Review: Scandalous by L.J. Shen

Format: E-Bookscandalous
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Sinners of Saint, #3
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Trent Rexroth
Heroine: Edie Van Der Zee
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 21, 2017
Started On: April 03, 2020
Finished On: April 05, 2020

Scandalous by L.J. Shen is the 3rd book in the Sinners of Saint series. Having not read the two books prior to this one in the series, I just jumped right in because a lot of reviews seemed to hint that the hero was the kind that I love the best; ruthless, a tad cruel at times, and nevertheless endearing in a way that is hard to explain.

The one thing that I can say is that Scandalous can be read as a standalone; for the most part, I did not feel as if I had lost out on anything by starting straightaway with the 3rd book in the series. Scandalous tells the story of how 33 year old Trent Rexroth meets his match in 18 year old Edie Van Der Zee, the last woman on earth whom he would have chosen for the role, if he had a choice in the matter.

The story begins with the most unlikely of scenes, where Edie snatches a purse off a woman on the street, only to find that it is from Trent’s mother. Days later, she finds herself forced to work for her father (whom she hates and for good reason), who is in a partnership with Trent and his friends.

Trent’s only weakness lies in his love for his daughter Luna, whose refusal to articulate and give voice to her thoughts drives him to desperation. The therapy sessions seem to help, but it is in Edie’s presence that Luna comes alive for the first time in a long while, which basically seals the deal where Trent and Edie are concerned.

Even though Edie plays a dangerous game with her father which involves Trent, and Trent would like nothing better than to be able to keep his hands off of Edie, none of that matters when these two share the same breathing space. The heat between them is not the kind anyone walks away from, and before they both know it, they are both in too deep with each other.

While I liked the overall premise of Scandalous, which includes the forbidden factor and the huge age gap, I truly could not understand why Trent is referred to as The Mute in the story. It was apparently because he rarely speaks. I must have been reading a totally different book, because to me, he appeared to be perfectly fine in the speaking department.

I did like Edie and felt for her rough life with parents who neither of them deserved to be one. Edie’s penchant for stealing is explained as the story hits its climax, the secret which she keeps from basically everyone in her life, which is the shock factor of the story.

I also felt that there was just too much happening in the story to really focus on how the relationship between Trent and Edie evolves and builds to form something meaningful out of the foundation of wanting Luna’s happiness in common. I know that there was ample enough sex happening, and apart from Luna being the basis for Trent lowering his guard and letting Edie into his life, I couldn’t see much going for them to hold them together. Even the sex scenes were mostly focused on portraying just how good Trent is between the sheets or anywhere for that matter. I for one would have loved to see just once, how Trent is driven crazy by his want and need for Edie than the other way around.

I also did not find myself all that enamored with Trent. He was gushed about as an anti-hero by a lot of readers, but what I found was an asshole (who has friends who are a bunch of assholes), who are mean and rude to everyone else except when it comes to each other and their women. I wished for a hero who had his own issues to deal with, who actually showed through his actions that Luna meant more to him than just taking her to therapy sessions and then scratching his sexual itch with the therapist after hours. To me, that just did not sit all that well for some reason.

Recommended for fans of LJ Shen and fans of the Sinners of Saint series.

Final Verdict: Trent and Edie’s love is forged out of something easy to understand and stays that way for reasons best left unknown; after all, the heart wants what it wants, regardless.

Favorite Quotes

“How can it feel this good?” she nearly protested, reaching with her hand to touch me again. I moved away quickly, still playing with her tit.
“Because it’s different when you’re in the hands of a man.”
“Show me.”
I didn’t answer.
“Please,” she purred, and this time she managed to glide her bikini-ed groin over my training shorts. Fuck, I wasn’t sure if it was the ocean or her, but something there was damp.
That’s when I lost it.

“It means”—his teeth dragged along my neck—“that what we are to each other is potential sacrifices. As long as you know I will throw you under the train if you mess with my plans, I’m good.”
I swallowed. “I’m good, too.”
“Let’s have some fun then.”
And that was all the preparation he gave me before shoving his hand inside my panties. His strong, warm fingers stroked my folds gently, as if soothing them, preparing for whatever he was going to give me.
“One last warning,” he said, his hot tongue making its first appearance, licking a trail of tantalizing desire up the side of my neck, making me shiver violently. “I fuck rough.” He shoved one finger into me and I arched my back, gasping from the sudden penetration. “Deep-throating is a requirement, not an option”—he shoved a second finger into me—“and I’m about to fucking ruin you for any other man. So when the time comes and no one else can compare to me, just remember—you asked for it.”

The orgasm was slamming into me like whiplash. Again and again. It took me a few moments to realize I was experiencing multiple orgasms for the first time in my life. They were all equally intense, and I was beginning to wonder what it was about Trent that made me feel like I was burning from the inside out. Bane was good in bed. He was great, actually.
But he didn’t set me ablaze only to turn his back on me once the tongues of fire consumed me.
He didn’t ignite in me the need to do and say crazy things.

“I liked it when you bit my nipple hard,” she said. I ignored her, pulling my fingers out and coating her pussy with her arousal.
“You make me feel deranged with need,” she whimpered, just as I slapped her pussy for the first time. It made her body stutter and stir, and she let out a little yelp I stifled by shoving my wet fingers into her mouth.
“Shhh,” I said. “You said you like it. Show me how much.”

“Harder.”
“No.”
“Trent.”
“No.”
“I need it.”
“You’ve had enough for one day, Edie. Your cum is all over my dick. I can eat you out if you want another orgasm.” Was I bargaining with her mid-fuck? That was a first. And a last. This chick wasn’t running the show, no matter how hard I wanted her tight pink pussy to milk my cock.
“If you won’t, Bane will.” I heard the smile in her voice but couldn’t see it. Fuck it. She’d asked for it.
Thwack!
We came together like a storm.

“Did you just give me a nickname?” I smirked, feeling the muscles of my tight hole tightening around his finger. It hurt a little, but mostly felt weird. Not weird bad, either. But the kind you needed to get used to in order to enjoy. The way he worked his fingers over mine…that was the real treat.
“Better than Gidget.” He bit my chin.
“I like Gidget.”
“You like Little Tide more.”
“No, I don’t.”
“You’re about to.” He slammed his finger deeper into my ass and I yelped, clinging to his broad shoulders. His lips met my ear and he bit my earlobe, smiling.
I exploded on our fingers.

There was no excuse for what I was doing. For me walking into that room and closing the door behind us. For me striding over to her with chaos dancing in my chest, watching her as she lifted her eyes from the toy, reading everything that was inside of mine.
I could say it was because she’d protected my daughter, but that wouldn’t be true.
I could say it was because I saw her layers as she held that toy soldier in her small hand, but that would be bullshit, too.
I did it because I had to. Because fuck the consequences and Jordan Van Der Zee and everything standing between us. For the first time in five years, I put my lips on another person’s and kissed her. Hard.

“I won’t beg.”
“You won’t beg,” he repeated, pushing his whole cock through my panties, penetrating me. The fabric of my underwear stretched along my inner thighs painfully, and I threw my head back, wincing.
I wanted more.
I wanted it harder.
I wanted everything.
I moaned, slipping my fingers into his denim and underwear and clutching his ass as I opened my legs wider for him. “What are we doing?”
“Exactly what I promised myself I’d never do again. Fucking without a condom.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Outmatched by Kristen Callihan, Samantha Young

Format: E-Bookoutmatched
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Rhys Morgan
Heroine: Parker Brown
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 19, 2019
Started On: March 26, 2020
Finished On: April 01, 2020

Outmatched by Kristen Callihan and Samantha Young caught my eye on Kindle Unlimited, a source from which I have found some pretty great reads since I signed up recently.

I have never read anything from Kristen Callihan prior to this, and yet even though I am not much of a fan of sports themed romances, I found myself intrigued by the blurb. Matters were also helped along, having read Samantha Young’s Before Jamaica Lane, and knowing what to expect from Ms. Young in terms of the romance and sizzle factor.

30 year old Parker Brown is in a fix when she needs to find a fake boyfriend owing to pressure from work. Having just completed her PhD in Dynamic Modeling, Parker is excited to be working for a company working in renewable energy, that is of course minus the company’s main investor’s chauvinistic attitudes. However, Parker is determined to play the part as needed, wanting to prove to herself that she can stand on her own without the need to rely on her family.

Signing onto a dating app and finding the perfect fake boyfriend should have been the answer to all her problems. However, when 34 year Rhys Morgan, brother of the intended turns up for the date instead, Parker is at a loss as to how to manage the force to be reckoned with that Rhys is. Rubbing each other the wrong way is how things start off between the two, but for one reason or the other, Rhys sticks with the date, and before he knows it, he is in too deep with Parker, with reality of their burgeoning feelings towards each other blurring the lines of the fake boyfriend agenda.

At 28 years, Rhys had become a WBC heavyweight champion, a legend of his time, who for mainly unknown reasons to the public had quit boxing. Rhys struggles with forgiveness when it comes to his father, who had left a shitshow in his hands with a mountain of debt looming, and the gym which had been their family’s lifeline as long as he could remember now at risk. Rhys is determined that he would do whatever it takes to save his family’s “legacy” even though what he is coerced into doing does not give him much pleasure and is tied to a painful knot from the past.

While I expected something a little bit different, Outmatched served to be a read that I enjoyed immensely. The witty banter between Parker and Rhys was a factor that had me smiling through the most part, and I even laughed out loud during a couple of scenes which turned out to be particularly hilarious. Both Rhys and Parker are the kind of characters you root for, and I soaked up everything about them, from the snark, to the sexiness, to the angst, to the happily ever after.

I admit that I expected a novel that was sexier than what Outmatched delivered; perhaps I had my expectations built upon what Ms. Young’s novel delivered in spades. I also expected a grumpier hero than Rhys; I blame the blurb for that one. However, even though I would have loved a tad more grumpiness to Rhys, I ended up enjoying how Rhys turned out to be, all too sexy with a heart of gold that I adored. In hindsight, who in their right minds would be able to stay grumpy with someone like Parker Brown in their life? I certainly wouldn’t!

Recommended for those who loves emotional stories with depth and humor, with a dash of sexy in the mix. You will adore Rhys and Parker within the first couple of chapters!

Final Verdict: Outmatched features a hero set on doing the right thing and a heroine who guides him towards what the heart wants; a splendid read that I enjoyed immensely!

Favorite Quotes

“That wasn’t a kiss, sweetheart.”
Hot color licked over her cheeks. “It was so.”
“It was a little peck on the lips. I barely felt it.” I eyed her in mock suspicion. “Is that how you kiss guys you’re with? Because, if so—” I broke off, shaking my head sadly.
She growled. “Look here, you. The men I’ve kissed have been perfectly satisfied.”

His lips trailed away from my mouth, whispering hotly across my skin, as he lightly tasted his way down my throat. I whispered his name, tilting my hips, needing to feel more of him, and trembled as his hand glided up my inner thigh.
My eyes flew open as his lips followed a path down my chest, while his fingers slipped beneath my underwear. Two thick fingers suddenly pushed inside me, and I whimpered and arched my back into his touch. His grip on my hip turned bruising, and I heard him murmur hoarsely, “So tight.”

Rhys drank his fill as I laid out on the bed for him. I bit my lip, my nipples tightening as anticipation rippled through me.
“Fuck,” Rhys choked out. “Fuck, Parker, how can anyone be so beautiful?”
His tender words caused a burn of emotion in my throat and suddenly, I was no longer concerned about comparing myself to the other women Rhys had been with.
This was so much more than that.
For both of us.
I just knew it.

“Let go.” I thrust again, pausing, working her. “Give it to me, Parker.”
Her hands grasped my shoulders. She came with a spectacular wail, her body milking my dick so hard I saw stars. It set me off. I lost all sense of time, of anything but moving inside Parker, kissing her soft mouth.
I groaned into her mouth as I came. Everything drained out of me, and in that moment, I didn’t know my own name. Only hers.
I was hers.

Once those doors closed, he started grinding into me, kissing me until I could barely breathe with the anticipation. My whole body was on fire.
“You wet?” He kissed my neck below my ear.
“You know it,” I gasped, clutching at him as he thrust against me again. “Rhys!”
“You want me to fuck you, you gotta say it, Tinker Bell.”
Trembling with need, I turned my head and whispered in his ear, “I want you to fuck me, Rhys.”

Words formed on my lips, words I’d never said to anyone. But it was too much. Too good. I dipped my head and kissed her deep, hungry. Always hungry for her. And she moaned into it as I moved. My hands slid into her hair as I thrust slow and sure. She was utterly precious to me, utterly beautiful.
For the first time in my life, I was making love. And it was so damn perfect. I never wanted it to end. Never wanted to let her go.
And when I finally found my voice, I could only say one thing.
“Parker.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Release by Aly Martinez

Format: E-Bookrelease
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Ramsey Stewart
Heroine: Althea Floye Hull
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 04, 2020
Started On: February 28, 2020
Finished On: March 01, 2020

Release by Aly Martinez caught my eye when I was surfing through Amazon, as I usually tend to do when I am on lookout for new books to read. They say to never judge a book by its cover, but I have to admit that it was the cover that drew me to take a look at the blurb.

I love myself a romance featuring an ex-convict, be it hero or heroine, and this one had a lot of other tropes going for it which tend to fall into my favorite zone, and I was sold, despite it being a totally new to me author. Being my very first read from Ms. Martinez, I was pleasantly surprise and wooed in a way that will definitely have me coming back for more where she is concerned.

Release begins with 29 year old Althea Floye Hull (Thea) waiting outside of the prison gates to welcome the release of Ramsey Stewart, the boy whom she had met on the fateful day of her mother’s death, the yin to her yang, her best friend, and the boy who had grown into the man who became the love of her life.

30 year old Ramsey is anything but pleased to see Thea waiting for him to welcome his release. The visceral reaction that he has to her is something he wishes he could do away with, but memories of Thea and what could have been is a luxury he did not allow himself during the 13 years spent in prison. Even though he is ready to experience a woman’s touch and start living life again, Ramsey has made a vow that it would be on his terms, and those definitely do not allow for Thea’s involvement at any point in time.

However, Thea is as equally determined to stick by Ramsey’s side, to show him that they belong together and that they always will. Bit by bit, Thea’s stubbornness and persistence pays off, until the point at which the truth of the night which determined the fate of Ramsey comes to haunt them, with the power to break the fragile bonds that had been forged between the two since his release. It would take Thea a lot more than her desire and love for all that is Ramsey to move forward, which also means Ramsey having to fight his own demons to be worthy of their love for each other.

I loved Release and all that it presented to me as the reader. The past interwoven with the present gave that in-depth characterization to the story which I absolutely adored. Both Thea and Ramsey come from broken homes of its own variety. While Thea’s home may not be described as a typical broken home, it had been one of neglect following the death of her mother. In Ramsey’s case, abandonment and abuse plays its role, and it is by a twist of fate that Ramsey finds Thea on the day of her mother’s passing, which basically saves Thea’s life in more ways than one.

The friendship between the two, the love that had been forged along the way, a love that had changed and evolved into one with adult needs and wants behind it as time had gone by; all of that and more is explored in a way that makes for splendid reading. The surprising twist along the way may in all probability be figured out by most readers at some point in time, but nevertheless the impact it brings to the story and the angst factor it gives was something that I immersed my senses within, and enjoyed thoroughly.

Recommended for those who love romances featuring ex-convict heroes within the friends to lovers trope. My only wish now is to know whether Ms. Martinez is ever planning on writing Nora’s book – I have a feeling that it will be well worth the wait, with a “surprising” hero in the mix!

Final Verdict: Release is the kind of stupendous romance that your entire being welcomes; Thea and Ramsey demands nothing less!

Favorite Quotes

His entire body stiffened at the contact, but his hand kneaded like it’d found its way home. “Fuck,” he groaned, plucking at my nipple through the fabric of my thin bra.
Throwing my head back to rest on his shoulder, I sagged against him.
His arm hooked around my hips, holding me up as he continued his delicious assault on my breast.
“I don’t want you,” he snarled, but his teeth nipped at my neck.
I thrust a hand between us and gave his hard length a pointed rub. “You’re a liar.”

“Last chance,” she murmured.
She could have stood there, holding my gaze, until we both wasted away into the Earth and I never would have said the word stop.
Her smile grew, and then brazen and beautiful as only Thea could be, she dropped her pants to the floor.
Oh, fuck me. Her pussy was bare. Oh, fucking fuck me.
A growl rumbled in my chest.
Do not be rough.
Do not be rough.
Do not be…
I charged forward, our bodies colliding only a split second before our mouths. Her hands went straight into the back of my hair while our tongues tangled in a fiery reunion.

“You’re mine, Ramsey. You can try to fight me. You can hate me. You can lie to yourself for the rest of your life.” She raked her fingernails down my abs before diving into the front of my boxers and wrapping her palm around my shaft. “But wherever you are, however long you are there, you are always mine.” She punctuated it with a hard pull that weakened my knees.
This. Fucking. Woman.
It had been eighteen years since I first saw her at the base of that tree.
And she was right. She had owned me every day since. Maybe that was why I’d never been able to convince her to leave. She wasn’t my Sparrow to free.
I was hers.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Fake It ‘Til You Break It by Meagan Brandy

Format: E-Bookfakeittillyoubreakit
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Nico Sykes
Heroine: Demi Davenport
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 04, 2020
Started On: February 27, 2020
Finished On: February 28, 2020

“You keep kneeing me and I’m gonna do one of two things. One being lifting you up and putting you beside me so you can’t anymore, or two, plant your ass in my lap, which will either embarrass or entice you. Your call, Davenport.”

Fake It ‘Til You Break It is the first time I tried out a book by Meagan Brandy. It is a New Adult romance, and while I would not classify myself as someone who enjoys them so much, I am hard pressed in finding good material to read if I am to pursue heroes of the variety that I enjoy reading about, aka the ones who are known as alpha-holes.

New Adult romances are often “childish” in my opinion – I get a headache from all the senseless sleeping around, drinking and partying; part of the signature transition into adulthood when it comes to the Western world perhaps. I feel the same when I watch Korean drama centered around the same theme – I need adults behaving like adults when it comes right down to it. Thankfully, the few New Adult romances that I have dared to read have all proven their mettle in terms of delivering strong characters that I could root for without cringing to death while I am at it.

Fake It ‘Til You Break It begins during the senior year of high school for both Demi Davenport (Demi) and Nico Sykes (Nico). Lab partners are squared off at the Chemistry class attended by both, where Demi ends up with her nemesis of sorts, Nico. Demi is pretty certain that she would be paired off with Alex Hammons, the guy she has been crushing on for a while now, and never in her worst nightmares would she have expected to end up with Nico, the guy who has been ignoring her very existence for a long time.

While Demi is studious and gets good grades, you guessed it right, Nico is the direct opposite; sinfully handsome, a member of the football squad, pursued by females all over. Thrown together owing to their teacher’s whims, Demi has no choice but to make “nice” with Nico, while he is determined to press all her hot buttons and then some.

A pretend relationship is forged between the two (reasons for which you will have to read to find out), which begins the ball rolling in the story. Where Nico makes her burn and burn good with want and desire for him, Demi is not entirely certain whether what is between them is real or not.

Like all high school drama, this one had the hormones surging beneath the surface. But Demi being the girl that she is, made the story in my opinion. Demi is strong, loyal to a fault, and not easily swayed by the theatrics of high school drama. However, Demi too struggles with her mother at home, someone who barely functions as a parent, and leaves her be for the most part, as long as Demi does what she wants whenever she asserts that pressure on her.

Nico has a totally different situation at home, which Demi finds out much later, even though they are neighbors. Nico’s life is one that is too easily pictured with a mother who has lost herself to a man who doesn’t value her at any level.

The secret to the goodness in the story lies in the psychology that is interwoven into the relationships that exists between the main protagonists and the secondary characters. That was brilliantly done in my opinion, bringing forth a tale worth sinking your teeth into.

I loved Demi. She was all sorts of wonderful in the way she maintains her dignity while walking in and out of situations like we can all only aspire to be. When it came to Nico however, I felt that he somehow didn’t live up to his image at certain points. I wanted a Nico who would step up more and take a proactive step towards the girl he has wanted all along and never thought himself to be good enough for.

Human psychology is warped enough for us to tell ourselves that we are not worthy of the one we may covet and love from afar. It is also the reason why we as humans tend to never take that step and continue to regret that indecision for the rest of our lives.

Demi and Nico are direct contrasts as you will find out. While Demi is the good girl, that does not make her a saint in any sense, and while she maybe subservient to the emotional blackmail of her mother, that does not make a doormat – which is the reason why I rooted wholeheartedly for Demi.

The sexual tension in the book was well done, but the delivery was just enough so that the reader would not end up throwing their e-readers against the wall. I loved the angst factor (perhaps another reason why I tend to give New Adult novels a chance even with all the misgivings I have). The life that Nico leads, the tension between him and his father; the psychology behind all of this which is very real, lends this to be a page turner in my opinion.

When it came to the love factor, Demi was all in – there was no hesitation on her part to stand up for herself and Nico where concerned. But Nico was harder to read even when his point of view was a huge part of the story. Perhaps one reason why I brought down the rating from 5 is because of that as well; I wanted Nico to lose control over Demi, to show that when it came right down to it, Demi was all that he wanted. Demi stood up for him way too many times in the story and I never saw that reciprocated.

Loved the ending and the wholesome edge that provided after the roller-coaster of emotions that was part and parcel of the latter half of the novel. Recommended for those who love angst-ridden new adult romances; this one definitely delivers!

Final Verdict: Meagan Brandy delivers a slow-burn page turner in Fake It ‘Til You Break It, the kind that makes you read it all in one setting!

Favorite Quotes

My hips jolt forward, a deep groan leaving me as heat spreads through my veins.
Her head falls all the way back and her lips part, her chest rising above the steam as she gasps into the air.
I imagine the sounds escaping as her hand trails lower, slipping under the tiny white scrap of material covering her breasts. She massages herself, her core lifting in the water as she fights for her release.
Come on, baby.
Demi’s legs stiffen, shooting down into the water as her chin falls to her chest, and I swear I can feel her fuckin’ trembling from here.

My stomach warms, and I feel the tension surrounding him, but the longer he stares, the more his features smooth. Still, he doesn’t give me much.
Sliding his shoulder against the wall, he moves closer until I’m only a foot’s space away. His hand slips into my hair, his focus now on my lips.
I keep my arms locked at my sides, my toes curling in my flats, fingers digging into my skirt as he leans in.
Waiting.
But he doesn’t kiss me.
As soon as the disappointment stirs in my gut, the warmth of his lips press down against the throbbing pulse of my neck, creating a deeper kind of heat, and my eyes close.
He has to feel it, right?

He steps closer, tugging me to the edge so he’s pressed against me, nothing but both our workout shorts between us.
My eyes cling to his, a rapid, throbbing, unbearable ache taking over my body.
And I can’t help myself, not when his hard-on is resting on me with a subtleness that should be forbidden.
I grind into him.
A tiny bit at first, almost enough to be considered a shift of my body, but then his forehead tightens.
A sign of slipping control?
I do it again, harder, longer, with a deeper sway, and a small whimper escapes from my own actions.
Nico’s response is a reckless growl.

I moan instantly, and when he pushes his dick against me, shifting his hips the smallest bit, I gasp into his mouth.
As if expecting it, Nico is ready, his tongue delving inside my mouth, his hand coming up to force me impossibly close and leaving no room for air to breathe, nothing but him to fill my lungs.
My legs lift, sliding across his thighs, before wrapping across his back and locking.
He groans, ripping his mouth from mine as he gives a strong squeeze to my thighs. “I’ve been dying to feel these around me again.”

“Tell me I am,” I rasp.
When his brows dip, I continue.
“Your baby.” My eyes hit his. “For reals, not for fakes. For keeps, not for now.”
The heavy thump of his heart beats against my hand, and I flatten my palm there, not wanting to miss the way it’s climbing.
“Pixie.” He leans in, brushing his lips over mine. “You are. You’ve been,” he stresses. “Even when you had no fuckin’ clue… you were my baby.”
He kisses me, and the overbearing weight on my shoulders lifts.
His.
That’s what I am.

I run the tips of my fingers up and down, slowly moving the rest of the stretchy material to the side, until I’m ghosting right over her clit.
She gives a slow blink. “What are you waiting for?” she whispers with a dare.
My touch falls on her, pressing harder the lower my fingers slip, and a small smirk finds her lips, her eyes closing at the same time.
I drop my mouth to hers, but she doesn’t kiss me.
Demi pulls my lip between her teeth, biting lightly, an airy “yes” escaping as she releases me.

Her features soften and she pulls her body in, pressing her chest tight against mine. She eyes me, then drops her lips to mine, kissing me with deep, erotic strokes of her tongue. She shifts her lower half, aligning the head of my dick with her entrance.

She releases my lips, opening her eyes to look at me as she pushes her ass into my hands, and the tip is suddenly wrapped in her wet, warm flesh.
“You on birth control?”
Her grip tightens and she nods. “We’re good.”
Fuck, yes.
“It might hurt more like this,” I tell her, sliding my lips across hers. “You’re wide open for me, baby.”
She pushes more and at first I keep my grip, when her pupils expand, I let up, let her body slide down my shaft until her pussy has swallowed me whole.
She gulps, tugging me close, her pussy clenching around me as I grow even harder inside her.

I flex inside her and her eyes widen with need. “How bad do you need to come, D?”
I pull back, until only my tip is left inside her, and then slowly drive back in.
She whimpers, her nails finding my ass, a sexy little warning glare filling her eyes. “I’m pretty sure I can come just feeling you like this, but if you want to earn it, you better move, ‘cause I’m ready. Ready for you. For this.” She licks her lips, a heavy need blanketing her features as she rasps, “Give me all of you, Neek. Now.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Savaged by Mia Sheridan

Format: E-Booksavaged
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lucas/Jak
Heroine: Harper Ward
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 27, 2019
Started On: February 03, 2020
Finished On: February 25, 2020

The blurb was what got to me when I picked up Savaged by Mia Sheridan as my next read. Savaged tells the story of Harper Ward, local wilderness guide/psychologist in Helena Springs.

When she is summoned by Agent Mark Gallagher to assist him in a case where a man with seemingly no past had materialized out of the wilderness that surrounds the area, a man who is suspected to be connected to two murders in the vicinity, she does not expect her life to take a 180 degree turn overnight.

When Harper meets Jak, she is moved in a way that is unfamiliar to her. There is something about the stillness to his character, the haunting in his eyes, the loneliness that is wrapped around him that tugs at her heartstrings.

One thing leads to another and Harper finds herself working with Jak in piecing together parts of her past that had never made sense up to the point where she had landed in foster care. There is surreal quality and edge to the story that hums through the words as Mia Sheridan works her magic and summons the truth of how Harper and Jak are connected on a level that would be hard to comprehend for the average person.

Savaged was a story that was profound in many ways; the human psychology that Ms. Sheridan so cleverly weaves through the story, giving insights into what the minds of the depraved are like, in stark contrast to the the minds of survivors of the said depravity is a variance that you find so vividly striking in her novels.

I loved a lot of aspects of the story, most the main protagonists Harper and Jak. The latter took every bit of my heart and then some; the lonely and lost boy who was subjected to so much abuse, who survived in spite of everything that he had to go through, that gentleness inside of him and the ferocity that burns within him; all of that and more claimed all of me in a way that I cannot describe.

Jak’s effect on my heart was similar to how Harper felt when she met him. From that point on wards, there was no looking back where Jak was concerned. The way Ms. Sheridan tends to so effortlessly weave together the past and present, creating that wholesome edge to her characters is one reason why her books stand out from the rest. Jak’s past is one that would make anyone cry; the atrocities he was subjected to and the abject loneliness that had been part of his existence.

Harper’s past, though not as detailed, paints a similar picture. A girl who had lost her sense of security and the love of her parents one fateful night which had resulted in life as she had known it disappearing forever. The loneliness that she feels is one that is harder to explain, but loneliness it is, and when Jak fills in those pieces of her making her whole for the first time in a long while, it is no wonder that she falls for him like a ton of bricks.

What did not work me stemmed from the fact that the story seemed to lose its momentum from point to point, and dragged a little towards the end. I wanted an ending that would explode through the pages, a conclusion that would give closure of the kind my mind and heart craved after reading through the first half of the book. The gaps in between did not settle well with me, and I found myself skipping parts of the book towards the end.

Even with all of those aspects that did not work, Ms. Sheridan being the brilliant writer that she is, managed to keep me engaged with her characters in a way that refused to let me go.

Recommended for fans of strong heroes and heroines who are lost in a life steeped with loneliness until their significant other comes calling. This is that novel!

Final Verdict: Savaged is classic Mia Sheridan in the way she explores the depth of emotions and cuts through to the soul of her characters. There is an edge to the story that does not let up till the end.

Favorite Quotes

Jak caught her, his arms wrapping around her waist as she wept. “You’re not alone,” he whispered. The whimper died on her lips as she opened her eyes to his face directly in front of hers, his mouth mere inches from her own. Her heart stuttered, swelled. For a suspended moment, their quickened breaths mingled in the air between them. She blinked in surprise, her body stilling. He glanced at her lips, his gaze heating and his arms squeezing her just a little tighter. Kiss me, she thought. Oh please, kiss me.

For a second, they were both still, then he let out a small sound, a combination between a grunt and a groan as he opened his mouth very slightly and rubbed it over hers. Despite the completely unpracticed nature of the kiss, sparks shot through her veins, her blood heating. She didn’t want to take control of the kiss. The waiting, the discovery of what he would do instinctively, was more arousing than anything she’d ever experienced.

He nuzzled her with his nose and his mouth, inhaling, learning her scent so it became a part of him, and she jerked when his nose rubbed the spot below her mound.
She smelled like life, like sweet water, like fertile earth, and perfectly ripened berries that would take away the pain of hunger. Her woman scent was the beginning of everything and the place where he wanted to draw his final breath. She was meant for him, he knew that now. No other woman. Only her.

The night deepened, wrapping around them so it felt as if no one else existed. Only them. “This. Here,” he breathed, looking at her with deep intensity, their bodies connected, their hearts entwined.
“What?” she asked on a breath, the moment slowing, though everything physical about her was rushing, quickening.
“This fills my soul. You . . . you fill my soul.”

His eyes narrowed and the air changed very suddenly, her awareness spiking, breath stalling. He was going to strike. Going to test the truthfulness of her words with action. Do it,she whispered in her mind and his nose moved, very slightly as though he’d caught the scent of her acquiescence. Her need. They stared at each other, and she was trembling now, her entire body charged, her heart pumping blood through her veins, faster, faster. “I want wild,” she repeated. She wasn’t afraid. She would willingly surrender to him because she had faith in his goodness.

When he ran a finger through her wet folds, she thought she might come right then and there. She was panting, she realized, like an animal, like a woman being taken by the man she loved. This was mating. Elemental, ungoverned by any civilized laws or strictures. It was ordained by nature, by miracles, by the tides and the moon and the blood pumping in unison through their veins. Their bodies sang to each other, the same tune, melody and harmony, the notes pulsing, suspended around them.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: His Outlaw Valentine by Jessa Kane

Format: E-Bookhisoutlawvalentine
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Erotic Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Ryan
Heroine: Jessie
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 17, 2020
Started On: February 21, 2020
Finished On: February 24, 2020

His Outlaw Valentine by Jessa Kane has me wondering (more so than usual) as to why Ms. Kane doesn’t write a more lengthy stories for all intents and purposes.

Ms. Kane has definitely got the talent it takes to write one, and if she were to explore the emotional tangents of the characters that she creates, and combine it with the explosive, erotic, and dirty variety of sex that is an integral part of her novellas, those books would in all probability sell like hot cakes.

His Outlaw Valentine tells the story of Jessie and Ryan, who become neighbors when Jessie was 13 years old. Jessie comes from a broken family, something that had stirred Ryan’s protective instincts and his unrequited love for her since then and had bloomed and strengthened throughout the years.

Jessie does not believe in happily ever afters; after all no one can blame her based on what she had gone through in her childhood, not to mention the way she is emotionally blackmailed by her mother even now. All of this is “monitored” closely by Ryan , for he is done being the safe haven that Jessie has relied on all through her adult life. Ryan is determined that it is time Jessie finally takes notice of him as a man, and becomes his, once and for all.

His Outlaw Valentine is a novella that had such great promise and it being of the friends and lovers trope, which is THE most favorite trope of mine in the genre, makes it all the sadder given how it eventually turned out. The story took a turn for the worse with Ryan turning super weird (I get obsessive heroes but this was on a totally different scale), and there just was an ickiness factor to certain actions of Ryan’s that had me taking a step back from. Don’t get me wrong; I am all for eroticism and dirty talk but I seriously was put off by Ryan’s actions at certain points.

What saddens me the most is the fact that this could have turned out to be a great story, if only Ms. Kane would be willing to explore her characters further, add some angst, and deliver a bit lengthier story which would allow her to probe different tangents and deliver a wonderful story in every aspect.

Recommended for those who have a penchant for weird heroes and quickies that explore the sexual tangent of relationships more so than emotional.

Final Verdict: His Outlaw Valentine had a lot of potential which somehow failed to materialize. I know in my heart that this could have been so much better!

Favorite Quotes

Ryan’s arm hooks around my lower back and he lifts me onto the kitchen table, his big body crowding between my thighs. “Tell you what.” He slides my butt closer and his erection presses to my core. Snugly. Like he owns it. Oh my God, this is happening. I’m getting physical with not just a man, but Ryan. “Put on that red dress and have dinner with me. Once you get through it and the world doesn’t explode, I’ll take you in the back bedroom and fuck you so good you scream the roof off this place.”

“Are there any neighbors close by to hear me scream your name?”
“Jessie,” he says harshly. “Stop.”
“When you force yourself through my virginity…” I push out my lower lip. “Do you think you’ll feel it tear?”
Ryan makes a ragged sound and lunges toward me, his mouth stamping down on mine, twisting my lips open and plunging his tongue deep inside. His hands climb the backs of my thighs and reach up beneath my dress, grasping my buttocks. I wail his name into his mouth over the punishing nature of his grip, but it thrills me. Makes me hot and wet between my legs.

“Good girl,” I croon in her ear, my own release beginning to crest. “You made the only choice.” I continue to massage her clit until she’s boneless beneath me, then I reach back with both hands and yank her knees up higher around my waist and…and fuck…oh fuck. I can’t slow down. My hips slam down between her thighs over and over. My balls hurt so goddamn bad and I’m so close.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Angel of Darkness by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Bookangelofdarkness
Read with: Paperback/Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Angelo Cesare Rossetti
Heroine: Kelda Wyatt
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 24, 1999
Started On: February 14, 2020
Finished On: February 16, 2020

Angel of Darkness is Lynne Graham at her best. It has everything going for it; lust of the kind that sets the pages sizzling and your senses humming, a hero who is equal shades ruthless and possessive that you cannot help but want him, a heroine who is tempestuous and headstrong just enough to drive the hero a tad crazy, and a love so worthwhile that it reaffirms the belief that long-term romance readers like myself hold true to our hearts – that there is no other genre worth reading except romance when it comes right down to it.

Top model Kelda Wyatt is shell-shocked to hear that her mother Daisy is getting back with Tomaso, her step father; whose marriage to Daisy had been short-lived. What sort of terrifies Kelda out of the icy coldness that is her signature mark is the thought of coming face to face with her step brother Angelo Cesare Rossetti, in whose arms she had faced every single vulnerability an eighteen year old girl could have at the cusp of womanhood.

Years later, with Daisy’s marriage looming overhead, Kelda is looking forward to a photo shoot in Tuscany only to find out that it had been Angelo who had engineered the whole setup, just so that she wouldn’t be around to interfere with their parents’ relationship a second time around. Angelo also has a secondary goal; seduce Kelda and walk away from it as he does countless of other women.

What starts out with Kelda in a rage over being forced into Angelo’s company ends with her going up in smoke in his arms. Their attraction to one another demands nothing less but total submission where Angelo and Kelda are both concerned, and their scorching passion heats up, takes things to a level that neither was expecting of their coming together.

A series of misunderstandings lending that healthy dose of angst to the story, prolongs the eventual coming together of Angelo and Kelda, which was the best part of the story. Angelo’s qualms about being tied to a woman who is so possessive, someone who rouses the same desire in him is something he needs to take a step back from – his childhood had made him wary of women whom he thinks to be an unfaithful breed.

Kelda is not equipped to handle nor understand a man like Angelo at his fiercest. But try she does, and her helpless surrender in his arms brings the two closer than either of them would give credit for.

In the end, it was this heady sense of passion that explodes into everlasting love. I somehow have a feeling that their happily ever after would be just as scandalous, just as consuming as the story was in its entirety.

Recommended for everyone who loves a wholly passionate love story, for those who may want to start on a Lynne Graham novel, and fans of Harlequin category romances!

PS: I also love the original cover of the book than its current one. The former shows a scene from the book, and you can practically smell the sunshine warming the leaves upon which the couple lies, while lost in their unrelenting desire for each other.

Final Verdict: Full of tempestuous passion and blazing desire; Angel of Darkness is a delight in the way it overtakes your senses.

Favorite Quotes

‘I told you to shut up.’ His brown fingers moved caressingly over her taut cheekbone and then he leant down, deftly winding his other hand into her hair and let the tip of his tongue slowly and smoothly trace the tremulous line of her lower lip.
Her breath escaped with a tiny gasp and her heart thudded like that of a wild bird in a cage. She wanted his mouth so badly she burned, every sense pitched to an unbearable high as he toyed expertly with the sensitive fullness he had discovered. Her eyes slid shut, her long throat arching as she bent back her head instinctively.
Angelo set her back from him and fired the engine of the car. Her lashes swept up on glazed green eyes, her whole body throbbing with an intensity that was pure pain.
A blunt forefinger raked down the slender length of her thigh. ‘I know,’ Angelo breathed thickly.

‘Let go, Angelo,’ she said breathlessly.
‘I think I will.’ His stunning eyes skimmed with hungry sensuality over her and then he drew her close with con¬trolled power and took her mouth with slow, drugging intensity.
She was a good strong swimmer but she drowned in Angelo’s arms. Six years melted away and she was back, back where her body told her she belonged, back where the world contracted into the crazy thunder of her heart and the mad race of the hot blood in her veins.

He pulled her hands away and lifted his mouth from hers and then he just looked at her, a feverish flush of colour accentuating his striking cheekbones, his breathing pattern audibly fractured.
Her breasts were small, high and perfectly formed. Her nipples were shamelessly distended rose-pink buds. Angelo released his breath in a long, sighing groan as though he was afraid to touch her. She knelt there in front of him, quivering all over, every heated inch of her flesh ready to take fire.
The silence was electric. A voracious hunger vibrated like a physical aura between them. ‘If I touch you… do you vanish?’ Angelo whispered unsteadily.
‘Do you?’

‘You are mine,’
Angelo told her, lowering her into the grass with raw determination. ‘Tell me that, before I bury myself in that exquisite body…’
Her lashes lifted. She focused on blazing golden eyes and melted to the consistency of honey all in one go. ‘Yours,’ she framed in a whisper of sound torn from the
very depths of her.
‘Always,’ Angelo attached with savage emphasis.

He kicked her bedroom door wide, kicked it shut again and dropped her down on the bed. ‘Angelo’
‘Shut up.’ He came down on top of her in one lithe movement, pinning her flat with his superior weight. She was in the act of struggling to raise a punitive knee when he brought his mouth down hard on hers.
Still in a fury, she dug her hands like claws into his luxuriant hair and then the passion flooded her in a roaring tidal wave. It came out of nowhere, attacked and took her prisoner. A passion so instantaneous it wiped out everything that had gone before it. Electrified by the raw, devouring heat of his mouth, she was possessed by an excitement so intense that she felt dizzy and disorientated.

‘I’m hurting you,’ he whispered, not quite steadily. The pain had gone as quickly as it had come but her untried body had yet to adjust to that most intimate invasion. ‘No.’ The denial was jerky, swift. ‘You’re so small,’ he breathed, sinking his hands be-neath her slender hips, lithely shifting between her thighs with a stifled groan of pleasure and splintering control.
She felt possessed then, utterly and completely. He moved on her, slowly, deliberately until all she could focus on was the extraordinary response of her own body.
All control was gone.

Angelo reached for her in one powerful movement. Deftly angling his body to one side so that he would not hurt her, he took her mouth in a devouring kiss that she felt right down to her toes and back up again. She reacted like a woman possessed. With one hand she hit out at him in blind rage, but the other hand inexplicably dived into the springy depths of his hair, holding him to her. He kissed her breathless. Great rolling waves of excitement overwhelmed her. The hand that had balled into a fist uncurled and slid under his sweater instead and exulted in the satin-smooth skin of his back before sliding across his taut flat stomach to rake into the furrow of silky hair that disappeared beneath his belt.

He followed the sweet trail of the champagne down over her quivering stomach and she made a sudden grab at his hair. ‘No!’
But his hands were on her thighs and he had already discovered just how weak she really was. She was tender and damp.
‘Evidently I wasn’t the only one seething with silent lust over dinner,’ Angelo murmured huskily, letting the tip of his tongue track the clenched muscles on her inner thigh until she trembled and shook and completely forgot that she was supposed to be fighting him off.

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

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Review: Heart of Stone by Diana Palmer

Format: E-Bookheartofstone
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Long, Tall Texans, #35
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Boone Sinclair
Heroine: Keely Welsh
Sensuality: 1
Date of Publication: September 01, 2007
Started On: February 10, 2020
Finished On: February 14, 2020

Diana Palmer is an author I read often when I first discovered the treasure that Harlequin romances presented when I initially stumbled upon them.

I was fascinated by the cruelty of heroes that she tended to create so effortlessly, the ton of angst in her stories, and the grovelling that the hero often had to do to finally win the affections of the heroine.

Since I have been seeing a lot of Diana Palmer on my Amazon recommendations page recently, I decided to give one of her titles a go, and hopefully recreate the magic that I had once basked under when it came to Diana Palmer. Alas, my expectations were never met, and I even wondered how I managed to finish the story as disappointing as it was.

19 year old Keely Welsh has been in love with 30 year old Boone Sinclair since she had been thirteen years old. Coveting him from afar, Keely is best friends with Boone’s sister and younger brother. Even though Keely knows in her heart that Boone would never be interested in someone like her (he goes out of his way to ignore everything that is about her), she remains single, on the fringes, in an unrequited love affair of her own making.

A turn of events brings Keely to a point where she enters into a pretend relationship with Boone’s younger brother, which sets the ball rolling where Boone is concerned. Keely’s life is shaped by a mother who couldn’t care less about their situation, and a father who is of the less than savory type. A mother who tends to sleep around has left its mark on Keely in more ways than one. It is not hard to understand why Keely stays the way she is.

When all of it comes to a heady conclusion, of course Keely and Boone do end up together, but I quite don’t get how they ended up so. There was very little romance and sexual tension between the two, and there were too many characters coming and going in the midst, that you are left clueless as to who is who if you haven’t been following this “series” in order.

Boone and Keely also spends so much time apart from each other in the story, that I don’t quite know how they found their ideal footing to embark on a relationship of any kind. There was very little exploration of the characters together for the reader to draw them to either of them.

I remember Diana Palmer’s books to be dramatic, angst-ridden, with often possessive and cruel heroes in the mix and delicate heroines with a backbone, which was sadly not the case with this one.

Recommended for die-hard fans of Diana Palmer novels.

Final Verdict: Heart of Stone fell short of every expectation that I had, delivering a lackluster read with too many aspects that didn’t work for me.

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

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Review: Sweet Vixen by Susan Napier

Format: E-Booksweetvixen-sn
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Hero: Max Wilde
Heroine: Sarah Carter
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October, 1985
Started On: January 27, 2020
Finished On: February 03, 2020

Sweet Vixen by Susan Napier is a book I read in my attempt to hunt down books by an author whose penchant for writing great romances with sizzling sexual tension caught my attention in 2013.

Don’t you just love it when you discover an author who has got this entire back-list of books just waiting for you? That is how I felt when I initially discovered her, and having read most of her books that have received good ratings as compared to the rest, I am at a loss as to how I am going to recapture that magic that is created by the words of a single author that no one else can seem to replicate.

Sweet Vixen is the story of widowed Sarah Carter, who works as an editorial assistance to a monthly fashion magazine Rags & Riches in New Zealand. When Max Wilde is “forced” by his father to travel to New Zealand and assess the magazine financially and otherwise, thus begins the battle of wills between Max and Sarah which made for good reading!

Sarah having being married to someone who had tried to undermine her every attempt at independence, does not feel the need for a man, much less someone as brazen as Max Wilde. However, Max goads her into accepting things about herself which she otherwise would not have, and at the same time, Max finds himself on uncharted territory with a woman who entices him to do more and be more than he has ever been.

Through a plot to engineer misunderstanding mastered by none other than Sarah, and both Max and Sarah’s stubbornness bringing a hefty dose of the angst factor which I loved, Sweet Vixen proved to be delightful in many ways. The only thing that lacked for me was the delivery on the superb sexual tension in the novel – which was lackluster to what Susan Napier as an author has delivered and can deliver in her books time and yet again.

Recommended for fans of Susan Napier and those who love Harlequin romances!

Final Verdict: Sweet Vixen delivers low key sexual tension coupled with angst of the kind that keeps the pages turning!

Favorite Quotes

She leaned lightly against him and he let go of her shoulders to move his hands delicately over the fabric at her back. His skin against hers was smooth and warm, the fresh tang of chlorine mingling with his male body smell. He nuzzled the corner of her mouth and discovered the tender spot where her lip had split against her teeth, touching it with his tongue and gently sucking away the pearly drop of blood.
Open your mouth, darling,’ he whispered seductively, ‘ Let me taste you properly.’

Her eyes fell from his mouth to his chest, where the dark hair curled damp, now matted with sand and a few thin Strands of grass. As she watched, the tenor of his breathing changed, became slower, the rise and fall of his chest acquiring a deep, hypnotic rhythm. There was a peculiar attraction in knowing that he was waiting on her, that he had placed the situation firmly in her hands. That she was in control.
Tentatively, she touched him, she couldn’t help it, resting a hand just above his heart, feeling the strong, rapid beat. It was like feeling the beat of her own heart.
‘Sarah?’ the word was low, husky, almost strained, and she looked up. The expression on his face made her tremble inside.

The smooth olive skin gleamed bronze in the lamplight, silvered with dampness and rippling as he moved to kneel beside her. He plunged his hands into the broad swathes of her hair and lifted them, letting the strands run through his fingers like water to splash over her body.
‘How could I ever have thought you anything but what you are—lovely, desirable . . .’ His voice roughened into harshness and his hands clenched her waist. ‘My God, I want you—’

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Format: E-Bookloveherorloseher
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Hot & Hammered, #2
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Dominic Vega
Heroine: Rosie Vega
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 14, 2020
Started On: January 24, 2020
Finished On: January 27, 2020

Tessa Bailey is an author who definitely knows what she is doing when it comes to writing romances. She has written a lot of books since the publication of her first romance somewhere in 2013, and most of what I have read from her, I have loved.

When she first started out, she wrote heroes of the kind that can overwhelm your senses; to test this theory, I recently re-read Staking His Claim and felt just the same – wasn’t a fluke of my imagination by any means. Some of her books in recent times however, I have felt disconnected from the characters and felt that she wasn’t bringing in her true self to the novels. I know that writing romances can be quite problematic in the current times we live in – if we are to stay true to the notions of modern society, romance tends to lose its allure, and if we don’t, well, there are many readers who like myself live for books as such.

Even though the books that fall into the latter category are far and few in between, I still haven’t given up on Tessa Bailey because she is an author who can drive her game up a notch or two if she wanted to. Plus, her books do fill in that need for good sexual tension and delivery which is sorely lacking in some novels. So I will tide myself over up till she once again takes up a hero who is broody, reluctant, and sexy as they come – the Tessa Bailey signature when she first started writing.

Love Her or Lose Her is the second book in the Hot & Hammered series, a romantic comedy series by the author. Telling the story of Rosie and Dominic Vega, married couple and high school sweethearts, the story revolves around a marriage falling apart at the seams, resulting from Dominic having checked out of the relationship emotionally a long time back.

Working as a Cosmetics Consultant, Rosie is sick and tired of having to come home to a house seeped in deep silences of words left unspoken, of a relationship that exists on the physical realm alone. Though Dominic might not talk to her about any of the things that goes inside of his mind, the way he could still make Rosie falter in her steps from deep want for the physical release that he could give her is something that Rosie does not want any longer. So she walks out on their marriage, giving Dominic that jarring jolt to wake up and smell the emotional black hole that their marriage had become.

If attending extreme couple counseling sessions is going to bring Rosie back to him, Dominic is willing to try that, even though he might cringe at the very thought of exposing himself emotionally to that level. However, as Rosie and Dominic go through the uncharted waters of counseling and delve deeper into their relationship, each discovers part of the reasons why their actions may have been perceived differently by the other, giving them a fighting chance at making a last bid attempt atsalvaging their marriage.

There was so much going in this story, that I reveled in most of it. The sexual heat between Dominic and Rosie for instance; there is no one else who can do dirty talk and delivery on sizzling sexual tension better than Tessa Bailey, and it shows. Even with a couple who have been married for a long while, she still manages to bring that sizzle factor which sets your senses humming and some, and delivered just right on all the tension when Dominic unleashes who he is; when Rosie is all ready for it, of course.

However, I had a couple of issues with the story that I would like to highlight, which is mainly centered around Rosie’s character. A marriage or any relationship for that matter takes two people; both are responsible for the connection fostered and maintaining it, and we are all human and definitely not infallible. As result, we all tend to make mistakes and let things slide, especially when a relationship dives deep into the years and you have adjusted to one another. Taking each other for granted, the lengthy silences, the i-can’t-be-bothered-enough-to-try-or-care attitude; all of that starts to happen as a result.

Dominic checked out of the relationship, especially on the emotional front, upon his return from war. What I didn’t understand was why Rosie had not tried harder to get him to talk. From everything that happened in the story, it is evident that Dominic basically lives for Rosie. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for her, and I believe had she given any indication earlier on, he would have done something about it, especially when he understood the seriousness of the matter.

Dominic does not do anything out of spite or anger, not even once, throughout the story and the history of their relationship. Which is why I found it especially hard that there was no mention of how Rosie tried to get him to connect with her on an emotional level, when the change had happened upon his return from war.

It is pretty common knowledge that PTSD is an issue faced by soldiers once they have been deployed for duty; I wonder if Rosie had ever heard of it and even tried to get him to see a therapist because he had changed. Because there is no mention of it, I am assuming Rosie lived under a rock for the most of her life.

Second thing was how it was mostly about Rosie; it was ALL about Rosie’s needs and wants that Dominic had not been able to fulfill. Dominic, the silent caretaker type of character that he is, meanwhile is killing himself over how he has been failing Rosie ever since his return from deployment. Dominic’s thoughts centers around what he had learnt from his childhood, as to what a man’s duty is to his wife, even if they weren’t a particularly loving couple. He believes his duty to his wife is to provide for her, and provide well.

That it had hit him hard when he had measured himself against everyone who had been deployed with him, and their plans of grandeur when they returned home; it was understandable why Dominic had retreated into his mind and decided that he would provide for Rosie, or die trying. In his mind, he was only worthy of Rosie to the extent that he can fulfill her dreams and needs – perhaps one reason why he couldn’t bring himself to talk about dreams they had both held dear at one point in time.

For Dominic, there was no question that Rosie always came first. But when it came to Rosie, I didn’t quite get that vibe from her. But I did love the fact that the story touched deeply on the concept that even if you don’t need another person to pull you up, make you stronger, and get you to achieve your dreams, the unflinching support given by those whom you love, it matters in the short and long run. It gives you that confidence that you can take on the world, and also the comfort that if things headed south tomorrow, that you would have someone who would be there to help you pick up the pieces and comfort you in a way no one else can. That was a concept that Tessa Bailey explored in this story that I adored.

I just wish that there was more exploration of Dominic’s character; I would have loved to see Dominic’s parents – and Rosie’s realizations on where he was coming from. That would have added a more believable tangent to the story in terms of building Rosie’s understanding of Dominic’s deep convictions when it comes to a marriage.

I just found that the relationship was more skewed towards Rosie than it was a balanced one between her and Dominic. Nevertheless, Rosie coming through at the last minute made up for some of it, and that is why I enjoyed the story in the end.

Recommended for those who love Tessa Bailey, fans of the Hot & Hammered series, and those who love a story focusing on a long-term marriage, delving into its ups and downs.

Final Verdict: In Love Her or Lose Her, Tessa Bailey plunges into what makes or breaks a long-term relationship, analyzing what it is like, and the tremendous effort it takes to achieve that balance between love, support, and dependency.

Favorite Quotes

“We took it as far as we could without going all the way.” Her eyelashes fluttered. “And we finally decided just the tip didn’t count, didn’t we?”
Dominic lunged forward off the chair, dropping to his knees, carrying Rosie with him. No sooner had her back landed on the floor of their kitchen did Dominic nudge his wife’s panties to one side and sink the head of his erection inside her pussy. Not driving it the entire damn way made him crazed, but the tight pressure of her entrance around his tip was incredible. Perfect.

“Go get the key before I find a dark corner of this club, hike up that dress, and do something illegal.” His right hand dropped from her backside, his fingertips brushing the back of her bare thigh. “After seeing how those hips move, you better believe I’d risk getting arrested to be nine inches deep next time you dance.”

Her hips wouldn’t stay still, and a low, carnal twist started in the lowest part of her belly and wrapped around her limbs like tentacles. She threw her head back over the edge of the table and felt herself soaring over the city, unstoppable and strong—and when Dominic’s lips closed around her clit and applied just the right amount of suction, the buildings splintered in front of her eyes, light fragmenting in every direction. Of their own accord, her thighs wrapped around his head and she screamed.

“Tell me you’ll come home tonight. To our home.” He caught her chin in his hands, tilting her face up and waiting for her dazed eyes to focus on him. To see him. “Give me that, Rosie. Say you’ll come home and I’ll fuck you harder than I ever have in our lives. Your screams will still be echoing in this kitchen when you open for business.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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