ARC Review: That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy

Format: E-Bookthatcanbearranged
Read with: Desktop
Length: Novel
Genre: Graphic Novels
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Hero: Gehad
Heroine: Huda Fahmy
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: March 10, 2020
Started On: December 27, 2019
Finished On: December 27, 2019

Huda Fahmy is a Muslim living in the United States, sharing her real life experiences in the form of comic strips published on Instagram. I started following her somewhere around last year; I mean who wouldn’t love the at times acerbic humor and wit that flows so smoothly through her meaningful comics that most Muslims can relate to?

When I found out that Huda was releasing her new book, That Can Be Arranged sometime this year, I have been counting down the days. That is until during one of my once in a blue moon forays into Netgalley served me with the best of surprises; this title was up for grabs for an ARC review. Quickly downloading it and reading through it in one setting, I was fascinated by the story of how Huda found her soulmate for life in Gehad her husband.

Islam is a pivotal part of Huda’s comics, and the way she so brilliantly imparts Islamic knowledge and wisdom without sounding preachy is something I have come to appreciate immensely in her work. As a romance lover, I loved Huda and Gehad’s story. As a Muslim, I loved it even more. Why? Because Huda’s real life journey towards finding her soulmate gives hope in a way not many stories can; that valuing your own self and loving yourself is a first step towards finding someone who would love all of you, imperfections and all of that. That is not a lesson that many learn before they make huge mistakes, which I believe for the most part Huda managed to skirt around.

Easier said than done, right? Huda too felt the same when she first started out on her journey, trying to fit certain molds that society can often project on your subconscious. The well-meaning family, both immediate and otherwise can often dampen the spirits of the most enthusiastic, especially when they have a tendency to kick you where it hurts when it comes to affairs of the heart.

Luckily, Huda is spared most of the heartbreak because she is strong in many ways from the onset, her mother and father being supportive of what she wanted for herself rather than trying to marry her off to the first thing that crosses over from the realm of eligible men. Her continued efforts towards learning more about her religion which actually brings her finally to Gehad and identifies in him her soulmate was beautiful in a way that is indescribable.

There is a certain allure in the way Huda combines traditions with that touch of modern flair which I identified with on a deep level. While I know that living as a Muslim, especially in a country like the US at a time when Islamophobia is on the rise and is rampant must be difficult, I did identify somethings that I wouldn’t mind having over here, a “100%” Islamic country as well. One of them being Muslim scholars who are more approachable and understanding of the unique challenges faced by Muslims of the world today. That in essence is a huge gap in most Muslim societies, the inability of scholars to get to the heart of the issues and reach out to the disillusioned among us. It is so easy to give into despair in a world that is so skewed in favor of the few, it is so easy to get lost in the fray.

In short, I loved it all. Recommended for anyone who appreciates humor and wit, combined with the belief that God indeed works in the most mysterious of ways.

Final Verdict: A unique portrayal of navigating the marriage market in a Muslim society, giving insight into the traditions and societal expectations on women, and a journey of self discovery and spirituality towards finding the one!

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Requested Review: Wallflower by Krista Gold

Format: E-Bookwallflower
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Erotic Thriller
Series: The Gardener, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Emilio
Heroine: Tessa Calliope George
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 06, 2018
Started On: December 27, 2019
Finished On: December 27, 2019

Wallflower by Krista Gold is an erotic thriller that had me guessing until towards the very end. Given how much I love a good mystery, and combining eroticism of the kind that set my senses abuzz, Wallflower was one of the best reads for me in 2019.

Wallflower begins when 22 year old Tessa Calliope George is left reeling in the wake of the death of her mother, trying to piece her life back together. Tessa’s mother had found her fame late in life, and living off of it somehow is at odds with what Tessa wants in life, what she wants, something that she herself cannot grasp in its entirety.

Then enters Emilio into her life, devastatingly handsome and able to woo her into submission from day one. The deep and intense need that he invokes in Tessa is one that refuses to be denied and Tessa plunges headlong into what is the most erotic experience of her pretty much virginal life up till then.

When Tessa receives a job offer which allows her to delve into her mother’s life, she starts to piece together a side of her mother that she had not being privy to, bringing forth the story of a woman who had been lonely and looking for her other half, and had found it too, before she had met her untimely death.

As Tessa digs more extensively into her mother’s past, the revelations that emerge makes the reader take a step back, reevaluate, and reassess everything they have read before. The way your head reels trying to connect the dots together was one of the best bits about reading this book and why I enjoyed Wallflower so much.

Having read this full length novel in one day is telling, because I rarely have the patience or the time now to read an entire book in 24 hours time. But that was what happened with Wallflower because it was that intense and that much of a page-turner.

I would like to thank Krista Gold for requesting a review of this book, without which I may never have otherwise come across the title. It is hidden gems like Wallflower that makes it worthwhile to dig through stories from authors who you have never come across before.

This psychological erotic thriller has so many twists and turns and an ending that is impossible to discern which is pretty much why the story has amazed me on so my fronts. There is raw talent seeping through the words and it is almost as if you are watching a real life story unfold right in front of you.

From the emotional tumult of a newly founding relationship, to the sexy and carnal scenes of passion, followed through by the intriguing mystery woven together so intricately that everything fits seamlessly, I enjoyed every single aspect of the book!

Recommended for anyone who loves a good thriller with erotic scenes of passion that smolders.

Final Verdict: Wallflower is a novel that digs deep into the emotional ties that bind complemented with the erotic flair with which Krista Gold delivers so splendidly.

Favorite Quotes

Before I even know what I’m doing, my hand is moving with a singular purpose, down to my swimsuit bottoms, and then under the silky scrap of fabric, and – there. I close my eyes as I find the sweetly throbbing nub.
Emilio’s face is as clear as a bell in my mind’s eye, and I focus on it as my hand begins to move.
The feeling is intense. I am throbbing, and my fingers find the throb and work it, slowly at first, then with increasing urgency, until they are moving and teasing in rapid circles, and I am thrusting my sex hard against my cupped palm.
Emilio, I think. Oh god. Emilio. The sweet ache in my belly swells and expands until I feel I might burst.

He takes a step towards me and I can’t help it – I let out a gasp. Emilio stops, and catches his lip between his teeth, and I feel a flare of desire low in my belly. He groans softly, and the flare travels lower, down into my sex where it settles, pulsing like a second heartbeat.
I can’t look away from Emilio’s face.
“Tessa”, he says, and his voice is a low growl, and his green eyes are dark. My name in his mouth is the most erotic thing I have ever heard. I am rooted to the spot on my trembling legs, I couldn’t move if I wanted to.

I stare into his eyes, completely in his thrall. I can’t concentrate on anything other than this moment, this look…and then he whispers very softly, “I’m going to kiss you here”, and the pad of his other thumb parts my skirt like a curtain, pushes up and into my panties.
Holy shit. The shock is electric, and I cry out. I am all sensation, I am pure pleasure, and every bit of my attention is there, on that thumb, which is moving in slow, slow circles. There is a deep heat in the pit of my belly, and that sweet pulse is beating faster now, a hummingbird-heart.
“God, Tessa”, he breathes, still looking into my eyes. “You’re so wet.”

“Oh God”, I pant. “Emilio”. It’s all I can manage. My breath is coming faster and faster, and I know what he’s going to do. I can’t bear the suspense, and he knows it. He’s making me wait, and I want to scream in frustration, but then oh god, oh sweet Jesus, his mouth is there, and I jump, electrified, as he touches his tongue to my throbbing sex.
My body is white fire, my every nerve is lit and crackling. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on. I don’t want this to end, but I can’t hold off my climax, I don’t know how.

I feel his hardness nudging at my thigh, and I breathe into his ear, “Now, Emilio. Please”, I beg. I arch up into him, and he complies – I gasp as he nudges at my entrance, and then, with a sigh of pleasure, he slides into me. There’s a brief moment of resistance, a sweet stab of pain, and then he is fully inside me, thick and solid and hot, and nothing has ever felt more right.
Slowly, slowly, he slides out of me, almost all the way, and I moan – but then he thrusts into me again, the whole hard length of him, so I feel the shock of his penetration, so deep, so full. I can’t contain myself, and an involuntary Aah! escapes my lips.
“God, Tessa”, he says, and his voice is shaky.

Before I even know what I’m doing, my hand is reaching out to touch him, coming to rest on his thigh. Neither of us are breathing, and the air is suddenly thick with tension and anticipation.
Emilio makes a sound low in his throat, and that’s all it takes; suddenly, I am wet.
Before I can respond, Emilio has moved toward me, lightning quick, and his hands are in my hair, and he is crushing his mouth on mine, and I can’t even remember how to draw a breath, and it’s erotic, oh my god, it’s so unbelievably erotic. I never knew my body could be made to feel this way – like an electric storm, like it was made solely for pleasure. I never knew I could burn like this, or want someone so badly, so much.

God, I want him. I need him inside me. I need him now.
Instinctively, I’m releasing my seatbelt, reaching for Emilio’s buckle, wrestling with his zip. It’s not even a conscious thought, but pure animal instinct: I need this more than I need the air in my lungs.
We are both breathing hard, and I can feel that sweet pressure building inside me.
And then he springs free of the zipper, and I’m staring at his magnificent cock, which is already hard, already waiting. For me, I think with wonder, and then I’m lowering my head, and taking him into my mouth.

“God, Tessa”. Emilio’s voice is tight suddenly. “The things I want to do to you.”
Without warning, he runs a finger the length of my cleft, and I buck in ecstasy at his touch, crying out. Those little shivers of pleasure are back, crawling along every nerve ending, lighting me up.
I can’t form a coherent thought; the sensations in my body are too intense. All I can do is moan softly, squirm under him, wet with want and with need.

He leans in so that his lips are hovering right by my ear, and I can feel the warmth of his breath on my neck.
“I haven’t been able to take my eyes off you all night”, he murmurs, and his voice makes every hair on my body rise. “Do you know how fuckable you look in that dress, Tessa George?”
He leans closer so that his lips are actually touching my ear. “The answer is very,” he says, and a shiver races along every nerve in my body. “Very. Fuckable. Indeed.”

I am powerless to stop my climax building. I am panting against the wall, my legs trembling uncontrollably. “Now, Emilio”, “I beg him. “Fuck me. Please, fuck me now.”
Emilio’s eyes flash darkly, and then in one swift move, he lifts me so that I am pinned against the wall my legs wrapped around his waist. “Now”, I tell him again, and he pulls at my skirts. I lean back a little to give him access, and then I can feel his throbbing cock nudging at my entrance. I cry out – a sharp, animal cry of want and need, and then he is smothering my cries with his mouth as he impales me deliciously in one long movement. He stills for a second, long enough for me to savour how he feels inside me: thick, and full, twitching with desire.

“Now”, I pant, unable to manage anything else. “Quickly. Now.”
Emilio reads my urgency. In one smooth move, he lifts himself up on his elbows, and then he slides into me, filling me, stretching me. God, he fits perfectly. He lies still for a moment, and I let myself feel everything – the hardness of his hips, the pulsing of my bitten nipple, the urgent humming of my sex.
And then he is moving, knowing instinctively that I need it hard and fast, and god, does he deliver. He pounds into me, and everything is forgotten but the sensations of my body, my physical ecstasy.

“What do you want, Tessa? Tell me what you want.” His breath on my neck, that slow golden spiralling in my body. God, I want him. God, I need him.

Emilio’s breath is ragged. Slowly, slowly, I use my right hand to part myself, slip one finger into my wet darkness. Watching him watch me, feeling the first silvery tingles as I move my fingers, I feel more powerful than I have ever felt before. I understand now why Emilio likes to tease the way he does. The power, the heady feeling – it’s incredible.
A smile plays over my lips as I watch naked desire travel over his face. He stops stroking his cock, and I see that the tip is swollen and glistening.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Return to Christmas by Anne Stuart

Format: E-Bookreturntochristmas_2
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Impeccably Demure Press
Hero: John Larsen
Heroine: Madison Simcoe
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 13, 2019
Started On: December 24, 2019
Finished On: December 26, 2019

Return to Christmas by Anne Stuart released in 2019 had me jumping up and down in excitement at the very idea of the new release. Because Anne Stuart is THAT author for me. Return to Christmas tells the story of 27 year old Madison Simcoe and 29 year old John Larsen, in delivering upon the theme of Christmas miracles and love that stands the test of time itself.

It is the year 2020, and Madison who is feeling a bit desolate, a whole lot of disillusioned and a bit lonely decides to cheer herself up by going to the Macy’s Department Store to engage in a little bit of retail therapy. When she gets to Macy’s Madison gets more than what she bargained for when she finds herself transported to the year 1947, and having to rely on the maddening man she encounters, who sets her senses humming.

John would like nothing better than to ignore Madison’s sudden appearance into his life and the way she gets under his skin. An ex-military man, John is hounded by his own demons that are hard to shake off, and it is his ingenuity as a designer that allows him the freedom and leeway to mostly come and go as he pleases within the store.

With Madison in the picture, John finds himself inexorably drawn to her, even when he tells himself that a woman who keeps concocting far-fetched stories about how she came to be is not worth all the trouble. Interestingly enough, the more Madison tries to leave, the harder it is, as whatever it is that had transported her back in time wasn’t done messing with her fate.

Return to Christmas was not exactly what I envisioned for the story to be, but nevertheless I enjoyed most of it and not so much the rest. It is my theory that anything written by Anne Stuart is 100 times better than the any other book that you may alternatively get your hands on, and this one too proved that in spades.

I liked John and Maddie well enough, but I cannot say that I was enamored by them, nor connected with either of them at a deeper level. Madison spent a lot of her time inside her own thoughts which prevented me from understanding where she was coming from at a deeper level. Yes, she was feeling lonesome and feeling an ache she couldn’t define, but beyond that, it was hard to get a read on her character.

John is mellower than Anne Stuart’s usual hero material, which is fine. One doesn’t need to be ruthless to come off as commanding, sexy, and all of those things that makes you hum with pleasure as you read along. I felt that John was a bit under developed as a character. Why? Because I wanted to know more about his past, his likes and dislikes, what made him tick (apart from Madison of course), and I wanted to read about his stint in the military and the damage it had done to him on the inside. That would have made me relate to him more than I did.

I also found it a tad weird that two adults just lived inside a department store throughout the novel. I quite don’t know how I feel about that. The one thing that I did love though, was the epilogue. That was the ultimate ending if you ask me, classic Anne Stuart, leaving the reader sniffling with happy tears.

Final Verdict: Return to Christmas is a novel that delivers on the premise of Christmas miracles, and hope in a world that has little of that to offer, and how love knows not the bounds of time and reason.

Favorite Quotes

She stirred again, and her breathing changed. She was coming awake, and she was probably going to be ticked off and embarrassed by where she was, and he steeled himself. Her eyes blinked open, still wet with tears, and she tilted her head back, looking up at him out of those sensational eyes, her mouth still tremulous, and he did what any red-blooded American male would do.
He kissed her.

“So let me tell you what we’re going to do,” he whispered in her ear. “I’m going to undress you. Sweetheart,” he added deliberately, punctuating the word with a bump of his hips against her, and arousal spiked through her—she was back in that restless, anxious longing and uncontrolled, confused need. “And I’m going to dump our clothes on the floor and walk all over them if I want. I’m going to touch you, taste you, anywhere I damned please. You can be on top, but you’re going to be beneath me, in front of me, standing, sitting, any position we can think of. I’m not going to make you do anything you don’t want to do, but you’re going to want to do everything.” His voice was soft, his words terrifyingly erotic, and she closed her eyes, lost in it, lost in him. “Yes?”
It was a question she couldn’t answer, swept away by the crazy sensations racketing through her body. Danger, Will Robinson! She wanted to run, she wanted…she wanted…
“Yes,” she said.

“Condom,” she gasped, wanting to grab his hips and pull him in, to fill this terrible emptiness inside her. He hesitated, just for a moment, and then pushed in, so big, so hard that she almost felt choked, drowning in sensation.
He rested for a moment, inside her, around her, and her skin felt like it would burst into flames. “I don’t have one,” he whispered in her ear. “I didn’t want to be tempted. Didn’t work.”

“Don’t,” she gasped, as stray shudders raced through her body, and his frame reacted to each and every one.
His muscles suddenly bunched beneath her hands, his entire body rigid. “Don’t what? Don’t do this without protection?” He no longer sounded coolly amused—at least she’d pushed him past that point, and he started to pull out, the walls of her sex clinging to him, trying to hold him. “Or don’t do it at all?”
“Don’t stop.”
He thrust back into her, and she gasped as sensations racketed around her body, again, and again, and again, each push reaching deeper, filling her, drowning her in nothing but sex, sweet and sinful, again and again, building to another climax.

She didn’t know who was the more shocked when she licked at the solid column of flesh rising from his body, and then she didn’t think at all, letting her mind dissolve as she leaned down and took him into her mouth, sucking him in deep, and it was wonderful, the feel of him surging into her, pulsing as she drew him in deeper. This was hers—she owned him, she owned this, and she wanted more, she wanted to wrap her tongue around him until he exploded inside her, and she wanted to swallow. She wanted to take everything, but he was too big, her mouth too small, and she almost choked in frustration, his hoarse reaction, his hands in her hair, helping guide her, were almost too much as she tried to take more, all of him.

When he lifted her, turned her, she moved easily, up to her knees as he pushed into her from the back, and the sensation was astonishing as he pushed against something that made her entire body shake, and she still needed more, she needed him to drive away her last fears, she needed him to take her so completely that he held nothing back, wiping them both clean.
“Harder,” she whispered. “Please. Harder.”
The last of his control disappeared, and he slammed into her, so hard that she almost fell forward, but she held on, taking him with powerful, almost feline pleasure, just as she wanted, harder, faster, turning into a cloud of sensation and nothing more, pushing, pumping, almost brutal, and when she came he erupted inside her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: The Loner’s Lady by Jessa Kane

Format: E-Bookthelonerslady
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lyssa
Heroine: John Thorne
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 01, 2019
Started On: December 02, 2019
Finished On: December 02, 2019

The Loner’s Lady by Jessa Kane is one of those quickie reads, perfect when you need something to distract you and tide you over for maybe an hour or two.

I first discovered Ms. Kane when I stumbled across her title Preacher Man, which I of course adored to bits. As most readers, the only thing more I could wish for is for Ms. Kane to write a novel that is full length, so that readers can experience the magic she can weave with her tales, when the tension is drawn tight and the delivery is just right.

Lyssa and her best friend Mason are headed to Catskills to visit his father. Playing pretend girlfriend for the duration of the stay is no biggie when Lyssa makes use of the same “privileges” to ward off unwanted male attention. Mason paints his father as someone who is not one with the times, too set in his ways to understand what it means to be him.

Lyssa is prepared for the worst when she lays eyes on the 42 year old John Thorne, who literally and figuratively takes her breathe away. He is the embodiment of everything she had never known that she wanted, and seeing him in close proximity makes the pretense of being Mason’s girlfriend all that more difficult. Given that the story is just 60 pages, of course the coming together happens just like that, and by that I mean, Ms. Kane somehow made it work. Color me amazed!

I loved the sexual tension, the delivery on it, John and the sarcasm edged thoughts of his that made me laugh out loud. Loved Lyssa, who saw in John the man who would create the perfect blend of storms with her, to ride them out together.

Recommended for those who love quick and hot reads. This one delivers on all fronts!

Final Verdict: The Loner’s Lady is packaged with delicious smexiness and enough emotions to ground you in a way that is hard to put down.

Favorite Quotes

I coax her into a kiss, intending to swallow her screams. I’ve never been much for kissing anyone. But as soon as my tongue is inside her mouth and she’s giving me access to explore, I’m eating at her mouth like a hungry animal. I’ll never be able to live without kissing Lyssa again.

On the next rough invasion of my body, I dig my fingernails into his shoulders and hold on tight, sensing an oncoming storm. That’s exactly what I get.
John falls on me with a desperate sound, releasing hot, rasping breaths into my neck with each slap of his hard sex entering my wet one. He grunts and sweats on top of me, pushing filthy words through his teeth. Words that thrill me because I know they’re borne of pure lust. For me and my body.

My scream of ecstasy cuts him off. Cuts everything off, save the incredible clenching of my flesh, the flood of bliss and completion. I squeeze John’s hips between my thighs and spout nonsense that he seems to understand, because his mouth finds mine and kisses me through the upheaval.
And then he throws back his head and roars like he’s king of the jungle.
His beautiful face, surrounded by his mane of hair, blocks out the sun and if I had any breath left to catch, it would have caught at the sight of him. He’s the ultimate male and I’ve been claimed by him.

“Ready to play rough, wife?”
Without waiting for an answer, I enter her with a swift thrust, reveling in her gratified sob of my name. “Do we ever play any other way?” she gasps, her body already shaking against mine.
I fall forward and our mouths meet over her shoulder in a desperate kiss. “Play hard, love hard,” I grit, canting my hips back and surging forward.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Where the Blame Lies by Mia Sheridan

Format: E-Bookwheretheblamelies
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Zach Copeland
Heroine: Josie Stratton
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 13, 2019
Started On: November 25, 2019
Finished On: December 02, 2019

Where the Blame Lies by Mia Sheridan is the kind of book that leaves you speechless, aching, and yet satisfied in all the ways that matter. It is the sort of story that flashes through your mind at odd moments because for one reason or the other, your brain is still processing the information and the messaging embedded deep within.

Where the Blame Lies begins with the heroine Josie Stratton, at nineteen years of age is abducted, imprisoned, raped, abused, and starved for ten months, where she had remained chained to a wall until she had broken free from the abandoned warehouse where she had been held. Josie’s nightmare had culminated in the suicide of her abductor.

Years later, Detective Zach Copeland of the Criminal Investigative Section (CIS) gets called to a case that bears eerie similarities with that of Josie’s. Zach had been just a rookie officer back when Josie had broken free, but he had never forgotten the strength and determination carved on Josie’s face, as she had pleaded and screamed at the officers to find her baby.

A second victim with the similar markings on her body brings Zach to Josie’s doorstep, where he finds a seemingly put together and a more beautifully poised version of the woman he had never truly forgotten. The spark between the two is immediate and altogether powerful enough for the readers to feel that pulse as understated as it is.

Chasing the clues to piece together the truth and digging through to the possibility that it had been a case of mistaken identity when police had closed in on the perpetrator back then makes of heightened suspense, while also delivering an emotional roller-coaster of a ride to readers. Mia Sheridan’s prose is poetry to the heart and mind, even when she is writing about stuff that gives you nightmares.

The story weaves the past and the present together in a way that leaves a deep impact on the reader. It helps in understanding the nuances of the dependency that Josie had had on her abductor through those harrowing months when she had no means of escape. Josie had lost her innocence at the hands of her abductor, and the child that had been born through the depths of her suffering is something the reader would not forget easily. Even at the deepest moments of her desperation that had tested the very limits of her endurance, Josie had never given up, and that is exactly why you fall like a ton of bricks for her and root for her through the most harrowing of circumstances.

When everything clicks into place, the resolution towards the end is just as painful to watch as it unfolds. The feelings of trepidation lingered through the last couple of chapters, always fearing for Josie, and my heart’s rhythm never fully adjusted to the tension that is interwoven so superbly throughout.

I loved everything about Where the Blame Lies, if you had not got that already having read to this point of the review. I was transfixed and mesmerized with the way Mia Sheridan took on a plot that had so much depth, depravity, and hope as well, which was its saving grace.

She wowed me with her deep characterization that not every author has the ability to pull off. There is so much tragedy and heartbreak in this story, violence and the gory details of what it truly means to be abducted and abused for over a long period of time. That is exactly why Where the Blame Lies is a story that I would not be forgetting anytime soon.

Josie for all that she had gone through, not just at the hands of her abductor, is all sweetness and light. There is no bitterness to her, even when she had hit rock bottom in her life. She is the kind of heroine that you fall for so effortlessly, which is why Zach’s love for her is so easily understood.

Zach, my God Zach, he was just perfect in every way. There is a beauty to his character that just meshes with the resilience of Josie’s and I could not have asked for a better partner for Josie, no matter what. His protectiveness endeared him to me on so many levels.

The ending reminded me a bit of Cry No More by Linda Howard, one of my top favorite re-reads. The pain that Josie must have felt, the utter heartbreak; I wished I could reach in and hug her close and comfort her, all the while knowing that she had to come to terms with what life had thrown her way by herself. That beautiful and yet painful act is exactly why I fell in love with the story, even through all the heartache ingrained in it.

The utter ingenuity of the story lies with how the villain was crafted. I miss novels of this kind where you feel as part of the story, where you often find yourself understanding where the villain was coming from, even through all that despicable acts of violence.

Where the Blame Lies is a novel that makes you think really hard about life, the abuse that the most vulnerable often face, and how that alters a person fundamentally. But at the same time, you also question how some people stay sane and kind even with all that they go through, while others turn out to be vengeful, evil and all of those things that makes your skin crawl.

Recommended for fans of beautifully moving stories that leaves its mark on you. You need not be a romance reader to find a calling deep within when it comes to this one. My first Mia Sheridan certainly delivered beyond my expectations.

So excited for the follow-up of this novel, Where the Truth Lives, to be released in April 2020, which Mia just announced on her Instagram page. Definitely marking my calendar for this one!

Final Verdict: Where the Blame Lies leaves the reader questioning so many things; it makes you think and ponder long after you turn the last page. That’s when you know an author has nailed it, and nailed it well and good!

Favorite Quotes

The song changed, something slow and crooning filling the air around them, mixing with the blood beginning to whoosh in Zach’s ears. Josie’s eyes moved to his lips and she licked her own. Zach’s heart began pounding in his chest, muscles tensed, waiting.
And then as quick as that, her mouth was on his, and she was pressing herself more fully against him. He let out a deep groan of need, their tongues meeting, tangling, as she angled her head so he could explore her mouth.

She pulled herself up, her hands shaking as she unzipped his pants, fumbling as she reached inside and grasped his erection. He was hard, ready. He wants me too. The knot inside unclenched slightly. She kicked off her shoes and then stood unsteadily, keeping eye contact as she removed her jeans and her underwear. She climbed back on him and took him in her grasp again, using the smooth head of his penis to stimulate herself, throwing her head back and moaning at the exquisite pleasure.

She gripped him harder and he gasped out, sitting up straighter, the lust in his eyes deepening. She used his erection to drag some of the moisture from her opening up to the tight bundle of nerves and circled that spot until she almost came.
“Josie, God, I, ah—”
She smiled, lining his straining cock at her opening and spearing herself almost violently. He let out a masculine sound of pleasure, his head falling back as she began to ride him, slowly at first and then faster, faster, his erection almost slipping from her body before she slammed back onto him.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Her Best Friend’s Baby by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Format: E-Bookherbestfriendsbaby
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Maitland Maternity, #9
Publisher: Silhouette
Hero: Morgan Tate
Heroine: Mary Jane Potter
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 23, 2001
Started On: October 21, 2019
Finished On: October 26, 2019

Her Best Friend’s Baby by Vicki Lewis Thompson is a novel that explores the concept of surrogacy, friendships, and crossing lines, which makes this for an emotional read. 22 year old Mary Jane Potter is carrying her best friend Arielle’s baby, the woman who had been a big sister, mother substitute, and her closest friend in the entire world.

When 31 year old Morgan Tate, husband to Arielle arrives on her doorstep late one night and gives her the devastating news of her best friend’s passing, that is the night when lines are crossed bringing these two together. Highly emotional and in need of human warmth and touch at such a time of deep grief, Morgan and Mary give into physical desire, complicating their relationship from then on.

While Morgan is adamant that a repeat of what happened that night is not possible, however as Morgan and Mary spends more time together and discover aspects of each other’s character they are both drawn to, the tug of attraction between them strengthens to a point where it is impossible to ignore. However, both of them do try valiantly for strength for as long as they can, until of course they give in.

It is not easy to accept that you have fallen hard for the husband of your best friend, a woman that you had put on a pedestal for the whole of your life. Morgan’s behavior is impeccable, the strength to his character and discipline evident for all to see, when he tries to do the right thing even at the cost of his own happiness.

There were many things that I loved about the book. Primarily Morgan who was such a sweetheart in every single way that counts. Not to mention Mary Jane, who infuses the story with a vitality that tugs at your very heartstrings. Vicki Lewis Thompson’s take on the concept of surrogacy and identifying the toll it could take on the surrogate mother was superbly done. Especially when it comes to someone like Mary Jane who would make a wonderful mother in her own right.

One thing that drew me to Mary Jane was her total and unabashed honesty which helped Morgan to move forward and accept things as they turned out to be. The fact that both Morgan and Mary Jane acted like mature adults rather than going the road of miscommunication with each other and creating needless problems between them as a result was welcome. Morgan being pulled from an otherwise lackluster life was one of the best bits about the story and the sexual tension and delivery on that front was done just right, totally deserving of what was blossoming to life between him and Mary Jane.

At first, I thought that the story line would not work because Mary Jane and Morgan get together too soon in the story. I was proven wrong because that was an elementally human response to the sudden loss of someone whom they had both loved and held dear in their own way. There was no ickiness factor because of what happened, and for that alone, I would say Vicki is a genius in writing about complex human emotions.

Recommended for fans of Silhouette romances and those who love stories that brim with hope in the best way possible.

Final Verdict: A story that brims with love, heart, and all the good stuff in between. Vicki Lewis Thompson definitely knows how to deliver a deeply and emotionally satisfying story.

Favorite Quotes

“I’m not trying to make you feel better, damn it.” He could tell from her expression she didn’t believe him, and that’s when he finally lost it and kissed her.
Oh, God. She tasted like…the richest hot fudge sundae he’d ever had. He sort of went crazy—kissing her, and kissing her, and kissing her some more. He was afraid he also used his tongue quite liberally as he continued to enjoy her full, sexy, incredibly sweet mouth. His hands found their way to her bottom and pulled her in tight, and boy, oh, boy, did she fit.
She filled his arms in a way they’d never been filled before. He’d never held such energy, such excitement, such heat.

There’s nothing logical about the way I’m feeling right now.”
“Exactly.”
With a groan he pulled her into his arms. And heaven help her, she let him do it. Worse, she dug her fingers into his hair and coaxed his head down. She wasn’t going to be able to blame any of this insanity on him.
“I’m wild about caramel, too,” he murmured. Then he settled in to prove it.
During their first kiss in her kitchen she’d felt as if someone had pulled the pin on a grenade. This time it was as if someone had detonated a bomb.

He lifted his head. “We should go into your—”
“Stairs are nice.” She finished with his shirt and started on his belt buckle.
“But you need—”
“You.” She unzipped his jeans.
“A bed.”
“Later.” In an inspired move she slipped her hands inside the waistband of his briefs and slid to a sitting position, pulling his jeans and briefs down as she went. The maneuver gave her perfect placement.
“Mary Jane.”
She wrapped both hands around his solid penis. No wonder he’d felt so wonderful deep inside her that first night. She caressed him lovingly, and then she leaned over to kiss the straining tip.

Suspended halfway between sleep and wakefulness, drifting in a sensual haze, she closed her eyes. Lying on the bed limp and relaxed as a rag doll, she allowed Morgan to do as he would with her. He seemed to know exactly what to do with her, and he apparently required no participation from her to achieve his ends. He might even think she was still asleep and her body was automatically responding to his touch.
What a wild sensation, to be coaxed and kissed awake in every sense of the word. He cupped her belly with both hands, caressing her lightly as he continued his assault right where it counted the most. She was in heaven.

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

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Review: Undeclared by Julianna Keyes

Format: E-Bookundeclared
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Burnham College, #2
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Kellan McVey
Heroine: Andrea Walsh
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 27, 2017
Started On: October 19, 2019
Finished On: October 20, 2019

Undeclared, book 2 in the Burnham College series by Julianna Keyes, released in 2017 is a book that I have been meaning to read since its publication. Julianna is an author I definitely look forward to for many reasons; she has written some of the best contemporary romances that I have read in recent years.

Undeclared tells the story of Kellan McVey and Andrea Walsh (Andie), in the first person POV, from Kellan’s perspective. Kellan who returns to his hometown for a bit, to run into Andie, the girl with whom he had been friends/neighbors since they were five years old, Andie who had loved him for years, and Kellan who had left it unacknowledged all along, even when they had both slept with each other that summer before Kellan had upped and left for college, leaving Andie behind.

Returning to college after the break, only to find that Andie too is now a student, throws Kellan for a loop. Kellan who believes himself to have grown up over the past couple of years, having faced the fright of his life just recently, even though he continues to remain uncommitted to a future, much less a relationship of any sorts.

A series of events leads up to the point where Kellan and Andie gets together again, Kellan savoring each moment that he gets to have with Andie, and if he were to acknowledge the truth, he had never truly gotten over the summer fling they had had, before he left for the greener pastures of life away from his hometown.

While I found Undeclared to be an okay read, it did not move me as much as it did Undecided. One of the major factors being perhaps that the entire story is told from the hero’s point of view which meant that while it was a novelty for me, I was not really impressed.

A romance being told solely from the man’s point of view tends to lack emotional depth and description, because the way I see it, the nuances of emotions tends to escape most men, especially of Kellan’s nature. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Kellan as a character. He was okay in many ways, though I don’t think I was that enamored by him on any scale. Perhaps the more sensitive male protagonists would be able to assess and relate emotions/feelings better, but Kellan being who he was, did not really manage to do that for the story in my opinion.

For that reason I believe, the novel lacked that something vital which makes readers fall in love with the characters and ultimately the story. The inability to see what Andie was feeling and thinking made it impossible to relate to her as a character as well. The fact that I could not really gauge her feelings for Kellan made it difficult for me to be excited about them being together. It is not just two people coming together that makes a romance novel; it is all about how much readers can relate to the characters and understand them which spikes up our emotions as we read.

However, being a Julianna Keyes novel also accounts for a lot, and if nothing else, the book did have me looking forward to reading at that point in time, which I take to be an achievement in itself.

Recommended for fans of sports-themed, new adult romances in college settings. Also those who have a hankering to read a book told from the hero’s viewpoint.

Final Verdict: Undeclared is unlike any other book I have read from Julianna Keyes; she explores what it is like when a romance is told from the male perspective alone, which was a novel experience in itself.

Favorite Quotes

More than two years after our last kiss, I kiss Andi again. For ten long seconds I just press my lips to hers, her mouth soft and stubborn all at once. I can’t remember the last time I did this when I wasn’t drunk and horny and willing to get off with anyone who was equally willing.
Finally Andi exhales, a ragged breath I hear and feel, and she fists her hands in the hem of my T-shirt and tugs. I know what that means. Andi wasn’t a girl who said things like “Do me” or “Fuck me” or “Yeah, baby.” Her actions spoke for her and this one says all of the above. Relief courses through me, then adrenaline, then hormones. Arousal as sharp and heady as I’ve ever felt it.

I push in slowly, feeling her body cede to mine. I’m vaguely aware of the sweat at my temples and the trembling in my weak muscles, but I nudge my hips forward until there’s nowhere left to go, Andi’s legs bent and splayed wide to accommodate me.
I hear her soft sigh as I bottom out and for a long time I don’t do anything. I can’t do anything. This is what I’ve looked for in far too many places and failed to find. It’s what I’m terrified I’ll never find again.

When I’m buried as deep as I can go, I just stay there, my arms trembling as I hold myself up, not sure I have the strength to move. After a minute Andi nudges my chin so she can kiss me, tongues twining lazily. At some point I realize I’m moving, slow, deep strokes that feel like they’re going nowhere and everywhere all at once. I can’t recall the last time I had sex where it wasn’t just about getting off. Maybe never.

My block is dark and quiet, the only sounds our rapid breathing and the quick shuffle of our sneakers on damp pavement. I snatch the keys from my pocket, twist open the front door, and stumble when Andi fairly shoves me inside. I smile and whirl around to pin her to the door with my hips and my hands, though it’s totally unnecessary since she’s already got her fingers in my hair, rising onto her toes to kiss me.
My cock grows impossibly harder.
This might have been worth the wait.

Before I can dwell on it Andi tangles her fingers in my hair and tugs me back, gazing down, lips parted. If I ever woke up in a jungle, this is exactly the woman I imagine would find me. I grope around for the condom, my clumsy fingers eventually finding and rolling it on. I hold my cock in one hand and her ass in the other, guiding her as she lowers herself into my lap. The strong muscles in her thighs quiver as she hovers over me, the too-sensitive head of my cock stroking over her entrance. She bites her bottom lip, hair tangled around her shoulders, and the visual sears itself into my brain.

“Kell,” she gasps.
“What?” I gasp back.
“I… She struggles to inhale. “I don’t have…” Another breath. “A journal…” Her eyes sink shut as she starts to come. “But if I did…” She shudders. “This would be page one.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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