Review: The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthehighwayman
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #1
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Hero: Dougan Mackenzie
Heroine: Farah Leigh Blackwell
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: September 01, 2015
Started On: August 30, 2019
Finished On: September 01, 2019

Having read and enjoyed The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne, I decided to start from the beginning of the Victorian Rebels series as each of the installments in the series seemed like books I would enjoy, being a sucker for a romance that is darker than is the norm.

The Highwayman is where it all begins, the story of Dougan Mackenzie aka Dorian Everett Blackwell aka the Blackheart of Ben More, and his obsession with Farah Leigh Blackwell, the eight year old girl who had become the sole friend Dougan had made as a boy of eleven years, abandoned to the merciless care at a children’s home.

Two blissful years were all that Dougan had with Farah, until fate intervenes and they are torn apart from each other. Cruelty that is life lands Dougan in prison, and the story continues seventeen years later when Dougan makes his return as the notorious criminal of London.

A proposition to keep Farah safe ends with Dougan tying the knot with her, and thus begins a battle of wits between the two. Dougan harboring the secret of who he is, while Farah believes that she had lost the boy that she had loved and waited for all those years. Dougan’s scars are not just skin deep but rather years of abuse within the bowels of prison had left its mark deep inside of him.

Winning Dougan over is something Farah relishes, as kiss by kiss Dougan unravels, his wife driving him insane with need; the need to touch and be touched, even when he believes he is unworthy of it. Farah proves to be a match for him in every single sense; able to stand his brooding, his passion, his possessiveness and the deep craving he has for the woman he had claimed as his so long ago.

Kerrigan writes dangerous heroes so well that the reader is transported to a time where excitement and danger lurks at every page you turn. Relatable characters make it so easy to fall in love, and the ruthlessness that is part of Kerrigan’s heroes is what makes this heart of mine fall for them, in every single way that matters.

What was most poetic for me in this story was the powerful writing in the scenes that so vividly depicted the inner struggles of Dougan’s soul which warred magnificently with his need for Farah. When that ironclad control of his broke, that was the moment that my heart rejoiced and I couldn’t have asked for more!

Recommended for those who love darkly mesmerizing historical romances.

Final Verdict: The Highwayman sizzles through your veins like the potent force that is Dougan, and lays siege to your heart with the beautiful character that is Farah. Loved!

Favorite Quotes

“Tell me.”
“I will. As soon as you resume washing.”
“I—I’m finished,” she lied. “I’m clean.”
Flames licked at the ice in his blue eye. “You missed a spot.”
An answering heat bloomed deep inside her. Low in her belly, no, lower—in her womb. Farah wanted to hate him. He held her captive. Manipulated her emotions. Used this wicked compulsion to gratify his own perversions.
And yet …
As the soap slid through sparse curls and into the cleft between her thighs, ribbons of unexpected sensation stirred from her most intimate flesh and unfurled across the expanse of her skin. Her mouth dropped open, but she caught the moan before it escaped.
Their gazes collided, the flames in his eyes darkened as his pupils dilated.
He knew.

Farah added a bit of the cream-filled cornucopia to her bite of cake. The wine fed a ribbon of recklessness and she stretched her lips wide over her dessert, overflowing her mouth with a mélange of sweet decadence.
Blackwell’s unblinking eye honed in on her mouth as it struggled to contain the overload of fluffy whipped cream.
The skin around his lips whitened.
Farah searched for her napkin. Right, she’d thrown it at him, because he’d deserved it, and the ill-mannered villain never gave it back to her.
Shrugging, she swiped at the corner of her lips with a finger and lapped at the cream with her tongue.
The wine glass shattered in his grip.

“There’s no amount of preparation for what we’re about to do.” He strode past her, barely giving her an assessing glance, and claimed the seat by her bed as though he owned it. Which he did, of course. Shadows gathered near him as they were wont to do, despite the candles she’d so carefully placed. Cold menace and a dangerous, unstable element rolled off him and reached for her like the mist that blanketed the Highland shores of a morning, shrouding the dangers of the ancient volcanic rock and the shapes of predators.
For a predator he was, that had never been clearer than in this moment.
“Now,” he said in that deep, chilly voice, examining the fine leather of his fitted gloves. “Take off your dress.”

It had been almost twenty years since anyone had touched him in a way not meant to cause pain. To humiliate, incapacitate, and control. It had been just as long since he’d used his hands for a purpose other than defense, violence, or domination.
Farah’s skin. Her flawless, unmarked skin. Free of scars, branded by no one, and belonging to him.
At last.
How could any man bring himself to desecrate such unblemished skin with his touch?
How did he stop himself from doing just that?

Dorian had never in his life felt as much anticipation or found as much pleasure as she had for her cake and cream. Not his wealth, not his luxury, not in the victory over his many enemies. Not until this moment, when the round, tight curve of her hips and ass were presented to him like the spoils of war.
And yet he could not claim it, for the battle was not over. It raged within him. There were blood, casualties, losses of ground and gaining of the upper hand. It was violent. The outcome unsure.
So he sat.
And watched.

Bracing her heels on the bed frame, she took a deep breath and parted her knees.
As the silent seconds ticked by, Farah opened her eyes and stared up at the canopy. Her husband truly was pitiless. Barbaric. Unforgivably cruel. He left her like this, an artless innocent bared for the first time without comfort or care. Gathering her annoyance like a cloak, she summoned the courage to look down at him.
What she saw froze her and melted her all at once.
Between the valley of her breasts and the V of her thighs, Farah saw Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, quake. Not just a shiver, or even a tremble. But great, shoulder-heaving shudders that affected his breath.

If Dorian was a lesser man, unused to patience, torment, and agony, he would have released his seed then and there. But he grappled his orgasm back down, thinking of her hands on his repulsive flesh, letting the fear throw ice into the flames.
Then she parted the inner cleft, dipped inside, and let out a moan that could have aroused Eros, himself. Her finger came away glistening as she pulled it back toward the nub that seemed to demand more attention than anywhere else. When she swiped the moisture across it, her muscles all tensed, and she threw her head back onto the counterpane, letting loose a sound so visceral Dorian’s will snapped.
And he lunged.

“What is it, Dorian?”
“Don’t call me that,” he admonished gently. “Not here.”
“What shall I call you, then?” she asked, puzzled that the intimacy of his first name could be forbidden from the intimacy of their marriage bed.
“Husband.” The word caressed her cheek. “Call me husband.”
Farah felt a tender smile touch the corner of her lips. “What is it, then—husband?”
“Your mouth,” he confessed with all the reverence of a saint and the torment of a martyr. “I’ve dreamed of this mouth.” He lifted a hand to her face, his breath hitching as he traced her lower lip with his glove. “I’ve imagined that word on your lips more times than you realize.”

She tasted like heaven. Like desire and release. Like want and fulfillment. Like woman. His woman. The predator in him was going to dine until he’d had his fill.
And he had a lifetime of hunger to satiate.
The frantic need to struggle against her bindings had leached away from Farah the moment her husband’s mouth had closed over her fingers.
When he’d issued his vulgar threat in her ear, arousal had raced through her with crippling strength. Now his wide shoulders overflowed the space between her parted thighs, and his mouth was doing things that made her bite her lip so hard she tasted blood.
His tongue split her in one long lick. He growled against her, and Farah whimpered in reply, unable to stop herself.

“God, the taste of you. I’m drunk with it.” He moaned, his eyes alight with accusation as he held himself above her, still fully clothed but for the arousal now pressing against the slit of her body. “What have you done to me?”
What had she done to him? “I—I—”
His glove covered her mouth again, stopping words she never would have found.
“I never wanted to hurt you,” he whispered against her ear. “I’m sorry.”
Farah didn’t have time to contemplate just which of his many offenses he was apologizing for before he surged inside her, breaching her virginity.
His glove muffled her cry of pain as Dorian branded her with hot, hard flesh, searing all the way to her womb, or so it seemed.

Farah had thought her part over, that he’d coaxed from her body all the pleasure it had to give. But, to her ultimate surprise, a tight, aching heat bloomed low in her belly, starting in her womb and reaching for the shaft of branding heat plunging and retracting from inside her.
Her lips parted of their own accord, and a small sound of delighted surprise escaped.
Blackwell’s eyes sharpened. Questioned.
Farah’s body answered without thought. A lift of her hips, a press of her thighs, and a soft moan of encouragement.
It was all he needed.

Beneath the dark wool, that long ridge of his manhood flexed and strained, and her body answered as she imagined it always would.
Last night, her husband had put his wicked mouth on her, causing her unimaginable pleasure. Could she have the same effect on him? What if she pressed her mouth against that hard length? What would he do?
She turned her head, running her cheek along the slightly abrading fabric, feeling the heat of the flesh beneath.
“Farah,” He growled a warning.
“Yes?” she breathed, her chest suddenly tight, filled to the brim with anticipation, her body releasing a slick rush of desire.

“You’re mine!” he snarled against her surrendering mouth. “Only mine.”
He might have been able to stop if she hadn’t kissed him back.
Even while grappling with this new beast of fire she’d provoked, she didn’t know the danger she toyed with. Didn’t know the consequences of her actions.
Dorian fought with the strength of a drowning man, but in the end, the beast won out. He’d always known it would.

He breached her body with one brutal thrust. Claimed her with the second. Branded her with his third. She cried out only a little. Her feminine muscles bearing down against his invasion for only a moment before drawing him in.
Mine. He drove forward.
Only mine. He seized the soft flesh of her ass, spreading it for his view. Watching his cock spear into her with deep, devastating thrusts.

He bent over her, the width of his shoulders engulfing the slimness of hers. “I’m like this all the bloody time around you. I hate it. Do you know that? I have no control. I just want to fuck and fuck and fuck until nothing matters anymore. Until we can no longer move our limbs or lift our heads to eat.” He flexed his still-hard cock inside of her. “This is supposed to go away after I come. But it doesn’t. Not with you, wife. My passion is this insatiable perversion.”

The curses he released as she closed her lips over the thick head of his shaft were not all entirely in the Queen’s English. At least, Farah didn’t think so, and she was pretty certain she’d heard them all.
He tasted like salt and sin.
The jerk of his hips as he bowed against her pressed him as far into her mouth as she could take, and still she didn’t hold the half of him.
“Farah,” he groaned. “Oh. Fuck.”

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

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Review: A War like Ours by Saffron A. Kent

Format: E-Bookawarlikeours
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press Inc.
Hero: James Alexander Maxwell
Heroine: Madison Smith
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: February 24, 2017
Started On: August 27, 2019
Finished On: August 30, 2019

A War Like Ours by Saffron A. Kent is one of those novels that does not make for light nor easy reading. It is heavy in a way that makes you think, deep in a way that makes you wish the story would just continue for all eternity, and darkly delicious and sinfully delightful in the way that only Saffron can deliver.

Madison Smith and James Alexander Maxwell’s paths cross each other under the most innocuous of circumstances. Madison who lives with her girlfriend and believes that men aren’t for her, and James who hides from secrets that he harbours, lying to himself and the one person that matters to him the most, day in and day out because he knows he would not be able to handle the aftermath of facing the truth.

What brings these two together is James’ daughter, who brings a lightness to the otherwise at times dark themes explored in the story. There is Madison’s girlfriend who continues to subject her to the kind of toxicity we have been brought up to believe happens only in heterosexual relationships. Madison’s inability to face the truth of the effects of her past which had left a resonating mark deep within her, makes it extremely difficult for her to accept her burgeoning feelings towards James.

James might not like the fact that he is drawn towards Madison, but that does not stop them from exploring the explosive passion that rises forth between them. Madison and James communicates with each other through their coming together, each of them leaving a bit of themselves with the other every single time. Neither of them admits to what is happening between them, that is until things come to an explosive confrontation whereby each lays down the dark and harrowing scars inside them, punching the reader in the gut with the rawness of the emotions that seeps through the story.

While I do not know how I felt about certain aspects of the story, one thing is for certain. I have never read any other book like this where both protagonists are equally flawed and broken to a point where you weep for their pasts and anguish over their future while at the same time, a part of you hopes against hope that everything works out. This is perhaps darker than the other Saffron Ken books I have read thus far, and that is saying something.

James with that visceral guilt of his that had manifested and grown under the abject lack of care from the one person who should have given it to him unconditionally, resulting in the kind of warped psychology that would have broken most completely, was fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time. There is a gentleness to James even then, and there is a ferocity to his need and love that speaks to you on so many levels.

It truly broke my heart when James did the bravest and the hardest thing any parent might have to do in his life. While I know deep in my heart that it was for the best, there was always that tiny part of me that wanted a different resolution in terms of what had happened on that front. But I also know the courage it took for James to do that. So for that and more, I love him, forever more.

In the deepest corners of my heart, I see James and Maddie married with 2.5 kids and nothing but happiness plaguing them. Because they have had more than their fair share of suffering and abject misery to last them for multiple lifetimes.

Maddie’s spunk and protectiveness of James was endearing even in the destructiveness that was the theme of their non-relationship, which I believe was the reason why I fell for Maddie and rooted for her through and through.

Recommended for fans of dark romances which explores aspects of mental health that proves to be insightful. Every single time I pick up a Saffron Kent novel, I am amazed by how her words speak to my mental health issues. For that and more, I would always continue to come back for her stories, whenever they maybe published.

Final Verdict: A story of destructive forces, emotional turmoil, psychological aftereffects of childhood neglect and trauma, and the healing power of love – none of what James and Maddie goes through makes for easy reading, but these are characters who would claim your heart and leave you better for having known them.

Favorite Quotes

I didn’t know who made the first move. But suddenly his hot lips were on mine and I was kissing him, sucking them into my mouth.
He shuddered, and I was right there with him. That first contact felt life-changing, breath-stealing, colorful behind my closed eyes. His taste was just as it should be, masculine, minty with a touch of tart apple juice and metallic blood. I fisted his shirt to bring him even closer. Hard planes of his chest cut into the soft curves of mine.
His arms wrapped around my waist and squeezed tightly, to the point where I filled his mouth with the last of my breath, moaning. It felt like I was dying, and my skin came alive, buzzing and humming.

All while feeding on my lips, he encircled my neck with one hand and tugged my hair with the other. The rough texture of his fingers drove me crazy, making me scratch his shirt-covered back as I locked my thighs around his waist. I pushed my core into his. It was wet, starving for him. Growling, he dug his torso into mine, making me feel his cock through his pants, big and hard.
I’d forgotten how good it could be with a man, how rough and unpolished. It’d been four years since I’d experienced something so dynamic and feral.

“Hurt me. You know you want to.” Her words, dampened by her breath, misted over my lips, and I forgot everything else.
Madison’s fingers tangled in my hair, and she jerked my face down, smashing her lips against mine. My hand slipped from her neck and wrapped around her waist. There was no stopping us—stopping me—after that. I bit into her again, as if she were my forbidden fruit, drinking her moans and lapping my tongue inside her mouth.

I pulled her hair in a sudden grip and yanked her head back, making her moan. I dragged my lips down to the tender part of her neck and sucked her skin into my mouth, gnawing at it. I felt the vibration of her moans in her throat, against my cheeks.
My cock was so hard, the hardest it had ever been, so extremely painful that it was pure pleasure. I dug my teeth sharply into her neck, and she whimpered and shivered, rubbing herself against me. Her skin was so hot, hotter than the summer outside. She loved this just as much as me.

My cock leaked pre-cum, and I wrapped my arms around her waist, locking her in place. We both stared at each other, barely breathing as I pulled her forward to me and, at the same time, shoved my cock inside her. Her head fell back as she gasped, exposing her bruised neck. I groaned, losing the battle to be silent as her tight heat gripped me. It spasmed around me. I squeezed her waist to control myself, or I would come right that second.
I stared down at the juncture where my cock was shoved up inside her liquid core, unmoving. The thick base smeared with her wetness, her core stretching over it, the smell of sex—it hypnotized me. My mind filled with a blank, ethereal space, like everything I knew was wiped from existence. Rationality, beliefs, my very name.

My body hummed with excitement. I bent down and took her nipple in my mouth, sucking on it. I opened my mouth wider, took in as much of her breast as possible.
She was rocking, pulling my hair, begging me to move by lifting and rubbing her hips on mine. I did not move, remaining still inside her. I barely rubbed her clit. I simply sucked on her nipple and played with the other one. I knew she could come like that. She was extremely responsive. I dug my teeth around her nipples and bit down.
Madison screamed and came. She throbbed against my cock and convulsed in my arms. I leaned away and watched her. Her neck craned back as her breasts jiggled with her orgasm. Just like that.

I flicked my finger over her wet curls, looking for her clit. She moaned low as I found it. I kept flicking. She had opened my shirt halfway down and scratched my chest. Without warning, she seized against my cock again, and her eyes fell closed as she came, moaning, writhing, like she was fighting to stay alive. She jerked up the counter, once, twice, thrice as her core drooled and gushed.
A ball of heat originated in my stomach, spread over to my spine, and slid to my cock. I came then, spurting my cum deep inside her.

I coiled my arms around his neck, gripping his hair, and kissed him hard, coating his mouth with my tart juices. He turned hungry, devouring my taste. I took advantage of his distraction and pushed him on the floor. Still kissing him, I unbuttoned his pants and pushed them down. I took his raging cock in my hands, long, thick—it felt longer and thicker though when it was inside me. My pussy contracted, and I slammed down and jammed his cock inside.
His head dug on the floor as he arched his back, his fingers tearing at the flesh of my hips. We grunted in unison, high and out of control. I felt what he felt. A simultaneous burst of pleasure or something equally cheesy that you never understood until it happened to you.

Without taking his eyes off me, his lips searched and found the bruise I’d showed him earlier. He bit down at the puckered skin and I barely suppressed a howl, my mouth falling open, my body convulsing as if electrocuted. My eyes watered. I scrambled to get away from him, from the pain as a kneejerk reaction. But he wouldn’t let me and then my core rippled in a roaring orgasm. My back bowed and shivered under him.
He nibbled on the bruise as he slid in and out, gently. He lapped my blood up and I came again, losing my breath as pleasure tore through my body.

His eyes had turned intense, making my breath shudder. Slowly, he made his way over to me until his body was warming up mine. “I don’t need homework to be able to have exceptional skills, Madison.”
“Are you saying you’re a natural?”
Without answering, he advanced on me and I backed up until my back hit the wall. “I don’t have to…” he whispered, putting his arms around me. “Your screams say plenty.”

He rested his forehead against mine and licked my trembling lips. “Tell me, Madison, do you ever imagine how dying must feel? Knowing that, no matter what you do, it’s not going to be enough?”
I shook my head. No, I didn’t imagine dying. Who would? But now I wanted to. For him. In any case, with his cock hard against my pussy, his fingers around my neck, I couldn’t think much of anything. Then he moved away, only to push my shorts and his pants down our legs so he could thrust inside me in one smooth motion.

He heaved me up by the waist and all but pushed me down to the ground. He tore at my clothes, shoved his cock inside me, fucking me into oblivion.
Those were the times when we truly realized what this was all about. The conversations, the accidental intimacy that had come between us these past days clouded the real purpose of it all. It was simple, really. We were two people who couldn’t not fuck each other.
These small manipulations, these tiny wars kept everything in perspective. They gave us hope that we wouldn’t lose ourselves in each other.

Then he stopped and studied my torso. I imagined it streaked with red. He thumbed my cheek and whispered, “You’re beautiful like this. Crying and bleeding.”
He bent down and lapped my wounds with his tongue. I almost came right then.
We had sex out in the open for anyone to see. And I didn’t care. He moved inside me, sometimes fiercely, sometimes tenderly. We never looked away from each other.
And when I came around his hard cock, a tiny whisper tore out of my soul. “James…”
He came a second after me. He tucked his face in the crook of my neck and sighed against my skin, “Madison…”
We had finally shed our limits, like sloughing off useless skin. Tears that had stopped streamed freely now from the sides of my eyes, down to my hair.

“I’m hungry,” I murmured distractedly, wondering if she’d taste like citrus—tart and sharp.
“Are you asking me to cook you something?” She frowned. “I’ll have you know I cook for no man. I wasn’t built that way.”
“I think you were.”
“Well, I beg to differ. I won’t cook for you even if you pay me.” She cocked her hips and scoffed.
“I don’t think I’ll have to pay you.”
“Is that right?”
“Mmm-hmm. I think you’ll do it for free.” She opened her mouth to say something, but I gripped the back of her neck and pulled her to me, smashing my lips over hers, almost melding them together. She held on to my shoulders and kissed me back.
Breaking the kiss, I whispered, “You’re it.”
“What?”
“The thing I want to eat.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo

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Review: Ask Me Why by Harloe Rae

askmewhyFormat: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Brance Stone
Heroine: Braelyn Miller
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 20, 2019
Started On: November 09, 2019
Finished On: November 10, 2019

Ask Me Why by Harloe Rae is a story that caught my ever roving eye because I am a sucker for an anti-hero or a hero whose most redeeming qualities aren’t visible from the get go. I mean, I can take heroes who are sappy, good to the very core of their existence etc. to a certain level, but I need my fix of anti-heroes, who are in short supply, considering the need for authors to conform to what the current reader-base wants, and how romance as a genre has evolved over the years.

The heroine Braelyn Miller is three years in her road to recovery from the deepest loss that has marked her life; the loss of her significant other Devon, to a senseless accident. Suffering from post-traumatic disorder, panic, and anxiety since, Braelyn gives all of herself to her shop which stocks all sorts of knickknacks for those looking for something out of the norm. It is the abundant candy section at her store that draws Oliver Stone (Ollie), a young boy whose enthusiasm and joy brings undiluted happiness to Braelyn for the first time in a long while.

However, all of that is overshadowed by Ollie’s father, a successful divorce lawyer Brance Stone, who carries his cynicism close to his heart like body armour. With a mother whose actions had left its bitter mark on him, to Ollie’s mother who had removed any ounce of compassion left in his heart, Brance’s only saving grace comes from Ollie, for whom he would brave the store of Braelyn’s, even if it means his entire being prickles and goes on high alert mode in a way that does not sit well with him.

Brance views all women with suspicion, especially given that he knows the effect he has on women at large. However, that suspicion is laced with contempt when he believes that Braelyn is using Ollie to get close to him. Clash is what Brance and Braelyn do at first, their verbal warring such fun at certain points, laced with heavy moments as well. But ultimately the fight goes out of both of them and succumb they do to the thick and heavy desire between them which is almost palpable at times.

I enjoyed Ask Me Why in a large way because I needed the kind of hero that Brance was in the story. I have missed heroes like him to the point I could cry! Ollie contributed in a huge way towards making the story adorable. That is no mean feat I tell you. Especially given the fact that my previous read featured a child who was so tiresome, that I felt like throwing my Kindle at the wall most of the times. Then came Ollie, and all of that discontentment went poof and I was all smiles and love and wanting to cuddle the little guy for all the optimism and inquisitiveness he brought to the story.

I also adored Braelyn. She was hands down, one of the best aspects of the story. Her unwavering strength in the face of such a tragedy was something I could identify with, be it in a little way. It is not easy to pick up the pieces of your life when you suffer such a terrible tragedy, and there is an embedded message of hope in Braelyn’s phases of recovery. One does not get cured overnight, it takes effort and the love of well meaning friends/family around you to keep you grounded and able to take those difficult first steps, one at a time. Her inherent goodness shines through in every single aspect of the story and I couldn’t have asked for a better heroine in any way.

Let me not forget to mention just how much of an effect Brance had on me. He was obnoxious at points where I wanted to throw something at him, but that does not detract from the fact that he is sexy in a way that makes you melt on the spot. Once he turns on his charm, and when he is not even trying, there is a certain way with which he carries himself that does a number on you. The term sex-in-a-suit was invented for men like Brance, and alongside with that confidence of his, I was a mess every time he started talking dirty!

With all that I loved about the book, there were a couple of things that disturbed me as well. I understood why Brance was the way he was; cynical and damaged from the past that had done its number on him. But I found his attitude towards Ollie’s mother to be double standards; he himself sort of agrees to that. He is all for women’s rights and each woman having the independence to decide whether they want to carry a pregnancy to term or not.

But when it comes to Ollie’s mother, Brance was practically the one that “forced” her to do have him. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t even imagine the story without Ollie. I also agree that the way Ollie’s mother treated Brance from that point forward was abominable, but what do you expect when you force someone to do something that they do not want to wholeheartedly? Resentment flares and some people are obviously worse than others. I am not excusing her behavior for one second, but I just found it all to be very hypocritical.

That brings me to the point where things head south in Brance and Braelyn’s fragile beginnings of a relationship. When Braelyn suffers a panic attack (with good reason if you ask me), and Brance did not even try to understand where she was coming from, at that moment I actually hated Brance. For someone who suffers from the same, I understood the panicky, end-of-the-world scenarios that had been running through Braelyn’s mind at that point in time. Once your brain starts running in that direction, it is extremely difficult to rein it in and keep it in check. Because lets face it, our minds tend to have a life of its own; that is one reason why it is so fascinating as well. I would have liked it better, had Brance tried to understand, even a little.

However, I bow down to Harloe Rae’s amazing ability to spin a tale that sucked me in right from the beginning. I enjoyed Brance and Braelyn’s extremely bumpy journey to their happily ever after.

Recommended for those who love a hefty dose of their alpha-holes. Brance is definitely that and more! My first Harloe Rae certainly did not disappoint!

Final Verdict: Ask Me Why is breathtaking on many levels, combining terrible tragedy and heartache with the surprising curve balls that brings immense joy and happiness in life; I loved Harloe Rae’s voice that resonated deep within.

Favorite Quotes

I find a sliver of space to move closer. “Wanna hear a secret?”
“Always,” Braelyn purrs.
“You’re a damn distraction.”
She snaps her fingers. “Guess it sucks to be you.”
Her tactics don’t deter me. “All I can think about is wiping that sad look off your face.”
“I’m fine, other than these inconvenient visits from you.” Her guarded eyes skitter away from mine.
“Don’t lie. You want me. Just once would do. I’d turn that frown so far upside down, you’d never stop smiling.”
“Cocky asshole.” She dips her chin, but I catch the blush staining her cheeks.
I close the distance between us by another foot. “I’ll lick your clit until you scream my name. Then it’ll be my cock’s turn to pleasure you. Over and over until you beg me to stop.”

I shiver when Brance’s hand begins to wander. His fingers drift along the bare skin of my inner thigh. The loose fit of my shorts grants him easy enough access. I sag against the shelf when he reaches my center. Brance shoves my panties to the side with masterful precision. He glides through my slick heat, turning me into a quivering mess. He doesn’t waste time teasing with me, zeroing in on my clit with sure strokes.
Brance rips his mouth away with a snarl. “You’re wicked. This shouldn’t be happening.”
“But it is,” I whisper.

The talking abruptly cuts off when he crashes our mouths together. I moan into the kiss, arching against him. His lips drift up my cheek and temple. The move is almost tender.
“You’re such a pain in my ass,” he growls close to my ear.
I shift against him, rubbing along the hard ridge prodding at me. The empty space inside of me weeps. I curl my fingers on the shelf, but metal doesn’t satisfy me. A chunk of finely toned Brance would do nicely. I want to grip his sculpted ass and soothe any pain he might be feeling.

“Don’t make me wait, Brance. Please.” When the plea drops off her lips, a surge of need propels me forward. I grab a condom from my discarded pants. With calculated precision, I ripDon’t make me wait, Brance. Please.”
When the plea drops off her lips, a surge of need propels me forward. I grab a condom from my discarded pants. With calculated precision, I rip open the foil and roll the rubber down my shaft. I climb onto the mattress and move between her parted thighs. Leaning on an elbow, I lower myself until we’re aligned together. My cock nudges her entrance. Braelyn loops her arms around me. She’s about to let me conquer the deepest parts of her body. I line up with her center and push inside.
Her hips lift and tilt, welcoming me further. I sink to the hilt. We share a groan.
Braelyn’s nails dig into my back. “B-Brance, holy shit. You fit just right.”
I brush my mouth against hers. “So fucking good.”

I crawl backward until my head bumps against a pillow. He reaches behind him and strips off his shirt with one smooth move. I’m antsy, rubbing my thighs together before spreading them apart. Brance undoes his jeans and shoves them down. He stands before me in a black pair of briefs, tenting in the front with his desire.
For me.
I prop myself up and lick my lips. With a curl to my fingers, I beckon him to me.
Brance strokes himself through his shorts. Such a damn tease. “Take off anything you don’t want ripped into shreds.”

Make me feel good.”
“Don’t I always?”
I open my mouth with another plea. Brance lines up and slams into me. A burst of color blooms in my vision. I claw at the sheets and tumble under his spell.
Holy shit.
Brance’s hips grind against me, forcing us closer. There’s not a sliver of space separating our bodies.

When we’re alone again, I arch a brow at my date. “Same side seating?”
“Only way to appreciate these booths.”
“Oh?”
Brance’s palm rests on my bare thigh, drifting up and higher. “Yeah, babe.”
I spread my legs without hesitation. With one touch, I’m dragged under his seductive spell. Those talented fingers roam further, disappearing beneath my dress. I’ve never been more grateful for my choice in clothing. He reaches my satin covered center with no signs of slowing down. I really like the direction he’s taking.
“W-what are you doing?” My tone is barely a rasp.
Brance ghosts his lips over my cheek. “I’ve missed you. Just a little starter while we wait for the main course. Relax, babe.”

I sag against the seat in a pliable puddle, ready for Brance to mold me into his making. The rest of my resistance fades when he swipes across my slit. I’m so wet, almost embarrassingly so. Telltale tingles are already creeping up my legs. The thrill of getting caught. The tender warmth in his searing gaze. His strong strokes against my clit. It’s a recipe for a sharp and powerful climax.
I clamp a hand over my mouth and moan. Tremors wrack my limbs, an eruption cracking through the volcanic surface. My eyes roll back while I shudder in his grip. I do my best not to rattle the booth.
“You’re so fucking sexy.” His voice is a hypnotic pulse lulling me deeper into the waves of euphoria.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Requested ARC Review: The Music of Love by S.M. LaViolette

Format: E-Bookthemusicoflove.JPG
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Academy of Love, #1
Publisher: Crooked Sixpence Press
Hero: Portia Stefani
Heroine: Eustace Harrington
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 31, 2019
Started On: December 20, 2019
Finished On: December 23, 2019

“Never hide your sensual nature. Passion is something to be proud of, even though men try to shame women for taking pleasure from their bodies.” – Benedict Carruthers

The Music of Love by S.M. LaViolette aka Minerva Spencer is set to hit the book stands on the 31st of this month. The debut to an all brand new series, The Academy of Love, this title is a bit different in prose and style in comparison to The Outcasts series which I have adored and enjoyed for the most part.

29 year old Portia Stefani, having found out that her husband had been in a bigamous relationship with her, finds herself in dire straits, with nowhere to turn to, except to deceive her way into ensuring employment with Eustace Harrington, who had wanted to employ her “husband’s” music teaching services.

35 year old Eustace (Stacy), suffers from albinism, and lives in isolation for the most part of his days. Having made peace with the fact that he would remain so for the rest of his life, it is something of a surprise when instead of Ivo who he had been expecting, his wife turns up in his stead. Hiring Portia, who is willful, passionate, and obstinate for a grace period, Stacy knows that the way he reacts to her physically could be problematic down the line.

Contrary to what Stacy has experienced when it comes to most who view his condition, Portia sees beyond that to a man who is gentle, kind, firm, and responsible, a man worthy of someone’s love, passion, and loyalty. Portia sees the aristocratic beauty to him, the sensuality that is one with his physique. Though Portia believes herself to be cynical enough not to succumb, she finds herself doing just that, as the passion between them bursts forth in all its glorious abandon.

However, there are forces at play in both Stacy and Portia’s life, who could prove to be detrimental to the happiness that seems to be within reach and elusive at the same time, as Stacy and Portia navigate the often treacherous waters surrounding their lives.

I loved The Music of Love because it was so different in many ways. For one thing, Portia was a heroine who was refreshing on many levels because she was no innocent to the pleasures of the flesh. She is a woman who knows what she wants, and is not afraid of seeking that pleasure with her partner. Even though her “husband” had tried to fault her for it, tried to make her feel ashamed, there is a reservoir of fire inside of her that refuses to be put out.

Stacy was a marvelous character in his own right. He has very few prejudices (if he has any), and he doesn’t find fault with a woman who seeks to attain pleasure that is rightfully hers in a consensual relationship between two adults. Though he of course feels the twinges of jealousy and possessiveness, raw feelings of the kind he thought he would never feel, there is a tenderness and ferocity to his passion for Portia that was beautiful in many ways.

I loved the passion in the story. There is so much fire between Stacy and Portia that it is hard to remain unaffected. I believe Minerva has more than made up for the lack of heat I found in Scandalous, the 3rd book in The Outcasts series, which I found a trifle bit disappointing in that regard. When an author introduces characters who are fiery and passionate, even if they tamp down their desires in the face of societal norms, there is no point to a relationship, if the character is unable to be true to their nature with their significant other when the story comes to pass.

I fell in love with Stacy from the moment I met him in the story. Contrary to many male lead characters who live in isolation owing to various ailments that society had refused to consider as part of them, perhaps Stacy’s temperament and attitude towards life was what it is, largely owing to how he had been brought up, without having to face the ugly realities that could have easily being his life, if not for a certain member of his family.

The culmination of the events that leads up to the ending had twists and turns that I didn’t see coming; which happens rarely when you read so many books of the nature. For that alone, I enjoyed the marvelous escape this novel provided, and am eagerly looking forward to the second installment of the series, of which the excerpt is included towards the end of the book. There would probably be seven installments in the series, the secondary characters whom (some of them) made an appearance in the story throughout.

Recommended for those who love historical romances with a bit of intrigue and a hero who by his very nature makes you fall hopelessly in love.

Final Verdict: The Music of Love combines tempestuous passion and zeal of two characters who are compassionate, intense, and wilful. The forces combined are unstoppable and makes one fall, and fall hard.

Favorite Quotes

When he pulled out she made an unspeakably erotic sound deep in her throat, grabbed a handful of his hair, and yanked his head up.
Her eyes bored into his, black with need. “Fuck me, Stacy.”
His jaw dropped. Had she really said what he thought she said?
“Now,” she growled.
Stacy obeyed without thinking and slammed into her hard.
“Yes.” The word was a satisfied hiss and her eyelids fluttered closed.
He used her with such unrestrained savagery that some part of him worried he was bruising her. But she met him thrust for violent thrust, her body as hungry as his own. Her climax built quickly and he redoubled his efforts, his hips pounding into her faster, deeper.

She was waiting for him and her hands went around his neck even as his slid around her body. He crushed her mouth under his. The kiss was the physical equivalent of the music she’d just played: fierce, unbridled, and mad. He couldn’t get deep enough inside her, couldn’t get enough of her mouth, her taste, her heat. It felt like years since that glorious night in the stables.
She made a gravelly noise in her throat and her fingers threaded into his hair and tugged painfully as her mouth moved from his lips down his face. She bit him on the chin, hard.
Stacy heard himself utter the words he swore he’d not speak. “I want you. Now.”

“My God,” he whispered, and then slid his free hand between her legs and found what he wanted. “Tell me how I should fuck you,” he ordered, thumbing her stiff, sensitive bud. “I want to hear you say it.”
Her body shuddered at the vulgar word and Stacy guided his shaft between her spread thighs and pushed the slick crown against her tight opening, but not enough to breech her. “Tell me,” he said harshly, ceasing his suggestive stroking.
She canted her hips even more and shoved back against him. “Hard, Stacy. Fuck me hard.”

“You’re a god,” she said, her voice low and harsh with want.
His jaw tightened and his thick shaft jerked, the slit in the fat, smooth crown leaking freely. Portia smiled at the delicious evidence of his desire; he was so close to spending. It would take only a few touches from her—
“You are a devil.”
His words pulled her eyes from his erection. He wrapped one large hand around her throat and held her gently but firmly pinned to the bed. The dominating gesture was unspeakably erotic and she spread wider for him. His red eyes became twin black pools as he dragged his free hand down her chest, between her breasts, leaving her eager nipples untouched. He had a clear destination and didn’t linger until he reached the dark tangle between her legs. He parted her swollen lips and thrust a finger inside. She arched against the sudden invasion, desperate for more.

Portia gloried in her ability to undo him; working him until he had nothing left to give. Only then did she pull back and release him, doubling over and gasping for breath, her lungs on fire. It took several moments before she could look up at him.
He stared down at her with a dazed expression, his lips parted and his chest rising and falling as if he’d been running. He shook his head and then took her arms and lifted her to her feet.
“Portia.”
She turned, refusing to look at him.
She hated him.
She loved him.

Portia stopped as suddenly as she’d started, leaving him hard and wanting. He opened his eyes a crack. She’d hiked her skirt and petticoat and tucked them into the front of her bodice before clambering onto the bed and straddling him. She stared at him as she guided him to her entrance, lowering herself onto him with a violence that robbed his lungs of air. Daylight streamed through the windows and it was brighter than any room they’d ever made love in. Stacy could not keep his eyes from consuming her.
Her lips parted as she rode him. “Tell me what you want, Mr. Harrington.”

“Come closer.”
She pushed herself closer, the motions awkward, like a crab forced to walk forward.
“Closer.” The single guttural word made her shudder and Portia scooted until she was close enough to feel the heat of his uneven breathing on the sensitive skin of her thighs. He lifted wet hands and parted her lips, his touch warm and feather-light. When he looked up the red was no more than a ring around swollen black pupils. He slid low in the water before leaning into her, his eyes holding hers while the very tip of his tongue found her peak.

In a few brusque motions he lifted her, set her on her feet, and bent her over the tub, shoving her knees wide before stroking her hot cleft with his equally hot shaft. And then he thrust into her so hard she had to brace her hands to keep from falling over the rim and into the water.
He pulled all the way out and teased her entrance with his swollen head as he wound her hair around his hand, the motion arching her back and back and back until she felt her spine might snap. He held her body taut and immobile while he breached her only with the fat crown.

“Have you missed this?” he hissed, his chest slick and hard against her back, his breath hot against her ear. “Have you missed my cock inside your body? My fingers? My tongue?” he taunted before pounding her with a series of savage thrusts that left her dizzy. He stopped again, buried to the hilt, his shaft so hard she could feel him pulsing inside her.
“Did you pleasure yourself, Portia?” His voice throbbed with a tangle of desire, anger, and hurt. “I did. I stroked myself raw thinking about you.” He pulled out with agonizing slowness and then impaled her with a brutal thrust.
Portia almost climaxed from his words alone.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Dreams of 18 by Saffron A. Kent

Format: E-Bookdreamsof18.jpeg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Graham Edwards
Hero: Quentin Savage
Heroine: Violet May Moore
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 10, 2019
Started On: October 10, 2019
Finished On: October 13, 2019

Dreams of 18 by Saffron A. Kent is her latest novel, published on October of this year. This was a much awaited novel on my part, like every other fan of Saffron I believe, because that is just how it is when it comes to books by an author who literally and figuratively takes your breath away. What Saffron does with her characters is priceless, the boundaries she pushes in the genre makes her books stand out, and the wealth of emotions her books carry are second to none.

Dreams of 18 brings to readers 18 year old Violet May Moore and 36 year old Graham Edwards, whose story begins when Graham moves next door to Violet’s home in Cherryville, Connecticut. Violet had been just 16 years old then, and Graham’s son Brian had quickly become a close friend. But from the moment Violet had laid eyes on Graham from the very first day they had moved in, there had been no other man for her, even though she knows that nothing would ever come to fruition from her harmless crush on her someone who would never give her the time of day.

However, the night she turns 18 is the night all hell breaks loose. One kiss, and everything unravels, Graham leaves town and Violet is left to pick up the pieces. The story continues ten months later, when Violet seeks Graham, largely to ask his forgiveness and to right the wrong she had done by initiating a kiss that had destroyed Graham’s life and forced him to leave.

The Graham she finds is one who unravels her even more than before, and the more time Graham and Violet forcibly spends together, increasingly she comes to the realization that Graham is not as unaffected by Violet as he pretends and would like to be. The battle of wills between the two heightens until of course there is nothing left but to give in, and give in they do, oh so gloriously!

I loved Graham and Violet, because its hard not to fall in love with two characters who are as lost and lonely as they are. But I have to admit that I loved the first half of the book more than the latter. Graham, having grown up with an absentee mother, and a father who had mourned the fact every single day to the point where Graham had never known love or affection. Violet’s childhood had been just as bad. Her mother who had never really wanted her had left its mark, and Violet had learnt to keep herself occupied so that the loneliness would be kept at bay. The very first time Graham wishes Violet a happy birthday was a scene so full of gut punching emotions that it nearly undid me.

The yearning that hits Violet at such a deeply intrinsic level is one that is echoed in Graham, even though he berates himself every single day for the way he feels about someone so young. There is just something about heroes who are larger than life and heroines who are dainty and beautiful, and the way these heroines basically have the hero wrapped around their little finger.

Graham who tenderly cares for his roses, and Violet who sees through to what it actually represents. Graham who sees and understands the wealth of accumulated hurt in Violet, and eases them with every kiss he lays on her with carnal intention or otherwise. Violet, who understands the grouchiness that is at times Graham, but loves him for it regardless because the more grouchy and possessive he is, the harder she loves him all the more. Graham who would have walked away in a heartbeat if it would have ensured her Violet’s happiness at the risk of damning his own soul. That is in essence what Graham and Violet are about, and the beauty that Saffron delivers to readers.

The other thing that struck me the most is the premise upon which the plot of the story is based. Saffron is famous for writing on taboo tropes, undoubtedly. In Dreams of 18, she navigates perhaps one of the trickiest topics of present times, especially when discussions such as #MeToo, pedophilia, and child grooming are hotly debated. The ingenuity in Dreams of 18 lies in the way Saffron skates the very edge and somehow makes it all work and entices the reader to fall in love.

Dreams of 18 may perhaps not be for everyone. And that is fine. But for readers like myself who loves authors who push the conventional norms when it comes to romance, Saffron Kent is like hitting jackpot! I just wish there were more authors like her out there, and that Saffron had an extensive back-list of books I could gorge on until the date of her next publication.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Dreams of 18 is an overload of emotions and sensations tied up in a neat bow presented to readers. Let the unraveling begin!

Favorite Quotes

“What do you think she wanted me to do to her?” he asks.
With every question that he asks me, the answers become more and more difficult. I should really put a stop to it.
Mostly because it’s none of my business. But also because I don’t wanna talk about her. I don’t wanna talk about what that woman wanted from him and what he wanted from her.
And yet, I can’t help it when my lips part and my answer slips out. “Keep kissing her and never stop.”

“What if I bring my hand forward, slide it down her stomach? Would she like that?”
My eyes go down to his hands. They’re clenched into fists by his sides, mimicking my own.
His stance is wide, and his body sprung tight, completely in conflict with his low, lazy, almost sleepy voice. And I realize that maybe this is how he looks when he’s aroused.
Oh Jesus, is he aroused? Did she get him going that much?
It makes me wanna sob.
Instead, I whisper, “Yeah. Yeah, she’d like that. Very much.”

But before I go, before I become a puddle on his couch, I ask, “Are you saying that I’m… visible?”
“No, Violet, I’m not saying that you’re visible. I’m saying that you’re the only thing that a man sees. I’m saying that you’re a thing that drives a man to distraction. You make him forget what’s right and what’s wrong. You’re a thing so terrible and beautiful and fucking breathtaking that he can’t escape you. He can’t think of anything else, not about his job, his responsibilities, his promises, his family, nothing but you. You undo him. You make him helpless. You turn him into an animal who wants to rut. You’re a girl who makes a man go bad.”

My breaths are louder. Louder than his hand jerking off his cock.
God, he’s jacking off and I don’t know what to do.
How to simply stand here and not go to him.
I’m salivating for it. My mouth is full of saliva and I’m biting my lip and licking it.
I’m gasping and probably rolling my hips in the air and that’s how he knows I’m here.
He catches me perving over him while I’m making noises.
Yikes.
As soon as his eyes hit me, his face goes from flushed to furious in a split second and he whips around, his shaft hard and pointing toward me. “What… What the… What the fuck?”

He goes for my panties.

He hooks his fingers in my waistband and yanks them down. He keeps yanking until they are off and somewhere on the floor where he throws them before coming back to me.
Before coming back and lying down on his stomach, as sprawled as I am on the bed.
My legs are all open now, almost in a split and his shoulders are jammed between them. His face is at my open, bare core that he’s breathing over, fanning my steamy folds with the air within his lungs.
He stares at it, burning my most intimate flesh with his eyes, as his thumbs run in circles at the juncture where my thighs meet my hips.
He stares at it and stares at it, getting lost for a second like he did when he looked at my breasts, and I have to call his name again. “Graham?”
He looks up, then.
“What’s my special kiss?”
Finally, he growls, “This.”
With that, he licks me.

“Graham,” I whimper, my hands going to his chest, my fingers burying in his chest hair.
He lets go of my nipple and moves further up. He kisses my pulse and I bend my neck to the side to give him more access. Then, he’s at my lips. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes up and up and finds my forehead.
Closing my sleepy eyes, I nuzzle my nose at his stubbled throat as I feel him kiss me there, at my sweaty forehead, and whisper, “Happy birthday, baby.”

“You gonna grip me hard, Violet? You’re gonna keep me here, huh?”
To emphasize here, he massages my entire core again and I can feel that I’ve practically drenched my pajamas. I can feel the wetness on my thighs. I can feel him rubbing that wetness back into my pussy and I’m almost there. Almost.
And then, he edges me over with these erotic, filthy words that he rasps just below my ear while he licks me there, rubs his jaw and beard over my soft skin.
“Your mommy should’ve tied you to the bed, Jailbait. Barred your windows. Hidden you from the world. It was only a matter of time before you ended up on the wrong side of a bad man’s cock.”

I dig my nails in his biceps, making him groan and making myself whimper.
But more than that, I make myself move and rock and twist against his length. I’m sliding back and forth on his cock, humping against it when suddenly, my eyes pop wide open.
Because holy shit, he’s inside of me.
Just like that.
He’s just pushed himself in on a groan and a grimace, his eyes still on me but so much foggier now. So much brighter and covered in a sheen that wasn’t there before. Not when I closed my eyes a few seconds ago.
Just that look of his, all panting and drugged, makes me come.

“Do you think I’m bleeding?”
He jerks slightly, his fingers digging into my flesh. Not a lot but enough that I feel the movement ricocheting in my swollen cunt.
“Jesus Christ, virgins,” he mutters to himself like he forgot about the bleeding part, panic laced in those words. To me, he grits out, his eyes concerned, “I hope to fuck that you’re not.”
I wind my arms around his neck and shake my head. “No, no. Don’t hope that.”
“What?”
“I like that. I wanna bleed.” He shudders over me; I feel the muscles of his shoulders quaking. “Because I’m… I’m a woman now. You made me one. I’m all grown up.”
His cock lurches inside me as he curses, and comes down on his elbows, as if he doesn’t wanna be away from me. As if he wants our skin to touch and slip against each other.

A second later, he pops the candy out of my mouth and throws it away before kissing the fuck out of me.
Before fusing our bodies together and slamming his cock into me. Pounding and ramming and beating up my horny channel as he fucks me. Plows into me like a beast.
It’s even more intense than last night. The way he’s riding my pussy.
His strokes are harder and more powerful. More possessive. Like his need for me only increased after he had one taste of me.
Like he wants me even more now. Like he needs me more.

I clench around his cock and his drives become rough and haphazard.
He jerks and twitches, his body slipping over mine with the sweat, the friction we’ve created. And then, he comes too.
He does it still looking at me.
He doesn’t close his eyes. He doesn’t get lost in his climax alone.
He gets lost in it with me.
The girl he can’t love but looks like he does.
The girl who’s thinking, I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
I can’t lose that look. I can’t tell him. I can’t tell him the truth.
I love him.

While his truck is shaking and rocking with us and the windows fog up.
But more than anything, I wanna do this all day and for the rest of my life because I want to make all my secrets with him. Secrets like this one. So dirty and sacred at the same time.
It’s us: him and me. The new us that we’ve created together.
I told him that night when I wore the red dress for him, that I want us to be us, just him and me.
This is us.
Wild and savage and filthy and beautiful. Beauty and The Beast.

“When I saw you, Violet, it felt like someone stabbed me in the chest,” he rasps.
My eyes go wide. “What?”
He chuckles; it’s brittle and thin. “Or at least, it felt like it. I saw you up on the roof, with your thick, gorgeous hair and your arms open wide, something got lodged inside my chest, just under my heart and for the longest time, it felt like a knife of some sort. Something that made me… different. It wasn’t that, though.”
“W-what was it?”
“My soul,” he whispers. “It was my soul waking up. The thing that keeps a man alive, came alive in me when I saw you. You woke up my soul, Violet.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: In the Dark by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-Bookinthedark.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Thriller
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Mason Deniaud
Heroine: Callie Sutton
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: December 01, 2019
Started On: December 02, 2019
Finished On: December 20, 2019

Sometimes the only thing to fear . . . is yourself.

In the Dark, the latest release by Loreth Anne White, is a story that stands testament to Loreth’s ability to spin thrillers that are dark, forbidding, and explores the deepest facets of human psychology. Some might shy away from it, others may scoff at the very notion of it, but what Loreth puts to paper is in part what humans are capable of. The good and the evil that resides in us, which makes us so complex as a creation, combined with our intelligence which makes us unpredictable.

In the Dark begins with an entity known as RAKAM Group in Malaysia bringing together a group of nine individuals for a test round of their future business in terms of holidays provided at a remote location. None of the chosen foresee the darkness that lays ahead, the harrowing circumstances under which they would each fight to survive in the days to come, nor what ties one to the other.

The group consists of Dan Whitlock, a private investigator who dies before the journey begins, Monica McNeill, a grocery chain heiress and her husband Dr. Nathan McNeill, a professor of mycology at the University of Toronto, Bart Kundera who operates a transportation service, Katie Colbourne, a travel-documentary maker, Jackie Blunt, former police officer turned owner of a private security firm, Dr. Steven Bodine, cosmetic surgeon, and Stella Daguerre their pilot who carries them to their final destination.

When the group arrives, instead of the cozy vacation mountain lodge they were expecting, there stands an abandoned lodge in total isolation, without seemingly anyone around for miles. With a storm front that had moved in making it impossible to make the return journey, the spooked out party decides to wait out the storm, and instead find themselves in a bizarre setting within which they come to realize that they had been duped well and good, and brought together for a purpose none of them understands well.

With the realization that someone amongst them or outside of the nine is playing a harrowing mind game on them willing them to turn on one another bringing the ugliest of truths each harbours, the group starts to fray at the edges when one by one, members are killed, in line with a rhyme that they were meant to find from day one. According to the rhyme, only one is meant to survive, or none, depending on how the events unfold.

Sergeant Mason Deniaud, is a veteran big-city homicide detective, who decides to move to the middle of nowhere that is Kluhane Bay for personal reasons. When he encounters his first major case in the form of a downed plane with an apparent homicide victim, this kick-starts a chain of events which leads him and Callie Sutton of Kluhane Bay’s Search and Rescue on a mission to uncover the truth and search for survivors. With time running out, Mason and Callie’s team battle with nature itself to get to where the group of individuals may have ended up in.

When I turned the last page of the story, what was racing through my mind were the words, what a creepy and sensational book! I don’t even know if I should be using those two words in the same sentence. However, the more I think about it, the more drawn I get into the ingenuity of the plot, the layers to it, and the deeply rich characterization upon which the plot is built. There is no one character that does not add value to the plot, and that is no mean feat when you are juggling multiple individuals who all play pivotal roles in the story.

For the first time when it comes to a Loreth Anne book, I didn’t miss out on the romance angle. Maybe because I have conditioned myself not to expect romance in her books now. Even though there exists an elemental connection between Callie and Mason, I didn’t feel morose about the fact that nothing actually did materialize from that connection. Rather, the way Loreth left things on that turf seemed fitting, because you know deep inside, that somewhere down the line, what’s meant to be would find its way.

In short, on the psychological thriller front, what Loreth delivers in this story is priceless. I have never really read an Agatha Christie novel, but the premise of this novel’s plot depends deeply upon one of her novels. In the Dark strips down human nature to its very core, where Loreth drives and forces her characters towards their most feral and survivalist of natures, and taps into the psychology upon how people who have been dealt with extremely tough hands in life choose to shape and steer their future.

While I empathized with the mastermind of the plot, I couldn’t wholeheartedly say that I agreed with the character’s actions in its entirety. But that is exactly why Loreth is such a brilliant writer. She makes you see through the thin veneer holding civilized society together and strips us bare to expose the very elements which makes us who we are. That in short is why this book is a mastery unto itself.

Recommended for anyone who loves a tightly plotted thriller that delivers.

Final Verdict: In the Dark is a novel that brings together Loreth’s unique ability of in-depth characterization, exposing our deepest and darkest fears, and the wildcards among us who serve to be the ones you must look out for!

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Love in Lingerie by Alessandra Torre

Format: E-Bookloveinlingerie.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Unzipped, #1
Publisher: Select Publishing
Hero: Kate Martin
Heroine: Trey Marks
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 16, 2017

Started On: August 24, 2019
Finished On: August 25, 2019

Love in Lingerie by Alessandra Torre is a novel that I came across in one of my forages through the deep and dark depths of the internet, in search for a book that would hum across all my senses. Strong recommendations back this title and being a sucker for slow-burn, angst ridden reads, I decided to give this a go, and didn’t look back.

38 year old Trey Marks is in need of a Creative Director to get his fledgling business up and running. Handsome and sexy as they come, Trey’s struggles in life had made him who he is. But when Kate Martin walks through the door, he is sucker-punched by a wave of lust that is strong, but at the same time, his need to right his company is stronger. Plus, Kate being an engaged woman means Trey should keep his hands to himself.

So begins the relationship between Trey and Kate, one of professional interests laced with a lot of untoward thoughts about each other from both sides, thoughts that both of them tamp down with a ferocity that only survivalists tend to have. Through the sweat and grime to make the business successful, Trey and Kate become friends, and life moves on.

Things come to a pivotal point when Kate starts dating once again after her breakup, leading the story to the angst-ridden bits which I absolutely adored. There is a beauty to a relationship that develops over the course of time, where the reader gets to live through the emotions of the characters, their hangups, their fears, and triumphs. Falling in love with them, chiding them for the mistakes they make, because lets face it, life does not come with a manual of its own, and urging them on, wanting to smack some sense into them; that is all part of the reader’s sacred journey with a book as good as this one.

The slow build up of sexual tension was definitely frustrating, but at the same time it was worth it because it made the emotional connection between Trey and Kate stronger. Kate was perhaps wise in pointing out that had it being earlier in their acquaintance that Trey and herself had gotten together, they probably would not have made it.

But I beg to differ. They probably wouldn’t have made it far at that point, but they would have come back to each other over the course of time, because two halves of one soul would always find their way to each other, over the passage of time.

Enjoyed the sizzle, the friends to lovers aspect, and most of all, the realistic span of time taken for the story to reach its ultimate conclusion when it came to their happily ever after.

Recommended for those who love a good friends to lovers romance, with a sexier than sin hero and plenty of angst and slow burn in the mix. I loved my first Alessandra Torre to bits!

Final Verdict: Love in Lingerie is the kind of book that carries the reader through a range of emotions – highs and lows, with enough breathing space in between for you to fall in love with it all.

Favorite Quotes

“Open your legs before I pull them apart myself.” He had said that to me. My Trey. He had given that order, and I had spread my legs for him. Had he seen my panties? Had he seen the way that they stuck to me, the way that I had trembled? I imagine him stepping forward, his head tilting, eyes searching, his fingers pulling my panties to the side, and all of me, swollen and pink and wet. He would look up, and that look, that look in his eyes—I come from the idea, the orgasm violent, my fingers sliding against the tile, my body tensing, back rounding, and it is long and hard when it blooms, a wave of pleasure that shudders through me, my cries drowned out by the water, my pleasure extended by the spray. When I finally sink back against the wall, I am numb, my emotions spent, my body limp, my head a fog of orgasmic bliss.

He comes up beside me and hangs an arm around my shoulder, bringing me against him. “I like it.” He looks up at the house.
“Me too. Can you afford it?”
He shrugs. “Keep the designs coming, and I’ll buy you a matching one in five years.”
“Ha.” I rest my head against his shoulder. “And leave my apartment? Never.”
I look up at the master bedroom, and imagine him at the window, fresh from a shower, a towel around his waist. I think of that giant kitchen, the tall fireplace, the view. I don’t want a matching one. I want this one, with him in it. I want to swim naked in this pool and roll around in front of that fireplace, and make love in that kitchen.
The wind picks up, sweeping my hair across my face, and I feel, in the strong brush of its breeze, my daydreams scatter.

He pushes his tongue inside of me and all thought stops, his fingers digging into the cheeks of my ass, his mouth as aggressive as his touch. I don’t need to wonder how I taste, or if he is enjoying this. I close my eyes, release every inhibition, and let his tongue destroy my senses.
When I come, it is the kind of orgasm that changes lives. The kind where my nails scrape his scalp, my feet flex through the open air, and my scream is so loud it is silent. I scramble for footing, for reality, and in the hundredth call of his name, I tell him I love him.

A growl tears from his throat when he sees the matching balconet bra, the one from last season, his eyes scanning over my chest. He slides his palms up my stomach and over the swell of the sheer cups, all lace and underwire, his hands squeezing, fingers pulling at the top of it. “Fuck, you’re beautiful,” he breathes, and it is a moment of calm, a moment where his gaze drags over me, from knee to face, and our eyes meet and I’ve never felt so safe, so cherished, so beautiful.

I claw at the leather, I scream his name, and when my entire body tenses, it is a rolling, tumbling fall of ecstasy that doesn’t stop, the animalistic sounds coming from him, the continual mad thrusts of his body, the jerk of the lace, the assault of cock and balls against and inside of me … I scream over and over, and if this is a Trey Marks orgasm, I am ruined for life. I cannot, will not, ever find this again. I cannot, will not, ever experience this again.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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