Review: Don’t Kiss the Bride by Carian Cole

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookDepo

ARC Review: Beneath the Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Montlake
Hero: NA
Heroine: NA
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: June 01, 2021
Started On: March 13, 2021
Finished On: March 15, 2021

Beneath the Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White is another spellbinding novel from the master storyteller who has the uncanny ability to push just the right set of buttons to keep the pages turning. I continue to be in awe of everything that Ms. White publishes, and it is a foregone conclusion at this point that she will continue to take readers where their comfort zones are pushed in the years to come.

The year is 1997, when 14 year old Leena Rai is found brutally beaten to death with indications of rough intercourse having happened prior to the murder. Investigators in the small town of British Columbia where the story takes place, are hard pressed to solve the case quickly. The investigation speedily concludes with the confession from Clayton Jay Pelley, the school’s guidance counselor.

When Clayton breaks his silence 25 years after he is incarcerated in a podcast series focusing on true crime, retired detective Rachel Walczak who was lead on the case is haunted and taunted by the fact that in their haste to bring a conclusion to the investigation, they may have overlooked many aspects of the case that did not particularly make sense even at the time. But in a small and tight knit community such as theirs, it is a challenge to overlook the ties that bind them, and see each individual as they truly are – where monsters may breed without one acknowledging the fact.

From beginning to end, this story is profound in the way it is told, taking readers between the year of the murder and how it had impacted the lives of all that were affected, to present time when the deep lingering effects of what had taken place still continue to fester in the wounds unhealed.

In the murder victim, we find the typical outcast in a high school setting where teenagers can be brutal in the way they form groups and bully those that do not fit in. A daughter of Indian immigrants, Leena had never had it easy, with a strict father and a mother who had followed wherever her husband led her. Patriarchal households in South Asian settings can be extremely difficult for daughters, especially when you move to a country that upholds more modern values and norms clashing with the traditional ones. Leena is the daughter that is torn between wanting freedom and popularity, between wanting to feel needed and acceptance, and ultimately the one who finds consolation and comfort in a place that she rightfully should not have.

In the alleged perpetrator, Ms. White has forged to life one of the most thought provoking characters she has written of late. A man who society would find it easy to blame and cast aside, whose own demons haunt and taunt him to a point where he was willing to give up everything to control his baser urges. It is difficult to remain detached from his character as Ms. White explores the psychology involved and takes readers on a journey where most may not be willing to be pushed. But I for one reveled in it and admire Ms. White for writing his character as it was told; raw and unadulterated in a way that refuses to give you any reprieve from who he is.

The most shocking elements of the story of course, lies in the “mundane” details of the lives of those in the community as the tale undfolds, traversing through the course of individual and collective lives that had been changed by the events that had unfolded that fateful night two and a half decades back. Rachel, in her bid to find the truth at long last, finds that often, a high price must be paid in the pursuit of it, secrets that many would go to extreme lengths to keep buried for eternity.

I also found myself astounded by and questioned how someone with such a violent streak within them managed to hide in plain sight for so long – after all, the character’s actions at certain points in life must have pointed to that villainous and extremely unhinged aspects within. I guess we would never know. But then again, that is what is so gripping about Ms. White’s work – you can never accuse her of taking on tried tropes and leaving you with the feeling that you have been cheated out on.

I continue to be amazed by how well Ms. White writes, how unique each of her books are, how powerful her characters and villains alike are, how difficult it to cast one character in the role of purely being a hero and the other a villain, and how unforgettable her stories are. Ms. White truly humbles me by pointing out time and yet again that life does not happen in black and white, but in the shades of grey within.

I marvel at the fact that she dares broach sensitive topics and does them justice, her innate ability to dig deep into the psyche of her characters from multiple perspectives. It is truly remarkable the diversity behind her books and I at times do not think that I am even worthy of reviewing such splendor that lies within the pages.

Definitely recommended for readers of all variety of fiction – if you like thrillers with in-depth characterization, Ms. White is a must read!

Final Verdict: Beneath the Devil’s Bridge is magnificent in the way it unfolds, crisp writing & page-turning suspense lending clarity to the shades of grey that rules our lives.

Favorite Quotes

We spend most of our lives afraid of our own Shadow. He told me that. He said a Shadow lives deep inside every one of us. So deep we don’t even know it’s there. Sometimes, with a quick sideways glance, we catch a glimpse of it. But it frightens us, and we quickly look away. This is what fuels the Shadow—our inability to look. Our inability to examine this thing that is in fact our raw selves. This is what gives the Shadow its power. It makes us lie. About what we want, about who we are. It fires our passions, our darkest desires. – Leena Rai

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

Review: A Figure of Love by Minerva Spencer

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Academy of Love, #2
Publisher: Crooked Sixpence Press
Hero: Gareth Lockheart
Heroine: Serena Lombard
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 03, 2020
Started On: February 20, 2021
Finished On: March 13, 2021

The Academy of Love series by Minerva Spencer tells the stories of seven Regency Era teachers who while in pursuit of ork, find themselves immersed in lessons in love of the kind to last a lifetime. A Figure of Love is the second installment in the series, bringing to readers the tale of widower Serena Lombard and 35 year old Gareth Lockheart, a self-made aristocrat in England.

Gareth is a man of few words and controlled emotions. Having grown up at an orphanage and having been at the receiving end of the worst that humanity has to offer, Gareth has the emotional scars to prove it. One of the richest men in England, Gareth knows that taking his businesses to the next level requires that something elusive which would need him to make his entrance into the genteel world of society’s accepted breed of aristocrats.

Designing his country house to standards befitting that of the world he plans to inhabits is how Serena comes into his life. A French emigrant who is the widow of the youngest son of a Duke and Duchess, Serena is someone who defies the conventions and has been working towards making a name for herself as a respected sculptor and landscape gardener.

Neither of them are what they expect each other to be, and for Serena, Gareth is the man who unlocks her passions and makes her want a significant other after years of living through excruciating loneliness. In her heart, Serena is the woman who thaws the heart of the enigmatic man that is Gareth, but in reality, she knows that the secrets that she hides would never let it be so.

I loved this story on so many levels, Gareth being the first and foremost reason. He is the kind of hero that speaks to you in every single way that matters without him having to utter a single word. Ms. Spencer has done a remarkable job in bringing him to life, his sheer presence enough to make you feel as if he is your whole world. His fascination with numbers, his faithful nature even if it may seem unwarranted at that point, all that and more tells you the kind of man he is deep inside.

His passions lie dormant, not because he does not feel them, but because he reserves them for those whom he feels it to be worthy of. In Serena, he finds the woman who shakes him up in a way no other woman has, and he knows that it is futile to deny his burgeoning feelings of desire and need for her, which is when Ms. Spencer with her remarkable flair ushers in the kind of love scenes that leaves the reader in a state of stunned anticipation for more.

Serena was a swell heroine, just the right touch of everything that is needed for Gareth. With a young son in tow, it is the secrets that she carries which puts her and those she cares about in danger. And it is her need to protect Gareth from that ugly reality which lands her in an untenable situation which drives the story to its climax and beyond.

In my opinion, Gareth was the star of this story – there is something about a strong and silent hero that just speaks to me on a level that is indescribable. I loved Serena too, she loves Gareth and all that he is just as fiercely as he does her, and is protective of him in a way that no one has ever been all through his life. I also loved the character of her son – his character meshes well with that of Gareth, which made for enjoyable reading.

Recommended for fans of Ms. Spencer, fans of the series, and fans of Regency Era romances! Romance, suspense, and toe-curling sex – this one has got it all!

Final Verdict: Featuring exquisitely crafted scenes of scrumptious passion that is trademark Ms. Spencer, A Figure in Love is a notable addition to this beautifully crafted series!

Favorite Quotes

He walked her slowly toward the wall, rubbing the stiff length of his erection against her as he pushed, until her shoulders hit the wall, but he kept coming.
Stroke.
Stroke.
Stroke.
His stiff length drew an answering pulse from her sex and she imagined his strong, insistent body entering hers, plunging into her with all the strength she knew he possessed. She could feel the struggle of will and desire that raged inside him. The slightest sign from her and he would take her right here, against the wall.

Serena had never been so cold in her life, but when his eyes swept over her, she burst into flames. And when he lowered his mouth to hers, she forgot all about the cold and slid her arms around his taut waist, this time resting both palms on his bottom. He made a muffled sound of approval and pushed closer, the soft leather of his breeches cool and smooth against her belly.
He kissed as if he wanted to devour her, his lips demanding, his tongue invading, his teeth grazing and nipping as long, powerful fingers massaged their way down her neck, until they rested on her shoulders.

Serena cried out when he flicked a cold, hard nipple with the hot tip of his tongue, and then was gone. She pushed herself against him. More.
He took her in his mouth and suckled her until warmth radiated out from her breast.
“So beautiful,” he whispered into the hollow between her breasts, and then moved to her other nipple and tormented her until she had to bite her lip to keep from screaming.

“Unbutton me.”
A rush of pleasure shot through her at the sound of his command, spoken in such hushed passion. She pushed a hand between their bodies, tracing the hard length of him thrusting against the soft leather.
He groaned and tightened his hold, his fingers sinking into her soft flesh. She stroked him again and again and again, until his powerful body vibrated with need, and then, with a few deft flicks, she opened the flap of his breeches and released him.

They gasped as he sheathed himself fully, the echoes of her climax contracting around his thick shaft. His body jerked and arched, the muscles of his stomach, chest, and shoulders so defined they looked as if they’d been carved from the finest alabaster.
Serena leaned forward until her breasts grazed his chest, her hands fisting the blanket on each side of his shoulders as she tilted to take him even deeper. Barely an inch separated their faces and this close to him she saw the fine, icy gray shards that made up his irises. She tightened her inner muscles and his eyes widened, his hands like butterflies on her waist.

“Are you angry with me?”
The question stopped him like a stone wall. Before he could think of an answer, she touched him, her hand on his chest as light as a soft breeze.
Gareth’s control snapped and he crushed her mouth with a ferocity that left the metallic taste of blood flooding his mouth. His blood, her blood, both, he didn’t know or care. Her fingers plunged into his hair and she yanked him down, meeting his violently ravaging tongue with her own.

“I want to bury myself deep inside you.” He ground his length against her, making her gasp while he whispered in her ear, “But I think you know that, don’t you?” He stepped away, until their bodies were no longer touching and raised his hands, palm out, barely grazing the erect tips of her breasts, caressing them with light, circular motions.
She jerked and bucked against him, her back arching, the impressive muscles of her arms like the taut strings of a bow as she clutched the wooden door frame above her head and strained toward him.

“You can release the door frame now.”
Triumph and amusement echoed in his words but she didn’t care. She’d do whatever he asked of her to feel that way again.
“Touch me.”
She fell on his mouth like a starving person, consuming him as he’d just done her, tasting herself on his tongue. He lifted her higher while they kissed, until she felt his hot, insistent crown nudging against her sex.
He leaned away from her, just far enough that she could see between their bodies. His stomach, lean, ridged, and sweaty, hers flushed, soft, and trembling.
He lifted her higher, until she could see his erection. “Guide me inside you.”

He turned his head and gently bit the side of her breast.
She laughed. “Are you going to eat me?”
His hot mouth roamed her body above the thin gauze of her gown, nipping and sucking her until the fabric was damp.
“When we return to Rushton I am going to tie your arms and legs to the four posts of my bed—tightly, so you cannot move or squirm away. And when you are bound and spread for me, I will take my pleasure. And I will lick and suck and bite every part of you.”
The words and the raw, confident desire with which he spoke them sent a crippling w
ave of lust straight to her core.

He scooped her up in his arms and strode into the adjacent room. She watched him slit-eyed through a haze of pure contentment, laughing when he tossed her onto the bed and positioned himself at the edge. His face was hard and his eyes burning into her as he ripped open the fall on his breeches and freed himself. Serena was already inching toward him when he slid his hands beneath her thighs, jerked her toward him and lifted her hips off the bed, entering her with a savage thrust.

He lifted her skirt and petticoats to her hips, his cock pulsing at the unbearably erotic sight of her serviceable stockings and the plain garters that held them just above her knees, nothing but smooth, naked thigh above them until . . . His mouth flooded with moisture at the sight of her curls.
She lifted her eyebrows high. “Novice?” Her thumb swirled his hard, slick head and she grazed him lightly with her nails.
Gareth jolted under the intoxicating combination of pleasure and pain. “Dammit, Serena!”
“Language, Gareth.”
He pushed away her hand and positioned himself at the hot, wet entrance to her body, bringing her down hard. They both gasped and then froze, reveling in their joining.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

Review: The Land Where Sinners Atone by V.F. Mason

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Zachary King
Heroine: Phoenix Hale
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: May 14, 2020
Started On: February 14, 2021
Finished On: February 19, 2021

“Sex is phenomenal. Love though? Love is scary as fuck.” – Zachary

The Land Where Sinners Atone by V.F. Mason is another dark, anti-hero romance from the author whose books answers the need in me to read stories featuring heroes that most would not even think are worthy of redemption. But I love them more so for the fact. I am no fan of overly sweet romances – I like the darkness, that raw edge, and the tension that courses through you, until you are on tenterhooks unable to turn away from the disaster that is imminent. And for that reason alone, I would always continue to read titles from Ms. Mason, as long as she continues to deliver the variety of heroes that speaks to my heart.

The Land Where Sinners Atone tells the tale of 32 year old Zachary King, his family being one of the most influential families in the world, who seeks revenge and vengeance on 29 year old Phoenix Hale, when she is accused of killing the beloved wife of Zachary. With Zachary out in full force to make her pay, the news that the DA cuts her a deal is the last straw for him.

It is punishment enough for Phoenix that nothing in her life would ever be the same again. Her career, the husband who promised to love and cherish her for all eternity, her friends and colleagues, all of them leave her in the dust, and there is no will left in Phoenix to fight to keep them, especially when she has to fight for the survival of someone more precious than all of them put together. But the long arms of the rich who seek vengeance reaches behind the prison walls, and it is heartbreaking what happens to Phoenix to finally break her.

At 32 years old, new evidence that comes to light sets Phoenix free, setting Zachary on her path once again, this time seeking her help to find the actual perpetrator. Zachary makes no apologies for what he did to Phoenix, and his sheer audacity in asking for her help sets Phoenix on the edge, not to mention the fact that he raises her ire in ways she would rather not define.

Ms. Mason weaves a tight plot for the most part, which entwines snippets of the past which shows how Phoenix strikes an odd friendship with a boy three years her senior, and how throughout the years that friendship is conducted via letters and emails. Phoenix at one point wants more, but that had been the first time fate had intervened, forcing her to choose a different path which led her to become an ex-convict who wants the man who put her behind bars in a way she never would have thought possible.

When the truth comes to light of what they mean to each other, of the secret that Zachary hides, and of the true intent and nature of the killer, it is a harrowing couple of chapters until we reach the finish line and turn the pages to the epilogue with bated breathe, praying with everything you are, hoping with every fiber of your being, that everything turns out to be alright.

For the most part, I loved the story that Ms. Mason delivered with this number. Zachary is the kind of hero that takes your breath away from just his sheer presence alone. There is a forcefulness to him, a ruthlessness that is enshrined in his DNA that speaks of violence if ever there is a need for it, and yet at the same time, a gentle side to him that really shakes you up in the midst. Phoenix is not the only one who is flummoxed by the many facets to his character, and as the reader I was feeling it every step of the way.

I think what detracted from my enjoyment of the story somewhat was the fact that I felt the story steered off course towards the end, and I think that it could have been much better had it been otherwise. Zachary too was perhaps not ultimately dark enough for my tastes, because lets face it, Ms. Mason has delivered much darker heroes in her stories such as Psychopath’s Prey, which was my first and most unforgettable book by her.

At the same time, I absolutely adored the bits and pieces on the entwined pasts interwoven into the story up to a point, giving the tale the lighter edge it needed. But even then, I wanted that connection to have come to light differently perhaps, while at the same time I could appreciate that the story’s fast pace meant that things were just happening and that there was no right or wrong time for it to happen. The heat between Zachary and Phoenix is off the charts hot, with their first coming together hot enough to singe the reader.

I fell in love with Phoenix from the very start – she basically makes the story what it is, her character carrying the kind of strength that makes you root for her, admire her, and want the best for her. Her psychology in terms of how she fared from a young age to her chosen career path, and her sheer brilliance at it – all of that and more makes her a heroine who is worthy of all my love and then some!

As usual, stories that depict the psychology of the depraved, the ones who lose their way because of childhood trauma left unaddressed, that is a message that resonates loudly as the story emerges from darkness towards light. We might think it is best for a child who has undergone severe trauma to ignore what happened to them, but the festering wound beneath manifests in different ways in different people. Not all of them turn out to be empathetic soul. Some of them, their souls are left too tainted for them to see the light in anyone else.

Recommended for fans of dark romances featuring anti-heroes and for fans of Ms. Mason’s work.

Final Verdict: Zachary and Phoenix’s coming together is as explosive as the need for vengeance that courses through Zachary, who sets out to destroy everything Phoenix holds dear. Adrenaline rush guaranteed!

Favorite Quotes

I pull her into me, our chests pressing against each other, but before she can dart away from me, I thread my fingers in her hair and arch her head back then whisper against her mouth, “Because of this, right?” And with that, I slam my mouth on hers, connecting us in a kiss.
One single kiss.
Yet it forever shifts the balance in our relationship and opens up possibilities I thought I’d never want again.

The minute our tongues brush against each other, we moan and goose bumps break on my skin. He deepens the kiss, tilting me back until I’m angling my head to meet every glide of his tongue, the hot, passionate kiss vanishing all traces of guilt away and replacing them with a need so strong I can’t stop tightening my thighs around him. My nails scratch the back of his head as I open my lips wider to deepen the kiss even more… if it’s possible.

One minute, he holds me prisoner, and the next, I yelp when he sends me landing flat on my back across the counter, his body covering mine. Once again, his mouth lands on me, but this time the kiss is different.
Any gentleness is gone. Instead, the kiss is passionate and all-consuming, sending waves and waves of goose bumps breaking on my skin while his hard-on digs into my core, sliding up and down, giving me a brief hint of what it can do to me. Fusing our mouths, I hope he’ll end our misery and give us both what we want
so much.

Zach steps back, straightening up, takes out a condom from the back of his pants, and lowers the zipper on his jeans before tearing the foil packet open. He easily wraps his hard-on in it. My eyes widen for a second at the thick, long, angry flesh leaking precum at the tip, and then his hands are back on my hips, pulling me closer until I wrap my legs around him and his erection digs against my core. He rubs it all over my center and leans forward, licking away the tears on my cheeks, one by one, then swallows a piercing moan tearing out of my mouth when he thrusts into me, shifting me on the counter a little and stretching me so much I wonder if I’ll survive it.

My hands slide down his back, raking my nails over it, wanting to bring him pain, the same kind of agony mixed with pleasure he evokes in me while my pussy gets tighter and tighter around him, welcoming every drive of his hips until it all finally becomes too much. I arch my neck back, screaming when it finally hits me. A hot flash spreads all over my body, hammering me with pleasure over and over again, almost making me drown in it for how strong it is—it’s nothing like I’ve experienced before.
He thrusts a few more times and then groans into my ear, biting on my earlobe. He spills inside the condom and grips my ass cheeks so hard a moan slips past my lips.

“Zach, please,” I whisper. However, he is relentless and removes his fingers, replacing them with his tongue again, giving my core an open-mouthed kiss that should be forbidden for how much it makes me feel.
Digging my nails into the back of his head, I place my foot on his shoulder and close my eyes, starting to slowly roll my hips back and forth, finding the friction with him moving rhythm
ically inside me.

“Zach,” I beg and warn at the same time, wanting to finally reach the blissful oblivion without a care in the world.
“I know, darling. But you’ll come on my dick and not on my tongue. Because…” He enters me with just the tip, my pussy clenching around it. He groans above me. “Exactly that. I want the walls of your pussy to squeeze around me so much you won’t ever think this is a mistake. Because no one in this world can make you feel the way I do.” Before I can protest to that, he drives into me with one, swift move. I cry out as the headboard of the bed hits the wall and my body instantly clamps around him.

I’m hot, so hot, as his cock stretches me with each thrust, as if claiming its territory even if both of us know it’s temporary.
I palm his head, searching for his eyes, and when I find them, I connect our mouths with an incoherent murmur, and we lose ourselves in the kiss. His movements speed up, the pace pushing me to the brink, then closer and closer until finally it hits me so hard I still before throwing my head back and crying out, my core spasming all over him, sucking him inside and not wanting to let go.

Desire is a weakness wrapped in all-consuming emotion with the power to rule your every single thought. And although you know you will burst into flames if you’re not careful enough, nothing in this world can stop you when it calls your name, demanding surrender and acceptance.

“You are so beautiful. How can a man resist such a beauty?” His grip on my hips tightens, his fingers digging into my skin as his voice drops a few octaves. “Others can look, but no one is allowed to touch you. Do you understand?” The possessiveness lacing his tone and the flash of anger in his eyes snap me out of the haze he created around me, and with a gasp, I move to the side, wanting to escape him when realization of the situation settles in on me. “Especially Sebastian Hale.”
Unbelievable.
Putting my hands above his, I tug on them, trying to snatch them away from me, but they stay glued on me until I huff in frustration. “Stop this. Don’t act like—”
“Like who?” he asks, biting my neck and earning himself a groan from me. “Like a man who is obsessed with every breath you take?”
“Like you have rights to this body or me.”

Licking the nipple and coating it in my saliva, I tug on it a little, biting her harshly before instantly soothing it with more licks, all while my palm slides lower and lower until it reaches the hem of her panties. Without warning, I tear them away from her, the flimsy silk barely giving any resistance. “Zach!” she whispers through her moan, but I pay no attention to that, moving to the other breast where I repeat the action while my hand cups her dripping-for-me pussy. The heel of my palm digs into her clit while my fingers rub the walls of her pussy, spreading her juices all over them.

“What do you want, Phoenix?” he asks me again, his fingers threading in my hair and tilting my head back so I can look at him, and I know he sees a challenge in them.
I’m done telling him what I want, since he doesn’t listen anyway.
I’m going to take what I wan
t.

Holding his stare with mine, I circle his neck, bringing him closer to me until my lips touch his ear, and I whisper to him, “Make love to me, Zach.” His fingers bruise my hips when he settles between them and slams into me, making me cry out. My scream reverberates around the room, and my nails scratch his back.
His hard cock stretches my pussy that clenches around him, awakening every nerve in my body as he pushes deeper and deeper and then moves back, only to thrust into me again, rooting inside me over and over again as my body welcomes every jerk of his hips.

This man.
The man who I hate and love so much it borders on insanity, but I don’t mind as long as he shares this madness with me.
My pussy clamps over him tighter and tighter until he hikes my legs over his hip higher and starts to give me faster thrusts, one after another. I feel the hot flash travel all over me before it hits me full force, sending me flying over the edge with thousands of sensations breaking goose bumps on my skin.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Beautiful Sinner by Sara Cate

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Callum Moore
Heroine: Cadence
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 26, 2020
Started On: February 12, 2021
Finished On: February 13, 2021

Our love is not a sin; it’s salvation.

Loosely tied to the novel Beautiful Monster, Beautiful Sinner by Sara Cate is an absolute gem of a romance of the forbidden variety. 44 year old Callum Moore is a priest in an Irish town, who is left blindsided by his encounter with the 24 year old Cadence, a young American who happens to come to stay at the Ennis Bed & Breakfast that is owned by Callum’s sister.

Cadence comes to the B&B with a group of youngsters touring Europe, the guy she is with whom she considers to be her boyfriend when he is anything but. Waking up the next morning to find that they had all left her behind, and that her “boyfriend” had taken her passport, credit cards, and any valuables she might have had along with him, needless to say Cadence feels like the worst screw up ever.

Having to wait two weeks for everything to be resolved, it is Cadence’s sister that tells her that this could be a good thing, that being alone is perhaps what is right for Cadence to sort out her priorities and just enjoy her ownself. But the mere thought of being alone sends Cadence into a state of panic, especially when she finds herself attracted to none other than the priest of the town, the man who looks upon her so disapprovingly from afar.

Callum is a man who found his calling towards his late twenties, firm in his belief standing true to it all. Cadence presents the first real temptation to ever cross his path since he took his vow of celibacy and that presents problems of the kind that he never thought he would have to deal with. It certainly does not help matters when Cadence proves herself to be made of stronger and sterner stuff than he gives her credit for.

It is only logical that two opposites such as Callum and Cadence, the former being a stickler for what is right and the latter being someone who is free with her affections in a way that does not create a favorable impression of her, would totally clash. And clash they do at first, until they both come to see more in each other and that perhaps in each other lies their future, rocky as the road maybe in the journey towards their ultimate destination.

There is an interesting psychology to Cadence, which Ms. Cate reveals layer by layer. The picture that emerges is of a child who never had a mother figure, who held the roles and responsibilities of acting like the adult in the family even when she was merely a child herself, and later on lost her way somewhere in the middle. Her fear of being left alone makes sense when all of that is put together, the resulting effect being someone who is too free with her love and affection when it comes to those unworthy of it. It takes a whole lot of soul searching and pain for Cadence to understand the same and it was a rewarding journey for the reader as well when she finally achieved the insurmountable.

I find that Ms. Cate has a unique way of writing hugely flawed characters that gives reader deeper insight into what they are, which makes for really intriguing reading. It is easier to judge a character at the surface level; Callum being the priest and the person who gave up his whole life to serve God as the righteous one and see Cadence as just the opposite. Almost always, there are reasons behind why we act the way we do. No one is born a sinner, nor are we saints. We are human, and how we are brought up, the psychology of those around us, the values we are instilled with, all of that and more charts the course of our lives for the most part. Deviating from all of that takes courage, and that is what I found in Cadence as her character grew out of what was holding her back in a big way.

Callum is a super sexy hero – no two ways about it. There is of course, the forbidden lure to him, but at the same time it is the way Ms. Cate has created him, giving him that rough edge with an inner core that is gentle at the same time. Callum is a man who chose his path because he believed it was his calling, but when Cadence comes and puts it all into disarray, he is flummoxed and resistant at first, but there is no stopping the heart from wanting what it wants, especially the forbidden fruit.

Callum also has a take charge attitude in bed that leaves the reader wanting more, and I loved every sizzling second of it. When Callum gives in, he does so spectacularly, and I am pretty certain that no reader would have been left unmoved by what he represents at that point.

The epilogue three years down the line clinched the deal for me with this book, to witness Callum and Cadence living their happily ever after, having reached their destination after all that heartache and angst. Callum teaches Cadence that she is worth everything, and Cadence in return understands that their love is worth it. Nothing puts a bigger smile on the reader’s face than that!

Recommended for fans of forbidden romances featuring two protagonists who are the direct opposite of each other. Ms. Cate has outdone herself with this number!

Final Verdict: Beautiful Sinner is one of those books that as a reader you can never get enough of. Callum makes you yearn for your own forbidden romance and Cadence leaves you with the understanding that your deepest flaws could well become your biggest strength!

Favorite Quotes

With my fingers still at the base of her spine, I lean down until my mouth hovers just above her shoulder. Her hands wrap around my body now, and I know she wants more. I can feel her desire radiating off her skin, and I feel terrible that I won’t be able to give her what she wants. But I’m taking this anyway, this one kiss.
With my lips parted, I press my mouth against the crook of her neck. She lets out a sweet little gasp, and I pull her body closer. Maybe I want her to feel what she’s doing to me or maybe I just want the friction against my aching hard-on, but either way, I know what I’m doing is fucked-up.

“So you’ll let those assholes fuck you instead? Is that what you want to be, Cadence?”
“Unlike you, Callum, I make my own decisions. I say what I do with my body.”
“Not anymore,” he snaps as he crashes his mouth against mine.
“You can’t,” I manage to gasp out before his tongue is in my mouth, and I become water, dripping through his fingers. I catch a glimpse of the white square at the collar of his neck just before I open myself to him, and my fighting hands turn into passionate grabs for his shirt and skin.

Her head hangs back, her lips open and her eyes clenched shut. Her cheeks are tinged pink, and my God, the sounds she’s making. I could record them and listen to them every second for the rest of my life. It’s exquisite.
Too fucking beautiful to feel bad about.
“Don’t stop,” she moans, and I pick up speed. I feel like an animal, overcome with lust and greed. The filthy fucking thoughts in my head are anything but righteous.

Slamming my fingers inside her one last time, I grip her tightly and feel her body explode with her orgasm. Every muscle tightens, and her thighs close on my hand, squeezing them in a vice grip as she stops breathing altogether. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful in all my life.

In just a few long strides, he’s standing right in front of me, and I barely have a moment to register anything before his lips are on mine. The kiss is ravenous and desperate. It’s vindication. It’s everything we’ve been hiding and torturing ourselves with for so long.
His lips devour me, trailing down to my neck, my shoulder. His moans are hungry and soon they turn into words. “I’m sorry,” he mutters over and over as he worships my body with his mouth
.

I feel the head of him against my core, and I hold my breath, my eyes not leaving his. He enters me with a force that makes me gasp and want to scream. Once he’s buried inside of me, we melt together. My legs wrap around him and his spine curls around me, his head buried in my neck. For a moment we stay still, enjoying this first bonding our bodies, like it’s some ancient ritual.
He groans into my skin, and I know the Callum that holds back and plays it safe is gone. The Callum I know, the one who takes and commands and doesn’t apologize is about to take over, and my body p
ulses in anticipation.

He does it again and again, keeping his eyes on me the whole time. I don’t bother keeping it quiet anymore. When he pulls my leg over his shoulder, I almost fall apart. My moans of pleasure vibrate across the walls of this church set to the perfect rhythm of his heavy grunts.
His hands grab my hips as he rockets his body against me, building speed and momentum. My back slides against the floor, and he yanks me back, slamming himself even deeper.

My hands grip the bed sheets as I wait for him to take over. I’ve already memorized his rhythm.
With a tight hold of my hips, he fucks me hard until I’m practically lifted off the bed and coming with the force. Just as my climax hits, he lifts my body so I’m flush against him and he pinches my clit until I’m splintered in two, undone with ecstasy.

“Come all over my hand,” I whisper in her ear, and her jaw hangs open like she’s fighting for breath. I’m striking hard now, slipping in a second digit as she writhes. My heavy dick grinds against her just as the conversation outside stops. Any moment, someone will round that corner and see me finger banging my young American employee. The secret will be out, and we won’t have to hide anymore.
But then again, I know it’s this filthy thing we’re doing that makes her seize up in my hands, biting back her cries as she soaks my hand. I love the way her thighs clench together as she comes, a vice grip on my wrist like she never wants me to pull it away. We’re both high on the forbiddenness of it.

As I stand up, I stare down at her, and I unbutton my pants, dropping them to the floor. With my hands under her legs, I yank her body to the edge of the bed and enter her in one fluid motion.
She barely has the chance to come down from her last climax before she’s writhing again. Watching her beautiful body on the bed, her legs wrapped around me, my chest aches. I love her so fucking mu
ch it hurts.

Grabbing her hand, I pull her up, and without pulling out, I lift her body in my arms. She has a drunk, ecstasy-laced smile as I carry her to the bathroom counter. With the large mirror behind her, I see myself as I fuck her.
For the first time in a long time, the reflection doesn’t repulse me. It feels right.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Lola Carlyle Reveals All by Rachel Gibson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Dirty Sexy Inked by Carly Phillips and Erika Wilde

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: The Paper Swan by Leylah Attar

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Damian Caballero
Heroine: Skye Sedgewick
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 04, 2015
Started On: January 28, 2021
Finished On: January 29, 2021

With The Paper Swan by Leylah Attar, my second book by Ms. Attar, I am finding out that her books are no walk in the park when it comes to engaging your emotions and the full frontal assault that she wages on them with her stories. That is how I want my stories to be, but alas, not every writer is as talented, or goes seeking darkness of the variety that Ms. Attar brings to readers with this number.

The story begins when 24 year old Skye Sedgewick is kidnapped and held in captivity by a man who seems to be willing to leave no stone unturned when it comes to the vengeance he seeks to achieve. Damian Caballero’s character is fascinating from the onset, his ruthlessness one that should rightfully turn you off, but I ended up liking it all way too much given the lover of darker themed romances that I am.

Damian is hauntingly familiar to Skye, bringing forth memories that she had long buried in her past. However, life has other plans in place for these two even when the truth comes to light, and the hatred that defines Damien’s very existence proves to be the detrimental factor in the relationship that burgeons to life between the captive and captor.

This book was so overwhelming in many ways, but I loved every single minute of it and would not change a single word in it for anything. The main concept that Ms. Attar explores in this novel is that broken hearts and blackened souls, they can heal. It is not easy as some books and movies make it seem; it is a difficult and heartbreaking process in itself. There are no easy answers to be had when your past is filled with unforgivable acts of violence brought on by the thoughtless actions of those who live life as they damn well please, sparing little thought for anyone else.

I am glad that both the protagonists were strong in their own unique ways, which helped make the story as outstanding a read as this was. At first, I hated Skye for not understanding where Damian was coming from, but later on I realized that I was being wholly unfair to Skye because she had been caught in the middle of a war of not her own making nor choosing.

The story is as realistic in terms of human emotions, what it can mean, what it can make you do, the time it takes to heal fractured hearts and souls, what love in its truest form can mean, and I loved the fact that both Damian and Skye grew individually and together to reach their happily ever after.

Highly recommended for fans of Ms. Attar and those who yearn for a breathtaking tale of love that is all encompassing.

Final Verdict: Ms. Attar deserves all the stars for this one. There is no stopping fate when two halves of one soul are determined to be together, and that is in essence what The Paper Swan is about!

Favorite Quotes

I took one step back for each one he took forward, until I was jammed up between him and the wall.
God, he was intense. And deliberate. And he could say things with his eyes that made my knees tremble. One side of his face was bruised and distorted from where I’d hit him. He grasped both my wrists in one hand and pinned them above me. Every part of me felt flush with the heat emanating from his body, even though that was the only point of contact. He hooked a finger in the ‘V’ of my blouse, tracing the dangerously low cleavage. His touch was so soft, it was barely discernible.
“Skye?” He seemed hypnotized by the rapid rise and fall of my chest.
I swallowed.
“Don’t play with scorpions unless you intend to get stung.” He yanked the neckline apart.

Damian grabbed my hands and pinned them behind my back. His lips found mine and he latched on with a hunger that left me breathless. He was an ocean of want and need. All the raging, submerged currents that he’d kept at bay unleashed themselves on me. I tried to keep afloat, clutching at him, but I didn’t stand a chance. My hurt, my anger, my tears were tossed aside by something deeper, something vast and true and powerful and endless.
It was a kiss that had sneaked in through an open window, a kiss that lay folded in a paper giraffe, in the silences between 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, in the pits of mini mangoes and here, now, at last, it was set free. And the rightness of it, the feeling of longing and belonging, made me want to hold on to it forever. I wanted Damian to keep kissing me, keep kissing, keep kissing, until every other kiss had been erased, until this was the only ki
ss.

“My turn,” he said, flipping me over.
It was oddly tentative, his lips on that most private part of me. And I realized that this was where it was different for Damian. He might have fucked a lot of women, but he’d never made love before, never thought about giving the same pleasure he received. And his baby steps—his hot breath, his tongue, his mouth—nudged me towards the sweetest release. When he slipped his fingers inside, first one, then another, I thought I was going to lose it.
“Damian.” I grasped his shoulders. I wanted him inside. “Stop.”
He paused, taking in my flushed face, the rise and fall of my chest, my taut nipples, begging for his touch.
“If you can’t take, don’t give,” he said, sucking on my hot little button like I’d sucked on his thumb.

The fucking tease. His fingers continued their maddening dance, and just when I thought I was about to explode, his cock slid into me, full and hard. It was pure possession, unbridled and complete. The pleasure came, swift and explosive. I clung to him, unable to suppress the cry of delight as wave after wave of electric fire scorched through me. He held still, one hand cupping the back of my head, the other on the curve of my hip as I came in tight spasms around him.
“Again,” he said, when I lay replete and breathless under him. “With me this time.”

“Take me. Take me now,” I whispered.
I exalted in his possession, writhing as our bodies found a tempo that bound us together. We were pressed against each other, flesh-to-flesh, so close that I could feel Damian’s heart pounding through his chest. He was rotating his pelvis clockwise then counterclockwise, then quick, shallow thrusts. I pulled on a fistful of his hair and kissed him, open mouthed, wild with need. He bucked, grabbed my ass with both hands, and drove deep into me. My thoughts fragmented; I gasped in sweet agony as fiery sensations ripped through me. Damian clutched my body, a tormented groan escaping him as he gave in to his release.

The roughened pad of Damian’s thumb found my clit and he flicked it, on, off, on, off, like a switch that allowed me sharp, spiky peaks of pleasure, and then took it away. Each time I moaned, his mouth fell open, as if we were connected by some invisible thread. Damian was focused on my face, my body, like he was recording every moment, every movement. His strokes pushed me closer and closer to the edge. I rocked against the hard length of him, driving him just as crazy, reaching, reaching, reaching, until we exploded in spirals of liquid fire.

“It’s very simple. You want the deposits to stop. I want you and Sierra,” he said. “Marry me, Skye.”
“Marry you?” I blinked. It was the last thing I’d been expecting. Proposals were supposed to be epic—grand moments that swept you off your feet, not negotiated like some business transaction. “You’re out of your mind.”
“Am I?” He swept one arm around the small of my back and pulled me in. “Tell me you haven’t missed me. Tell me you haven’t stayed up nights thinking of how good we are together. Because right at this moment, all I want to do is push you up against the wall and take you so hard that I can’t tell where I end and where you begin. I ache where you’re supposed to be, Skye, and I’m not going to stop until you’re mine. So we can draw this out or we can quit wasting more time. Either way, we’re going to end up right here. Me about to fuck you.”

The bed shifted when he slipped in beside me. One arm slid around my shoulder, cradling me to his chest. His skin was warm and smooth under my cheek. God, I’d missed the way he felt, his scent, his touch, the steady beat of his heart.
“Sleep.” He kissed the top of my forehead, stroking my hair like it was made of the finest gold.
I must have registered surprise because he chuckled. I had been expecting a fiery reunion.
“Just this,” he said. “This feels so, so good.”
The last time we’d been together, when Sierra interrupted us, he had been like a raging bull coming out of the pen, and although I could feel his undeniable arousal, I could also feel something else. Damian was content. For the first time, no one was closing in on us, no one was tearing us apart. We had found our way back to each other. We were finally free to be.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” he growled, tossing me on my back. “Because now, I have to do this.” He filled me in one hard, powerful thrust. My body protested, but I was so lubed up, so hungry for him, that the pain gave way to a hot, aching fullness.
“There’s been no one here.” He knew. He fucking knew. He picked up the tempo, carrying me with him. “I’ve missed this. I’ve missed you. So fucking much.” His breath was hot and labored.
It started at the base of my spine, electric tendrils reaching out from my pelvis, building, building, to a white-hot explosion that buzzed through me in waves of sharp ecstasy. I clutched Damian as it rolled through me and felt him stiffen as it hit him. Our bodies were momentarily fused, the same current flowing through both of us. I held on as Damian convulsed into me.

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookDepo

Review: His Valet by S.M. LaViolette

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

Review: Look the Part by Jewel E. Ann

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Flint Hopkins
Heroine: Ellen Rodgers
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 27, 2018
Started On: December 26, 2020
Finished On: January 02, 2021

Look the Part by Jewel E. Ann is the kind of romance that reaffirms the romance reader’s belief in the genre amidst too many lackluster reads pushing different agendas that are the popular norm of the times we live in. It is the kind of story that echoes in your heart long after you are done, memories of how you felt when you were deeply engrossed in the story, the kind you cherish months and years later, the reason why it lands in your favorites folder, to be revisited somewhere down the line.

32 year old Ellen Rodgers is a music therapist who signs a new lease for an office space, and her landlord turns out to be Flint Hopkins, who is a lawyer, who requires absolute silence to get his work done. From the get go, sparks fly between the two, reluctant as Flint maybe to acknowledge the fact. He wants to cancel the lease and get back his peace of mind, not just from the music or the “noise” that comes from his tenant’s floor, but from the way Ellen has a habit of ruffling his feathers, touching him, and making him want, testing his very resolve.

Ellen is more stubborn than Flint gives her credit for, and things become “messier” when Flint’s son Harrison finds an affinity with none other than Flint’s enemy number one. In the end, every single second spent in each other’s company drives them inexorably closer to that tipping point from which there is no turning back. But it is no smooth sailing for these two when each carries enough baggage and heartache to last them a lifetime. It takes a lot from both of them to find equal footing on their journey towards happily ever after and every excruciating minute I would say, was worth it.

I loved, loved, loved my first book by Jewel E. Ann to pieces. This book had everything going for it; main protagonists who are both lovable in all the ways that matter. Flint *fans self*, is the kind of hero that makes readers swoon with effortless ease. He steps into the story and your eyes just start shooting hearts all over the page. He has the kind of confidence that turns heads, the looks to go with it, and a demeanor that may keep most at bay, but not Ellen.

I loved the broken pieces within Flint that needed healing. He needed to forgive himself more than anything else, the guilt that keeps eating him from inside out being the biggest factor that keeps him from moving on, ten years since the fateful event of his wife’s death. He is a man grieving and at the same time stuck in a moment in the past, and he has no intention of budging from where he is for anyone.

Ellen is the antithesis to what Flint is in many ways, but the sorrow that fills every crevice of her broken heart is no less significance. A failed marriage has left its mark deeply ingrained, and she cannot help but want Flint with everything she is, even when she should know better. Touching Flint is Ellen’s way of reaffirming the essential bits and pieces to her, and Flint certainly does not make it easy when every delectable inch of his is laid bare for her taking.

I also loved the secondary characters in the novel that gave the story the wholesome edge it needed from at times the darkness that loomed in the story. There is so much angst interwoven that it sometimes felt like there was a football field lodged in my throat – but I reveled in it, loved it, and craved the feelings that were coursing through me with every fiber of my existence. There was guilt and yearning. There were broken hearts and fractured souls. But amidst it all, there was love and healing that went hand in hand which made this story stand out!

Recommended for fans of unforgettable romances featuring heroes that makes your hearts beat just a tad faster and heroines who make you smile through happy tears!

Final Verdict: Look the Part by Jewel E. Ann takes the reader on an incredible journey that demands nothing less than total surrender. There is nary a word nor character that I would change in this book!

Favorite Quotes

I jerk the button and zipper to his jeans, humming against his mouth. He shoves my shirt off my shoulders and yanks my bra down, palming my breasts as my hand slides down the inside of his briefs.
A low growl vibrates his chest. When was the last time I unraveled a guy with the touch of my hand? I don’t remember and that’s just sad.

“Let’s go.” She slides out of the booth.
I toss cash onto the table and follow her out the door, feeling guilty for the lack of any conversation over the past hour. “I’m sorry for not saying much—”
She whips around and grabs the lapels to my jacket, pulling me around the corner to the alley. She kisses me. Her hands take mine, and she guides them to her waist. “Touch me,” she whispers over my mouth.
“Where?” I take a step forward until her back presses to the side of the brick building.
“Anywhere …” Her breath is labored and desperate as she licks and sucks the skin between my ear and the collar of my jacket. “Everywhere … just … touch me.”

If I lean in three inches, our lips will meet. I like his lips, and the way he’s looking at mine leads me to believe the feeling is mutual.
“Thank you for bringing him home.”
He smells like herbs, like I imagine a chef might smell. I’m hungry. I’d settle for him, but I don’t think he’s on the menu tonight. I don’t know if he’ll ever be on the menu. He’s that dessert on the dessert tray that no one ever gets to eat because it’s just a display.

“Flint …”
“Shhh …” I nip at the skin right below the perfect curve of her ass, warning her to be quiet. She smells like the forbidden and tastes like my newest addiction. My hands work her skirt up her torso and over her head. With a firm yank it releases her arms, taking her shirt with it. I discard them behind me as well.
She turns. I take a step up, putting my face level with her perky tits. Glancing up to meet her drunken gaze and parted lips, I grin, unfastening her bra and tossing it over my shoulder.
Fucking perfect.

“I may have planned on sex … but I sure as hell never planned on you.” I ease her to her feet, and she sits on the bed, unfastening my pants with way more patience than I have at the moment. My hands take over, discarding the rest of our clothes before claiming her mouth again, pressing my body against the soft, warm curves of hers.
She tastes like forgiveness and feels like freedom. And she sounds like a prayer, humming against my mouth—not a moan, an actual tune that I don’t recognize.

I hop off the counter and take the pan to the drawer under my stove top. “Ouch!” I drop the pan in the drawer with a clunk and straighten my back, my hand reaching for the back of my leg, just below my butt cheek. There’s a stinging welt.
Flint holds the end of the twisted damp towel in his hand like a whip.
“Oh my gosh! Did you seriously just whip me with a towel?” I say in a loud whisper. “There’s a welt. You marked me.”
“Your skirt is too short. When you bent over to put that pan in the drawer, I could see black lace.”
“So you whipped me?”
He stalks toward me until I’m forced to crane my neck to maintain eye contact. “No,” he whispers. “I whipped you because you’re a fucking tease.”

“Which finger or fingers of yours should I be jealous of tonight?” he says in a low, deep voice.
I hide my gasp, but it’s there. Apparently shockingly crude remarks are the theme of the night. I can play this game. Making a quick glance over my shoulder for young ears coming, I turn back and hold up my index and middle finger. “These two up front…” I add my ring finger “…this one in the back.”
And there it is … Flint Hopkins expressionless and speechless. It’s an oddly beautiful sight.

For the rest of the night we pay homage to each other—physically, emotionally, spiritually. I refuse to stop until my mouth and hands have touched him everywhere and his have possessed every inch of me. I memorize the look he gets at the exact moment he loses himself to me. His back arches. My hand splays over his taut stomach muscles; my fingers curl into his tight flesh like I’m claiming him—Every. Single. Piece.
It’s sensual.
It’s vulnerable.
It’s beautiful.
It’s mine. I want that look to be mine and only mine forever.

“Ms. Rodgers.” He takes two short steps before the door closes behind him and he pins me to the wall.
We turn into a flurry of hands ripping at clothes, deep kisses, playful bites, and soft moans.
Between labored breaths, I stab my hands through his hair as he licks and bites his way down my neck. “You didn’t bring lunch, did you?”
“Elle …” He hums in pleasure as his lips feather across the swell of my breasts. “You are lunch.” Flint drops to his knees, taking my leggings and panties down with him.
My head thumps against the wall as my eyes roll back into my head.

Alex steps toward me, giving me that look of adoration that he used to give me, as he lifts his arm up, touching my cheek with his cold, prosthetic fingers.
I stiffen as Flint’s hand wraps around Alex’s forearm, pulling it away from my face. “But just to be clear … if any man were going to put something inside of Ellen and lay claim to her … it would be me.”
Just to be clear … I just fell in love with Flint Hopkins again.

“I haven’t been with anyone but you since the day you walked into my life.” I lift her up onto the vanity.
“Flint—”
“Shhh …” I kiss her while wedging myself between her legs.
She sucks in a quick breath as I push into her. My hand finds her breast as I find a rhythm.
“Race you to the finish,” I whisper in her ear.
Elle’s lips press to my neck, pulling into a grin. I show her how much I love her. How much I’ve missed her. How much I crave every inch of her. And then I beat her to the finish, pulling her across the line just after me.

“Crying’s not necessary—oh, Elle.” He pulls me in for a hug as I blink out the first round of tears and sob at the same time.
I knew it would hit me hard when it came time to say the words.
“There’s s-so m-much I want to s-say.”
He hugs me tightly, kissing my forehead. “Then say it.”
I shake my head, fighting back more sobs. “It’s st-stupid.”
“It’s not stupid. Just say it.”
I take a few seconds to reel in the burst of emotions so I can get all the words out before falling apart again. “I love you, so don’t die in a plane crash. Don’t change your mind. Don’t sleep with another woman. Don’t think about me getting fat or getting stretch marks. Don’t ruin your relationship with Harry to be with me. But be with me. Gah! I know that sounds impossible. But …”
He kisses me. And kisses me. And kisses me until I could faint. “Heaven and Earth,” he whispers over my tear-stained face.

He slides down my leggings and panties. I suck in a breath as a shiver jolts up the entire length of my body from his fingertips ghosting along the back of my bare legs.
His touch has had this effect on me since the first time his hand touched mine. At the time I thought it was this craving for any touch after feeling starved of that kind of affection for so long. I was wrong.
It’s Flint.
It’s his touch.
It’s me.
It’s how he reacts to my touch.
It’s us.

“Flint …” I curl my fingers into his back as this builds into something stronger and erratic. Our breaths quicken.
“Elle …” His grip on my hips tightens, and he slams me onto him as his hips rock up into me. “You’re so fucking beautiful.”
Our mouths crash together again seconds before we fall apart. I love being in Flint’s world. It’s tragic. It’s complicated. It’s filled with obstacles. But …
It’s passionate.
It’s addictive.
It’s the deepest kind of love.
It’s everything.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo