Review: Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young

Format: E-Bookbeforejamaicalane_
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: On Dublin Street, #3
Publisher: Penguin
Hero: Nathaniel Sawyer
Heroine: Olivia Holloway
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 07, 2014
Started On: April 28, 2019
Finished On: April 29, 2019

It is no secret that I love a good and healthy (sometimes a not so healthy) dose of angst in my romance novels. Heroes who have lost the love of their lives tend to give this factor to a book, and that is one reason why I picked up Before Jamaica Lane as my next read, the third book in the On Dublin Street series by Samantha Young, a totally new to me author.

Before Jamaica Lane tells the story of 26 year old Olivia Holloway who loses her mother to cancer at the age of 21, and hero Nathaniel Sawyer, who had lost his childhood sweetheart to lymphoma at the age of 18, rendering him to become the commitment-phobe that he is.

Olivia’s lack of experience in terms of flirting, talking to the opposite sex in any manner of interest that goes beyond friendship has meant that her love life remains pretty much nonexistent. Though Olivia and Nate have grown to be close friends, simmering beneath the surface on the part of Olivia is an attraction towards Nate she wills away quite successfully, most of the time.

All of that changes however, when Olivia seeks Nate’s help in honing up her skill-set in the seduction of the opposite sex, having grown tired of constantly being on the outside looking in. What starts out as one friend helping out the other, combusts into something more, something that neither Olivia nor Nate are prepared for.

Nate is a man who prefers to live in the past, someone who has never moved on from the tragic loss of the love of his life. It is as if Nate himself has become the shrine to the woman he had lost, and Nate avoids entanglements at any cost that could jeopardize his lifelong mourning.

Nate does not take to it kindly when he discovers that his feelings have definitely become more where Olivia is concerned. The blow-up that happens as a result was raw and emotionally draining as they come. The real conversations that Olivia and Nate have at different points in the story served to be one of the best aspects, which gives the tale such emotional depth that you cannot pull yourself away from any of it.

Nate’s character was one that I fell in love with, right away. There is this quality to him whereby he is equal spades charming, kind, and so effing sexy that it takes your breath away; he just sort of makes you literally swoon on the spot. And oh my stars, can the man kiss? I believe his kindness was the aspect that pulled me in the most (yes, me, who loves villainous heroes). It goes to show that if an author crafts a character well, the unexpected can always happen. Of course, it does help that Nate is a force to be reckoned with in the bedroom, when and where it matters.

Olivia was just as wonderful. I could not have asked for a better heroine in terms of the tale that unfolded. Even with her insecurities that were understandable, rising up to the challenge, putting herself out there, and taking charge of her love life was something I wholeheartedly supported. Even when it came to the inevitable point of no return between her and Nate, the fact that Olivia believed that she deserved better, that she deserved it all, made me want to stand up and give her the biggest hug she had ever received in her entire life.

Before Jamaica Lane is a story that needs to be read by anyone and everyone who loves romances, angst, and the reawakening of a hero who had lost himself to grief. Wholeheartedly recommended.

Final Verdict: Before Jamaica Lane is a novel that carries enough emotional punch to fell you in one single swoop. Nate will claim your heart and Olivia your soul. This is that book.

Favorite Quotes

His mouth parted, letting me in. I flicked my tongue against his, and suddenly I wasn’t in it alone. He moved his lips against mine, gently licked at my tongue until all I could taste was sugar and beer and Nate. Our kiss deepened.
Goose bumps rose all over my arms, and my breasts swelled against him.
He groaned, the sound vibrating in my mouth.
My fingers tightened in his hair. I couldn’t even remember putting them there.
My chest was pressed against his. I couldn’t remember him putting his arm around me to haul me close.
God, he could kiss.

The pressure built between my legs, and frustration grew along with it. I needed more. More somehow. Clasping my hand around his neck I pressed my knee between his to bring me that little bit closer. Wanting a deeper taste, I sucked on his tongue.
A growl rose from the back of Nate’s throat and suddenly I was pushed away from him. The absence of his mouth was almost painful. It took me a minute to come out of the fog of desire to realize Nate was staring at me wide-eyed, panting.

When that hot mouth of his closed around my left nipple, my hips slammed against him in reaction. ‘Oh, God.’ My thighs gripped him as I urged him closer, my back arching for more as he first licked me and then sucked hard, all the while pinching my other nipple between his forefinger and thumb.
I felt a wet rush between my legs.
‘Nate.’ My fingers dug into his shoulders. ‘Oh, God …’
He lifted his head, his eyes black as he undulated against me, his dick pressing between my legs now, only the fabric of his boxer briefs shielding me from its throbbing heat. ‘You like that, Liv?’ he asked, his voice thick. ‘Like me sucking hard on your nipples?’
I flushed at his crude question but found myself nodding quickly. ‘Yes, I like it.’

At first I was frozen by the foreignness of having him in my mouth, tasting him, feeling him as if he were all around me, as if there was nothing else in the world but him. It felt odd. It felt alien. And I was afraid I just wasn’t cut out for this part of sexual intimacy.
Until I looked up at his face from under my lashes.
This was Nate.
I gathered my courage.
I began to do everything that he asked, and as I did I watched him – watched the color rise in his cheeks; watched the way his chest rose and fell in rapid breaths; watched his fists curl in the sheets around him; watched his mouth open on pants; watched the sheen of sweat build across his skin; watched his abs ripple. And I got off on it.

My breath stuttered as I felt his tongue push the fabric against my clit. ‘Nate,’ I whimpered, my right hand moving to curl in his soft hair. ‘Please …’
He relented, leaning back to remove the panties. I tried to help, but my legs were shaking. After he peeled them off, Nate slid his hands around both my calves and glided his fingers upward. ‘You’ve got fantastic legs,’ he told me quietly. ‘I remember one night while we were watching a movie and you were wearing leggings. It was the first time I’d seen you in anything that showed the shape of them.’ He kissed the inside of my knee and looked back up at me with a fierceness that made me throb. ‘You stretched them out, feet up on the coffee table, and I couldn’t stop staring. I couldn’t believe you’d been hiding those long, gorgeous legs. I dreamt of your legs that night, Liv. I dreamt they were wrapped around my back while I fucked your brains out.’

He was slow and tender, his hands gripping my thighs lightly as he slid in and out of me, every stroke a gradual climb toward climax. His eyes drank me in, watching me pant beneath him, watching my breasts quiver gently against his thrusts, and suddenly he was pushing that little bit harder, moving that little bit faster. ‘Liv, come for me, babe,’ he commanded, his voice guttural. ‘You’ve got to come for me.’

Straddling him, I gripped his hair in my hands and kissed him hard. His arms banded around me and just as easy as that, Nate took back control of the kiss.
Fine, no kissing.
Pulling away, I gently pressed him back with a hand to his chest.
‘Well?’ he asked, his voice low, eyes questioning. ‘What now?’
In answer I began unbuckling his belt, quickly unbuttoning his jeans so I could slip my hand inside. Nate hissed as I fisted him.
‘Feel good?’ I purred across his mouth, a part of me floating on the outside of this little scene and wondering who the hell I thought I was.

‘Take off the nightdress,’ Nate insisted. When I didn’t move, he rubbed a hand over my thigh, his expression gentling. ‘Liv, I want to see you.’
I stilled, tilting my head to the side as I studied him carefully. ‘You do?’
There was so much more in my question than I wished there was.
And just like that Nate understood completely. ‘I want you. I want you to ride my cock and I want you to ride it hard. And then afterwards I want to sit with my friend, eat some food, and watch a movie with her. I’m not going anywhere.’ His grip tightened. ‘Now take off your nightdress.’

I whimpered against his mouth as he sucked in a deep breath.
And then I moved.
I tried to go slow, to take it easy, to build it, but I was too impatient, too desperate for it.
Too greedy.
Too inexperienced.
Yet Nate let me control it.
And by his doing so, we both came hard but much too fast.

I tried to move my arms, but they wouldn’t budge, and I was wickedly surprised to feel swift arousal move through me at the feeling of being completely under his control.
His to do with as he pleased.
With a growl of need he slammed into me and all I could do was take it as he pounded me into the mattress, my cries growing louder and louder until an eyes-rolling-to-the-back-of-my-head orgasm shattered my insides and I screamed his name upon beautiful release.

‘What? You think a bit of leg cramp will turn me off you?’
I half shrugged again.
Nate’s weight lifted from my back, but as he sat up his hands gripped my hips. He jerked my body up so I had to bend my knees to steady myself. I rested on my elbows, the breath whooshing out of me as I stared at him over my shoulder. ‘What are you doing?’
He caressed my ample bottom, his eyes filled with a dark intensity as his knees nudged my knees apart. Without a word he slid inside me.

‘This is me and you,’ he panted, driving faster and harder into me. ‘Don’t ever run. Not from me.’
‘Okay.’ I shook my head against his shoulder. ‘Okay.’
He stilled his fingers on my clit. ‘Promise me.’
‘Nate, don’t stop, don’t stop,’ I whispered hurriedly. ‘Please, I’m so close. I’m so close.’
He rocked up into me and stilled.
‘Nate!’ I keened, my hands dropping to his hips, gripping him behind me. ‘Please!’
‘Promise me. Tell me you won’t run.’ He bit my ear, the nip almost painful. ‘Tell me you won’t run from me ever. And then beg me to fuck you.’

I only had a moment to see the anger flare in his eyes before he rushed me. I found myself gripped by the nape of the neck as he hauled me up against him and started kissing me. It was rough, bruising, nipping, biting, and I gave as good as I got.
Breathing harshly, Nate pushed me back on the hood, insinuating himself between my legs. Shoving my dress up, he leaned over me, eyes black as the night around us, and I arched into his mouth as he pulled the straps of my dress, and the bra underneath, down to allow his lips access to my naked breasts. His hand slid along my inner thigh, his fingers dipping under my panties and pushing inside me.
I cried out as he cursed hoarsely at finding me wet and ready.
And then it was all about desperation.

At first he was rough, wild, hot. I let him kiss me. I let him undress me. I let him lead me into my room. I let him caress every part of my body.
Somewhere along the way he turned tender.
I let him slide inside me and take me slowly, beautifully. I closed my eyes.
‘Don’t,’ he said gruffly, grasping the back of my thigh to change the angle of his deep, slow thrusts. ‘Look at me. Give me those eyes.’
So I let him look into my eyes while he made love to me, until I came with tears in them.
I let him push my uncertainty aside.
I let him back in.

Shoulder blades pressed against the wall, my breasts heaving with breathlessness, I widened my stance, causing Nate’s nostrils to flare. ‘I want your thick, hard cock inside of me now and I want you to fuck me against this wall until we can’t breathe.’
I barely got a chance to see the way his lower abs jerked at my words before he was on me. His kisses were bruising as he slammed into me, pushing his jeans down to free his dick, seconds before he wrapped his hands around my legs, sliding me up the wall, angling my body just right.
He thrust into me.
Hard.
Deep.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: The Marriage Bed by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-Bookthemarriagebed
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Guilty, #3
Publisher: Avon
Hero: John Hammond
Heroine: Viola Courtland
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 28, 2005
Started On: April 24, 2019
Finished On: April 28, 2019

The only instance that I am glad when I am “too late to the party” is when I discover an author with a treasure trove of books worth digging through. Laura Lee Guhrke has been that for me ever since I stumbled across her title And Then He Kissed Her. Since then, I have been reading her books on and off again, and I have enjoyed each of those reads immensely. Laura Lee Guhrke is the kind of author who does away with the details that are not needed, brings just enough angst to the developing story, and delivers so beautifully on the sexual tension she builds along the way.

I came across this particular title in my continued search for similar books as that of Sherry Thomas’ novel, Ravishing the Heiress. It is a novel that has been on my re-reads shelf since I first read the book in 2012. I wanted a similar kind of story that would deliver a ton of angst, and though both the stories have a great number of differences to them, I loved each in their own way.

It is 1833, and it is common knowledge among the peers of London that Lord and Lady Hammond (John Hammond and Lady Viola Courtland) cannot stand each other. Each goes out of their way to avoid one another, an estrangement that has lasted nine years which had definitely left its mark, especially on Viola who had felt the betrayal anew every single time John had taken on a new mistress in the wake of their separation.

A sudden turn of events changes things overnight, when suddenly John wants an heir from Viola, which means a return to their marriage bed, a thought that scares and repels Viola at the same time. Viola had stumbled head over heels in love with John when she had laid eyes on him at the tender age of 17, and that love she believes has long since died a painful death, buried deep within the scarred remnants of her heart.

John is adamant that Viola return to him, even though Viola makes him work to earn his entrance back into her life, bit by painful bit. John is a man who has never understood or perhaps known love in its purest of forms. Childhood had left its mark on the boy he had been, who had grown into adulthood without understanding the very nature of love and how to reciprocate that feeling in return.

When responsibility of his title had been thrust upon him, he had not been ready to take it on, especially not with the mountain of debt that had come along with it. Marriage to Viola had been a practical decision for him, but the one thing that had not changed is how his wife still has the ability to seduce him in ways he had never forgotten.

What makes The Marriage Bed stand out is how Ms. Guhrke handles everything. Without vilifying any particular character, she does an admirable job of bringing to light the complexities of human emotions and the ties that bind us when all is said and done. Viola had been young, with a heart full of passion and love, which was not reciprocated on the part of John, especially the part on love. A man who keeps his past buried and buried well, John does a good job of hiding from the demons that haunt him, a fact that comes to light as these two come together once again.

While what John had done while married to Viola would not win him any points, he did what any man in his position would have done, especially during the time. His wife had turned him away, and he had been too proud to ask her what it is that had made her do what she did. Viola’s maturity years later and her friend Daphne’s advice played a huge role in changing her perception of John towards the end, and giving their marriage a chance once again. Their marriage had been all about passion at the beginning, with no time taken to get to know one another, to find a common ground – which as Daphne explains, is important for any long lasting relationship.

At certain points in the beginning (since I never did read the first or second book in the series before jumping into this title), I disliked Viola and her at times seemingly impetuous nature. However, I fell completely in love with her at a very significant point in the book towards the end, and I believe Ms. Guhrke made the journey towards that a very worthy one. I absolutely adored the ending. Definitely could not have asked for more after all the emotional upheavals that the story delivered, in spades.

Final Verdict: Unconventional and realistic, with characters who are extremely flawed making the story relatable on many levels. Ms. Guhrke definitely knows how to tell a story!

Favorite Quotes

“Don’t. People are watching us.”
Being John, he ignored that. “If you have forgotten all about passion, and it is my fault, then I need to rectify my mistake, don’t you think?”
“John—” She broke off, forgetting whatever she’d been about to say as he kissed her ear and his thumb began to caress the line of her jaw.
“I could think of all sorts of ways to remind you,” he went on. “If you let me.”

He made a rough sound against her mouth and broke the kiss. He leaned sideways and with a sweep of his arm cleared the desk, sending the stack of books toppling off the side and onto the floor. Then his hands cupped her buttocks and he lifted her to set her on the desk.
He reached for the sash wrapped around her waist, untying the bow with a hard, quick tug. He parted the edges and pulled her dressing robe apart. His fingertips touched her breasts through her nightgown, brushing back and forth over the hardened nipples. Pleasure rose within her, pleasure long forgotten, pleasure that made her gasp and shiver with excitement.

His body was wet, his mouth was hot, and the feel of both disintegrated any resistance left in her. Like a dam breaking, the hunger she had been holding back for years was unleashed in an instant. With a cry, she turned and wrapped her arms around his neck. She caught his mouth with hers and kissed him, a hungry, open-mouthed kiss borne of being so long without him, of being alone and hurting. She clung to him now, kissing him with all the passion she had denied to him and to herself.

He pressed his hips against her, and she felt his arousal, hot and hard against her tummy. She took him in her hand, her fingers not able to completely surround his shaft, and she stroked him, her hand exploring the shape, a shape still so familiar.
He stopped her. “I want to be inside you,” he said with sudden urgency. He grasped both her hands in his and pulled them both down onto the bed. Then he rolled her onto her back and his knee moved between her thighs, urging her legs to part.
“Open for me,” he groaned, settling his body over her, resting his weight on his forearms. “Now, Viola, now.”

He gave a hoarse cry smothered against her hair and slid his arms beneath her, crushing her against him as if he couldn’t get her close enough, thrusting as deep as he could. He shuddered violently as his own pleasure was at last unleashed, and his body went rigid as the warmth of his climax poured from him into her.
He collapsed on top of her, breathing hard against the pillow. His hand came up to stroke her cheek. “Viola,” he groaned. “Oh, God, Viola.” He sucked in deep breaths of air, pressing kisses against her hair and her ear and her temple. “Meant it,” he told her in a hoarse, fierce whisper. “Meant every damn word.”

He made a rough sound and stopped her. He caught her hands and shoved them away. Gripping her shoulders, he pulled her to her feet. He kissed her hard and his hands began tugging at her skirts, pulling them up, quick and desperate, out of control.
Tossing up yards of silk and muslin, he wadded her skirts between them, then he gripped her buttocks in his hands and lifted her. “Wrap your legs around me,” he ordered, and when she did, he impaled her against him as he pressed her back against the wall.
“Oh God, oh God,” he groaned, and thrust into her hard—once, twice. Then he came, tremors running through his body as he climaxed.

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

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Review: Cold & Deadly by Toni Anderson

Format: E-Bookcoldanddeadly.jpeg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice: Crossfire, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Dominic Sheridan
Heroine: Ava Kanas
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 12, 2019
Started On: March 25, 2019
Finished On: April 01, 2019

Cold and Deadly is the debut book in the Cold Justice: Crossfire series by Toni Anderson, one of my favorite romantic suspense authors out there. Cold and Deadly begins with a funeral proceeding for FBI retired agent Van Stamos, who had allegedly taken his own life with the service weapon FBI had gifted him after thirty years of service. Special Agent Ava Kanas is the only one who doubts that Van had taken his own life, which brings her under the focus of Supervisory Special Agent Dominic Sheridan, who at first is skeptical of what Ava has to say and suspicious of her motives.

In his mid-thirties, Dominic is an expert in the Crisis Negotiation Unit, and comes from well connected family. Ava is a rookie agent, having being mentored by Van before he left service. Even though Van had all good things to say about Ava when they had crossed paths prior to his death, Dominic is not a man as easily persuaded, which is why he has a hard time at first when Ava comes out with her theory that Van could not have taken his own life. That is until the funeral proceedings is interrupted by a deadly sniper willing to take as many lives as possible with every bullet fired.

Once Dominic discovers that there could be truth to Ava’s hunch, that is when things get interesting in the story, bringing in favorites from the Cold Justice series to complement the team we meet in this book. Ava, acting as Dominic’s bodyguard, comes face to face with a past she would rather forget if she could, and the close quarters in which they both operate breaks down the walls holding the tide of desire between them at bay.

With the hunt fully on in pursuit of a killer who is cunning in the extreme, it is a race against time that Dominic and Ava embark on, to find the truth behind the spate of killings targeting specific FBI agents.

I loved Cold and Deadly to bits. Now here is a story that delivers on both fronts; romance and the suspense, in spades. A hefty dose of sexual heat and romance, with nail biting suspense is what any romantic suspense fan could ask for, and Toni Anderson certainly delivers with this number.

Though Ava started off as a bit defensive in the story, understandable given where she was coming from, I fell in love with her soon after. Her dogged determination to pursue the truth, even at great cost to her own career and reputation is one reason why I loved her. There are no pretenses to be had with Ava, which is how I love my heroines. Any character that acts wily and plays hard to get just because, gets on my nerves big time. But Ava is a perfect balance of independence, vulnerability, and playfulness which came to light during scenes of passion between her and Dominic.

In Dominic (sigh, Dominic), Toni created the perfect male specimen (if ever there is such a thing). I am not kidding. Dominic is off the charts hot in a way that is indescribable. He just walks into the story and practically owns the page he strode on. There is arrogance that comes from multiple years in service, and given that he is a top notch hostage negotiator who got where he is by honest work when he could have taken the easier path to “success” was what earned my admiration for him. Bottom line? I loved Dominic and could definitely read more about heroes like him. A reader can send out hints, can’t she?

What was most intriguing about the story for me was the case that brings about all of the present events, culminating in the deaths of multiple FBI agents. That kind of premise deserves its own book, so that readers like myself can crawl under covers with our Kindles and get startled every time the wind blows a hefty gust, bringing with it thoughts of creepy houses in woodlands and makeshift graveyards that haunt.

Can’t wait to see where Toni takes characters like Charlotte Blood and Dominic’s boss, Chief Negotiator of the FBI, Unit Chief Quentin Savage. I even checked Toni’s website to look up a date of release for the next book to no avail. That is how excited I am!

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Cold & Deadly is wonderful debut striking that perfect balance between romance and suspense. With fascinating new characters and favorites from the Cold Justice series; what more could a reader ask for?

Favorite Quotes

God, she felt good. Tight. Hot. Aroused. He made sure every thrust hit all the good spots, angling her hips to doubly make sure. His injured shoulder was feeling no pain right now.
He wanted to take it slow, but the desire cruising his blood was stoking his body to a boiling point. He counted to one hundred in French to stop himself losing it. Even when Ava spasmed around him he held on until he could breathe again, slowing it down, wanting it to last forever.

As she started to tighten around him for the second time, he locked his arms around her hips and slammed into her so forcefully he was worried he might hurt her. Then she cried out again and they climaxed together, him gripping her tight and holding back a roar that would have brought backup bursting through the door.
Ava shuddered and sank against him, their hearts beating in unison.
Holy shit.

She straddled his thighs and he watched, glad that the light from the adjoining room spilled through the open doorway brightly enough to reveal every detail.
He slid his hands between her legs. Her pupils widened as he sank two fingers inside, driving her up onto her knees in shocked surprise. Her muscles clamped around him as he found her g-spot and made her cry out.
Her post-orgasmic smile made his toes curl. She inched forward and took hold of him, rubbing the head of his cock against her clit until he was the one squirming.
“Dear God, Ava, if I don’t get inside you soon…” he pleaded.

She held herself still long enough for him to catch his breath, and then she started moving. Riding him slowly at first, finding a rhythm and a depth that pleased her. And he hung on for the ride, gripping her thighs like a man dangling off a cliff. If she didn’t have bruises tomorrow it would be a damned miracle. And still he couldn’t let go. Finally, her breath caught, and he drove harder, deeper, pushing for that climax. Wanting and needing nothing except to share that moment with this woman.
It started like an explosion from his balls to his tip, a warm rush that filled him with exquisite joy.

“I guess you’re awake.” Her voice rose sharply as he pinched the tip her breast.
“I’m awake.” His voice was deep and sent a ripple of anticipation through her body.
She heard the rustle of a wrapper, and her mouth went dry with want.
He parted her thighs and didn’t even check that she was ready for him. He knew. He knew how turned on she was and how desperate she was for him to fill her up.
She groaned when he did. Panted and clawed the sheets as sensation rocked her. His thrusts made her want this never to end, never to stop. To lie here forever with that delicious friction gliding through her body, ratcheting the tension higher and higher until her nerves felt like guitar strings about to snap.

“Dom,” she groaned.
He lay flat against her, taking most of his weight on his elbows, but still immobilizing her with his strength, only the tip of him inside her, making her hungry for more, making her want to back into him and take him deeper.
“What?” His breath brushed her ear before his teeth bit gently into her earlobe.
“Please…” It was as close to begging as she’d ever get. As close to telling him how much she wanted him—not just his body—but him, all of him.
What was it about this man that hooked into a woman’s blood stream and made her addicted? No wonder women turned up on his doorstep with offerings.
Fuck me and I’ll bake for you. Fuck me and I’ll do anything…

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

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ARC Review: The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-bookthedarkbones
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Thriller, Romantic Suspense
Series: Dark Lure, #2
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Ash Haugen
Heroine: Rebecca North
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: May 21, 2019
Started On: April 13, 2019
Finished On: April 19, 2019

Sergeant Rebecca North returns to her hometown in Cariboo Country upon the death of her father. Rebecca’s regrets are deep when she returns to the scene of her father’s death, all evidence pointing to him having taken his own life. However, Rebecca is determined to do right by her father, who had reached out to her on the day of his death, telling her of how he was being followed, of his case notes being rifled through, all circling around him digging up a cold case that is inexorably tied to Rebecca’s past, the past that had kept her from returning home.

Now a hot shot white collar crimes investigator, Rebecca puts all her efforts into finding out the events surrounding her father’s death. On the eve of the first day of her return, she runs smack dab into Ash Haugen, the man she had avoided for far too long, the man whose actions on the day of the disappearance of the woman who had been tied with the scandal that had driven Rebecca to flee from life as she had known it.

As Rebecca retraces the steps of her father on the days leading up to his death, she uncovers something far more deeper, darker, and sinister surrounding the cold case her father had been unable to let go. Rebecca takes on an investigation that has her stepping on toes of those would kill to keep their secrets buried, the mysterious events surrounding the disappearance of two key people who had left destruction in their wake of the kind they had no inkling of.

The Dark Bones takes place in the same setting as that of A Dark Lure, a definite favorite of mine and countless other readers when it comes to Loreth Anne White. Her mastery over bringing scenery to vivid life, the chills that runs up and down your spine owing to the evil that can lurk in your midst; all of that and more makes The Dark Bones just as highly readable.

I loved how the story developed up to a certain point. Don’t get me wrong, I truly did enjoy the book from start to finish. But I felt that there was a disconnect from a certain point onward in the story, from how it was at first initially developed to how everything was eventually resolved. Perhaps this was felt mostly owing to the fact that the villain(s) in this story wasn’t as prominently characterized as some of the books I have read from Loreth. I believe one of the most fascinating aspects of Loreth’s books is the fact that she care bring pure evil to life in a way that still has you questioning certain things, even when you know that there are no excuses to be had for their behavior in the end. I missed that in this story, mayhap one of the reasons why I felt that disconnect towards the latter half of the book.

In Rebecca North, Loreth creates the kind of strong heroine that her books always deliver. Independent, strong headed and strong willed, with a stubbornness that I can relate to being a woman myself. Rebecca’s role in the book as the lead detective through most of the story was fascinating; she after all had her considerable experience as a white collar crime investigator up her sleeve. Her determination to keep Ash at arm’s length, because she wanted him and didn’t trust him in equal doses played its role.

While I understand the need for strong female leads, I sometimes wonder if society at large has built up these expectations around women that we have to do everything by ourselves, if we are to show that we are strong and capable. We have come to a point in our debates on feminism and the role of women in society in which leaning on a man for support is often seen as weakness, which I do not believe it to be.

I did recognize where Rebecca’s character was coming from – she had her reasons to distrust Ash and his intentions. But for two people with such a strong connection that practically leaps off the pages from the moment they come into close proximity, I had a hard time envisioning Rebecca’s need for Ash, which somehow seemed mismatched when it comes to reciprocating how Ash views her. She had been all that he had dreamed of, everything he had wanted, until he had been forced to give up on his dream, tied to his own actions, born out of a need to answer deeply disturbing questions about his own self.

Ash’s character is the kind of hero that Loreth writes so well. I was drawn to him on an inexplicable level, Loreth’s mastery over characterization making it no hardship to fall deeply for Ash. I felt immensely sad and disturbed by his childhood, a truth that most had not seen. I found it odd that Rebecca’s father who had been a cop himself, had not seen the truth when it came to Ash, had never discovered the dark secrets that lay buried in Ash’s tortured soul. At the same time, I know how deeply seated these issues in society can be, especially in smaller communities where victims could end up being accused for the very atrocities that they desperately needed to escape from.

I wanted to shower Ash with love. I wanted to hug him close, wishing I could have saved him from way back when he needed it the most. I wanted to weep for him. Long after having turned the last page, I still cannot seem to get over his past, something that Loreth never delved deep into. Rebecca was center stage of the novel, and it is only through her pursuit of the truth that Ash’s past comes to light. If I could, I would reach through the pages, pluck Ash out of them, and give him the longest hug ever recorded in history. That is how deeply I felt about him and his character. It may also have something to do with the fact that even with all that he had endured, there is a wealth of kindness, love, & integrity inside of him, having survived horrors of the kind that I cannot even fathom.

I also wished Loreth had delivered just a bit on the tangible sexual and emotional connection between Ash & Rebecca. I do not think it would have taken away anything from the main story. Instead, I believe that it would have only added more nuance to a story through exploration of a facet of both Ash and Rebecca’s character that Loreth brought so strongly to life amidst the backdrop of everything else that was going on. After all, the connection between Ash and Rebecca had been what kickstarted the events from years back, what had driven Rebecca away while Ash had been forced to stay behind, what had in essence led to Rebecca’s return home in the end.

On a side note, Sergeant Grace seems to be an interesting character. The strong, capable, and the do-not-need-anything-else-in-my-life kind of strong heroine that Loreth loves to write.

Recommended for fans of Loreth Anne White and for those who love tangible thrillers and mysteries. The Dark Bones definitely delivers.

Final Verdict: Loreth Anne White’s masterful manipulation of the world she draws her readers into is one reason why The Dark Bones stands out. Recommended!

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Crazy Like a Fox by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookcrazylikeafoxas.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Peter Andrew Delacroix Jaffrey
Heroine: Margaret O’Rourke Jaffrey
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 01, 1997
Started On: March 09, 2019
Finished On: March 14, 2019

Crazy Like a Fox by Anne Stuart begins when Margaret O’Rourke Jaffrey, with her nine year old daughter Carrie in tow, finally makes her way to her deceased husband’s family in order to recoup and find her footing once again. Having had a less than stellar marriage with Carrie’s father Dexter, it was the last thing that Margaret wanted; to finally admit defeat and seek the help of the Delacroix family.

In the midst of the Delacroix family, Margaret finds the mysterious Peter Andrew Delacroix Jaffrey, the Delacroix who by all accounts is a lunatic, looking for a reason to go off the hinges at any moment’s notice. Margaret cannot explain why she is drawn to Peter, why she finds him fascinating when she rightfully shouldn’t, and at the same time has distrust for him running through her veins.

Peter has been in a jail of his family’s and his own making ever since the events surrounding the death of his former wife. A man who had everything he could have desired, Peter’s downfall had come from his marriage to a woman who had wanted more. Along with her death, the blame of which had fallen squarely on him, Peter had found himself biding his time, waiting for his cousin Wendell to prove his innocence, sort of lost in the midst of the sea upon which he had been tossed adrift. That is until Margaret walks into the family home and makes him want again.

Crazy Like a Fox sounds like a title that would deliver a humor-filled read. While the book has its witty moments (it is Anne Stuart after all with her acerbic wit), the book delves into two characters who have been lost for a long while. Margaret had made the mistake of marrying a man who had wanted the next high that gambling would bring his way, a wayward character if ever there was any, leaving both herself and Carrie destitute when he had left this world.

Peter is the character that is truly intriguing, Anne Stuart’s masterful creativity bringing forth a someone you cannot figure out at first. Peter is a character that is revealed to readers in layers, his story emerging in bits and pieces that makes the story that much more intriguing. I loved the unveiling of his character as much as I loved the connection forged between the two lost souls himself and Margaret are, and the resolution to a mystery that had been a miscarriage of justice right from the start.

Anne Stuart’s intelligent heroes & equally witty heroines always reel you into the story without fail. An innocent man doubts his own sanity while the madman responsible for it all lives among them, waiting and biding his time. The wildcard that changes it all proves to be Margaret and her daughter Carrie, infusing Peter’s life with the vitality and vigor it had been lacking since a long while back. Loved the awakening, the connection, and the happily ever after.

Definitely recommended.

Final Verdict: Anne Stuart’s books age so finely that you don’t even remember how long ago the book was written, because each word inexorably woven with the other presents readers with sheer magic.

Favorite Quotes

Taking her arm, he pulled her away from the tomb, away from an approaching group of tourists, back into one of the shadowy alleys. They were alone, sheltered from sight, separated in time and space from the crowds around them. “That’s Marie’s speciality,” he said, reaching his hands up to cup her face. “Trust her.” His mouth moved down to touch hers, softly. “Trust me.” And he kissed her again, just as lightly, his mouth teasing hers, drawing her into a response she couldn’t help but give.
He tasted of champagne and pancakes. He smelled of the night and smoke from the ceremonial flambeaux. He felt warm and solid and real, no phantom at all. Sliding her arms underneath his cloak, she made a small, whimpering sound of surrender, of a longing so deep she couldn’t begin to understand it. And her mouth opened beneath his.

“Thank you for everything,” she said, knowing she sounded stilted. “Goodbye.” She turned and opened the door.
She was unprepared for his reaction. Catching her arm, he whirled her around, enfolding them both in his voluminous cape, and this time when his mouth met hers it wasn’t gentle, or teasing, or quietly seductive. His kiss was harsh, full of demand and despair, and she wrapped herself around him and returned the kiss, lost in the same sense of desolation.
Then abruptly he released her and she sank back against the doorway of the old building, her breathing rapid, her eyes shut.
“Next time, Marguerite,” he whispered, “I want to see your red hair.”

His hands moved down to cover her breasts, and she made a tiny, almost indistinguishable sound of protest. That protest drifted into a sigh of pleasure, and she dropped her head back, her hair flowing over both of them as he caressed her breasts through the thin lacy barrier of her bra.
And then the barrier was gone. His hands were warm and rough skinned against her sensitive breasts, and his mouth was at her neck, drawing her, drawing her. She turned, opening her eyes for a moment, staring up at him with a dazed expression, and then his mouth caught hers.

Deliberately he pulled her toward him, his hands rough on her arms, not allowing her any escape.
She had no intention of escaping. She slid her arms around his waist, moving against him, and her mouth reached up for his.
He stumbled against her, pushing her up against the wall, his body covering hers, pressing against every square inch of her, and his hands cupped her face, holding her still for his devouring mouth. He kissed her lips, her eyelids, her cheeks, her nose, then returned to her mouth, slanting across her soft, giving lips and drinking deep. She gave a little cry deep in the back of throat, one of desire and acceptance. She didn’t care.

“Let go, Peter. Let me leave, drive away from here, out of your life. Please, Peter. Let me go.”
And they both knew she wasn’t talking about anything as simple as his hand on her arm.
“Marguerite,” he said, his voice low and sorrowful. “Chère. I’m not that crazy.” And he pulled her slowly, carefully, into his arms, giving her plenty of time to pull back, to fight, to resist.
“Oh, Peter,” she whispered. “I am.” And rising up on her toes, she kissed him, pressing her mouth against his, opening it slightly, touching her tongue against his lips.
His response was a muffled growl of longing as he threaded his long, beautiful fingers through her hair and kissed her back.

He yanked his clothes off, his eyes never leaving hers. He stripped off her jeans and threw them halfway across the room, and then he covered her body with his, with his long, lean, muscled beauty that was unlike anything she’d ever seen. She wanted to touch him, to treasure him, to delight in him, but his mouth was on her breasts again, suckling them deep, his hands were between her legs and she was damp and aching for more. She reached down to hold him, but he’d already moved on top of her, between her legs, hot and heavy and ready for her.
“I can’t wait,” he whispered, his voice harsh with desire and an impossible restraint. “Come to me, Marguerite.” And he sank into her, deep and hard and wonderful.

“Scream for me, Marguerite,” he whispered in her ear. “I want to hear you scream.” And he reached between their bodies and touched her, deftly, as he surged against her.
She did scream then, as he’d wanted, as she never had in her life. She felt her body dissolve, even as he surged and shuddered against her, and the flames engulfed them, destroying and devouring them, until there was nothing left but ashes.

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

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Review: Cinderman by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookcinderman_as
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: More Than Men, #4
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Daniel Crompton
Heroine: Suzanna Molloy
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 01, 1994
Started On: March 02, 2019
Finished On: March 07, 2019

Suzanna Molloy, an investigative journalist, breaks into Beebe Control Systems International to prove a hunch she has regarding the sort of experimentation that is being undertaken by the mega corporation. These are desperate times for a reporter like Suzanna, who has become persona non grata owing to her impertinence in asking too many probing questions about their corporate structure, for which she was being refused interviews. But a reporter like Suzanna is never deterred, which is how she finds herself on that fateful night, breaking into the laboratory of none other than Dr. Daniel Crompton himself.

Daniel is all about science and minimal distractions. Daniel likes living in his own mind, far too intelligent to be taken for a fool, deeming it a waste of his time to get into the politics of the organisation itself. However, when he finds Suzanna inside his lab, just minutes before everything literally blows up, Daniel has little inkling of how both their lives are going to change, so very drastically.

With Daniel and Suzanna on the run for their lives, Daniel harboring a secret which does not stay that way for too long, it is an interesting journey the two takes, where Daniel takes Suzanna to her dream home, nestled in the mountains, far away from prying eyes. Bit by bit, Suzanna discovers that she had been wrong about the man behind the scientist that is Dr. Crompton.

Daniel has never gone for intelligent women. He used to believe that he had no use for that in a woman. But in Suzanna he finds intelligence striking, his libido undergoing a drastic change, perhaps under the influence of the chemicals that had been absorbed into his body – or so he thinks. When Daniel finally gives in, and Suzanna understands that there is no going back, that was beautiful in itself, and the epilogue making me laugh out loud with sheer enjoyment.

I loved both Dr. Crompton and Suzanna. I love heroes or heroines for that matter, whose intelligence levels makes them different from most, and that is what I found most intriguing about Daniel. Daniel with his beautifully built home that seduced Suzanna. Daniel with his classic good looks that made him irresistible to Suzanna. Daniel with his ferocious need for all that is Suzanna that ultimately won her over.

In Suzanna, I found Daniel’s match in every way. A woman who could keep up with the way his brain works, a woman who would understand his wandering mind, a partner who would give him her all, in return for all the love he would shower upon her.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Send me a “pirate” like Dr. Crompton any day, everyday! Loved!

Favorite Quotes

For a moment Suzanna couldn’t move. He stood only a few feet away from her, in the middle of his soulless living room, dressed in a faded pair of jeans that clung to his narrow hips and long legs. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, despite the coolness of the morning air, and Suzanna decided then and there that a scientist shouldn’t have such a chest. He should have been pale and soft and flabby. Not toned and tanned and subtly well-muscled.
He hadn’t bothered to tie back his hair, and it hung around his strong-featured face, making him look like a pirate, not a biochemist with a Ph.D. in physics on the side.

He’d unbuttoned his shirt, and she could see his smooth, sleekly muscled chest beneath the denim shirt. She reached out a hand, to touch his forehead, to see if she could gauge his temperature, when his eyes flew open to meet hers.
“Look but don’t touch,” he said in an unbearably quiet voice.
She was mesmerized, by the darkness in his eyes, by the stillness in his face.
“Why?” she whispered.
“Because if you touch me, I’ll take you. And I don’t think you’re ready for that.”

Her body warmed, softened, flowed against his. She lay curled in his lap, her hands clutching his shoulders, as he kissed her, kissed her until he was ready to go up in smoke, breathless, mindless, crazy with the heat and the need. She was soft and sleepy against him, and her tongue met his, shyly, with a touch of eagerness that just about destroyed him. He broke away, trailing slow, hungry kisses down the slender column of her neck, and she arched against him as his hand closed down over one breast.
It fitted his hand perfectly. Cool through the silky material, it wanned, swelled against him, and he wanted to taste her there, too.

The silence, the heat in the room, was palpable. “I wouldn’t say that,” he said. “Come here, Suzanna.”
The wariness in her body flared into a moment of outright panic. It had been leading to this for a long time. Longer ago than the moment he’d come back to his lab and found her there. It had started with their very first confrontation, at one of Beebe’s unctuous public relations efforts. She’d clashed with him then, and she thought he’d dismissed her with his typical scientific arrogance. She knew otherwise now. He remembered that first clash. He was remembering it now.
“Don’t,” she said, trying to shut it off.
“Come here, Suzanna.”

He leaned down and kissed her then, very gently, a wordless reassurance that it was going to be all right. And she realized that, conscious decision or not, she trusted him. With her life. With her body. With her soul.
With her love.
She opened her mouth beneath his, deliberately inviting him. And then there was no gentle wooing.

His hands cupped her hips, pulling her more tightly against him. His mouth crushed hers, and she heard him, the words, sifting through his mind, love and lust and longing, striving for an end that was only a beginning. She clutched at him, shivering, building, shattering once more as she felt him explode in her arms, a white hot flame of passion that seemed to last an eternity.

He was huge, and hard, and damp for her. He didn’t need to say a word—she knew what he wanted, she could hear his desperate longing in his mind, and it matched her own. She leaned down and put her mouth on him, taking him deep inside, her hands clutching his hips.
He didn’t touch her, and she knew why. If he touched her, he’d take over, and he knew she needed to do this. Needed to take control, to learn him, without fear of the consequences. She needed to do just what she wanted, and she needed him to lie back and let her.

He waited until she’d taken him fully. Waited until she leaned forward, her breasts against his hot chest, her hands sliding up his outstretched arms to cover his hands as they clutched the iron railing. He waited while she moved, awkwardly at first, unsure, and then suddenly she was fluid, light and darkness, heat and desire, taking him, owning him, and he was trembling, shaking apart beneath her, and she was trembling, shaking apart, and then the world exploded. She screamed, unable to stop herself, and she was lost, as he finally began to move, thrusting up into her, taking her, filling her with his heat, his seed, his life.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: A Dark & Stormy Night by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookadarkandstormynight
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: More Than Men, #13
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Jamie O’Neal
Heroine: Kathleen Bridget Moira O’Monaghan Flynn
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 24, 1997
Started On: February 20, 2019
Finished On: March 01, 2019

28 year old Kathleen Bridget Moira O’Monaghan Flynn (Katie) is a weather junkie, who prefers singledom because she likes her freedom and solitude too much. Leaving everything familiar behind had been her way of facing an early onset of “mid-life crisis”, in the search for greener pastures to graze on. When she gets caught in a massive storm and nearly plunges to her death, it is the man that rescues her that changes the course of her life so drastically from that point on wards.

When Jamie O’Neal rescues Katie in the midst of a fierce storm, he has little inkling of the fact that Katie would end up turning his life upside down. Jamie is a man who has been denying himself happiness, the guilt that he has nursed all along since the tragic deaths of his family having kept him solidly within a prison of his own making. Jamie has a secret that he tells no one, a secret that he cannot trust anyone with, which ties in with that fateful night he lost his family to the churning waters of stormy seas.

Even though Jamie tries to send Katie on her way, to push her away, to deny himself, fate however has other plans in store, especially with Katie being helped along by forces unseen by Jamie. At the same time, Jamie does not see the threat that exists right under his nose, which made for pretty interesting reading.

I picked A Dark and Stormy Night needing to read a story that would awaken all my senses. I wanted a book that would sweep me off my feet, the reason why I keep Anne Stuart reads to pick up on those days that I need a booster in terms of my romance addiction. Anne Stuart is the perfect antidote to all my woes and this story just proved once again that the woman can basically do no wrong.

I loved A Dark and Stormy Night in so many ways. Jamie was such a wonderful hero, equal doses aloof and tragically beautiful, while at the same time with a vulnerability that spoke to me on so many levels. Katie was just perfect for him; brash and brave in a way that was needed to shake Jamie out of that decade long stupor he had gotten himself into.

Every time I pick up an Anne Stuart to read, it is as if I fall in love with her writing, head over heels, all over again. I found the prose of this book particularly beautiful, perhaps one reason being that my reader soul was starved for words that speaks to me on a whole different level. I actually cried over the beauty of the prose of the book, which made me fall in love, all that much more.

I so loved the epilogue. Couldn’t have asked for anything more!

Final Verdict: What a beautifully magical story Anne Stuart weaves, when she intends to make her fans weep! Loved, loved, loved!

Favorite Quotes

“We’re going to die,” she said, “No.” He was there, touching her, and she started to pull away, when something hit her directly between the shoulder blades, hit her hard, and sent her falling against him, so that he had no choice but to catch her, no choice but to put his arms around her. No choice but to put his mouth against hers.
And she was lost.

He moved his mouth away from hers, just for a moment, and her voice was small and pained.
“Please don’t,” she said. But her hands clung to his shoulders tightly, and she rose on tiptoes and pressed her mouth against his, ignoring her own plea for mercy.
He could have stopped. She wanted him to stop, he wanted to stop, and it would have taken so little to step back, set her away from him, retreat to a corner and await rescue or drowning, he didn’t give a damn which.

“Hold on to me,” he whispered against her ear.
“Hold on tight.”
She put her hands on his shoulders, and she could feel him against her, hot and heavy, pressing, filling her, sliding in a little at a time, and then withdrawing, only to push inside her again, deeper this time.
Her fingernails were digging into his shoulders now, but he didn’t seem to mind. He rocked against her, a slow, leisurely pace that was maddening when she needed more, she needed all of him, not this wicked tease, this promise of something shattering and unattainable.

“Look at me, Katie,” he said in a harsh voice.
She opened her eyes, staring up into his lost, beautiful ones. Her breath and her heart stopped as he thrust deep, breaking past the barrier of her virginity and filling her completely.
The pain was nothing, the joy powerful. She no longer clawed his skin, she slid her arms around his neck and kissed him with pure abandon and love.

She was crying, she realized belatedly. Sobbing, but O’Neal didn’t seem to mind. He rolled to his side, taking her with him, holding her with all the tenderness of a lover.
He was her lover, she thought in amazement, weeping her stupid tears against his chest while he stroked her hair and murmured soft, loving things that made no sense. He was her lover and her love.
And she fell asleep mid-sob.

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

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