Review: The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon

Format: E-bookthesmallestpart.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Noah Andelin
Heroine: Mercedez Lopez
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 13, 2018
Started On: December 15, 2018
Finished On: December 16, 2018

The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon is the kind of book that fits my favorite trope in the romance genre. It is a story of best friends who become lovers, but then again, it is as simple as that. The Smallest Part is an epic journey filled with a lot of heartache and pain that brings the two together, and makes you more grateful for the fact towards the end. It is the story of the girl who gives up the love of her life, because her best friend was in love with him too. I do not recall how I came across this title now. Not that it matters, because this was gut wrenching in every single way that matters.

Mercedez Lopez and Noah Andelin are best of friends. Mercedes is the one who sees Noah, and befriends him when they were just kids. Two years later, into their lives comes beautiful Cora, the one whom everyone wanted to take care of, because she was a fragility unto herself, a tragedy waiting to happen.

Fast forward through the years, Cora is the one who marries Noah, when Mercedez herself had been in love with Noah ever since she could remember. Not that she would ever profess to it. In fact, she lies when Cora asks her about it. But Mercedez gives him up, all because Cora had professed to wanting him. Everything comes to a standstill when Cora, now mother of a one year old daughter dies a tragic death, leaving everyone else reeling from the impact of the suddenness of it all.

So begins life without Cora, Noah and Mercedez picking up the pieces, learning to be whole again. It is Mercedez that is the pillar of strength to Noah when he needs it, it is she who coddles and gives the much needed reality check when Noah needs it. She is also Gia’s godmother, a godsend in every way to his daughter, until Noah is able to start making sense of the grievous loss that had once again come calling to his life.

When things start changing between Noah and Mercedez, it is Mercedez who tries to put on the brakes, to salvage the friendship that means everything to her, so that the one relationship that she completely depends on to keep whole would never fail on her. But somethings are inevitable, no matter which course in life you choose to take, and Noah and Mercedez are just that; inevitable and two halves of one whole that will time and yet again make their way back towards one another.

I cannot begin to describe how much this story meant to me. In a way, it made me think of one of my favorite books of all time; Guilty Needs by Shiloh Walker. Sarah’s Child by Linda Howard also follows a similar theme, and if you ask me, books like these, that takes on a sensitive trope as such and does it justice are too far and few in between. But perhaps it is for that reason that when you do find a book as such, it is hard to put down because you are reeling from the impact of the characters that break you in ways you never thought possible.

The Smallest Part is a story that has so much depth, such vivid characterization, that it is difficult to describe the profoundness you find in the story. I do not believe that I would be able to write any review that does this book justice, but all I can say is that this is the sort of book every romance reader ought to read, because this is the reason why we spend so much time searching for that one particular book that would hit all the spots and make the countless hours of searching worthwhile.

Amy Harmon does a masterful job in bringing to life the characters in the story. Without vilifying any of the main protagonists, she manages to convey the dynamics that had driven three individuals whose lives would always and forever remain entwined. Noah and Mercedes were definitely meant to be from the start, but then Mercedes steps aside, because she is the sort of person whose love is as pure as it comes – the kind of love that wants the best for the person you love, because that is what love in its truest sense is all about.

Moving between the past and the present, Harmon takes readers through the all together human emotions of jealousy, competitiveness, sorrow, and happiness that had driven the dynamics between the trio. She also takes on subjects such as deep chronic depression that could potentially end in suicide, how it impacts the lives of those left behind. How we as humans, tend to put the people we love up on pedestals once they are no longer with us, and in the end shortchange ourselves because we refuse to acknowledge what they were really like and how we were impacted by their actions when they were with us.

Mercedes is a force of life to be reckoned with. Strong in mind and spirit, beautiful inside and out, loyal, honest, & unafraid of hard work; she is the glue that forges and fosters the bond between the three. She is Noah’s rock and guiding force, the woman who always has his back, no matter what. There is not an ounce of malice in Mercedes, and that is what makes you realize that she is the real deal.

On the other hand Cora is weaker in character, never having properly moved on from her father’s suicide. Cora has an inability to love her own self, and looks for reassurance from those she surrounds herself with to keep the demons at bay. Where Mercedes is loyal, Cora is not. Where Mercedes gives it her all, Cora has only bits and pieces to offer.

Noah is the kind of character who is truly deserving of every bit of love that Mercedez has to give. His life had not been any less tragic than that of Cora’s, but there is a light that shines in him that tends to put others at ease. There is a strength of character to him that makes him so very easy to fall in love with. His steadfastness when it came to Cora and Mercedez, that is what I loved most about him. 

I loved how the story had the ability to spirit me away, make me resent the need for sleep, and the time away from reading that life demanded. It has been a while since I felt as such about a story and I am grateful for having discovered this gem.

Recommended for anyone who loves a good story. You need not be a romance lover to enjoy the roller-coaster ride of emotions this book will take you on.

Final Verdict: Harmon’s ability to weave the past & present together & juggle a myriad of characters, while ripping my insides to shreds & making me whole again; why this story will live on in my heart for a long while.

Favorite Quotes

Noah played a song on his guitar. It was the silly tune he’d written to ask Cora to marry him. Mercedes had never had the heart to tell him it was terrible. But as she listened to his quiet voice and the awkward strumming of his long fingers, not quite holding the chord, she realized how wrong she’d been. It was a song about all the little things he loved about her, all the parts that made up the whole. He’d rhymed words like button and glutton, like boring and snoring, and when he’d played it for Cora the first time, before he popped the question, she’d hardly been able to keep a straight face.
But between the silly verses and his bashful delivery, there was love and devotion, there was commitment and promise, and there was hope. It wasn’t terrible at all. It was perfect, and it was painful. It was all Mercedes could do not to cover her ears until it was over.

Without asking, without warning, he leaned in and kissed her.
His lips were soft, his breath sweet, and the tips of his fingers were light on her cheeks. But it wasn’t a kiss between friends. It wasn’t a kiss goodbye. It was a desperate hello. Her heart grew and grew, filling her chest with both terror and triumph. But she didn’t push him back or pull away. In the darkness, she returned the press of his lips, and when he deepened the kiss, she opened her mouth to him without hesitation.

Here I am, her thoughts screamed. Here you are. Here we are. This is us.
But she did not know this Noah.
She did not know this side of him, the way his breath caught when she stood naked before him, curved and full-bodied, warm-skinned and round-hipped. The way he moved his hands around her thighs and lifted her, pulling her legs around his waist, one arm beneath her, one arm behind her, cradling her head from the cool tiles at her back. The way he gasped when he entered her, like he’d never been with a woman before. The way he moved against her, lost in the rhythm and the gathering storm.

For a long time, Noah just kissed her. He kept his weight above her, kept his hands in her hair, kept his mouth on hers. Kissing is a thousand times more intimate than sex. He knew some people would disagree, but the first thing that goes when a marriage is coming apart is not the sex. It’s the kissing.

“Noah, please. Noah,” she begged, her hips rising, her hands escaping his hold to clutch and coax. He capitulated slowly, mouth to mouth as he sank into her, and was so overcome with emotion, he had to pause. He was Atlas, holding the weight of the world on his shoulders, suspended above her, reveling in the exquisite agony of servitude.

He pressed his lips to the corners of her eyes and sipped at the salt on her cheeks, tasting the feelings she tried so hard to keep from him. He didn’t ask her why she cried. He didn’t beg her to stop. He understood her pain, and he knew he was hurting her. Tenderly, gently, carefully . . . hurting her. For a moment she was with him, lost in the sweetness of surrender, sobbing his name against his lips. He rocked against her, lazy and slow, a porch swing on a summer evening, just the two of them with nowhere to go.

“If I kiss you, will I lose you?” he whispered, and she groaned, inexplicably angry.
“Why are you asking me? Why don’t you just take what you want? Why don’t you just kiss me? Why do I have to give you permission and guarantees and sign a freaking form before you—” Her rant was swept aside by the brush of his lips. He was gentle and tentative, holding her face in his hands, pulling her shuddering breath into his throat, and giving it back to her. For several heartbeats, his mouth moved with hers, no urgency, no pressure, no pain.

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

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Review: When a Duke Loves a Woman by Lorraine Heath

Format: E-bookwhenadukelovesawoman
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Sins for All Seasons, #2
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Antony Coventry
Heroine: Gillian Trewlove
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 21, 2018
Started On: December 13, 2018
Finished On: December 15, 2018

I picked up a Lorraine Heath to read after ages, the last time I read a book of hers I cannot even remember. But what I definitely can recall with vivid clarity is just how emotional her books are, how much angst they carry, and how much I enjoyed them even as I cried over the obstacles between the hero and heroine in achieving their happiness.

It is 1841 and winter in London when Ettie Trewlove receives a bundle on her doorstep, another by-blow left for her to take in, babies born in sin by aristocrats that she has been in the habit of taking in and giving a home to. Even though she can ill afford to take in another, her heart is unable to leave the child to her fates, and so Gillian Trewlove grows up knowing a mother’s love, but never having actually known her own parents, always believing that she was only worthy of being left on a doorstep on a cold wintry night.

It is mid-August in 1871 when Antony Coventry, the ninth Duke of Thornley finds himself having the mother of bad days. With his bride having left him at the altar, Thorne finds himself being set upon by a bunch of ruffians, who would have killed him, if it had not been for the woman who finds him and comes to his rescue.

Gillian is the owner of a tavern in Whitechapel, and while she has a low tolerance for misdeeds in her tavern, she abhors violence of the kind that can do someone grievous harm. So when Gillian rescues a man who is definitely in need of help in the alley next to her tavern, she does not know that it is a Duke she is bringing into her life, nor how much things were going to change in her life from there onwards.

As Gillian slowly nurses Thorne back to health, he comes to the realization that Gillian is unlike any woman he has ever come across before. Thorne had assumed responsibility of the Dukedom when his father had passed away as Thorne had hit 15 years of age. Thorne had never known much affection or love in his life, not even from his mother, embittered by the actions of his father who had never stopped his philandering ways.

With the Dukedom had come responsibilities Thorne’s way, which had included a marriage that had been arranged the minute his bride-to-be had been born. What Thorne or the bride had wanted hadn’t factored in, and Thorne had been determined to do right by what was required of him, even if it means going against what he really wants.

Gillian knows her limitations as a bastard child, who practically has no place in society’s hierarchy. Especially not one that would make her desirable as a bride for anyone, much less a Duke. But the heart has a mind of its own, and it is as Gillian strives to help Thorne find his missing bride that their connection deepens. Each finding aspects about the other that fascinates and lures them closer together.

However, obligations and societal rules do not stop pressing upon one just because the heart yearns for something else. In the end, it is up to Gillian and Thorne to decide whether they want society to dictate their happiness, or chart their own course towards what is waiting for them, if only they are willing to make the sacrifices required.

I was so excited to be reading a Lorraine Heath after so long. I guess it was partly the excitement that made me expect more out of the story than it offered, which perhaps detracted a bit from the enjoyment factor. I was looking for the Lorraine Heath’s voice that I remember even after all this time, the dormant emotions that she is so good at rousing from readers.

I liked the slow build up of the romance between Thorne and Gillian. But I expected more from Thorne in a way, and while I found him sexy enough, I believed he should have stood up for himself more. But then understanding the rigid strictures of society that he had grown up in, it is also understandable where he comes from. Gillian comes off as the stronger character between the two, and because of the fact, it works between them.

I loved Gillian. She is strong, has a big heart, and wants to do right by Thorne, even if it means having her own heart broken along the way. That kind of sacrifice can only come from someone who loves in the truest sense. As I mentioned earlier, Thorne is a bit laid back in his nature, almost beta if you ask me when you consider the kind of hero he is. I guess that is one reason why the story lacked the angst I looked for. But I was glad when all was said and done, that Gillian turned out to be the kind of heroine who was deserving of the kind of gentle love that Thorne bestows upon her.

Recommended for fans of historical romances & fans of Lorraine Heath.

Final Verdict: Thorne and Gillian makes for a wholesome couple, and it is their journey towards happily ever after that I enjoyed much.

Favorite Quotes

Then he was standing before her, and for all her imaginings of this moment—all the times in her mind that she’d been calm, witty, and oh so very clever—the actual reality hit her as a bit disappointing when she heard herself ask, “What are you doing here?”
Both corners of that glorious mouth that had haunted her sleep hitched up. Slowly, ever so slowly he reached into a pocket inside his jacket, withdrew gold-rimmed spectacles, and perched them on that sharp aquiline nose of his. How could he suddenly appear even more masculine than before? “I wanted a better look at you.”

His mouth slid off hers, trailed along her chin, creating a myriad of sensations that heated her to the core. She had this odd need for him to place his mouth elsewhere, on her breasts, her stomach, lower. Dear God, but she felt wanton, yet she seemed incapable of pushing him away as he nibbled along her throat, his tongue lapping at the sensitive skin, before he moved on to the next area. He reached her collarbone and his mouth lingered, suckling gently before journeying back up to her chin and retreating.

Tearing his mouth from hers, he shoved himself down a few inches, plumped up her breast with one hand and offered it to his questing mouth as though it were the finest morsel ever served. As his lips came securely around the turgid nipple, he suckled, and she very nearly came off the bed as pain and pleasure warred for dominance, and pleasure won, sending armies of sensation throughout her. She pressed her honeyed canal against him, tilting up her hips, bowing her back in a way that allowed her to rub her intimate core along the length of his hard shaft.
If the way he jerked was any indication, now he was the one close to coming off the bed.

As the world exploded around her, as she flew apart and came back together, she knew memories would not be enough to sustain her, but they would be all she had and she would cherish and hoard them. She became aware of his frantic pumping, his harsh breathing, his stifling moans—
Then he pushed himself free of her, burying his face between her breasts as he shook with spasms, spilling his seed in his hand in an effort to protect her from anyone ever learning of her sins.

His fingers danced over the outer portion of her thigh, up and down, up and down, until he moved to the tender and sensitive inner edge, his fingers no longer frolicking but slowing to a meander until they reached the haven that was already moist and aching for him. “You’re so wet,” he rasped.
Moving her hand down, she rubbed the swollen length of him. “You’re so hard.”
“Aching with need, actually, need that will go unsatisfied until later. But you, princess, you need not wait.”

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

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Review: And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-bookandthenhekissedher
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Girl Bachelors, #1
Publisher: HarperCollins
Hero: Harrison Robert Marlowe
Heroine: Emmaline Dove
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 13, 2009
Started On: December 10, 2018
Finished On: December 12, 2018

Laura Lee Gurhke is a name that you come across many times over if you read historical romances. In my bid to read a good historical romance (because there are times when you just want more of the magic that comes from only the said genre), I decided to take the plunge and read the first book in the Girl Bachelors series entitled And Then He Kissed Her by the author.

The heroine Emmaline Dove (Emma), who turns thirty years old, has been working for Harrison Robert Marlowe (Viscount Marlowe) for five years when the story begins. Harry is a publisher, and Emma is determined to get her book on the correct conduct for girl-bachelors like herself published through her employer. If only he would give her book the time of day and consider it worthy of publication.

When Harry turns her down for the umpteenth time, and Emma discovers that Harry has never in fact read one of her manuscripts on the many occasions that he had turned them down, it is the last straw. She quits, believing that if she wanted to make things happen, it is she who should get to it. So she goes forth in the world to become a success in her own right, proving to Harry many times over that determination would get one to places.

There is nothing more tedious to Harry than sifting through a book on correct decorum and behavior. So Harry finds himself without Emma’s quiet efficiency to run pretty much everything in his life. Harry finds himself in a bit of a pickle when he realizes that for some reason, Emma’s writings are making waves in society as he never thought possible. After many a hurdle, forges a new relationship between the two, where Emma and Harry meets as equals, where he considers her opinions and thoughts, where she gets to be heard. Through it all, Harry discovers to his utter fascination that he wants Emma unlike he has wanted any woman in a long time.

Harry, who has sworn of marriage after the disaster of his first, is all sorts of improper for a woman like Emma, whose entire childhood and adult life has always been about doing what is proper. Her rigid upbringing plays its role, and Emma is afraid to look beyond and make reality of the woman she actually wants herself to be. Passionate, daring, and adventurous. In Marlowe, she finds that she can be all that and more with him, but years of indoctrination is hard to shake off. But shake it off she does, in the most spectacular fashion, leaving both Emma and Marlowe breathless with every encounter between them.

The best part of this story was the slow awakening of Emma, to realize who she truly is, and accept the parts of herself that contradicts all the proper behavior and decorum that had been drummed into her since childhood. Harry was a tad insensitive at times, but once you get the frustration on his part to get through to Emma, it becomes understandable as well. Harry is the catalyst that pushes Emma to see beyond who she believes she should be. He teaches her the pleasures of life, and Emma blossoms so beautifully beneath his tender ministrations, in bed and out of it.

While Harry took his own sweet time in coming to certain realizations, he did step up and do the “proper” thing by Emma when all was said and done. I loved Emma, because she is the sort of character whom you cannot resist. There is just something about heroines called Emma. They make for rather proper and at times the most fun heroines when everything unravels. Brings to mind Sandra Marton’s The Bedroom Business. Such a wickedly fun book such as this one.

Recommended for those that love a good historical romance. There is romance, there is angst – the best of both in my opinion.

Final Verdict: Delightfully sweet with scrumptious love scenes that brought my vivid imagination to life.

Favorite Quotes

Before she could descend on her own, he put his hands on her waist, thinking to be chivalrous and lift her down. But the moment he touched her, he forget that intent and his thoughts became much less noble. His forearms brushed the sides of her hips, and another wave of desire shimmered through his body. He’d been right. She was wearing a petticoat or two, maybe, and a corset, definitely, but no padding. He slid his hands down an inch or two, grasping her hips, and his thumbs brushed the base of her spine. There might not be much to Miss Dove, but what she had was genuine.
His hands tightened, and he leaned closer, breathing deeply of talcum powder and fresh cotton, pristine, maidenly scents he’d never dreamt could be erotic until now. If he moved one inch closer, he’d be kissing—
“My lord?”
Good God, what was he doing?

Before she could guess his intent and stop him with some ridiculous rule of etiquette, he grasped her wrist, lifted her hand, and opened his mouth. His lips closed around her fingers and the remaining half of the truffle.
She gasped, but though she tried to pull her hand away, he wouldn’t let her. She glanced at the door, then back at him as he slowly pulled the candy from her fingers with his mouth.
He saw her lips quiver and heard her breathing quicken. He perceived the change in her body, a purely feminine reaction of passion tempered by modesty. By innocence. Harry’s body began to burn.

He slid his hand to her cheek, and she gave a gasp of shock. “What are you doing?” she whispered.
He bent his head and paused with his lips an inch from hers. “Committing a serious breach of etiquette,” he murmured.
And then he kissed her.
The moment his mouth touched her own, Emma forgot where they were, forgot what was proper, forgot everything she had ever been taught about right and wrong. There, in the half-light and shadows of a dusty bookshop, she forgot that kissing was only for married people and that she was a spinster of thirty. With this man’s warm palm cupping her face and his lips pressed to hers, joy unfurled inside her, beautiful, painful joy. It was like nothing she had ever felt before. It was like nothing she could ever have imagined.
It was like springtime.

She brought her hands between them to touch his chest. His silk waistcoat felt smooth against her palms. Beneath it, his muscles were hard and warm. Emma slid her palms across his chest beneath his jacket to his shoulders, savoring the strength of a man’s body for the very first time, knowing somehow that for this moment, all that strength was hers to command. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed closer, wanting that strength to enfold her.
Her move seemed to ignite something inside him. He made a rough sound against her mouth, and his free arm wrapped around her waist. He lifted her onto her toes, pulled her fully against him. His free hand curled around the back of her neck. He deepened the kiss, and his tongue entered her mouth. Emma made a wordless sound of shock, but then she touched her tongue to his, and waves of pleasure shimmered through her. For the first time, she understood what carnality truly was.

He lifted his head and captured her mouth with his, smothering the echo of his name against her lips. His hand tightened at her breast, he groaned into her mouth, and he deepened the kiss. He touched her nipple again, sliding his fingers back and forth across it within the tight confines of her underclothes, and her body shuddered in response. She felt as if she had no ability to govern her own body, for his touch was causing her to move in the strangest way, arching into his hands in little twitches that she could not stop. She could hear herself making soft, queer noises against his mouth, smothered, primitive sounds, and she felt as if she were drowning in a sensuous haze. What he was doing was like nothing she’d ever felt before, and she wanted it to go on and on and on forever.

“Stop talking about my undergarments,” she whispered, the rosy blush in her face spreading down over her face and neck. “It isn’t…” She wet her lips. “It isn’t decorous.”
“Decorous?” He laughed softly. “Emma, when he’s taking off a woman’s clothes, a man doesn’t feel decorous. Neither does she if he’s doing it right. Besides, we’re just talking, making conversation.” He nuzzled her ear. “Having social intercourse, you might say.”
She made a choked sound.

She fingered the sash. “Don’t I get to undress you, too?” she whispered.
Do you want to?”
She nodded, staring at his chest. “Yes. Yes, I do.”
He spread his arms wide. “Go on, then. Tonight’s all about what you want.” He grinned. “I’ll teach you all the things I want some other time.”

Emma untied the sash, then grasped the facings of his dressing gown. She slid the heavy silk back from his shoulders and it fell behind him to the floor. She stepped back a little and stared at his chest, but after a few moments he couldn’t stand it. “Touch me, Emma,” he said hoarsely. “Touch me.”

Harry inhaled a sharp breath and tilted his head back as she began to explore him. She ran her hands over his chest and across his shoulders, down his arms and back up again, over his ribs and down his abdomen. Her fingertips caressed his ribs and she leaned in, pressing a kiss to his collarbone. She laughed softly, blowing warm breath against his skin. “You’re beautiful.”
Something hot and tight twisted in his chest, something that had nothing to do with the lust in his body. Something in the naive wonder of her voice that hit him deep down and lifted him way up and made him feel as if he were king of the earth.

“Emma, Emma, let it happen,” he coaxed, his lips brushing her curls. “Just feel it and let it happen.”
He kissed her and licked her, and after a moment or two, she gave a little sigh as something in her seemed to relax. She began to move her hips, and he took his cue from her, pleasuring her at the pace her body demanded, faster and faster, until she was trembling all over and arching into him, until she was moving with frantic little jerks and soft, primitive cries were coming from her throat. Until she made that sweet, long wail of feminine ecstasy and her body collapsed.

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

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Review: The Lion’s Courtship by Annelie Wendeberg

Formathelionscourtship.jpegt: E-book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Anna Kronberg Thriller, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Anna Kronberg
Heroine: Garret O’Hare
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: July 16, 2014
Started On: December 04, 2018
Finished On: December 06, 2018

It was my hankering to read something different that had me taking a look at The Lion’s Courtship by Annelie Wendeberg. This is the first book in the Anna Kronberg Thriller series, and is written in the first person. This was an intriguing and eye opening look into what the rest of the series entails.

Anna Kronberg lives in the worst of the worst that Victorian London has to offer. Anna is a doctor, who is viewed by most as a “nurse”, (because why on Earth would a woman be a doctor?), treating those who would never have access to proper medical care if otherwise. She treats the prostitutes, the criminals, and the children who grow up in the miserable and abject poverty that is brought to life so vividly in this story. And then there is her secret identity where she moonlights as Dr. Anton Kronberg at Guy’s Hospital.

When Garret O’Hare comes seeking Anna’s services, thus begins a reluctant acquaintance, at least on the part of Anna. However, Garret continues to surprise her and slowly gets under her skin. And it is only Garret that is willing to help Anna in her quest to find a man who had slashed the face of a young prostitute, the prostitute having seemingly disappeared altogether.

So begins the search, where Garret warns Anna of the consequences that could come calling. There is no prettying up what the squalid conditions of where the story takes place is like. Ms. Wendeberg dishes it out as it is, and as it should be. The whole setting comes off as authentic, Anna and Garret realistic in a way that you can relate to and root for them. The menace that lingers owing to the killer is one that does not abate as the story proceeds, the ending being the most shocking of all. A killer who can outsmart everyone else, that is in reality who he is.

I read this right after I finished watching The Alienist series, which I absolutely loved. I felt as if Ms. Wendeberg’s writing carried the same vibe, and I felt just right at home with the story that unfolded.

I did take a look at the next book in the series and find that this is probably the only ending this story is going to get? Plus the series is veering in a totally different direction? I believe I might come back and sample some of the other stories in the series in due time.

Recommended for those who love historical mysteries. This one definitely and cleverly serves as the appetizer to the next installment.

Final Verdict: Ms. Wendeberg certainly has the prose, style, and wit to carry this off. Definitely gets one thinking, which I love in my books!

Favorite Quotes

Rotten food was squeezed in floorboard cracks — floorboards so dirty that one must think they’d never seen a brush and a dollop of soap in their entire life.
Twelve straw-covered pallets were stuffed into the limited space. He’d had to climb over sleeping bodies to reach his bed. He can still hear the tinkling of urine in chamber pots, the snoring and grunting, the bawling of an infant, the swearing, burping, and farting. This was not the shiny paradise his once boyish mind had dreamt up. This was the place where humans had reached their lowest point and had long lost all shame.

She unlocks the small room at the very end, steps in and locks it, fumbles for the matches, then lights two oils lamps and yanks off her dress.
She hates being scared and being fragile, being the weaker of the sexes. She hates not having equal access to education, employment, and basic rights. If screaming could make things better, she’d scream until her throat turned numb.
Instead, she sheds her dress and undergarments, and opens the wardrobe where she keeps her disguise. Only ten minutes later, she’s her professional and controlled self: Dr Anton Kronberg of Guy’s Hospital.

Both women know that once the unwanted child is gone, the cycle will start anew, and there is little to be done about it. For Anna, this is hard to accept. She kills miniature children, knowing she’ll never have one of her own. Every time she holds one in her hand and sees the bloody mess of tiny limbs sliced off the small body, she looks up from between the legs of her patient and sees a woman whom nature simply hasn’t considered. Not only are prostitutes at the bottom of society’s cesspit, evolution has no regard for them, either. Without the ability to switch off conception when copulation is used to avoid starvation, prostitutes are left at a social and biological dead end.

‘Most of the time, I don’t like people. They could all be apes; it wouldn’t make too much of a difference to me.’
Garret’s breath stalls. His mind refuses to provide a meaningful analysis of Anna’s statements. ‘I don’t believe you. You help people every day. You wouldn’t do it if you didn’t like them at all.’
Several moments pass without a reply. Her breathing has grown deeper and slower, and he believes she has fallen asleep.
But then she stirs a little. ‘Because when people are sick and weak, when they fear death, they reveal who they are. They wear no masks and I can see their souls.’
‘Do you like them then?’
She sighs again, and searches for his hand he had withdrawn a moment earlier. ‘All souls are beautiful. But you…’ She presses the back of his hand against her forehead. ‘…you have an exceptionally beautiful soul.’

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo | iTunes

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Review: Dangerous by Minerva Spencer

Format: E-bookdangerous.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Outcasts, #1
Publisher: Zebra
Hero: Adam de Courtney
Heroine: Euphemia Marlington
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: June 26, 2018
Started On: November 18, 2018
Finished On: November 27, 2018

Dangerous by Minerva Spencer is her debut novel, the first book in The Outcasts series. I read the second book Barbarous first, right after which, I just HAD to get myself a copy of Dangerous to indulge in. And indulge I did, in one of the finest historical romances that I have read this year!

The Duke of Carlisle is desperate in his bid to get his daughter Euphemia Marlington (Mia) married off to avoid further scandal to their family. Mia’s return home had not been the joyous affair most would think would happen when one’s daughter, who was captured by corsairs, and then later taken into the harem of the Sultan for a long time, for whom she had borne a son has returned home after so many years. Now 33 years old, Mia has only one goal in mind. The sooner she is married, the sooner she can return to her son Jibril, something she keeps secret from even her father and own brother.

It is the Duke’s desperation that drives him to extend an invitation to Adam de Courtney, the Marquess of Exley, to a dinner and ball at the Duke’s residence, for the sole purpose of finding Mia a suitable husband. Adam’s two past marriages leaving him a widower had earned him the nickname The Murdering Marquess, and Adam’s reclusive nature from society is what sets the gossip mill stirring, what makes society want to avoid him in return. However, Adam’s interest in details surrounding the return of Mia is piqued enough to turn up, and to his surprise finds himself beguiled by a woman who he did not think would possess such a charm.

Against his better judgement, Adam proposes marriage, and Mia accepts, at first because she believes Adam would be the person who would unknowingly help her further her goals in getting back to her son. Adam’s condition is that she give him an heir, something he had failed at when it came to his past two marriages.

So begins the charming and sensual tale of two people who are drawn to each other in spite of themselves. Mia with her secrets that she hugs close to her, and Adam keeping the scars left behind from his first marriage that had practically ruined him for anyone else. But Mia seduces more than his body, she takes everything he has to give, and Adam finds that he cannot quite get enough of his newly wedded wife

As their relationship progresses, Mia too finds herself drawn towards the enigmatic man she married. A man who tries to put up a cold front, but shows how fiery and deep his passions run when it comes to her. If it had been just Mia alone, she would have been content to stay with Adam and forget the very reason upon which she had based her decision to take Adam as her husband. But when her past comes calling and gives her a very brutal wake up call, Mia must do everything in her power to leave the man she loves behind in order to bring her son back to safety.

I must say that I enjoyed Dangerous far more than I did Barbarous. I loved the intensity of emotions between Mia and Adam. Mia is someone who is passionate by nature, society’s worst nightmare perhaps, because she is someone who speaks her mind. Her captivity at the Sultan’s palace had also meant that she is far more experienced in the arts of sexual pleasure, something that Adam does not begrudge her for and enjoys. Mia is a refreshing character in many ways. I loved her because she is feisty, independent, and is not afraid to speak her mind. All of that and more endeared her to me in ways I cannot explain. Her love for Adam is one that runs deep, a love that is pure on many levels, because he is the first man to move her enough  to give her heart to.

To fall in love with Adam is so easy. He might show the uncaring facade, put up his daughters at his country estate and plan never to bring them into society, and after all, his past two wives ending up dead does earn him the sort of notoriety that is hard to shake off. But deep inside Adam is a man of immense passion, integrity, and honesty, a man who wants to do right by those whom he love and is responsible for. His skills with swords is one that was hot – I cannot explain why, you would just have to read the story to find out.

I loved the ending. It gave glimpses into the lives of Mia and Adam and their happiy ever after that I could have gone on reading more about. But I am hoping that Jibril is going to end up getting his own story somewhere down the line, and that readers like myself who fell in love with Adam and Mia would get to see the couple in action then as well. I would be remiss if I were not to mention how much I enjoyed Adam and Martin’s relationship that developed towards the latter part of the story. I think I read somewhere that it is going to be Martin’s story up next. Can’t wait!

Recommended, because Minerva writes with a style and wit that draws you in, and does scenes of passion so beautifully well that you cannot help but feel the heat.

Final Verdict: Captivating from start to finish, Minerva’s scrumptious debut novel demands the reader to pick up the next in the series right after! Highly recommended.

Favorite Quotes

He went only as deep as his aching head before stopping. A bead of sweat broke from his temple and trickled down his jaw as he stared down into her slitted green eyes. His control strained at its tether like a rabid dog on a leash. Once he began moving, there would be no finesse.
She smiled lazily, tilted her hips, and took him inside her.
“Ah, God.” The words burst from him like a plea for mercy.
Any vestige of control disappeared, and his best intentions with it. He used her with a savagery he knew would shame him later but he was beyond caring.

His vision went black and his body exploded. He crushed her hips in a punishing grip and held her still as he filled her and claimed her.
Mine.
He exhaled raggedly and rolled over, not wanting to crush her. Her legs tangled with his and she turned with him, a girlish giggle breaking from her when they tumbled onto their sides, still connected at the hips, their faces inches from each other.
Adam looked into her flushed, joyous face and his heart beat a deafening tattoo in his ears.

He came into her slowly and both of them made low sounds of satisfaction as he filled her. “My God, you feel good,” he whispered, his cheek pressed against hers, his breath hot on her ear. “I need to take you.”
She answered by tilting her hips to take him even deeper and then squeezing the length of him until he moaned.
“That was very naughty,” he gasped, drawing almost all the way out of her and then stroking into her hard and fast. The power of his thrust drove her up the bed and he rode her so hard she barely had the breath to cry out when the first climax overtook her.

As her flush deepened one small hand crept between her thighs and found the place that gave her so much pleasure. Adam didn’t think he’d ever been harder in his entire life as he watched her work herself while riding him.
Her other hand moved to her breast and stroked her erect nipples. Her back arched and her eyes closed and that was enough. He grabbed her hips and drove himself home.
She fixed him with an unfocused gaze as he pounded into her. “Come with me, Adam.”
Her words were the last straw and he convulsed against her with the sheer force of his orgasm, yelling out God-knows-what as he spent himself.

“You’ve reached the end of the road,” he said, backing her up against the ornately carved wood. She bent close, rather than trying to get away, flicking her tongue over one of his nipples.
“Witch,” he hissed, his eyes closing.
Her skilled tongue worked his nipples, alternating painful little nips with soothing sucking while his erection pulsed between them.
“You are so beautiful,” she murmured, her sharp teeth catching him and pulling, the pain exquisite. “Ever since the day you kissed me at my father’s house, I become wet whenever I think of making love to you.”

She laid her hands against his chest, looking up at him in a way that did disconcerting things to his stomach. “Will you bathe with me, my lord?”
He released into his gaze all the hunger and lust he had been controlling since their truncated lovemaking earlier in the day. Her face flushed and her lids lowered as he pushed against her, forcing her to take a step back, and then another as he relentlessly advanced on her, not stopping until he’d pinned her against the hard stone wall of the bathing chamber.
“Unbutton me,” he told her, his voice harsh with need. Her deft hands worked fast to free him.
He pulled up the skirt of her traveling costume, his hand moving to what he knew would be waiting for him. She wore no drawers. He shook with desire as he delved into her curls and found the part of her that transformed her into something that was his alone.

While she was still shuddering with pleasure he grasped her bottom, lifted her against the wall, and slid into her, holding very still once he was seated. He braced himself, his feet spread shoulder-width apart, gaining control of himself. She moved restlessly above him, her hips grinding, wanting more.
He pulled back to look at her. Her eyes were hooded, her mouth slack and willful.
“So greedy.” He snuggled her tighter to his body as he worked himself deeper. “You’ve hardly finished one orgasm and you already want another. You’ll not come again until you’ve earned it,” he whispered, punctuating his words with a quick thrust of his hips.

“Turn around and put your hands on the wall.”
She complied without speaking. He trapped her hands with his and pulled her arms taut, roughly shoving apart her legs before stepping between her thighs. He entered her with a thrust so violent he lifted her off her feet. She moaned and pushed back against him and the last vestiges of his sanity burned away.
“You will never leave me again,” he gritted the words into the back of her fiery head as he filled her. “Do you hear me?” He slammed into her. “You are mine,” he said from between jaws clenched so hard it hurt. She arched against him in answer.

“Unbutton me, Mia.” His voice was husky against her taut bud.
She opened his breeches and grabbed him. Colorful blasts exploded behind his eyelids and rendered him speechless as she took him into her body in one long, hard slide.
He held her hips loosely as she rode him, looking down to where their bodies were joined. She knew what he wanted and pulled all the way off him before lowering herself, allowing him the breathtaking view of his shaft disappearing into her body. He thrust with all his might and she cried out, her hands gripping his shoulders while she convulsed around him.
His orgasm left him blind and he shuddered and pulled her against his heaving chest, stilling her body while his heart pounded so hard he thought it might explode.

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

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Review: Misconduct by Penelope Douglas

Format: E-bookmisconduct.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: NAL
Hero: Tyler Marek
Heroine: Easton Bradbury
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: December 01, 2015
Started On: November 14, 2018
Finished On: November 17, 2018

Penelope Douglas has officially become one of my favorite authors. Having enjoyed two of her books prior to this, Birthday Girl being an absolute favorite read of this year, I have come to discover that Douglas is one of those authors that would always continue to push the norms of the genre and do that in a way that has the approval of a large number of readers. That alone is no mean feat in my opinion.

I picked Misconduct to read because I wanted something that was standalone and not part of any particular series. Plus, I wanted the magic that Douglas creates so effectively with her characters and settings, giving readers like myself a ton of angst which I absolutely revel in.

Misconduct begins when ex tennis player Easton Bradbury runs into Tyler Marek for the very first time at a function. Told in the first person from both Tyler and Easton’s point of view, the attraction that springs forth between them is swift and equally felt on both sides, but before either can act on it, the moment is over, and away walks Tyler and so does Easton their separate ways. But before the night is over, Easton realizes who Tyler actually is and what he stands for.

Months later, it is when Easton begins her job as a US History teacher at one the prestigious private schools that she has her next run in with Tyler. The parent of one of the most reticent of her students, Easton believes that Tyler walking through her classroom door is the best reason ever to steer clear of the man – for obvious reasons.

Tyler has his reasons for staying away – he cannot mess up his relationship with his son any more than it was already. Not that he would win any father of the year awards, but he was willing to make most of the time he had been allowed with Christian, and shacking up with Christian’s history teacher wasn’t exactly the way to go about it.

When Tyler and Easton clash regarding Easton’s teaching methods, that is when things unravel between the two, and there is no turning back. The attraction that both had resisted from the very beginning bursts forth and there is no closing that door once it is opened. However, both Tyler and Easton have issues that needs resolving for them to find equal footing where their future is concerned, and how Penelope Douglas brings it all together is the sheer brilliance that lies behind her storytelling.

If you haven’t guessed it already, I loved the story. The main protagonists just fit together, despite the age gap between them, perhaps why it worked under the circumstances. Easton is way mature for her 23 years, perhaps stemming from a childhood that had been spent prepping herself for a professional career as a tennis player. Her life had been all about schedules and keeping up – her parents having never let her really enjoy childhood as it should be. Then it had all derailed, leaving the life of Easton and her brother in shambles. The events that had led to the tragedy had left its mark on Easton, even though she has pretty much regained a semblance of normalcy in her life.

Easton makes for a terrific teacher. Her enthusiasm leaps off the pages and even I wanted to sit in one of her classes to learn history, a subject that I have always thought wasn’t for me. But with a modern touch, Easton manages to turn something that would otherwise be considered as boring and mundane into issues that are relatable for students of the age, which is why her classes become such a hit. Easton’s charm lies in her lack of artifice. She is a simple girl at heart, who believes that she can take on the world all by herself, but ultimately realizes that with the right person, being vulnerable gives one added strength.

Tyler, OMG Tyler! He is the kind of hero that makes you want to surrender, and give yourself up to the minute he walks in. He does this simply just by being, a sense of arrogance to him that makes him all that more appealing, and that hunger and drive of his, as misplaced as it may be adds onto the attractiveness. His thirst to have it all and lose nothing had seen him make massive mistakes, ones that he tries hard to make up for.

His ambitions to make it to the US Senate is one that should have factored in a lot when it came to pursuing passion filled nights with his son’s teacher, but it hardly even registers because for Tyler, as misguided as his intentions maybe, his heart was always in the right place. He just needed something to move him enough in his life to set his priorities straight.

The scenes of passion were explosive, so very hot that I felt as if my Kindle was going to combust. It was of the panty-drenching kind, the heat scorching enough to leave the reader panting, wanting more.

Misconduct is recommended, because when you find an author as good as Douglas, you hold on for dear life and wish she would write faster, because you definitely can never get enough!

Final Verdict: Bold & full of heat, Easton & Tyler storms through the pages, straight into your heart.

Favorite Quotes

[Easton] “We can’t do this,” I told him.
My clothes felt like sandpaper on my skin, and I wanted them off. I wanted his shirt open and to know what he felt like under my fingertips.
“I know,” he answered.
But while his left hand held my knee up, his right hand slid between my legs and rubbed my clit through my panties.
I sucked in a sharp breath and clutched his shoulders, letting my eyes fall closed as my head floated away from me.
“Mr. Marek,” I begged.
But his breath fell against my mouth, and he whispered, “I told you there would be no stopping me when we finally ran into each other again.”

[Easton] “Tyler, oh, my God,” I cried, squeezing my eyes shut again and feeling my insides swirl and tighten.
“On second thought, call me Mr. Marek,” he insisted, and I popped my eyes open, seeing the devil in his grin.
I bit my lips between my teeth, groaning as I leaned back on my hands and slid my ass back and forth, fucking his fingers.
“Yes, Mr. Marek,” I breathed out, dropping my head back as the whole fucking world started to spin.
One of my heels dropped to the floor, but I couldn’t care less.

[Easton] “What are you doing?” I gasped.
His forehead pressed against mine, and his hands moved urgently, holding my face. “Dark spaces, quiet places,” he whispered over my mouth. “That’s all we need, Easton.”
And I sucked in a breath as he dove in, taking my lips, moving fast and making it sting so sweetly when he sucked and bit my bottom lip like he was starving.
I moaned, feeling the thick ridge of his cock as he ground into me.

[Easton] “Tyler,” I cried out.
He breathed out a quiet laugh against my cheek and palmed my tit, squeezing it possessively.
“I’m burning,” I gasped.
He flashed me a smug smirk, and my pussy clenched as I moaned, feeling his hand work between our bodies, unfastening his belt. “I’ll make it better,” he promised.
The warm flesh of his cock crowned my entrance, and he slid it up and down my slit to spread my wetness.
“Wait,” I panted, trying to pull off his jacket. I wanted to see his body.
But he slammed his hips into mine, and I cried out, that sweet pain of the first thrust spreading through my belly as he slid into me.

[Easton] “Tyler,” I cried out, my back stinging from the friction of the wall as he thrust into me.
I looked at him, seeing his eyes on mine, and we both watched each other, our lips barely an inch apart as he lowered his forehead to mine.
My pussy clenched around his cock, loving every inch he put into me and feeling that high every time he rubbed my G-spot.
He bit my bottom lip. “Is that it?” He slid in and out of me, raw and rough. “Do you like how I take what I want?”

[Easton] “Tyler,” I cried out.
He breathed hard, squeezing my tit as he moaned. “Oh, fuck.”
And I hunched over, crying out as my insides exploded and his dick rammed my sweet spot, bringing me home.
“Oh, God,” I groaned.
Warmth spread through my belly, and my legs shook from the tingles spreading down my muscles.
My whole body continued to jerk, and my head bobbed back and forth as he kept pounding me from behind.
“Ah,” he growled, and I winced from how hard he gripped my hips.
He yanked me back again, my neck jerking twice as he slammed his cock deep inside me and came. The warmth of his come filled me up, and his ragged breathing fell across my shoulder blade as he bowed his head, trying to catch his breath.

[Tyler] I didn’t wait. I never fucking waited with her.
I rose and climbed on top of her, nestling between the warm legs she so graciously opened for me.
I grinded up and down her slick heat, feeling her wetness on my cock already.
“Jesus, you’re wet,” I whispered against her mouth as I laid my chest flush with hers with my forearms resting on either side of her head. “Is that what I do to you? Huh?” I teased.
But rather than her usual smart-ass comebacks, she blinked awake and gazed at me, looking so fucking innocent and dreamy.
“Yeah.” She nodded.
My fists balled above her head, and I covered her mouth with mine as I thrust my hips, sliding into her tight body.
What the hell was I doing?

[Tyler] “Please kiss me,” she begged.
I covered her mouth with mine as I went at her with everything I had.
“Yes!” she cried, then pulled away to shout, “Fuck! Harder!”
I gripped her thigh and gave her everything I had, completely lost in her moans and cries, smell and taste. Her sounds got higher and her skin was drenched.
“Fuck,” I gasped out, closing my eyes, letting the moment overtake me.
“Ah!” she cried out, then stilled, holding on for the ride.
I thrust into her again, my body jerking as I finally spilled inside of her.

[Easton] “Yeah, I’ve had women,” he admitted, baring his teeth. “Lots of women. I’m thirty-five fucking years old, for Christ’s sake.” He shook my head slightly. “Tessa McAuliffe is a beautiful woman, and we’ve enjoyed each other many times.”
I rammed my palm into his chest, but he didn’t budge. “Many times?” I raged.
He nodded, getting in my face. “Yeah, many times.”
But as I felt my eyes pool with tears, he came closer and grazed my lips with his. “All before you,” he whispered, making my breath stop. “There hasn’t been anyone since you.”
I stayed still, needing to pull away but wanting to stay.
“That’s why you’re stupid.” He grabbed the backs of my thighs and lifted me onto the pool table. “Why the hell would I want her or anyone else when I’ve got this?”
And he pulled up my dress, pulled my panties to the side, exposing my pussy, and dove down, capturing my clit in his mouth.

[Easton] He pulled down the top of my dress, bra straps with it, and pushed me back down to palm my breasts and rub his thumbs over my nipples.
I groaned, letting my eyes fall closed.
“You belong in my bed every night, and I fucking hate that I can’t have you there,” he gritted out, his hands working between our bodies. “I want to buy you shit just to have you throw it back in my face, and I want to fly you to Fiji just so I can rip a bikini off of you.” I felt the hot tip of his cock at my entrance, and I could feel the wetness between my legs.
“I said my dick was yours, and I meant it,” he breathed out, grabbing hold of my hips as he slammed his dick inside of me.

[Tyler] Reaching behind her neck, I unclasped her dress and pulled the top down, gazing at her gorgeous body and beautiful breasts. Grazing my fingertips down her flat stomach, I pulled the dress down farther, meeting her eyes, so she could see mine.
“I need you,” I growled low. “Right now.”
And I yanked the fabric until she got the hint and raised her ass off the seat, so I could get the dress off.
“Jesus Christ,” I groaned. “You weren’t wearing panties?”

[Tyler] “You didn’t want it slow, did you?” I pawed her breast possessively.
She shook her head. “Uh-uh,” she whimpered.
I thrust into her harder and faster, groaning when she began backing up into it. Her pussy was so tight, squeezing my dick like a hand. I couldn’t believe I thought I could do without her.
“Sir.” Patrick came over the intercom, and I slowed. “Where am I taking you?”
I leaned down, turning Easton’s head so her lips met mine. “You don’t belong anywhere I’m not,” I whispered.
She kissed me slowly, nodding.
I leaned back up, rocking into her and feeling her pussy clench and spasm.
“Home, Patrick,” I choked out. “Take us home.”

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

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Review: Glass Houses by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookglasshouses.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Michael Dubrovnika
Heroine: Laura de Kelsey Winston
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 25, 1989
Started On: November 07, 2018
Finished On: November 08, 2018

Glass Houses by Anne Stuart was picked as my next read to chase away the dissatisfaction that had been left behind by the last novel that I had read. Anne Stuart is an author who continuously delivers. After all, there is a reason why she is a queen of the genre itself, no matter in which sub-genre she chooses to write.

Glass House is referred to as a famous New York landmark built by the grandfather of the heroine, Laura de Kelsey Winston. Owner of Glass Faces, a small and exclusive up and coming modeling agency owned by Laura herself, she is determined that she would protect the building and preserve its authenticity at any cost, no matter how many vultures might circle her in their attempts to buy the land plot upon which Glass House stands.

However, in Michael Dubrovnik, known as Whirlwind to his competitors, Laura finds the most formidable buyer that yet, willing to fight dirty to get what he wants, with him explicitly stating so. Underneath all the back and forth that happens between Laura and Michael, starts an awakening of the senses, especially for Laura, whose young heart had been bruised by the fact that she was considered the “ugly swan” among the rest of the beauties in her family. Plus, the actions of her mother had left its mark on Laura, something which makes her believe that sex would never be enjoyable for someone like her, and she has so far succeeded in her attempts to steer clear from any amorous intentions of the opposite sex she comes across.

Michael manages to get under her skin in a way that leaves Laura vulnerable. It is not easy for someone who projects a cool front otherwise, to lose her temper and other senses so spectacularly around a man as experienced in his ways as is Michael. But Laura is not alone in feeling that sizzle of longing and awareness. Michael too is caught in its tendrils and before they know it, both Laura and Michael are tumbling into a world where only the headiness of sensual pleasure rules. But when tragedy comes calling, Laura must decide what it is that she would do; wave the white flag of surrender or carry on business as usual, if she wants to have it all.

I loved Glass Houses and the feels that this novel brought out in me in spades. I believe that the effect was magnified by a hundredfold because of the lackluster story I had read earlier as well. But then again, it IS Anne Stuart we are talking about here, the author who can do no wrong, 99 per cent of the time.

I loved Michael. He is arrogant in a way that comes from climbing his way to the top with sheer hard work and making a name for himself where many had failed. His arrogance itself served as a turn on at appropriate moments. That is the sheer brilliance behind a character well written.

But the most fascinating aspect to Michael was how well he saw into Laura, how insightful he was when it comes to the woman she is behind the facade she presents to the rest of the world. Of course, that is not surprising given he is ruthless in his business ventures, and for that, he needs to be able to read people. But for once, Michael is unable to exert his usual ruthlessness to full effect, because unknowingly, Laura also loosens something dangerous and possessive inside of him.

Laura was one of those spunky heroines that Anne Stuart is famous for. She is feisty, goes out of her way to thwart all and every attempt of Michael to win her over, goes as far as to thrust another woman towards him as she pursues her interests elsewhere; all the while kidding to herself on the extent to which she was already compromised. The period of separation between Michael and Laura was one that brought on the angst factor, which I of course loved. I believe that Laura needed that period of healing in order to start over from a clean slate where she and Michael were concerned.

Definitely adored the ending. It was just fitting!

The secondary romance tucked in between the high octane tale unfolding between Michael and Laura was equally enticing. Loved how Susan finally got what she deserved, in the arms of none other than the man she had been in love with, ever since she had come to know him.

Recommended for fans of sizzling hot romances featuring a tad of a ruthless hero and a heroine who will fight till the very end before giving in.

Final Verdict: What a good novel does for you is priceless, and that is what Anne Stuart undoubtedly delivers, every single time.

Favorite Quotes

She didn’t even have time to get self-conscious. “You have the most beautiful body,” he whispered, his mouth traveling down, brushing the tops of her full breasts as his fingers slid the narrow straps down over her arms, pushing the silk away from her body to land on the floor. She was standing naked in his arms, and shyness washed over her body in a dull pink haze. She tried to turn from him, but he wouldn’t let her, and the hands that ran up the length of her were gentle, almost worshipping. “I love your breasts,” he whispered, his hands brushing their softness, so that she wanted to cry with longing. “I love your hips brushing against me, I love your arms around me, I love your mouth under mine, I love your legs, I love…”

“If you think you’re all done for the night, babe,” he whispered, “you’re wrong.” And putting his hand between their bodies he touched her, deftly, deliberately, as he surged forward once, twice, three times.
She heard the muffled cry from a distance and knew it was her own. His mouth covered hers, drinking in her cry, as his body pushed her over the edge into places she’d never even dreamed existed. There was only rippling darkness, his body pulsing within hers, as every muscle, every cell in her body convulsed. It went on forever, a timeless, impossible eternity, and when she finally returned to the mattress beneath her and the man above her, the room and the noise and the New York City night, her face was wet with tears.

He was too fast for her. Before she had the faintest idea what he was going to do, he’d pulled her into his arms. Her laughter faded into silence as his mouth covered hers, wet from the rain, tasting faintly of whiskey.
She was too startled, too breathless, to react as she should have. Instinctively she put her arms around him, and suddenly he lifted her, swinging her around, away from the shelter of the building and out into the pouring rain again. She clung to him, half out of dizziness, half out of a sneaking, self-destructive streak she couldn’t fight anymore. Damn it, she wanted to kiss him. And kiss him she did, opening her mouth to his as the rain poured down around them.

Before she realized what he intended, he pulled her into his arms, tightly against his body. He was far more aroused than Carnaby had ever been, and the tension and strength vibrating through him effectively wiped out any other considerations. When his mouth met hers she was absurdly ready, hungry for him despite all her better judgment.
She moaned when his tongue touched hers, pushing him away with her freed hands as her mouth answered his. Ignoring her lands, he cupped her face, holding her still for the scorching power of his kiss, and her fists grew feebler, batting at him weakly.

He released her breast, and her skin felt damp and cool compared to the feverish flush that covered the rest of her body. “This is a game for two players, Laura,” he said, his voice rasping in the darkness. “Touch me.”
She released his arm, reaching up to tentatively caress his shoulder. He was covered with a fine sheen of sweat, and she could fee! the tension pulsing through him. “No,” he said, his voice hard. “Touch me.”

She couldn’t pretend not to know what he meant. And suddenly she wanted what he wanted. She wanted to feel that heavy male power in her hands, wanted to know what would soon be a part of her. Running one hand down his chest, she let it slide across his taut stomach, down the crisp curl of hair. And then she touched him, the silken length of him, the satiny-smooth flesh, the heat and desire and dampness and sheer size of him.

For a moment she panicked, trying to push him away from her, tightening up against an invasion she wasn’t sure she wanted. “Don’t fight me,” he murmured, but she couldn’t hear him, lost in her own unexpected alarm.
The sharp pain on her shoulder startled her into a shriek of dismay. Michael took advantage of his deliberate distraction, pushing in deep, filling her with his strength and masculine power. She shuddered, accepting him, and when she looked up, her eyes were glazed with tears.
“You bit me,” she whispered.
“Needs must when the devil drives,” he murmured, running his tongue over the teeth marks on her soft white shoulder. And he began to move.

“Don’t leave me,” she whispered.
She didn’t need his small smile to know that he’d won. It no longer mattered. He returned to her, thrusting deep and hard, and his voice in her ear was just a reminder of her weakness. “I told you you’d beg me not to leave you.”
Deep in her body he was holding still, and she had no choice but to respond. “You’re a manipulative bastard, Mischa.”
“Yes.” He reached down, took her legs and wrapped them around his waist. “But I’m honest about what I want. And I want you.”

Her fingernails raked across his back, but he ignored them, his hands bruised her wrists, but she ignored them, clinging to him with her arms, her legs, her body, holding tight and reaching… reaching…
“Look at me,” he said, his voice hoarse, his muscles standing out with exertion. “Open your eyes and look at me, Laura. I want to watch you when you come.”
She opened her eyes. “I’m not going to,” she said faintly. “I’m not…”
“Yes,” he said. “You are.”
And suddenly she did, convulsing around him, shock and surprise spinning into blind sensation as she was swept away, caught in a whirlwind of dark desire that was twisting and turning her, tossing her into a night where nothing existed but sheer sensation.

Her entire body began to quiver. She was covered with a fine film of sweat, her breathing was rapid and shallow, and the pleasure he was giving her was so exquisite, she thought she might die from it. “Stop,” she whispered hoarsely, unable to bear any more. “I can’t…”
“Yes, you can.” His voice was nothing more than a breath of sound on the still night air. And suddenly she did, biting her lower lip as her body convulsed in a reaction that was still too new. He held her tight, prolonging it, prolonging it so that she thought she might explode as tears poured down her face.

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