Review: Reckless Conduct by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookrecklessconduct
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Marcus Fox
Heroine: Harriet Smith
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November, 1996
Started On: October 07, 2017
Finished On: October 13, 2017

Never have I laughed so hard and so much while reading a romance novel in recent times as I did when I was reading Reckless Conduct by Susan Napier. I would always be forever grateful for having found Susan Napier’s books because they are aboslute gems in the world of Harlequin romances.

Reckless Conduct is a novel that is to be lauded for so many reasons. It has got that oh-so-good-i-am-going-to-die-of-laughter variety of humor going for it. There is a deliciously controlled hero who made every single sense of mine stand on high alert. Then there is the heroine, whose makeover and clumsy antics, plus the way she seems to always find herself in one tantalizing position after another with the hero became one I reveled in. The sense of want and desire that is continuous thread throughout the book was one that I found heady and enjoyable on so many levels.

Harriet Smith, the heroine is someone who has continually being considered as staid, boring, and conventional. However, all of that changes when Harriet decides to have the makeover of a lifetime which turns her from the wallflower so to speak to the stunningly beautiful and curvaceous woman that turns heads as she makes her way to the office on the morning following the makeover.

Marcus Fox is the chairman of the board of Trident Finance where Harriet works. When Marcus enlists Harriet’s expertise on a personal matter, Harriet is forced into close proximity with a man who makes her want to throw caution to the wind, who brings back that edge of spontaneity to her character which had died a painful death under the hands of her ex-fiance’. It also makes her want to flee because she is reluctant to get into something that could spell long term heartbreak for her. That sense of awakening in a heroine as reluctant as Harriet was one of the best aspects of this book.

If you are a fan of Harlequin romances, this is a must read. Susan Napier is brilliant in her execution of romance novels. Her books have foresight and depth to them that few Harlequin authors bring to the table. Her stories are less than conventional and for me that is one reason why I absolutely adore them and indulge in one every now and then.

Definitely recommended. If not for the laughs, for the sheer experience of Marcus Fox in all his glory. Loved the last chapter. Made me want to bawl my eyes out, and smile from ear to ear at the same time.

Final Verdict: Susan Napier wows her readers with unconventional stories that stand out for their sensuality and strong leads. Reckless Conduct is classic Napier in this sense and I cannot recommend it well enough.

Favorite Quotes

‘Not only is Fleet indiscriminate, but he has no respect for the woman’s privacy when he notches up a victory. He’s an inveterate boaster about his conquests. He’s even been known to bet on the outcome of a date. All he’s interested in is having a good time, and he expects the women he goes out with to have the same free-and-easy morals—’
‘Good!’ she snapped, using the element of surprise to grasp his solid wrist and push it sharply away from the control buttons so that the doors sprang open.
‘Good?’ Marcus Fox stayed rooted to the spot as she stepped out onto the thick grey carpet of the executive-suite foyer. ‘What do you mean—good?’
Harriet turned to look at him and was deeply gratified by his censorious expression. At last she had surprised a genuine reaction out of him!
‘I mean good, he sounds like a really hot date,’ she said with a reckless toss of her head.”
“A hot date?’ He repeated the words slowly, as if they were in an alien tongue.
‘Yeah, you know—one where there’s a lot of action.’
‘Action?’ The doors were closing on him and he darted out between them with a startling burst of agility for such a powerfully built man.
‘Fun.’
His black brows lowered even further as he towered over her. ‘You’re going out with Michael Fleet for fun?’ he rumbled.
‘Well, I’m certainly not going out with him in order to have a perfectly miserable time,’ she said sweetly.
He dismissed her dripping sarcasm with an impatient wave. ‘Miss Smith, I wonder if you’ve quite grasped the import of my remarks?’
‘Of course I have,’ she said in exasperation. ‘You’re warning me that by tomorrow I’ll just be another notch on the matchwood that passes for Michael’s bedpost.’
‘Miss Smith!’
‘Mr Fox!”

She sat down with relief, only to find that her narrow skirt shrank alarmingly up her slender thighs. She pretended not to notice. She hadn’t taken into account things like bending and twisting and sitting when she had been burning up the boutiques during the long weekend. She had just stood in front of the mirror and ruthlessly bought whatever the shop assistant had recommended.
Harriet folded her hands in her diminished lap and tried to remember everything she had ever read about miniskirt etiquette. Did one cross one’s legs or slant them primly parallel to the side? The idea of being prim decided her. She slid one knee rashly over the top of the other. The skirt retreated another crucial few centimetres.
Marcus Fox’s steepled fingers collapsed and his voice was slightly hoarse as he began ominously, ‘Miss Smith, I am about to break one of my cardinal rules about not allowing personal problems to intrude on matters of business.’

He rose abruptly from his chair and, against the tinted window, he was suddenly a dark, shadowy figure sweeping across her dazzled vision. Harriet’s heart pulsed erratically in her ears and, even knowing that the width of the desk was between them, she instinctively shied away from his dominance, a slender heel catching against the chair-leg behind her as she did so, half wrenching her shoe from her foot and throwing her off balance.
She stumbled forward several steps, banging her hip as she ricocheted off the sharp corner of his desk. One windmilling hand clipped the eyepiece of the telescope and it teetered on its extended tripod. Harriet whipped around to clasp and steady it, letting out a small cry of pain as a bolt on one of the legs jammed into her knee.
“What on earth—?’ Marcus Fox was there immediately, untangling her from the apparatus and setting them both upright.
‘I’m sorry,’ she gasped, hopping on one leg as she tried to refit her shoe.
He let go of the telescope to support her by her shoulders, half lifting her with easy strength to perch on the edge of his desk while she fumbled. ‘Little fool,’ he said gruffly. ‘What are you wearing heels like that for around the office? You’re an accident waiting to happen.’
‘To stop people like you calling me little,’ she huffed.

“They’re not pantihose,‘ she said absently, thinking gloomily that it didn’t take much to make expensive elegance look cheap and tacky. Maybe black hadn’t been such a flattering choice after all.
‘I beg your pardon?’
He hadn’t moved and Harriet was acutely aware that he was standing between her legs, the fabric of his dark trousers brushing against the sensitive skin of the insides of her knees. This time the threat posed by his proximity was unnervingly real. He was overpoweringly close, his warmth radiating through her like an invisible touch, his clean male scent creating a curious disorder in her senses. He made her feel both fragile and vulnerable and she panicked lest he detect her irrational fear, rashly seeking to repulse him with offensive brashness.
‘I said I’m not wearing pantihose. They’re stockings. See?’ She provocatively lifted her knee to press it against his hip, and flipped back her hem to reveal the lace-trimmed suspender that gripped the opaque band of her laddered stocking. A strip of smooth, naked thigh was also inadvertently revealed—a starkly erotic contrast to the black lingerie.

Feeling safe and yet aware of a tantalising danger, Harriet inhaled and let out a shuddering sigh and wriggled deeper into his lap. The malleable outline against her hip was large, and Harriet felt another wave of prickly heat wash over her as she indulged her sinful curiosity and wondered what it would take to arouse a man of his iron self-control and how different he would feel in his state of excitement.
She imagined what would happen if she was lying like this in his arms but for some inexplicable but necessary reason they were both completely nude. Surely he wouldn’t be unaffected then, no matter how skinny or pathetic he thought she was? He was a man and he wouldn’t be able to help himself. He might fight against his primitive instincts because he didn’t want to hurt her, but he would eventually succumb to the feel of her naked breasts and thighs rubbing against him. He would kiss her fiercely, and smother her small breasts in his big, clever hands, and then he would go thick and hard against her squirming bottom and he would turn her in his lap and—

Intent on preventing him from reaching the bottom of the pile, Harriet hastened forward, but she was too late. His eyebrows shot up as he studied the final cover.
‘Sexual Fulfilment: Erotic Techniques To Enhance Female Pleasure’
‘Give me that!’ Flustered, she tried to snatch it out of his hand.
‘Give you what? Sexual fulfilment?’ he enquired with a wicked grin, easily evading her attack by catching her wrist and pulling her down onto the bed beside him. ‘Why, Harriet, I’m flattered by your eagerness but it’s rude to grab.’
‘I meant give me the book!’ she grated at him, feeling the heat of his thigh against her hip as they bounced lightly together on the edge of the bed.

He kissed her deep and hard, burying his mouth in hers, using his teeth to tease her lips apart and his tongue to thrust roughly inside. His hand slid from her upper arms to her ribcage, his fingers splaying up her slender sides, gripping her, supporting her torso while he slowly twisted from side to side, massaging her breasts with the rigid muscles of his chest. With a groan he turned her even further into the heated embrace, forcing her head back with the power of his kiss, lifting his knee to rest his thigh heavily across her sprawled legs, urging her against the hardness between his legs.
‘Kiss me; touch me the way she was touching him.’ He whispered the ragged command into the moist depths of her being, and she felt him tear at his buttons so that his shirt parted across his smooth, hot chest.

“Marcus—’
He bit her throat, his fingers curving into her soft waist as he sucked at her flesh. ‘Yes, say my name; tell me where you want me to stroke you; tell me what excites you…’
Everything excited her. She could barely string two coherent thoughts together, let alone utter any words. All that came from her lungs were gasps and tiny whimpers and moans that seemed to drive him into a greater frenzy.
Harriet clutched at the thick-hewn shoulders under the loose white shirt, her manicured nails biting into the rippling muscle and raking down his biceps, causing him to arch and shudder and rub himself more frantically against her. The heat was coming off him in waves, the muscles in his arms and chest jerking with convulsive tension, his hot mouth ravishing her senses as he hungrily devoured her response to his astonishing explosion of desire.

“I knew you weren’t wearing a bra,’ he muttered harshly, covering the delicate mounds with his palms, cupping and shaping her with his fingers, finding the soft nipples with his thumbs and tracing their outline by feel, circling them over and over again, drawing them out with the gentle pressure of his nails. ‘I could see these shadowed against the cotton… dark, smooth, round discs that I wanted to touch and lick and suck until they were ripe and wet and hard… as hard as I was…’
He nuzzled her mouth as he told her what else he had wanted to do to her breasts with his tongue and hands and body while she had been standing there talking, innocently unaware of his lustful fancies, and his eloquent description made Harriet so dizzy that if she hadn’t been lying down she would have swooned like a Victorian maiden.

He donned the protection without the least sign of modesty or embarrassment and Harriet fleetingly compared him with Keith, who used to fumble around in the dark, as if it was an offence to his masculinity. She even suspected that Marcus lingered deliberately over the intimate task, enjoying having her watching him touch himself, heightening their anticipation of the pleasure to come.
‘Next time you can do it for me,’ he promised huskily, and with a stunningly swift movement caught hold of her ribcage, his thumbs curving up under her breasts as he pulled her down on her knees to straddle his lap, arching his hips so that he slid smoothly inside her in the same fluid motion.
‘Oh!’ Harriet’s hand spread across his chest as she felt him take a heaving breath and arch up again, pushing deeper, tighter, a huge, hard invasion of heat that made her instinctively grip his hips with her knees and rock forward, flexing her inner muscles around him.

“Don’t move.’ This time she knew that his grating harshness wasn’t anger, it was rigid self-restraint. She obeyed, her bottom settling on his iron thighs. After a few moments of absolute stillness Marcus lifted his head and gave her a lazy smile that made her toes curl in her black shoes.
‘What now, Mr Fox?’ she teased him throatily.
‘Now?’ His hands swept down her sides and over her stockings to the knees that were wedged against his hips, and then slowly followed the same course back again.
‘Now, Miss Smith, we stay like this for the next ten hours.’

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

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Review: Devil’s Cut by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookdevilscut
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Bourbon Kings, #3
Publisher: Ballantine
Hero: Lane/Edward/Samuel
Heroine: Lizzie/Sutton/Gin
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 2017
Started On: September 29, 2016
Finished On: October 05, 2017

The third and final book in The Bourbon Kings trilogy delivered a lackluster read for me in many ways, reasons which I will be detailing about later in the post. JR Ward’s characterization and setting is of course top notch. And even with all the problems I had with the story and its development, I enjoyed the escape it provided when I needed one. 

Devil’s Cut takes off from where things were left off in the second book, The Angels’ Share, where the eldest, Edward Westfork Bradford Baldwine, confesses to the murder of his father. This sets in motion the events that escalate into the culmination of the ending Ward delivered, with Gin and Samuel’s story being given a little bit more attention to tie up the loose ends in their story as well.

Things I loved about the story can be summed up in just one sentence. Gin and Samuel, and their fiery non-relationship relationship. It is not the ideal love affair that they have going, but because of it, their story manages to grab you from the first book onward and not let you go.

One of the things I disliked about the series was that it focused too much on Lizzie and Lane, when it should have been separate novels for each of the lead characters we meet. Secondary characters like Edwin MacAllan (Mack), Master Distiller for the company who meets his match in Beth Lewis who turns up for the position of his assistant was a secondary story that was left without much written about them after the initial introduction. There was so much potential in their story and the readers just got to see them “together” all of a sudden.

While I grew to accept Lizzie and Lane together, I never did love their coming together as much as I should have, especially given the time that Ward invested in writing their characters, by giving them so much presence in all three novels. I could understand why from the viewpoint of Lane being the one responsible for bringing it all together, solving the family issues etc. But, that could have been catered to while letting their stories simmer in the background, making other characters more prominent.

I would have loved to see an expansion of Maxwell’s story, the son who left and didn’t return until at the very last minute. He is labeled as a drifter, a troublemaker, a tattooed bad-ass if you ask me, and he was just sidelined in the series to an extent that it was as if Ward just happened to remember that he also needed to come back. His history with Tanesha Nyce, the preacher’s daughter was one I wanted to read about, and yet that too, never materialized.

That brings me to the couple that gave the series that jolt of electricity, that pulse of life; Gin and Samuel – the lifeline of the series. Yet, they didn’t get to have their own book, and they had the potential to be so much more. Even when Ward did not give them their own book, they made their presence felt throughout, so much so that I wished that I got to read about them and them alone. There is so much history to them, their on and off explosive “relationship”, the secret Gin has been carrying with her for so long, a secret so incendiary that it seems to drive a wedge between Gin and Samuel that could have lasted for a long time. Gin is a character who is extremely flawed, and the way she transforms was the one aspect to the series that I wholeheartedly approved of. But I just wished that Ward had focused more on them than on other paltry characters of the series.

Ward also started a story line where a sort of love triangle could have emerged between Edward, Shelby, and Sutton. I wasn’t that enamored with Sutton at all. Nor was I won over even when everything just seemed to neatly come together with Shelby moving on all of a sudden. There was a vulnerability to Shelby, a down to earth honesty to her character that I fell in love with from the onset. She seemed to see right through to Edward, his pain, and the darkness inside of him unlike Sutton for whom Edward shows a different side of his character. He tries to protect Sutton in a way when with Shelby, he is himself, the version of himself that he became after all the trauma that he had gone through. But of course, it was Sutton he went for all of a sudden, and there was this missing component to their story line that didn’t satisfy me on all fronts.

The ultimate culmination of the main thread of the story was also disappointing to say the least. It focuses on the murder of William Baldwine and the ensuing chaos that brings all siblings “together”. While the “killer” became obvious halfway through, I still hoped that Ward would provide something more explosive than what I knew would be a pitiful ending. Everything of course comes together rather neatly, but there were those potholes in the plot that were left gaping open. Ward is capable of so much more, as her Black Dagger Brotherhood stories testify time and yet again. I know that both series are entirely different in their own manner. But the fact that even with all those things that did not work for me in this one, I was still hooked to Ward’s storytelling tells its own tale.

Final Verdict: Disappointing for the fact that it could have been so much more; I wished for individual stories for all main leads in the series.

Favorite Quotes

In lieu of answering, he dipped down and brushed the side of her throat with his lips. Moving his hands farther up under her skirt, he brushed the tops of her thigh highs—and then kept going until—
“You’re not wearing panties,” he growled.
“Of course not. It’s eighty-five degrees out there and humid as the inside of a shower.”
Samuel T. became unhinged then, his control snapping, his greed for her overtaking everything. With sure fingers, he unbuckled his monogrammed belt and unzipped his slacks—and Gin was clearly as impatient as he was. Moving herself down on the sofa, she brought them together at the very moment he angled his erection forward.
They both shuddered, and then he started moving.

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

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Review: The Angels’ Share by J.R. Ward

Format: E-booktheangelsshare
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Bourbon Kings, #2
Publisher: NAL
Hero: Edward Baldwine
Heroine: Sutton Smythe
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 26, 2016
Started On: September 02, 2016
Finished On: September 29, 2017

Even though I usually write my reviews before starting on the next book in the series, the part of my life that was dedicated to reviewing  romances that I read and enjoy so much took a hiatus in recent times. But I am someone who believes in the “better late then never” concept when it is about people and things that matter above everything else.

The Angels’ Share, book 2 in The Bourbon Kings trilogy picks up where the first book ends. That things are a mess for the Baldwines would be an understatement. With their father dead, the family’s finances in a mess, it is Tulane Baldwine (Lane), the poker playing former man-whore who returns home to pick up the pieces. Four siblings, all of whom are “estranged” from one another in different ways; JR Ward lays out a complex family for readers to sink their teeth into, and the surprises keep coming forth, urging the reader to turn the pages faster to get to the inevitable conclusion of it all.

Lane has his work cut out for him in trying to make sense out of the mess that his father has left in the wake of his death, an autopsy of which proves more than what Lane bargained for. William Baldwine is not the beloved father figure that most would presume he would have been. Instead, he is the father who destroys a family with his words and actions, and inaction when it came to Lane’s eldest brother Edward..

One has to read the trillogy altogether to get a sense of just how deep JR Ward digs when it comes to the Baldwines. Having never read anything else but the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by the author prior to picking up this particular trilogy, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but in usual JR Ward fashion, she blew me away with the depth that she brings to her characters and the story.

While I didn’t particularly root for the Edward and Sutton connection (which I am pretty sure I would be in the singular minority in this case), I felt intrigued by Gin’s story most of all. I think that would have been the case for most readers. Gin and her ongoing tit-for-tat, explosive relationship with Samuel T. took my breathe away every single time they were in the same room together. Gin’s inability to face her inner demons, to right the wrongs of her past, to accept herself for who she is, to draw on her inner strength and fight; those were all things that I wanted for her, from her. That in my opinion is a character well written.

Gin is not without her fair share of faults. But, given all that, I fell for her, hard. Unlike most of the characters in the book, and even Lizzie for whom I just had a passable liking at best, Gin stood out from everyone else like one of those exotic creatures gracing the cover of a glossy magazine tossed on a pile of old, worn and torn ones that no one would look at twice. That is how Gin materialized for me in the story and captivated me all throughout.

Enjoyable in a way only great storytelling can deliver, The Angels’ Share provides for enjoyable reading.

Final Verdict: Incredible, the level of depth to the story. It just keeps getting better.

Favorite Quotes

It was not supposed to go like this, he thought to himself. He’d banked on her backing away from him, leaving him alone, forgetting about the damn doctor.
“Sometimes the land must accept the storm,” Shelby whispered.
“What?”
She just shook her head as she moved up his lower body. “It’s not important.”
And she was right. Nothing much was important at all as she was the one who kissed him, her lips soft and shy, as if she knew nothing about seduction.

His hands swept up and cupped her breasts as his hips rolled against her, stroking her with an erection that was so hard, so distinct, she didn’t know whether he’d taken his pants off. Her skirt didn’t last long, Edward taking advantage as she arched up to his mouth to release the back fastening and do away with it.
Her stockings followed suit.
And then her panties.
And then his mouth left her breasts … and went other places.
The orgasm was so strong, her head knocked into the hard table, but she didn’t care. Throwing her palms out, they squeaked against polished wood as she called his name freely.
There was no one to know.
Nobody to hear.

He whispered something in her ear that she didn’t catch.
“What?” she said.
“Nothing.”
Edward stopped her from asking again by kissing her some more. And then he was moving inside of her, his erection still hard, his hips still strong, his need still for her.
For some reason, her eyes watered. “Why does this feel like you’re saying good-bye?”
“Shhhh …” he said before kissing her again.

Samuel T. to Gin – “What I really want to say is two things,” he continued. “First, I want you to know you’re better than that, and not because you’re a Bradford. The truth is, no matter what happens to the money, you’re a strong, smart, capable woman, Gin—and up until now you’ve used those virtues in bad ways, dumb-ass ways, because quite frankly, you haven’t had any real challenges put in front of you. You’ve been a warrior without a field of battle, Gin. A fighter without a foe, and you’ve been lashing out at everything and everyone around you for years now, trying to burn off the energy.” His voice grew unbearably hoarse. “Well, I want you to channel all that in a different way now. I want you to be strong for the right reasons. I want you to take care of yourself now. Protect yourself now. You have people who … you have people who love you. Who want to help you. But you’re going to need to take the first step.”

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

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Review: Cry for the Moon by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookcryforthemoon.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Yorktown Towers, #4
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Simon Zebriskie
Heroine: Marielle Brandt
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 01, 1988
Started On: December 15, 2016
Finished On: December 17, 2016

Widow of six months, Marielle Brandt turns up with her five year old daughter Emily and eighteen month son Christopher at the doorstep of Farnum’s Castle, against all the advise doled out by the elderly attorney, who from the onset tries to convince her to sell the derelict building which Marielle is now to call home.

Left destitute with a mountain of debt by her husband, Marielle leaves behind a life which she particularly wouldn’t miss. The attorney goes as far as to tell her that the building is haunted, which does not in the least deter a very undaunted Marielle. The determination with which she was going to make Farnum’s Castle perhaps borne a bit out of the fact that she has nowhere else to go.

When one of the tenants of the building, the mysterious Simon Zebriskie encounters the very young Marielle, whom he considers so owing to perhaps his failed marriage from before, he is distrustful. Not so much because she is untrustworthy, but a distrust that stems from a side of himself that he had thought had gone dormant that comes to life with Marielle’s presence.

Simon is a man paying penance for something that had meant the end of life as he had known it, which had afforded him a life of luxury that is a distant memory from what his life is like now. With an odd cast of secondary characters who magically brings the “Gothic” side of the story alive, Cry for the Moon is once again a testament to Anne Stuart’s ability that remains unrivaled even with the multitude of romance writers out there.

A book written when I was in my early childhood, and yet even today stands firm with the test of time is exactly why I would always pick an Anne Stuart to chase away my reading blues. In Simon, there is the deliciously tender hero that any reader would fall in love with. Minus the anti-hero qualities that makes Anne Stuart so famous in the development of heroes in her novels, Simon is a man haunted by a past that makes him aloof and reluctant in many ways to confront his rioting emotions when it concerns Marielle.

Marielle on the other hand, is the strong, kind, and yet emotionally scarred heroine that anyone would root for. Her reluctance to step into anything with Simon comes from a marriage that had failed her miserably when all had been said and done. Having gotten married at a young age, Marielle would rather forge ahead on a path of her own making and do it alone, and yet, she cannot help but be ensnared by the passion that rises to the surface and explodes with every deliciously lazy kiss that Simon lays on her.

Final Verdict: Beautifully rendered, Cry for the Moon belongs in the collection of gems with which Anne Stuart has enriched the reading lives of many a romanceaholic like myself. Recommended.

Favorite Quotes

“Let go of me,” she said, her voice a hushed command in the still room.
“Yes,” said Simon, not moving.
“We can’t do this.”
“No,” he agreed.
“Simon.”‘ Her voice held a very definite note of warning.
“Yes,” he said. Then, “No.” And then he dipped his head, blotting out the moonlight, and his mouth caught hers.
Unbelievably, it had been years since she’d been kissed. Possibly not since the night Christopher had been conceived, and she wasn’t even sure of that. And she’d never been kissed the way Simon was kissing her, all urgency gone now, slowly, thoroughly, his mouth touching and teasing and tasting, nudging away her panic until she had no choice but to soften her mouth, to part her lips for him, to let him take possession with a sudden sly ferocity that left her trembling beneath him.

Suddenly she decided to shock him in return, to prove to him that she wasn’t the skittish little coward he seemed to think her. Reaching out with the tip of her tongue she touched the firm contours of his lips, teasing the edge of his teeth, exploring, very gently, very shyly.
She was unprepared for the intensity of his reaction. He’d been standing there completely passively, hands at his sides, when a strangled groan caught at the back of his throat and he pulled her into his arms, his tongue meeting hers. He picked her up and turned her in his arms, pressing her against the graffiti-covered wall of the apartment as his tongue took up where hers had left off.

Simon paid no attention to her protests. He kissed her, his mouth covering hers and sealing her objections as his long, deft fingers stroked and caressed her. Now she was clutching his arms, fingers digging into his hard-muscled flesh. She wanted to beg him to stop—except that she didn’t want him to stop. She wanted him to keep on, keep on forever, his hand between her legs invading her, arousing her, taking her from blind innocence to someplace dark and dangerous and overwhelming.
Marielle tore her mouth away from his. “No!” she choked. “No, stop! I can’t stand it! I can’t…”
“Yes, you can.” He was relentless, and for just a moment she fought him, pushing against him. Then the first wave hit, a jolt of sheer, agonizing pleasure shooting through her with the power of an electrical charge. She went rigid in his arms, shock and reaction keeping her still for a moment. Then her body convulsed against him as wave after endless wave of response twisted her into a helpless rag doll.

She shut her eyes, still tense, still waiting. But he made no move at all, despite the power vibrating in his arms, despite the need covering his body with a fine film of sweat. “Look at me, Marielle.” There was a hoarse note of pleading in his voice, one she couldn’t resist. Her eyes shot open. “Say something, Marielle. Anything.”
“I thought you liked me quiet.” It didn’t sound like her voice. It was raw with need and wonder and emotion.
He still didn’t move. “Not that quiet. Say something, Marielle. Say you want me.”
The ghost of a smile twisted her mouth. “Of course I want you. I’ve never in my life wanted anyone the way I want you. I never thought I’d want anyone the way I want you. I want you, I need you, I…” His mouth silenced the last, dangerous statement that might have slipped out, and his body pushed into hers, settling deep.

Maybe it was the two glasses of wine, or the roller coaster of emotion she’d been riding; maybe it was just time to take a chance and stop being so damned serious. Marielle lifted her flowing black chiffon skirts, just high enough to expose black lace ankles and spiky black shoes, and sauntered across the room toward a wary-looking Simon. “Saint Simon,” she murmured, her voice low and throaty when she reached him, “am I another one of your charity cases?” And before she could think better of it she reached up and pressed her red-painted lips on his, her heady perfume enveloping them both.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

Format: E-bookthesilentwife.jpeg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Thriller
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Penguin Books
Hero: Todd Gilbert
Heroine: Jodi Brett
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: June 25, 2013
Started On: December 12, 2016
Finished On: December 15, 2016

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison is one of those novels that has a deep impact on you in the way the story unfolds, and yet, when all is said and done it fails to deliver on many fronts. I picked this up on a whim, a friend of mine finished reading the book before I even began, and my interest got piqued by the bits and pieces that were shared about the book as the read progressed.

When I picked this up to read, I quite didn’t know what to expect, except for the fact that my interest was roused to a point where I just had to read it. The Silent Wife brings forth three main characters, Jodi Brett a psychotherapist, Todd Gilbert her partner of over 25 years, and Natasha Kovac, the woman who brings the house of cards tumbling down.

Jodi is well versed in the art of failed relationships, or perhaps relationships on the verge of failing. Patients who seek her help are in a major way looking for answers that surrounds broken relationships, or in certain cases, people happier with what is far from the accepted norm. There is the gay lawyer who feels remorse over hurting his wife and kid, who in fact wants to be “cured” of his gayness, and at the other end of the spectrum, the cheating suburban housewife who believes that her husband has no room to complain, and that the cheating actually add value to the marriage.

What struck me the most from the onset was how Jodi had this need for a life that was under her control in many ways. Even though she is a psychotherapist who should in fact know better, her mind is a  constructed  fortress within which she lives, the facade of perfection which in reality is what she holds onto more than anything else.

While Todd had always wanted kids, Jodi had refused over the years, and that too had driven a rift between the two which Jodi doesn’t clearly see for what it is. Todd’s actions are hardly commendable either. Having grown comfortable in the way Jodi sees to all his needs and makes a home for him, his dalliances had never been tested until Natasha becomes his newest conquest.

Natasha is a line crossed in more ways than one. And when the inevitable happens, Todd is willing to give up the life he had had with Jodi for more than 20 years in order to try his hand at a life he thinks he wants above everything else. In the end it is Jodi’s actions that keeps the story twisting and turning in directions that leaves the reader wanting to know more, her past one that was never properly shed light on, but left behind hints of abuse that could have explained in a major way where she was coming from.

In the end, after all the edge of the seat variety moments, towards the latter half of the book, the story got bogged down in so much unnecessary detail that I kept skim reading to reach the bits and pieces that I wanted to read. The end when it came, delivered what something that totally ruined an otherwise what could have been a great read.

Final Verdict: Bogged down in unnecessary detail, and yet The Silent’s Wife’s saving grace lies in the fact that it is somehow unputdownable.

Favorite Quotes

People live their lives, express themselves, and pursue fulfillment in their own ways and in their own time. They are going to make mistakes, exercise poor judgment and bad timing, take wrong turns, develop hurtful habits, and go off on tangents. If she learned anything in school she learned this, courtesy of Albert Ellis, father of the cognitive-behavioral paradigm shift in psychotherapy. Other people are not here to fulfill our needs or meet our expectations, nor will they always treat us well. Failure to accept this will generate feelings of anger and resentment. Peace of mind comes with taking people as they are and emphasizing the positive.

Love after all is indivisible. Loving one more doesn’t mean loving another less. Faith is not a construct but something you carry inside you.

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ARC Review: A Cold Dark Promise by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookacolddarkpromise.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice, #8.5
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Alex Parker
Heroine: Mallory Rooney
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 14, 2017
Started On: November 15, 2017
Finished On: November 24, 2017

A Cold Dark Promise by Toni Anderson is a novella that fans of the Cold Justice series would adore. One reason being that this novella brings to readers the wedding of Alex Parker and FBI Agent Mallory Rooney, the main protagonists from the debut book of the series.

Alex’s character was one of the main reasons why I fell in love with the Cold Justice series initially. Toni Anderson’s way of putting a story together is another, and there was ruthless edge to the story that made me think of Anne Stuart’s books as well, which I obviously adored. Having come a long way since, A Cold Dark Promise takes place with a 27 week pregnant Mallory, getting ready to tie the knot with Alex, in order to celebrate their love, and make things official before the baby were to arrive.

However, a member from Alex’s dark past comes calling, and even though Alex wants to turn away from the plea put forth by a grieving mother, he finds that he is not as ruthless as he thinks himself to be, which is how Alex finds himself in the south of France, where a mission that he had thought would be simple, turns out to be anything but.

I absolutely adored this novella. I am mostly never a fan of short length novels, because though they rarely serve their purpose, and they usually fail to deliver just enough to satisfy readers. But I had no such complains with this little number and I believe that Toni has done a remarkably impressive job out of delivering a well rounded story that readers can sink their teeth into.

I loved Alex and Mallory’s shared moments as described in the story. There is a normalcy to their whole relationship that makes their love that much more real and relatable. There is no dramatic flair to it, but yet it is deep and as meaningful as they come, which is why I adored the bits of their lives that Toni brought to light in this story.

Moments of truth like Mallory grappling with the fact that she doesn’t particularly like it when Alex might be in the line of danger while she herself wants the independence to put herself on the line when it comes to her work as an FBI agent; those are the things that struck me the most in the story.

I also enjoy how Toni brings together the cast from various other stories in the series. I sometimes have a problem with how some authors seem to have too many cooks spoiling the broth so to say, when too many protagonists from other stories seem to become the centre stage of the story. Toni also does an impressive job of portraying male friendships; rather than making them sappy in a way some authors tend to do, or go overboard trying to generate the whole “bro” vibe, I think Toni’s understated way of handling things works beautifully.

The mini secondary romance tucked into the story was just the icing on the cake – Reilly being a wonderful, wonderful hero that I fell in love with, just as hard and just as fast.

Definitely looking forward to more in the series. Toni sometimes describes her imagination as being dark – but I love just how dark it can get, with the possibility of there always been more.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Warm fuzzies is not what I would normally associate with a Toni Anderson, but this little number does it!

Favorite Quotes

Licks of pleasure spiraled into a cyclone of lust. His fingers dipped between her thighs and she moaned. Finding her ready, he turned her away from him, arranging a pillow beneath her baby bump and another cushioning her head. This was her favorite position now she was pregnant and he knew it. Alex moved behind her and slid deep inside and she came with a deep shudder. He leaned up, squeezed her nipple even as he thrust slowly in and out. She could lie like this for hours, days, it felt so good. She shook with pleasure, and she couldn’t bear for it to change but…
“More, Alex. Deeper.” It was a private joke between them, but the hoarseness of her voice took her by surprise. He got to her every single time.

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

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Review: To Love a Man by Karen Robards

Format: E-booktoloveamankr.jpg
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Sam Eastman
Heroine: Lisa Bennet Collins
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 05, 1988
Started On: September 23, 2016
Finished On: September 24, 2016

39 year old Sam Eastman is a mercenary soldier working within the borders of Rhodesia, amidst the civil war that was taking place. A single father, Sam is determined that no job is too despicable if it were to get him the money he needed to start over.

25 year old Lisa Bennet Collins is the rich socialite heir apparent, who had pretty much had her life handed to her on silver platter. She had believed that happiness was hers for the taking, and simply followed the steps which she thought would bring her that. Getting engaged to the dreamily handsome football-playing son of a state senator had been the natural progression of that life, until it had all come crashing down, bit by bit.

A lifetime later, when Lisa turns up in Rhodesia as part of an assignment that would propel her into a career where she could write stories that actually mattered, she gets into more trouble than she bargained for, and gets rescued by none other than Sam. Their attraction to each other is instantaneous, their coming together as passionate as it gets, giving Lisa pleasure of the kind she has been denied all her life.

What happens next is what makes the story a hard pill to swallow. Misunderstandings, plus the behavior on the part of both Sam and Lisa makes it difficult to identify which character you should be rooting for. Like many readers, I felt that Sam was an asshole of the first order. Given that, I do have to mention the fact that his past, the scars he carries from a marriage that had eviscerated the man he was, his childhood; all of that contributed towards making him react the way he does. Inexcusable, but I understood where all that stemmed from.

Lisa on the other hand, is just as scarred, but in a different way compared to Sam. It is not easy for Lisa to relate to a man of Sam’s caliber, masculinity, and brashness, but in his arms Lisa does find what she has been craving for, what she had not thought possible all her life. Her scars run just as deep, and somewhere along the way, fall she does, and hard, for Sam and his touch that brands her as his right from the start.

The ending was what saved the story from being categorized as one of those reads that most women wouldn’t find pleasure in reading. I believe that the time apart gave Lisa as a character the time to grow, to learn how to stand on her own, which I see as something important if you are to love someone the way she loves Sam. The groveling was done to a fine art on the part of Sam, with him going after Lisa proving to be the saving grace, which otherwise I would have probably thrown my e-reader to the wall.

Recommended for those who can take a hero who is pretty rough around the edges, who will test your patience, and reforms to a point where you can at least think about forgiving him for all  that was said and done.

Final Verdict: In To Love a Man, Robards delivers a hero that might not be for everyone.

Favorite Quotes

He thrust into her with hard urgency, and Lisa gasped with pleasure, thinking she would die of pure bliss. His answering growl inflamed her. She rose and fell with him as he moved in, then out, then in again, in a relentless, driving rhythm. Her head was thrown back, her mouth wide open as he took her, her nails digging mindlessly into his muscled back. There was no room in her head for anything except the wonder of her own need. Then his hands closed over her buttocks, lifting them so that he could thrust more deeply inside her, and his mouth clamped over hers with a harsh groan. Lisa could stand no more. Pleasure that had been denied for years burst gloriously inside her, and she cried out against his mouth. He felt her joy and responded with one final, savage thrust, holding himself inside her, shaking. Then it was over.

“God,” she heard him mutter. The word sounded strangled. Then his hands were tugging at her shorts, his fingers shaking as he fumbled with the knotted rope that served as her belt. She lifted her hips off the ground, aiding him as he dragged her shorts and panties and shoes off together. Then his big body was upon her, his weight crushing her into the ground as his hands thrust her bra out of the way of his marauding mouth.
“Now,” she cried, moaning, her legs opening to him of their own volition. “Oh, now, Sam, please, now!”
He thrust into her urgently, his hardness impaling her soft flesh.

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

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