, her high school sweetheart and the man convicted for the rape and assault of two women, one of whom had never been found.

Jeb returns to Snowy Creek for one reason alone. For retribution. To clear his name of the wrongful charges upon which he had been convicted and thrown into jail for which he had lost nine years of his life. The betrayal of a town that had seen him as the man from the wrong side of the river, the easiest target to put all the blame on burns. But the need for justice outweighs the anger that simmers deep inside of him, partly due to his unwavering determination that his daughter would not grow up thinking herself to be the offspring of a rapist and murderer.

Jeb aims to rattle the cages of those that had made him the scapegoat of a crime that he didn’t commit. What Jeb doesn’t aim on happening is for his daughter and Rachel to rattle his emotions inside out, giving the men who wouldn’t want him making a ruckus in his crusade for the truth to come out fighting dirty. Anger, vile and filled with hatred consumes the small town grappling in the fear of secrets spilling forth that could mean grave consequences if Jeb isn’t stopped in time.

The Slow Burn of Silence is a novel filled with evocative writing. Rachel’s thoughts are written in the first person point of view, the reason for which I have no clue. I thought it quite odd that throughout the whole story, multiple character view points were included, but it was only Rachel’s that was told in the first person. Me being not such a fan of first person viewpoints just thought its worthy of a mention in the review.

The result of a heated lover’s spat that had gone wrong nine years back forms the basis of the story. For Jeb there had been none other than Rachel and vice versa. While I understood why Rachel had testified against Jeb and revealed his secrets to the jury that had been the foundation of his conviction, I found myself a little bit reluctant to forgive her for leaving Jeb in the lurch when he had needed her the most. They had had a strong bond between them, from childhood to adulthood. Theirs had not just been a love that had kindled at first sight in high school, rather a love that had been borne out of mutual like, respect and a lot of shared moments throughout their years of friendship. And for that I just found it a trifle bit hard to forgive Rachel even though she comes out with guns blazing to clear Jeb’s name later on.

Jeb was the character who made the novel in my opinion. Life had not been easy for Jeb even as a child and at the cusp of adulthood, he had been thrown into prison together with the most vicious of criminals. The way he turned himself into someone that could make a difference made me admire him, when he could have given into bitterness, hate and resentment and let his life while away. Rachel’s sister is worthy of a mention, as a crusader for justice without whom Jeb would never have made it out.

The Slow Burn of Silence is a story steeped deep into the small town life that is Snowy Creek. Multiple characters that stand out makes the story an unbeatable one. It is small town relationships beneath which secrets lurk and wounds fester that forms the basis of the suspense aspect of the novel and it is those same frissons and ripples that made everything come to its satisfying conclusion.

The one thing that would stand out for any reader of this book is the writing. It is almost as if you are right there, in the town of Snowy Creek watching everything unfold and unravel. With the simmering secrets threatening to swallow you a whole, your heart racing in the attempt to uncover the deadly lies and half truths that had put Jeb away before it is too late. The Slow Burn of Silence is a novel that will pull you in and submerge you with a tale that is riveting and suspenseful. Recommended!

Final Verdict: Deadly small town secrets, undying love and a quest for the truth. A definite must-read for fans of the genre.

Favorite Quotes

He comes out of the bathroom. Naked. His erection sheathed and gleaming in a condom. His thighs muscular. My throat goes bone-dry as he pulls the drapes shut over the windows facing the house. Somehow he seems even more powerful unclothed. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

He’s between my thighs, kneeing me open even wider . . . and he plunges into me. To the hilt. Hot, hard, quivering. I gasp, my fingers digging into his back as my body accommodates to the size of him. I can feel his balls, soft against my skin. Then he’s moving, sliding, driving into me. Hotter, harder, faster. I’m arching, sweating, shaking, desperate to have him even deeper yet, I’m aching for something even more than the sensation inside of me. More than sex. I’m aching to be whole. To be released.

She smiled at him, a slow, seductive smile that invited him in, that clawed back the years, made every terrible thing just melt away. She reached up, taking his waist and raising her knees, opening to him. Jeb’s vision swirled into shades of scarlet and red as he lowered himself and slowly thrust his cock back into her. She was hot, tight, her muscles humming. And as he sank into her, he felt as though he’d somehow come home. Like he fit, belonged.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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ARC Review: Should’ve Been Home Yesterday by Inez Kelley

Format: E-bookshouldvebeenhomeyesterday
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Country Roads, #3
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Webb Hawkins
Heroine: Molly McCreedy
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 21, 2014
Started On: July 18, 2014
Finished On: July 30, 2014

Ever since I started reading Inez Kelley’s Country Roads series, I’ve been hankering to read the story of the enigmatic Webb Hawkins, CEO of Hawkins Hardwood. The hint of a past entanglement between himself and Molly McCreedy, the owner of McCreedy’s Diner suggested a story that could prove to be explosive at best. And though Should’ve Been Home Yesterday didn’t live up to all my expectations, it nevertheless managed to give me a story well worth my while.

Should’ve Been Home Yesterday starts twenty years prior to the present day and highlights the relationship that exists between Webb and Molly. Webb and Molly’s older brother Clay had been inseparable during their childhood. Webb being ten years older than Molly never sees her as anything more than a sister even though Molly considers Webb hers even at the tender age of ten. People might call her love for Webb a childhood crush or a fascination that would fade away as she would grow older, but for Molly, in the depths of her heart she had known even then that there would none but Webb for her.

Present day finds Molly pregnant with Webb’s baby and Webb wanting to do the right thing by marrying her. Webb might want to keep his distance where Molly is concerned, and he had been doing a swell job out of it until imbibing in too much alcohol had shattered his ironclad control and the inevitable had happened. Though Molly has her misgivings, she is the optimistic sort who would like to believe that Webb feels something more for her than he lets on and that it could grow into something wonderful and beautiful, like the love that blooms in her heart for him. And that is why, Molly finds herself entering into a marriage with the love of her life by shoving aside any apprehension about the union that she might have.

Webb has always found his solace in his work. Building up his business had taken his mind off of the terrible mistake he had made in his past, thinking that he could have a chance with Molly when she’d suddenly surprised him by growing up. The Molly that he is married to stirs up feelings that he would like to turn his back on. With the Eco-terrorist who had managed to make his life a living hell the past couple of months still continuing to haunt and taunt him, Webb believes that his attention needs to be focused on where it is important; on his business and the people who work for him rather than his newly wedded wife who moves him to distraction.

Molly understands only a trifle bit too late that Webb had never intended for their marriage to get real. But she certainly doesn’t make it easy on Webb to just ignore her and be, but rather Molly’s understanding of who Webb is thaws that control of his that Webb clings onto and makes him realize that with Molly, there is no detachment to be had when it comes to him. And what Webb doesn’t realize is that unbeknown to him or Molly, the danger that surrounds him has been closing in on the most important person in his life and that he might lose her before he can even declare just how much of a fool he has been trying to keep her at arms length all this while.

Should’ve Been Home Yesterday follows the pattern that has been set for the previous books in this series. Every chapter begins with an interesting fact or tidbit that is related to the setting and the story which I have absolutely enjoyed in each of these books. Molly and Webb’s relationship certainly had its moments. Webb’s deep reluctance to open himself up emotionally lent the story the right amount of angst, and of course the groveling that he had to do to win back the affections of his wife later on served to be the healing balm that their relationship required. Inez makes the story doubly interesting by working in tidbits of Molly and Webb’s shared past into the unfolding events which gives the reader just enough of a background to connect with Molly and Webb.

As I finished reading Should’ve Been Home Yesterday, I couldn’t help but want to read the stories of Finn, Bob and Zane Miner. They all show promise as characters well worth being given their own stories and I would definitely love it if at all there is a possibility of that happening. Dear Inez, please take that as a hint and write them happily ever afters? The one thing that continues to draw me when it comes to Inez is that her stories always provide beautiful quotes for my collection and Should’ve Been Home Yesterday was no exception to the rule. And though my favorite in the series by far has been Jonah and Zury’s story, Should’ve Been Home Yesterday is full of the good bits that makes it a great read! Recommended.

Final Verdict: Inez’s Country Roads series continues to deliver beautiful stories, well worth your reading time!

Favorite Quotes

“Molly.”
The hesitation in his tone speared through her and she spun, rising to her knees to face him. His hands stayed still, sliding in the soap film around her waist. Bared to the navel, with nothing hiding the rest of her but a thin layer of floating bubbles, she locked eyes with his. One wide black pupil nearly obliterated the brown iris, his real eye reacting to the desire he held back. His glass eye stared at her with sightless fixation. Beneath the collar of his shirt, thick cords stood out in his neck.

Molly reached up and circled his neck, stepping closer than she had when they danced, and brushed her lips against the corner of his mouth. The touch of lips on lips was like a summer lightning strike, all-powerful and shocking. His hands rose, settling on her hips, the sun-warmed skin smooth beneath his calluses. He forgot everything except Molly. He dipped his head and kissed her.
She melted. There was no other word he could think of.

Molly bucked as the crest of his cock’s head grazed her clit. “Holy shit.”
She added a wiggle to her swing and his control slipped. Holy shit was right. He’d never been so turned on and he wasn’t even inside her. Tongues swirling, lips sealed, their hips moved together. Friction had never been so intense, so hot and drugging. The muscles in groin grew tight as climax approached but he gripped her ass and rocked harder, driving against her clit faster, needing her to go with him. She whimpered as a quake bloomed. She drove down hard, grinding on his cock as she exploded.

A low groan rumbled in his chest, taking their kiss to high heat. He delved his tongue deep, sweeping along her lips, then plunging inside. He tasted of mint, a cool underlying accent to the intensity of his kiss. Beneath her knees, the plush couch was soft but her focus was on the firm thighs between hers. His hands slid up her legs, hooked around her ass and tugged her forward.
It was every Christmas, every birthday, every Valentine’s gift wrapped into one when he wrapped his arms around her, holding her close. This was her dream, Webb sober, loving her openly, their lives entwined.

Molly had no breath to answer. She was trapped in a cycle of pleasure, of taking him over and over, wanting him deeper and never wanting to let him go. The rhythmic squeeze she kept around him drove her closer but she needed him to peak with her, to trip over that edge. She didn’t want to go alone. Together. She needed them to go together.
Yanking one hand from the cushion, she raked his back with her nails. Webb arched hard, driving so deep into her she shattered with a cry.

Her fingers tightened, pulling his hair but he ignored the pain, needing to taste her climax. Lightly, quickly, he fluttered his tongue across the hood then curled low and speared the pulse beneath. Easing his hands under her ass, he kneaded each globe and urged her knees further apart with his shoulders. Spread beneath his mouth, Molly was his for the taking and he took, without mercy, hungrily, and without relenting. He wished he could claim her heart as easily, was worthy enough to claim it.

Her hand turned, skating up his chest, delving through his chest hair. Every instinct he had begged him to drive home hard, to take her fast and deep, but he swallowed them. He needed this, this slow connection, this reconnection. He wanted to draw it out, gorge on it, grow drunk on nothing more than his wife. Teeth gritted for restraint, he pressed into her slow and steady until he could go no farther. A twitch bloomed along his cheek as he soaked in her velvet grip.
Molly’s fingers bit into his chest as her mouth fell open with a low exhale. “Oh God, I love how you feel inside me.”

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

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ARC Review: The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

Format: E-bookthecountessconspiracy
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Brothers Sinister, #3
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Sebastian Malheur
Heroine: Violet Marie Waterfield
Sensuality: 2.9
Date of Publication: December 16, 2013
Started On: December 22, 2013
Finished On: December 24, 2013

Why do books that you have been anticipating for so much so that you stalk the author’s website on regular basis just to find out whether the release date of the book you are coveting for has drawn any nearer always tends to disappoint you the most? The Countess Conspiracy has been THE book that I have been waiting for ever since I read and fell in love with The Duchess War, the first book in the Brothers Sinister series. Each book had drawn out my fascination with Sebastian, the rake with the scandalous scientific theories that had society in titters. And then there was Violet, the countess of Cambury who seemed to be the object of Sebastian’s affection, and oh how I used to rub my hands in glee waiting for the day that Sebastian would fall flat on his face with want, desire and need for Violet.

Instead of the storyline that I had been rooting for, Courtney veered the story in a direction totally unexpected; even that I could have worked with if not for the fact that both Sebastian and Violet’s characters did a complete about turn that had me dumbfounded to say the least. The Countess Conspiracy is based on the fact that Violet had been living a lie for the past couple of years, making use of Sebastian to hide who she really is, until Sebastian puts his foot down and tells Violet in no uncertain terms that continuing as they had been would be an impossibility for him.

Violet though feels that keen sense of loss from losing her closest friend, the only person in the world who sees her for who she is and understands her, doesn’t know what to do in the face of all that emotion. If not for Sebastian who kept on doggedly coming after her, steady in his determination to win over the affections of the woman he has loved more than half of his life, I bet Violet would just have continued on as she is, thinking, that just like everyone else, Sebastian too had had his fill of her.

As one reviewer on Goodreads pointed out, as a pioneer of science, Violet totally earns 5 stars and beyond. As a romance hero, she somehow fell flat and didn’t stir much of an interest in me. In all the other books in which I encountered Violet’s character, never did I come to see her as someone who is prickly, indifferent and cold. But that is exactly what Violet thinks herself to be and the image that she tries to live up to, always expecting that when it comes to her, no one would truly understand or love her the way she is. There is a psychological factor to it all of course, behind how Violet actually turns out to be the way she is.

Sebastian turned out to be the biggest surprise in one aspect because he used to be the character that completely stirred things up, always said the very thing that would rouse wicked thoughts and brought every scene he stepped into life. But his character is not what it was portrayed to be then, perhaps that was what Courtney was going for when she made him into the patient man who would wait by Violet’s side, even if it takes forever for her to look up and notice him, really notice him for all that he is.

The note tucked at the end of the story was a moving one, one of the main reasons that I believe Courtney wrote this story as it is. She wanted to give a voice to all those women who had been shunned by society for being more intelligent than men, she wanted to give women silenced eons ago who had to hide behind men who took credit for their work a voice because simply put it just wasn’t acceptable for a woman to think and come up with complex theories that could change the world. And in that regard, Courtney did a stupendous job at the cost of the romantic elements in the story which left me totally unmoved which turned out to be the most heartbreaking aspect of it all.

But perhaps, fans of romances featuring tender, patient heroes would fall in love with Sebastian and Violet’s love story. Though The Countess Conspiracy did not work for me, I still look forward to the next book and hopefully it will fulfill me and my thirst for a good romance along with a great storyline altogether in one. Recommended for fans of the series!

Favorite Quotes

“Sebastian,” she whispered.
“At your service.”
She kissed him. She’d kissed him once before in fury and anguish. But this was different. This was a kiss that came from every ventricle of her heart, every last valve. All four chambers of her heart pumped for him. And it was a damned good thing he didn’t know what she was thinking, or he’d realize that she had gone mad.

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

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ARC Review: The Way Home by Cindy Gerard

Format: E-bookthewayhome
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: One-Eyed Jacks, #2
Publisher: Gallery Books
Hero: Tyler Brown, Jeffery Robert Albert
Heroine: Jess Albert, Rabia
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 29, 2013
Started On: October 28, 2013
Finished On: November 6, 2013

If only he knew where home was.

The Way Home by Cindy Gerard is my very first read by the author. Book 2 in the One-Eyed Jacks series, book 1 of which I didn’t know that even existed until I delved into the story; The Way Home can be read as a standalone though there were bits in the story that makes you feel a teensy bit like you should have read the first book before venturing down the road of The Way Home.

The Way Home is a story that takes place in one of the rural villages of Afghanistan where a woman named Rabia tends to a wounded American soldier, harboring him in the secluded safety of her own home which puts her and her father in grave danger. Simultaneously, the story continues in Northern Minnesota where a woman who has lost her husband while fighting a war that had made little sense to her to begin with, takes those first tentative steps towards moving on with her life, falling in love all anew and embracing the joys of life.

For Rabia, taking care of one of the “enemy”, though had started out as a sense of obligation, changes with the depth of emotion that unfurls deep inside of her for a man whose sheer bravery makes her admire him in ways she had never admired any other. A man with no memory of who he was or what he had been through, even though the countless scars on his body and the ravaged state in which he is in speaks volumes about the kind of torture that he had undergone.

For Jess, finding the man who had made an impression on her during one chance encounter standing on her very doorstep makes her cautious and wary and yet exhilarated with a sense of excitement that has been missing from her life for far too long. Ty awakens in Jess the woman she has lost a long time back, rekindles the spark that had been blown out by too many disappointments that life had turned out to be. And in Ty, Jess meets a man whose sheer determination to win her over is a match for her stubbornness and the walls that she tries to keep between them tumbles down under that relentlessness of his. And then, with the happily ever after just within arms reach, trouble comes calling.

For Jeff, returning home means facing a life that he no longer remembers being a part of, embracing a family that he no longer remembers. The only person that he wants by his side cannot be a  part of his life and that breaks his heart more than anything else. The heartache and pain that seeps through the last couple of pages in this story would make even the strongest of persons weep. The longing to be elsewhere but where each of the 4 protagonists find themselves in is almost tangible and that is what makes The Way Home such a darn good read!

I absolutely loved the bits of the story that took place in Afghanistan, the reined in longing that blinds both Rabia and Jeff. The constant danger that surrounds them is one that cannot be denied, and even then, under the canopy of stars, in the deepest and darkest hours of the night, Rabia and Jeff come together, defying convention, the accepted norms and cultural differences not to mention the religious beliefs that Rabia holds close to her heart. All of that is no match for the love that grows and strengthens inside of both of them and that was in essence what kept me glued to the pages of this story.

Jess and Ty’s story were equally appealing in the sense that I loved how easy it was to fall in love with Ty. He doesn’t make it difficult, not at all. There are no false pretenses to be had, no backing down from what he feels for Jess; it is all too evident from all that he does for Jess and more. It takes an indefinable kind of strength for a man to walk away from the woman who holds his heart because he wants to do right by her and that ladies, makes it near impossible for you to not fall in love with Ty!

Recommended for fans of Cindy Gerard, fans of romances with military aspects to it and fans of the series. And of course those who love tearjerkers. This one’s definitely for you!

Final Verdict: Cindy Gerard brings forth a tale of immense pain, heartbreak and joy – not to be missed!

Favorite Quotes

And then she moved. Taking him in. Taking him deep, until his hips rose to meet hers, and his hands covered her breasts, finessing her nipples into aching, hard peaks, and she became as caught up as he was.
“Jess.” Her name eased out on a whisper, a curse, and finally a plea as he gripped her hips and slammed her down over him one final time, coming on a low, throaty groan and tipping her over the edge with him.

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookDepository | B&N

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