Review: Outmatched by Kristen Callihan, Samantha Young

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthescotbedshiswife
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical
Series: Victorian Rebels, #5
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Gavin St. James
Heroine: Samantha Masters
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 03, 2017
Started On: March 04, 2020
Finished On: March 22, 2020

The Scot Beds His Wife is the fifth book in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne. It tells the story of Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne and Samantha Masters, who arrives in Scotland from America, fleeing possible prosecution from having killed her significant other.

Samantha assumes the identity of Alison Ross, who holds the rights to the property that Gavin wants to make his, what he sees to be his finally link to freedom. With Samantha standing between him and what he covets the most in this world, he strikes up a bargain with her which includes a marriage of convenience.

When Samantha arrives in Scotland and meets the notorious Gavin St. James, she is not at all prepared for the way that he sets her senses ablaze with a fleeting touch and that searing glance of his. Even though Samantha is determined that she would not fall under his spell, as danger comes seeking her out, there is no other option but to give in. And  give in she does, not only because she must, but she wants to. Because the delicious torment it is being pleasured by the wicked Earl demands nothing less.

As Samantha and Gavin begins to find their footing in a marriage that neither had thought would be everlasting, secrets that could tear them apart comes to the surface, especially the ones Samantha keeps close to her heart. To find their way out, each must be willing to put their heart on their line and gamble with what is most precious to the other, their love for one another.

Gavin’s backstory is one that made me want to weep copious amounts of tears because there is no other way to react to what he had gone through as a child and his journey to adulthood. Gavin’s relationship with his elder brother is of the most complicated variety; there is no easy way out of being in love with the bride of your own flesh and blood. But it is beneath the surface one must look to understand the story within. The details of Gavin’s past interwoven with the present was enough to make my heart bleed raw from the pain, and the result had been for Gavin to believe that everlasting love was not for the likes of him, ever.

Samantha’s past is just as harrowing, especially once she had committed to becoming the wife and a member of the ill-famed Masters Gang in the US. Samantha’s fate had pretty much been sealed when her hand in marriage was planned to someone old enough to be her father. When her gang of brothers had turned up at her home at that point in time, Samantha had taken the lifeline that had been hers for the taking and run with it, only to realise that she had jumped from the frying pan into the roiling fire.

What surprised me the most (in a good way), was how much I actually enjoyed Gavin’s story when I initially saw him as a character who was too mellow for my liking. As fans of Ms. Bryne’s work would know, her heroes tend to be unabashedly masculine, alpha, and tantalizing in a way that takes command of all your senses. I though Gavin to be a bit less so, perhaps because of his laid back nature in the previous stories when he made an appearance. There were also reasons behind him appearing as such, which I am no privy to, having read his story. I am glad that Gavin proved himself to be more, so much more than what I initially thought him to be.

Gavin and Samantha are two contrasting characters, who, each in their own way, are looking for that undefinable something that humanity as a whole yearns for; that sense of belonging that comes from finding deep and abiding love with your equal in every sense. Ms. Byrne has done a splendid job of bringing those contrasts between Samantha and Gavin together in a way that makes for a breathtaking read.

To sum up, The Scot Beds His Wife is the story of the least fierce hero of the Mackenzie clan. The brother whose beautiful mother paid dearly in her marriage to the brute that had be their father. The brother who had borne the brunt of his father’s wrath because he had not been cruel, and there had been a gentleness to his soul that had made his father want to beat it out of him. A smuggler, a hedonist, son, and a brother who never wanted to carry the weight of the family name.

Samantha is the gunslinger and widower who comes to Gavin’s land to take away what he covets the most, what he thought would finally bring him the respite and escape he so craves; respite from the rage that swirls inside of him and the need to destroy that wars constantly with his soul. Samantha who assumes the identity of someone else, is carrying a secret that could devastate them both, who never thought she would fall for the highlander who claimed he would be partially faithful to her.

Recommended for those who love the Victorian Rebels series, who loves passionate historical romances set in the beautiful highlands, and those who love an unconventional heroine in their stories!

As always, quotes I have selected from Ms. Bryne’s books overwhelms the senses, every single time you revisit them, even months later.

Final Verdict: The Scot Beds His Wife tells the tale of two people who never thought they needed love and find it in the most unlikeliest of places through a marriage of convenience. Beautifully told as only Kerrigan Byrne can!

Favorite Quotes

“Give it here,” she demanded.
“Give it here…?” He drew out the last syllable.
“Please,” she muttered, galled to the core that she was even having such a ridiculous interaction.
“Gladly.” The beauty of his smile stunned her blind, which must have been how he was able to cup the back of her hand with his, in order to set her handbag in her open palm.
The tiny striations of her lace gloves became her only feeble defense against the feel of his coarse flesh against hers. The weight of her returned handbag drove her knuckles deeper against his palm.
A rough exhalation drew her notice. Nothing about his haughty, nonchalant expression had changed.
And yet … everything had.
The rim of his nostrils flared with quickening breath. His lids became heavier, drawing to half-mast. His sinfully full lower lip drew tight against his teeth before he consciously seemed to relax it.

With a stunned gasp, she turned her head, tearing her lips from his.
In the time it took for her to form the indignant words “What the fuck do you think—” Gavin’s decision was made, and it no longer paralyzed him.
His fingers released her wrist and anchored in her hair, where they’d previously itched to be. His next kiss was so fierce, it drove her head against his palm, and the back of his hand against the tree.
Her lips were already parted, and he pressed them wider.
This wasn’t a kiss, but a claiming.

He controlled his thrusts with absolute precision, his long fingers working together to create a wash of pulsating bliss that seemed to rise from somewhere deep, deep inside her, until suddenly every muscle in her body tensed and arched. It broke through her like a tidal wave, brimming over her veins and washing her flesh in a crescendo of effervescence. The peaks of the pulsing waves lingered, the valleys only a momentary respite before she was barraged again.
Samantha kept her neck arched, her eyes fixed on the sky above and, even through the heavy storm clouds …
She saw the stars.

The hands on his shoulders slid up his neck, then seized his jaw and pulled his lips the rest of the way to meet hers.
She made a sound he’d never heard from a woman before. There was nothing coy or teasing in it. Nothing seductive or husky or practiced in the least.
It was pure. Honest. Need.
And he was lost.
Maybe he’d been losing himself slowly since the moment she’d barged into the Highlands, guns blazing, eyes snapping, and tongue lashing.

Inside her body, where he still remained. Hard. And hot. And pulsing.
What?
Five breaths. Five breaths was all it took him to recover.
A hum of masculine satisfaction rumbled deep in his throat before he threaded his fingers through hers and slowly guided them above her head as he finally began to move.
Her eyes flew open and she gasped at the sight. Even though she’d seen him dozens of times, his beauty still had the power to startle her if she wasn’t prepared.
Hadn’t he just…? How was he still…? Oh God, that felt good …
“The only Mackenzie trait I’m glad of, lass,” he said by way of arrogant explanation. “We spend ourselves more than once.”
Jesus Jehosephat Christ.

“Don’t think that just because we’re married, you get to tell me what I can and canna do. Didn’t you notice that your brother left the word ‘obey’ out of the wedding vows?”
Lord, but he loved it when her azure eyes flashed with temper.
“Och.” He chuckled, scratching at his morning shadow-beard. “More than a slight oversight on his part. Tell ye what, if ye prove to me that ye can ride, then ye can go.”
“Fine.” She shot him a triumphant smirk. “I think that bay mare would do nicely.”
“I find it charming, lass…” He let his thought trail away as he sidled closer to her, a wicked intent heating his blood and already pulsing in his loins.
“Find what charming?” She shied away, but not fast enough.
“That ye thought I meant for ye to ride a horse.”

“I can ride,” she declared. “I’ll ride you witless, Gavin St. James.”
Just when he’d thought he couldn’t get any harder—she had to go and prove him wrong.
“By all fucking means,” he growled. Seizing both her mouth and her lean hips, he controlled their roll, levering her above him even as he sucked her tongue deep into his mouth.
Bunching her skirts in his fists, he burrowed his hands beneath them, sliding his fingers over the silken flesh of her thighs until he found the soft hair between. Cleaving her folds apart, he found the slippery cove of her body already wet and ready for him.

Lord, but with just a few kisses, her husband set her skin on fire, and released a wet flood of preparation all at once.
A fucking miracle of biblical proportions, that was sex with Gavin St. James.
In a sinuous motion of both unparalleled grace and strength, he stretched his magnificent body onto his back, all the while lifting her hips and dragging her up his torso and past his shoulders.
“What are you—”
His wicked mouth answered her, but not with words.

He drilled into her, the hard planes of his hips pounding against her as a fresh storm of pleasure began to build deeper within her loins. She shivered and convulsed, gritting her teeth together to keep herself from screaming. She enjoyed the wicked, brutal sounds their bodies made, the growling breaths that exploded from him.
He pushed her to her elbows, his hands both rough and reverent. He took her like a stallion mounted his mare. This was not their usual encounter, she realized.
This was a claiming.
He was a hunter, a predator. And now, she’d become his mate.

He took her mouth with his own, slanting his lips over hers, licking the salt of her tears from the seam with his velvety tongue.
She opened for him, accepted his possession, his love, and all the emotion he poured from his lips into hers. No longer was he the leisurely lover, the infamous rake. This time, his kiss conveyed a desperation she’d never felt from him before. A passion she’d not known him to be afflicted with.
Her response to it was instant and fierce. She threaded her fingers into his lush hair and turned her hands into fists, imprisoning him to the onslaught of her answering ardor. A lifetime of loneliness flared between them, fusing them to each other, offering what neither of them had ever been able to claim.
Belonging. He was hers. She was his. And neither of them would be alone again.

She was so lost in his mouth, that she hadn’t realized he’d pushed her onto the seat and pulled up her skirts until he was moving against her. Thrusting inside of her.
Her body was ready for his intrusion, wet and warm, open and needy.
His possession brought her to life, warming the blood from ice in her veins. Lifting the weight of guilt and sorrow, turning it into a taut and frantic lust.

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

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Review: Release by Aly Martinez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Savaged by Mia Sheridan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Angel of Darkness by Lynne Graham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Sweet Vixen by Susan Napier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: Blindsided by Amy Daws

Format: E-Bookblindsided
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Maclay Logan
Heroine: Freya Cook
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 21, 2019
Started On: January 19, 2020
Finished On: January 24, 2020

Blindsided by Amy Daws is a novel that is aptly titled in my opinion. My first read by the author, the story is one that totally sucker-punched me with the tide of emotions that was unrelenting from start to finish.

Blindsided came upon my radar in my forage to find a good friends-to-lovers romance, my favorite trope in the romance genre. Even though I usually steer clear of sports themed romances, I am so very glad that I gave this a go because this book had me sighing in all the right places and crying happy and ugly tears as the story took turn after turn, delivering a happily ever after that is worthy of any reader’s time.

29 year old Freya Cook and 34 year old MacLay Logan have been friends for over a year, and even though Freya does crush on Mac, who is one of the hottest men she has ever laid eyes on, she is determined to keep things on a friendly basis until things take a surprising turn in their friendship.

When Freya and Mac embarks on a different tangent of their “friendship”, neither of them is prepared for the changes it brings to their perceptions of each other. While Mac is determined that no woman would get in the way his ambitions when it comes to football, Freya has no expectations beyond what Mac is ready to offer. However, the heart wants what it wants, and it is not long before more complex emotions surge to the surface, complicating what was supposed to be time-bound.

With Mac compelled to turn his life upside down for family which officially ends things between the two, thus starts the angst-ridden journey towards finding new grounds and revelations that is painstaking for the both Mac and Freya. There is not a single thing that I would change in the story, because Amy Daws has created sheer perfection at the turn of every page!

Blindsided is a book that had everything going for it, which helped wipe every single lackluster read that I had been grappling with up till that point in time. I don’t know whether I have become more “snobbish” in my reading tastes, or whether I have outgrown romance as a genre (sincerely hope that is not the case), but it has become extremely difficult to find a story that sweeps me off my feet and gives me a story worth salivating over.

Mac, sweet darling Mac, was out of this world endearing and sexy as they come. There is an emotional depth to his character which many may not identify with at first, but his actions speak louder than words, and I fell head over heels in love with him from the very start. The way he calls Freya “Cookie” reminded me of someone significant, and perhaps that is one reason why his character appealed to me on a different level.

Freya was beautiful – no two ways about it. There is an underlying strength to her character that made her so relatable. Even at the face of immense heartache, she had the kind of dignity that most of us can only wish for under such trying circumstances. But the lesson to take away from her character is profound; one must love their own self first to be able to love anyone else or let anyone else love you for what you are worth.

Don’t get me wrong – this story wasn’t darkness and angst all around. There was so much hilarity interwoven in the story, while at the same time the magic of turning friends to lovers was fully explored. Loved the heat and passion and the feelings of more complex nature that both Mac and Freya have to confront as things progressed.

This is definitely NOT your typical sports romance. As I mentioned earlier, I am someone who usually steers clear of anything labeled as a sports romance, and perhaps labeling this as such could be a turn off for readers like myself. Blindsided is a novel that is so so much more – while football is a part of the story, it does not detract from the joy of the romance that unfolds, nor the emotions of more complex variety that is explored.

If someone were to ask me why I loved this book so much, it would have to be the complex layers to Freya and Mac, alongside with the epilogue which made the book for truly what it was. I cried when Mac had to face the reality of his feelings and his messed up priorities. I rooted for Freya when she stood firm when it comes to her self-worth. At the same time, I couldn’t help but cheer on for both of them to find their way towards each other once again.

Recommended for those who love the sheer abandon with which the romance genre can play with your emotions; if you love a good friends-to-lovers, consider this a treat!

Final Verdict: If ever there is a friends-to-lovers romance that needs to be read, this would be it. With emotional depth that brings the story alive, the realistic portrayal of human emotions is what makes Blindsided stand out in all its glory!

Favorite Quotes

“It’s perfect,” I whisper, cupping his cheek and looking into his eyes. “I know I don’t have anything to compare it to, but this feels perfect.”
The corner of his mouth tilts up with the tiniest smirk, and suddenly, he begins driving into me faster, maintaining our eye contact the entire time. His face loses all humour, and he bores into me with such force, I feel trapped. It’s intense—looking at someone as they do something so primitive, so animalistic. So feral. It’s an exposing moment that lays you bare, and before I know it, I feel that build inside my body again.

I pull her to the very edge of the counter and without warning, impale myself inside her soft, wet heat.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuuuuck.
She’s still tight. Still way too fucking tight. I pull back and look at her face, worried that I hurt her. Her eyes are glazed over as she watches where our bodies are connected.

I drop back onto my elbows and watch the show, enjoying the sight of my love bites peppered all over her breasts. “Touch yourself, my treasure.”
Freya’s closed eyes open, and she looks at me with an adorable frown.
I chin nod to her pelvis. “Touch your clit there while you ride me. Give me a show.”
She huffs out an aroused sort of laugh but does as I say. She makes a proper show of it as well. Her hand skates slowly from her hair, over her breast, swirling around her navel and making me positively growl with anticipation.

Mac stares boldly into my eyes as he moves slowly inside me, careful, appreciative, and searching. Searching for the last part of our souls that still belong to ourselves. I gaze back at him with the same sense of wonder coursing through my entire body.
This is love. This is us. This is happiness.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen

Format: E-Bookthekissthief
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Wolfe Keaton
Heroine: Francesca Rossi
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 06, 2019
Started On: January 08, 2020
Finished On: January 24, 2020

The Kiss Thief is my very first novel by L.J. Shen, the story being one that has popped up on various recommendation lists for ruthless heroes. I am a die-hard fan of anti-heroes, the ruthless and ones disliked by most readers, and loved by the few. Hunting those books down in the world of romance today has become a challenge and yet I persevere. The Kiss Thief was one of the rewards that came my way, thanks to aforementioned perseverance.

When 19 year old Francesca Rossi, the only child of Arthur Rossi, head of The Outfit (organised crime if you will), makes her official introduction to Chicagoan society, the only thing on her mind is to get Angelo, the perfect husband in the eyes of her parents, to kiss her as if he means it, kiss her as the woman he was going to make his wife and enjoy doing it.

That is also the night that 30 year old Wolfe Keaton, a US Senator, makes his presence known to Francesca, and steals the kiss that was meant for Angelo, and in the process upends her entire world. Forced into marrying Wolfe, Francesca at first has no intention of cooperating with a man whose high handed manner irks her to no end, not to mention the derailment of plans to fulfill her dreams of being married to the man she had grown up with and had given her heart to over the years.

However, the force that is Wolfe Keaton is one to be reckoned with, and before Francesca knows it, she enters a world where she learns firsthand what it means to fall in love and lose your heart to someone as ruthless as her husband.

There are scenes in this book that is definitely not for the faint-hearted, which is one reason why I loved the story and the turns it took to bring to us a happily ever after worth rooting for. My dislike for books that fill every nook and cranny of romance genre today lies in the fact that there is nothing worthy of fantasizing about the “ruthless and dangerous hero” that turns putty at the heroine’s hand from the minute they meet.

All the build-up that the author does in painting the hero as someone who has committed unthinkable acts in his life who suddenly, with the least amount of resistance, loses every essence of his character that makes him vitally himself is just tiring. How does that even translate into realistic human behavior? I can understand a character who subtly changes over the years, maybe months into a relationship, but the first time he lays eyes on the heroine, he just does a 180 degree turn on his character? That is foolhardy and as unrealistic as they come in my opinion.

The Kiss Thief certainly did not do that. L.J. Shen has crafted a hero worthy of salivating over and then some in Wolfe Keaton, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about him. From his ruthlessness that serves him well in every single manner, to his inner core of strength and vulnerability when it comes to his wife as he learns to love all over again were facets of the story that fascinated me. I loved the fact that Wolfe was able to give his wife the one thing that was denied from her as she grew up and how in his embrace she found the freedom to be herself and let go.

Francesca was lovely in many ways; she was certainly brought up to fulfill a certain role, but she is a quick learner if ever there was one and able to adapt to situations and the punches as they rolled. I loved her for quick wit, her ability to keep up with Wolfe, and the way she brought him to his very knees towards the end.

Recommended for those who love a hero who is ruthless and loves just as ferociously.

Final Verdict: With a couple of surprising twists and turns, The Kiss Thief delivered a highly combustible read from the get-go!

Favorite Quotes

I grabbed the edges of his suit, pulling him closer. I’d imagined our kiss countless times before, but I’d never expected it to feel like this. Like home. Like oxygen. Like forever. His full lips fluttered over mine, sending hot air into my mouth, and he explored, and nipped, and bit my lower lip before claiming my mouth with his, slanting his head sideways and dipping down for a ferocious caress. He opened his mouth, his tongue peeking out and swiping mine. I returned the favor. He drew me close, devouring me slowly and passionately, pressing his hand to the small of my back and groaning into my mouth like I was water in the desert. I moaned into his lips and licked every corner of his mouth with zero expertise, feeling embarrassed, aroused, and more importantly, free.

Slowly, and despite my better judgment, I crawled into my future husband’s lap. I knew that by doing that, I was raising a white flag. Surrendering to him. Seeking his protection, both from my father and from my own internal turmoil. I flew directly into my cage, asking him to lock me inside. Because the beautiful lie was far more desirable than the awful truth. The cage was warm and safe. No harm could find me. I wrapped my arms around his neck, burying my head in his steel chest and holding my breath to prevent the next sob.
He stiffened, his body rigid with our sudden proximity.
I thought about what Ms. Sterling said about killing him with kindness. Defeating him with love.
Break. Crack. Feel me. Accept me.

Wolfe Keaton was a kiss thief, but it wasn’t only a kiss that he stole. He stole my heart, too. Ripped it from my chest and put it in his pocket. I did what he promised me I would do, and willingly—I spread my legs and begged him, once again, this time meaning every word. “Because you were right. You said I’d come to your bed willingly—and I am. So, take me.”
He kissed me dirty, biting down on my tender lower lip, that was still sore from the accident. “Still not the entire truth, but this’ll do.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase

Format: E-Bookmrimpossible
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Carsington Brothers, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Rupert Carsington
Heroine: Daphne Pembroke
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 01, 2005
Started On: December 27, 2019
Finished On: January 09, 2020

Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase is the second book in her Carsington Brothers series. Set in Egypt in 1821, Mr. Impossible tells the story of 29 year old widowed Daphne Pembroke, whose brilliance in deciphering hieroglyphs outshines that of many in the field. When her brother gets kidnapped and the only person she is forced to depend on is the very vexing Rupert Carsington, she is at her wits end to say the least.

Rupert finds himself in Egypt when he is sort of “exiled” to Egypt by his father, as a means for Rupert to mend his ways. With his penchant for getting into trouble easily, Daphne finds herself increasingly agitated with Rupert when all he does is annoy her in ways that leaves her hot and bothered.

Hunting through the pyramids, riding out a sandstorm together, evading killers hot on their trails, it is the adventure of a lifetime for Daphne where she is forced to rethink all that she had judged Rupert to be when they had first met. Daphne finds her annoyance replaced by fascination which in turn makes her fall, and fall hard for a man whom she believes would probably have no use for a woman like herself. Daphne’s awakening in Rupert’s arms, and the equal fascination with which Rupert views the effect she has on him was a delight!

While I enjoyed the story, I cannot say that I was enamored by the tale to the point where I fell in love with all of it. It would not be stretching it to say that I was all sorts of excited when I began reading Mr. Impossible, because my only read from Loretta Chase had been amazing; i.e. Lord of Scoundrels.

For one, I was kind of put off by how Daphne came off at first; haughty and mighty proud of her intelligence. The way she saw Rupert as an idiot and made no pretense of how she felt about that that irked me. I love humbleness in a heroine and that was a bad starting point for me when it came to Daphne.

I know that a lot of how Daphne projected herself as came from the fact that she had had a disappointing marriage which had basically eviscerated her hopes of finding a partner who would see her as an intellectual equal amongst other things.

Furthermore, her husband had bungled up and made a mess of dealing with the sensual creature that she is. But that dislike which developed at that starting point, prevented me from being too drawn towards her in the end.

Rupert was wonderful in many ways, but then again, I cannot say I was enamored with his character to the point where I fell in love with him. He was sexy, highly intelligent, and man enough to accept the woman that is Daphne in every single way. That to me was reason enough to root for the man, even though secretly I hold the belief that he could have done better.

Recommended for fans of Loretta Chase.

Final Verdict: Mr. Impossible has plenty of adventure and sizzle that made the novel an enjoyable escape!

Favorite Quotes

He tilted his head a little to one side, studying her “Ah, well, so much for slow sieges,” he said. He leant in, and she was too slow to duck or draw back, and so his mouth fell upon hers, and the bottom dropped out of the world.
She lifted her hand—to push him away as she must. As she ought. But his mouth moved boldly over hers, firm and sure, and she clung instead, her fingers curling round his upper arm. It was as hard as the stone figure blocking her retreat, yet warm and alive, its heat electric. Her fingers tingled, and the current shot under the skin. Every particle of her being reacted, as though galvanized.

Deep-buried longings clawed their way out of hiding. They tangled about her heart and coiled and twisted in her belly. She couldn’t name them. This wanted a new language, or no language at all. Meaning narrowed to the taste of-his mouth and his skin and to the scent of him, dark and dangerous and so familiar that she ached, as though it were a cherished memory or a reawakened grief.

A long moment passed.
Then she pushed his hands away, twisted sharply about, and raised herself up to glare at him.
He grinned at her. She gazed at him for a time, green eyes fierce. Finally, she opened her mouth, and he thought, Here comes the tongue-lashing.
She let out a huff of vexation…
… and her soft mouth came down on his.
She tasted like gunpowder.
Rupert grasped her waist and held on. It was like being shot from a cannon or thrown from a precipice. She had only to bring her mouth to his, and the world flew apart, and he rocketed to places he didn’t recognize.

A storm swirled into his mind, and he couldn’t remember anymore what ought to be done. Mindlessly he tore at his own trousers. The fabric fell away, and his rod sprang free. He caught her under the thigh, lifting her leg up. She wrapped her leg about his waist, and he thrust into her. She cried out, “Oh. Oh, my God.”
He would have echoed her, but he was long past words.

He pushed her skirts up further and loosened the waist of his full trousers. She trembled when the garments slid away, leaving them skin to skin. She wrapped her arms about his shoulders and pressed her mouth against his neck to keep from crying out when his hands moved up her thighs. She drank in his scent, hot and male and his alone. At the first intimate touch she screamed silently. If she could have done, she’d have cried out her pleasure, her torment, and impossible, contradictory demands. More. No. Stop. Don’t stop. There. No, there. Oh, don’t. Oh, yes, please.
Laughter bubbled inside her along with a sorrow all but unbearable.
Madness.
Wonderful madness.

They scarcely moved at all. Awareness became all the more intense. He was aware each time her muscles tensed about him and eased, and of the very slight motion of her hip that sent waves of pleasure coursing through him. He was aware of her hands, gliding over him, and making long trails of sparks over his skin.
He opened his eyes and looked at her, and they smiled at each other in silent, wicked amusement, the devil in him recognizing the devil in her. And so they lay, watching each other, making secret love, while from outside came the familiar sounds of footsteps on the deck, voices calling out as they prepared to land.

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