ARC Review: A Cold Dark Promise by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookacolddarkpromise.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice, #8.5
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Alex Parker
Heroine: Mallory Rooney
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 14, 2017
Started On: November 15, 2017
Finished On: November 24, 2017

A Cold Dark Promise by Toni Anderson is a novella that fans of the Cold Justice series would adore. One reason being that this novella brings to readers the wedding of Alex Parker and FBI Agent Mallory Rooney, the main protagonists from the debut book of the series.

Alex’s character was one of the main reasons why I fell in love with the Cold Justice series initially. Toni Anderson’s way of putting a story together is another, and there was ruthless edge to the story that made me think of Anne Stuart’s books as well, which I obviously adored. Having come a long way since, A Cold Dark Promise takes place with a 27 week pregnant Mallory, getting ready to tie the knot with Alex, in order to celebrate their love, and make things official before the baby were to arrive.

However, a member from Alex’s dark past comes calling, and even though Alex wants to turn away from the plea put forth by a grieving mother, he finds that he is not as ruthless as he thinks himself to be, which is how Alex finds himself in the south of France, where a mission that he had thought would be simple, turns out to be anything but.

I absolutely adored this novella. I am mostly never a fan of short length novels, because though they rarely serve their purpose, and they usually fail to deliver just enough to satisfy readers. But I had no such complains with this little number and I believe that Toni has done a remarkably impressive job out of delivering a well rounded story that readers can sink their teeth into.

I loved Alex and Mallory’s shared moments as described in the story. There is a normalcy to their whole relationship that makes their love that much more real and relatable. There is no dramatic flair to it, but yet it is deep and as meaningful as they come, which is why I adored the bits of their lives that Toni brought to light in this story.

Moments of truth like Mallory grappling with the fact that she doesn’t particularly like it when Alex might be in the line of danger while she herself wants the independence to put herself on the line when it comes to her work as an FBI agent; those are the things that struck me the most in the story.

I also enjoy how Toni brings together the cast from various other stories in the series. I sometimes have a problem with how some authors seem to have too many cooks spoiling the broth so to say, when too many protagonists from other stories seem to become the centre stage of the story. Toni also does an impressive job of portraying male friendships; rather than making them sappy in a way some authors tend to do, or go overboard trying to generate the whole “bro” vibe, I think Toni’s understated way of handling things works beautifully.

The mini secondary romance tucked into the story was just the icing on the cake – Reilly being a wonderful, wonderful hero that I fell in love with, just as hard and just as fast.

Definitely looking forward to more in the series. Toni sometimes describes her imagination as being dark – but I love just how dark it can get, with the possibility of there always been more.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Warm fuzzies is not what I would normally associate with a Toni Anderson, but this little number does it!

Favorite Quotes

Licks of pleasure spiraled into a cyclone of lust. His fingers dipped between her thighs and she moaned. Finding her ready, he turned her away from him, arranging a pillow beneath her baby bump and another cushioning her head. This was her favorite position now she was pregnant and he knew it. Alex moved behind her and slid deep inside and she came with a deep shudder. He leaned up, squeezed her nipple even as he thrust slowly in and out. She could lie like this for hours, days, it felt so good. She shook with pleasure, and she couldn’t bear for it to change but…
“More, Alex. Deeper.” It was a private joke between them, but the hoarseness of her voice took her by surprise. He got to her every single time.

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

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Review: Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookloverawakened.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #3
Publisher: Signet Book
Hero: Zsadist
Heroine: Bella Soang
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: September 1, 2006
Started On: August 02, 2016
Finished On: August 08, 2016

“I was dead until you found me, though I breathed. I was sightless, though I could see. And then you came… and I was awakened.”

Let me just take a moment before I begin my review to thank J. R. Ward for telling Zsadists’s story as it is, without pretensions and bringing to us a character that is so very flawed, yet the best of the Brotherhood. Yes, the best. Fact that Ms. Ward could have dragged Zsadist’s story on as a secondary tale in the series up till readers were ready to go into a tizzy with wanting, something many authors tend to do when they identify with a character readers absolutely want to read about; the fact that Ms. Ward saw it fit to deliver this story as the 3rd installment in the series is something that at least I am eternally grateful for.

Zsadist’s story is by no means an easy tale to tell. Having been taken on as a blood slave by a woman that had kept him practically chained in the bed for her pleasure and violated him in every single way possible to do that to a person, well, needless to say Zsadist comes from dark stock. The only woman who had been able to shake him out of the deep and dark aura that surrounds him had been Bella, even be it for a brief moment, a daughter of a family considered quite high in rank in vampire lineage, something which makes Zsadist more wary.

Zsadist keeps himself apart from the rest of the members of the Brotherhood. He doesn’t feed as they, doesn’t take pleasure in sex as they do; he considers himself dirty, something to be left on the sides of the streets for stray dogs to come and pick on. But his twin brother Phury refuses to let him be so, but even his attempts to reach out to Zsadist gets him that far.

It is upon Bella’s abduction by a Lesser who had wanted her for himself that forces Zsadist to step out of his comfort zone and face all of his fears, one by one. Zsadist is relentless in his hunt for Bella, and once he finds her, he is the one who nurses her back, even if it kills him to see his body react in that “ugly” manner towards her femaleness. For anyone made out of lesser stuff than Bella, making Zsadist come around would have been an impossible feat.

I have rarely come across novels that feature sexually abused heroes. Heroines, yes, multiple times. Heroes, I can practically count the books in one hand. And one who has been violated to Zsadist’s extent? Never. Amazing is how Ms. Ward handled the whole situation so beautifully. Giving Zsadist the time to adjust, to face his nightmares, to learn that his responses towards Bella are inherent in him as a male warrior would for his mate for life. Bella’s utter patience when it comes to Zsadist, even when it kills her at times, the attempts Zsadist makes numerous times to push her away, Bella does hold on strong.

It was indeed an interesting facet of the novel to see Bella come into her needing in this novel, the first of its variety that has been described since the series began. Needing is the time when female vampires go into their fertile period, the need for them to mate so incredibly painful that there is no male in scenting distant to be unaffected by it. Zsadist had practically decided by that point in time that he would not be able to bed Bella and consider himself unsullied. What a glorious and healing experience did Bella’s needing turn out to be for Zsadist! And what an erotic experience for Bella, not to mention the readers! Not that it was easy for Zsadist to give in, but the nature of his beast didn’t give up until Zsadist experienced what pleasure is like, why mates would kill for their women and why bonding is such an integral part of vampire biology.

To say that I loved Zsadist’s story would be a grave understatement. I loved, adored and reveled in how Zsadist made me feel. There is nothing, absolutely nothing I would have changed in his story. Ms. Ward definitely pulled all the punches when she wrote Zsadist’s book, and it shows. Having read around 5 books in the series so far, I believe that a hero that could topple Zsadist from the position he is in my heart would be an impossible feat. I am looking forward to Rehvenge’s book however. And I believe I am not alone in feeling this way.

I recommend Zsadist’s story even if you are not a fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. The fact that Zsadist wanted to become a better version of himself before claiming Bella in the end just made me love him more! The little epilogue tucked at the end, the first of its kind I believe in this series, was more than enough to make this heart of mine melt. Just read the first three books. Trust me, it’s more than worth it!

Final Verdict: Raw and powerful, Zsadist’s novel is a stunning masterpiece by J. R. Ward!

Favorite Quotes

“Zsadist?”
“Yes,” he whispered.
“Relax your mouth for me.”
Careful not to crowd him, she propped herself up on her forearms and got in close again. His lips were shockingly soft except for where the upper one was scarred. To make sure he knew the imperfection didn’t matter to her, she deliberately attended to that place, returning there again and again.
And then it happened: He kissed her back. It was just the slightest movement of his mouth, but she felt it all the way to her core.

But then he frowned and looked at her. “Wait, I’m supposed to kiss you on the mouth first, aren’t I? I mean, males start at the top and work their way down, don’t they?”
What an odd question… like he’d never done this at all?
Before she could reply he began to move back, so she sat up and captured his face in her hands.
“You can do whatever you like to me.”
His eyes flashed and he held his position for a split second.
Then he lunged at her, taking her down onto the bed.

His lips parted, and his tongue led the way as he dipped down. His mouth was warm on her flesh, so very tentative, kissing, then sucking her nipple inside. He tugged, then ran a languid circle around her, then drew her in again… and all the while his hands stroked her waist and her hips and legs.
How ironic that he’d worried he wouldn’t be gentle. Far from brutal, he was positively reverent as he suckled, his lashes down against his cheek as he savored her, his face worshipful and rapt.
“Christ,” he murmured, moving to her other breast. “I had no idea it would be like this.”

“Bella, I don’t think I can stop. There’s this… roar in my head telling me to keep my mouth on you. How can I make this… okay for you?”
“Make me… finish me,” she said hoarsely.
He blinked as if she’d surprised him. “How do I make you come?”
“Just keep doing what you’re doing. Only faster.”
He was a quick study as he figured out what made her go wild, and he was ruthless once he discovered how to give her an orgasm. He drove her hard, watching her as she shattered apart once, twice… many time. It was as if he fed from her pleasure and was insatiable.

“Make love to me,” she said.
He moaned and started to move like a great wave on top of her, that thick, hard part of him stroking the inside of her.
“Oh, shit…” He dropped his head into her neck. His rhythm intensified, his breath shooting out of him, rushing into her ear. “Bella… shit, I’m scared… but I can’t… stop…”
With a groan he propped himself up on his arms and let his hips swing freely, each thrust nailing against her, pushing her farther up on the bed. She grabbed for his wrists to hold her body in place under the onslaught. As he pounded, she could feel herself getting near the edge again, and the faster he went, the closer she got.
Her orgasm slammed into her core, then raced throughout her body, the force stretching her out so she was infinitely long and infinitely wide.

As if he sensed what she needed, he twisted his body around so he could stay inside of her while giving her access to his throat.
“Feed,” he said hoarsely, his body moving into her and pulling back. “Take what you need.”
She bit him without hesitation, piercing right through the slave band, going deep into his skin. As his taste hit her tongue, she heard a roar leave him. And then the strength and the power of him washed over her, through her.

He closed his eyes, so exhausted he could barely breathe. He was flat on his back, legs splayed out, arms lying wherever. He’d been in that position since he’d rolled off Bella maybe an hour ago.
He felt like it had been a year since he’d come back into the room the night before. His neck and wrists burned from the number of times she’d fed from him, and the thing between his leg was sore. The air around them was saturated with the bonding scent, and the sheets were with with a combination of his blood and the other thing she needed from him.
He wouldn’t have traded a moment of it.

Bella eased up and slid the it inside of her. As beat as he was, he groaned in ecstasy. The feel of her was something he couldn’t he enough of, and he knew it wasn’t because of her needing.
She rode him, planting her hands on his pecs and finding a rhythm with her hips because he couldn’t thrust anymore with his. He felt himself gearing up for another explosion, especially as he watched her breasts sway with her movement.
“You are so beautiful,” he said in a hoarse voice.
She paused to bend down and kiss him again, her dark hair falling around him, a gentle shelter. When she straightened, he marveled at the sight of her. She was glowing with health and vitality from everything he had given her, a resplendent female who he…
Loved. Yes, loved.

“Go to hell, Zsadist. Go there right-“
He moved fast as a lightning strike, taking her down hard to the bed, tackling her with his weight.
“I am in hell,” he hissed, pushing his hips into her. He swiveled them against her core, that massive erection pushing into the soft place he’d just had with his mouth. With a curse, he pulled back, unzipped his leathers…
and thrust into her, stretching her so wide it almost hurt. She cried out at the invasion, but tilted her hips up so he could go in even farther.

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Review: Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookdukeofmidnight
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #6
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield
Heroine: Artemis Greaves
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 15, 2013
Started On: June 27, 2016
Finished On: June 28, 2016

Duke of Midnight is the 6th book in the Maiden Lane series and by far my most favorite. Towards the end of Lord of Darkness, the 5th book, once again Elizabeth Hoyt makes a startling revelation, perhaps the most astonishing one at that since the series began. The identity of the 3rd Ghost of St. Giles, this time someone who is more driven by his own personal vengeance against those that had done him and his family wrong, a member of the nobility, not to mention a member of the Parliament itself; Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield.

Readers who have had their run ins with Maximus in previous books in the series would have been hard pressed not to be intrigued by all that he is. Projecting a cold and formidable front, the Duke of Wakefield is someone who seems to be as straitlaced as they come, his utter dislike or perhaps even hatred for gin and makers of gin something that is known all over the country. While Maximus works hard to push through relevant laws that could tackle with gin making, something which he believes most passionately is the core reason behind the decay of society, at night, Maximus dons the mask and costume of the Ghost and traipses through the worst of slums in London, in the hopes of finding clues that would lead him to the villain he has been pretty much searching for a major part of his adult life.

Artemis Greaves is a character that came into prominence through the introduction of her beautiful cousin Lady Penelope Chadwicke into series, for whom Artemis is companion to. Lady Penelope is someone who wants nothing but the best for herself. Thus, determined to have Maximus as her husband, Penelope embarks upon the quest with much fervor, which does earn her the attention of Maximus in his usual cool, aloof and calculated manner. There is no joy in a transaction which Maximus believes suites him rather well. There is no fire that burns in him to possess Lady Penelope, unlike Artemis her companion who makes him want to go into hiding with her by his side and forget the whole world.

Artemis gets under his skin without Maximus knowing of it, their interludes during the quiet hours of the morning on his estate grounds something that pricks and prods at him until his emotions are tangled up in need for none but Artemis. But Artemis is one with her own agenda to push forward. Someone who is ready to do anything for the freedom of the one man for whom she would lay down her whole life for, even if it means enlisting, bribing or even coercing the help of the powerful Duke himself to do so.

There are multiple reasons why Duke of Midnight ended up being my favorite of the series. For anyone who knows of my reading tastes, I am someone who is drawn to dark characters, a bit ruthless and driven by needs that they cannot control when it comes to the heroine in question, no matter how hard they may try. Maximus was that hero for me from the Maiden Lane series. Brought up to take his rightful role as the Duke, the responsibilities of being one are thrust upon him at a tender age when both his parents get killed. Maximus has to grow up overnight without having time to properly grow into the duties required of him. Thus makes Maximus a hard man, a man who is principled, a man who often times comes off as cold, aloof and removed from the rest of the world, an image that serves him well most times.

Maximus is also the only Ghost of St. Giles who actively continues his training for the role, having turned part of his home into a training facility where he subjects himself to grueling hours of training so that he is one lethal machine of brawn, intelligence and strong will, focused on getting to the truth behind the murders of his beloved parents and making those responsible pay.

That strong ironclad will of Maximus was something that I admired and bemoaned over in equal doses. There is something quite alluring about a man who knows his own mind, well, for that matter I love a woman who knows her own mind as well – but with Maximus, him being my favorite hero in the series, I am allowed to be a little biased. The fact that his attraction and want for Artemis clouds all his senses does not make him give up on what he has planned for his life, but rather, he wants Artemis on his terms, as hard headed and stubborn it makes him. But the beauty of it when it comes to heroes who are strong minded comes in their submission to the greater force of love for the heroine, which is an aspect I enjoyed in Duke of Midnight. The moments of jealousy which overtakes Maximus during the heady encounters with Artemis, the ones that makes him go all “mine” with sheer possessiveness – those were the moments I reveled in.

Artemis is a heroine who shone equally bright in the story. With a future that looked bleak, with nothing to her name but the goodwill of an uncle who took her in, Artemis’s determination to work against the odds nevertheless, to prove the innocence of her brother was something that resonated deep within me. Even her burgeoning feelings for the Duke is something Artemis is willing to sacrifice in order to see to it that her beloved brother is removed from Bedlam, where he is rotting away into an existence that would prove to be the death of him, sooner rather than later.

I believe that Artemis is the best fit for someone with such powerful emotions and desires as Maximus. She is able to get through to him in a way that no one else can, her ability to read him so effectively being a quality of utmost importance given how easily he can don on a mask that would show to to the rest of the world that nothing touches him, when in fact things deeply do. Artemis dares him to show to her that side of his that few would ever see – the one without the artifice that society dictates he wears whenever he goes out and about. That for me, was the beauty behind the union between Artemis and Maximus when all was said and done.

Loved it all, which is why I would recommend this book with the whole of my heart!

Final Verdict: Earthy & evocative, with just the right touch of erotic; scorches the pages & moves the heart.

Favorite Quotes

A shrill whistle rent the air. Percy, who had been trotting along beside them, lifted his head alertly before racing to Wakefield’s side. Bon Bon scrambled on short little legs to keep up with his new friend.
Artemis watched the dogs go and found herself staring at the duke. He was looking in her direction, and even at this distance he was commanding, almost as if he were demanding something of her.
She felt light-headed.
Then Penelope tapped him on the arm and he turned to the other woman to smile and make some comment.
Artemis shivered despite the bright sunshine.

Something quickened in him, rising, hardening, reaching eagerly for the challenge. She was no soft society lady. She might disguise herself thus, but he knew better: she was a goddess, wild and free and dangerous.
And a most suitable opponent.
He picked up Lady Penelope’s gloves and, unsmiling, saluted Miss Greaves with them. She bowed to him, equally grave.
Maximus turned to the house, thinking. He had no idea how he would do it yet, but he meant to best her. He’d show her that he was the master, and when she’d admitted his victory… well, then he’d have her. And he’d hold her, by God. His huntress.
His goddess.

Ridiculously, he thought he could feel his heart beat faster. Despite their antagonism, despite her threats to his equilibrium, he wanted to see her, and right now he wouldn’t examine why.
In another few steps he made the clearing with the pond and looked about. He could see the dogs milling a quarter way around the pond—even Bon Bon was there—but he couldn’t yet see her on the path.
And then he did see her and arousal went straight to his cock.
Artemis Greaves was in the pond, as graceful as a naiad, her skirts bound up at her waist, standing thigh deep in the sparkling water.
How dare she.

Maximus glanced away so she couldn’t examine too closely the expression on his face. “Who was he?”
“Thomas Stone. The son of the town’s doctor.”
He sneered. “Beneath you.”
Her gaze hardened. “As you so kindly pointed out, my father was notorious for his flights of fancy. Too, I had no dowry to speak of. I couldn’t very well be choosy. Besides”—her tone softened—“Thomas was quite sweet. He used to bring me daisies and violets.”
He stared, incredulous. What sort of imbecile brought such common flowers to a goddess? Were it him, he’d shower her with hothouse lilies, peonies overflowing with perfumed bloom, roses in every shade.
Bah, violets.

“What”—he turned and seized both her arms—“has gotten into you?”
“He’s dying,” she whispered furiously, trembling within his grasp. “I didn’t receive the letter until almost noon—because Penelope didn’t think it important enough to give it to me earlier. Apollo is lying in that hellhole dying.”
His jaw set as he searched her face. “I can have a carriage readied for you to return to London within the hour. If the roads are—”
She slapped him, quick and hard.
His head turned slightly with the blow, but other than that his only reaction was the narrowing of his eyes.
Her chest was heaving as if she were running. “No! You must go to London. You must get him out. You must save my brother because if you don’t, I swear upon everything I hold holy that I’ll ruin both you and your illustrious name. I’ll—”
“Little bitch,” he breathed, his face turned fiery red, and he slammed his mouth against hers.

“You come to a bachelor’s rooms—bedroom—well after dark all by yourself to give him a trinket you could just as easily hand him in the morning.” His voice was mocking. He wanted to break her suddenly. To make her feel the rage he did at the situation they had been placed in. Were it not for her history—and his—he might’ve courted this woman. Might’ve made her his wife. “Have you no care for your reputation?”
She stepped toward him until she was so close he fancied he breathed the same air as she and when she tilted her face up to look at him he saw that she wasn’t nearly as calm as he’d imagined.
“No,” she murmured, her voice a siren’s song, “none at all.”
“Then I’ll be damned if I will,” he muttered and kissed her.

He pulled back, his chest heaving, and looked at her angrily. “Don’t start something you mean to stop.”
She met his gaze squarely. “I don’t mean to stop.”
His eyes narrowed. “I cannot give you marriage.”
She’d known. She’d never thought he could—she would’ve sworn so had she been asked a minute earlier—but his blunt words were an arrow of pain piercing her heart nonetheless. She bared her teeth in a smile. “Have I asked you to?”
“No.”
“And I never shall,” she vowed.

She shivered.
“Don’t think I’ve forgotten when your fichu slipped from your dress,” he murmured. “Strange, for I’ve seen more immodest décolletages at every ball I’ve ever attended, yet I’ve been entirely unable to remove the thought of your breasts from my mind.” His gaze flicked up to hers, dark and enigmatic. “Your breasts and other parts of you. Perhaps it’s the very fact that you usually cover yourself so modestly in public that makes the unveiling that more anticipated. Or perhaps”—he bent and whispered in her ear—“it’s you. Merely you.”

He slid his thumb between her folds and found that nub at the top, pressing down as he watched her face. She arched involuntarily, the sensation singing through her limbs.
A muscle ticked on his jaw, his face stern and ruthless, as he pressed again, his finger finding her entrance and slipping in.
She bit her lip, staring back at him, refusing to break their gaze, wanting him to continue.
“God,” he whispered. His nostrils flared suddenly, and seemingly against his will, he kissed her.

She held her breath.
His eyes flicked open to look at her. “Be brave.”
She raised an eyebrow, waiting.
He grinned.
There was a pinch, a growing pressure. She tensed. It hurt. He was so big and she felt suddenly small and fragile. Was this truly meant to be?
He leaned down and brushed his lips against her nose. “Sweet Diana.”
Then he shoved hard.
She inhaled. It burned, but that didn’t matter. She was called Artemis, and a huntress could withstand pain.

“Diana,” he whispered. “My Diana.”
She touched the corner of his lips, and he opened, taking her thumb into his mouth, biting tenderly on her flesh.
She felt his belly rubbing against hers, the wet slide of his hard flesh in hers, the brush of his chest against her nipples, and she liked it. There was no pain now, only a feeling of closeness. Of animal intimacy. Perhaps she’d been wrong: perhaps this was the moment a woman was nearest to the wild animal: when she was without constraints or thought, no society telling her what she must do and what she must not. Free from civilization.
They were bound together in this primitive act.

She opened her eyes to find him watching her like a predator. Calculating, waiting.
He held her gaze, and she saw a faint smirk curl one corner of his mouth. The rug was suddenly gone from her lap, and then she felt the slide of her skirts up her legs.
“Do you remember that morning?” he asked, his voice impossibly deep. “You emerged from the pond like a goddess triumphant. You’d flaunted your ankles the day before”—he brushed warm fingers over her left ankle, making her shiver—“but that morning I saw the tender curve of your inner thigh, the sweet bend of your knee, the shy sweep of your calf. You revealed them as coyly as a siren singing a man to his ecstatic death—and you didn’t even know it, did you? By the time you reached the shore I was hard as iron.”

His thumbs rubbed slow circles on her hipbones as if to gentle her or maybe to keep her relaxed. Although if that were his purpose, it wasn’t working. She still held his gaze in defiance, but her breath was quickening as if she were climbing a staircase.
Abruptly he looked down.
He stilled, simply staring at her. He made no movement, but there was a wild possessiveness in his eyes that made something inside her stretch and purr in response. He wanted her. Wanted this part of her. She was suddenly jealous of any other woman he’d ever looked at like this. He hadn’t the right—they hadn’t the right. This look, his expression, this moment was only between them and no one else.
They were a universe of two.

His movements were sharp and abrupt as he drove himself into her again and again. He was nothing like the sophisticated aristocrat he was in front of others. One corner of his mouth twisted in a sneer, his eyes a glaring furnace. He used her body for his own pleasure, for his own need, working her up and down on his cock. He was little more than an animal now.
And she gloried in it. She—she—had driven him to this. Had made a man who captured kings and foreign diplomats with the surety of his eloquence quite simply lose his mind.
He pushed up with all his might, shoved to the hilt within her, and froze, head thrown back in an agony of pleasure.
She leaned forward and delicately licked the salt sweat from his lips as his seed flooded her.

He lay on top of her, his upper body braced on his arms but his hips and legs weighing her down. Trapping and holding her.
“You’re mine,” he said, laying his cheek against hers. “Mine and no one else’s.”
“Maximus,” she warned.
“Yield, Diana,” he whispered, parting her legs. She could feel the thick heat of his cock pressed hard on her bottom. “Yield, warrior maiden.”
“I’m not a maiden. You took that.”
“And I would again,” he growled. “I’d steal you away and keep you in a castle far from here. Far from any other man. I’d guard you jealously and every night come to your bed and put my cock into your cunny and fuck you until dawn.”

“Do you want that, Diana?” he muttered into her ear, his breath humid on her skin. “Do you want to be mine and only mine, away from this cursed world, in a place inhabited by just we two?”
“Oh, yes,” she said, her voice fierce.
He levered himself up. “I’d go a-hunting in the day and kill a fine stag. I’d bring it back to our hidden castle and dress it and cook it over a fire and then I’d sit you on my lap and feed you, morsel by morsel. All your sustenance would be by my hand and mine alone.”
She laughed then, for she knew he didn’t truly want such a biddable doll. She squirmed and turned in a sudden movement so that she lay facing him.
“No, I’d hunt with you by your side,” she said as she reached up to pull his face down to hers. “I am your equal, my lord. Your equal and mate.”
“So you are,” he breathed, and bit her lip.

 “Diana,” he murmured in her ear, licking. “Diana, you are everything I’ve ever wanted and shall never have.”
Tears pricked at her eyes and she opened her mouth to sob.
“That’s it,” he said. “Weep for me. Bear my pain. Take my come. For I can give you nothing else.”
And he thrust into her in hard, sharp punches, each movement striking against that place within her. She gritted her teeth and bowed her head into the pillow. It was too much. Too little. A continual assault against her senses.

He opened his eyes. “Never leave me.”
She shook her head, breaking free from his rein and rising like the huntress she was. She let his poor cock slip to the very mouth of her before slamming herself back down. She rode him. Her thighs were strong and lithe, her brows drawn down in resolute purpose, and her lips were parted wide in something very like wonder.
It was the last that made him move. Dear God, if he couldn’t have anything “else, if she was determined to hollow him out and leave him a husk, then he would remember this:
Artemis riding him like the goddess of the hunt.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BAM | Kobo | eBookMall | ARe | iTunes

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Review: Going the Distance by Julianna Keyes

Format: E-bookgoingthedistance
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Hero: Jarek Andrew McLean
Heroine: Olivia Clarke
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 27, 2015
Started On: May 19, 2016
Finished On: May 20, 2016

Julianna Keyes has wormed her way into my heart as an author who can deliver on all fronts, especially with the sort of characters that I love and can relate to. There are no magic solutions to problems that exists between the characters in her stories. Which is perhaps why I find it all so very realistic and convincing. Real life seldom sends your way the variety of men who one tends to encounter in most modern romances. Some of the heroes I encounter makes me want to take out a bodice ripper just so that I can read about a hero who might be an asshole, but still maintain some of those characteristics that are inherently male and yet so difficult to come across in stories of today. Which is why Julianna has become an author who is that much more precious to me. Because writers who stay true to where their characters take them are so hard to find now.

Going the Distance is a novel mostly set in the rural Chinese town of Lazhou and is told in the third person. Olivia Clark moves to the small rural town where she is practically a stranger as a kindergarten teacher. Olivia, while she craves the anonymity her position in a foreign land offers where few of the locals if ever can speak a word of English, the loneliness that she feels is a bone deep one. However, it was a step crucial to maintain her sanity from the recent past that had hurt her in a way she never thought possible. Her sole contact with people she can at least have a full conversation with comes from the crew of the Brant Construction site, which is how her path crosses that of Jarek Andrew McLean’s.

Jarek is a man who prefers to keep to himself. His previous occupation as an interrogator makes him more so, his childhood mired in violence that had left its mark on him making him taciturn at best. However, no matter how hard Jarek might try to stay away from Olivia, it turns out to be a lost cause as he becomes intrigued by the woman who does not seem to play by the rules that Jarek wants her to. Competing with the memory of an ex fiancé with whom Olivia had been with for more than half of her life is something that Jarek does not want to do, but finds himself dealing with the kind of emotions that he has never had problems with before.

As Jarek and Olivia enter into an affair which they both loosely agree would be done when their time in China comes to an end, both finds in the other the kind of healing that they didn’t believe they needed, but was exactly what their parched souls had been craving for. None of it comes easy, as it rightly should not. Real life is not made up of rainbows and unicorns and happily ever afters as we would like to think. It is messy, difficult and at times tiring, making you want to give up on the things that makes your life hellish. That is exactly what Going the Distance brings to readers, the ups and downs, the highs and lows and the beauty that emerges from all that chaos.

Julianna has a way of delivering just the right touch of angst that makes me such a diehard fan of her novels. This was such a beautiful story in the way it was told. There is no magic formula that stops the hero from becoming better, from conquering the shackles of his past that still binds him to it, nor is there one for the heroine to get over the loneliness, heartache and feeling of having being betrayed by those who should never have done so in the first place. 

On the surface, both Jarek and Olivia might seem to be your average hero and heroine. He is taciturn and rude at times making you want to shake him up, sexy and commanding in a way that is subtle yet vivid. I’m finding that Julianna is a mastermind in creating heroes with just the right touch and I find Jarek to be no exception. While Olivia is beautiful and smart, there is a loneliness deep within her that she tries to hide from, the best she can. Meeting Jarek and feeling the spark of want for the first time in a year has her taking a chance on a man who panics the moment she kisses him. Yes, she takes the chance and does so. But Jarek has so many demons hounding him, he breaks out in sheer panic every single time he believes that he and Olivia are becoming close. One night stands are how he likes his women, informal transactions at best to scratch an itch from which he can walk away the moment he chooses to.

Jarek and Olivia’s “non-relationship” relationship is one that is filled with a lot of potholes which is the reason why it was such a swell read. I love angst of the kind delivered right and I believe that there are too few books these days that hits the right combination when it comes to it. I loved the fact that Jarek was the asshole of the year at first and gave Olivia such a hard time. And yet at the same time how he couldn’t help but be concerned about hurting her and trying to think up of ways to make amends. From the onset, he is smitten, yet unable to accept the truth. Which was realistic because he has never been in a position to offer anything more to a woman and never had he been tempted to, until Olivia.

The whole setup in China, living in a remote area of China not to say the least, where you don’t know of anyone, where people mostly just treat you to a polite hello and nothing more was driven home in the story. I visited China just once, and had the fortune of visiting some places mentioned in the story. While China got into my blood in a way I never would have thought possible and would love to revisit one day, I think it would take a lot of courage on the part of anyone to make such a bold decision and move to practically the middle of nowhere and start afresh. While I would have loved to see Olivia continue her tenure in the school where she eventually won the hearts and minds of the adorable kids she was teaching, I understood her decision to leave them behind even had it been a difficult one. 

My message to Julianna is to never stop writing her characters as they are. Never give into the ‘accepted’ mold of the hero and heroine that is turning this beautiful genre into a mushy fest which sometimes I have a hard time not gagging over. But authors like Julianna makes me hopeful that there still exists a couple of authors out there who do the genre justice. 

Absolutely recommended!

Final Verdict: Going the Distance is yet another masterpiece in the way it’s so well thought out and crafted. Jarek and Olivia’s story is definitely one that is worth giving up a corner of your heart for.

Favorite Quotes

“You’re so hard,” she murmured in his ear. “So big. I want to feel you come in my hand, Jarek.”
“Fuck.” He ran his free hand over his eyes, as though he could block her out.
To be honest, Olivia was surprised to hear herself say the words. She’d never talked dirty with Chris; never really wanted to. But something told her Jarek wanted to hear it, wanted the okay to sully her hand with his release, to know he hadn’t talked her into doing something she didn’t want to do.
She kissed the shell of his ear, bit on the lobe. “What are you waiting for?” She squeezed her hand tighter than she thought he’d like and he came, back arching, teeth gritted, a pained sound dragged from his throat.

He gripped her hips, pulled out and shoved back in, too hard. Her breath hitched and she winced, and he kissed the corner of her mouth. “I’m sorry.”
“Do it again.”
So he did. She held onto the desk and later onto his shoulders, and he held her hips and pounded into her with all the zealousness of a man possessed, and none of the finesse she’d probably gotten from her ex. He could feel her and smell her and hear her, and in no time at all she fit him.

“What’s your favorite movie?”
“Alien.”
“Ugh.” Then, “Jarek.” Not a sigh. An order.
“I’m going to fuck you, Olivia.”
“Good.”
“Hard.”
“Good.”
“Harder than before. As hard as I want to.”

He kicked her knees apart and held her in place as he fitted his cock to her glistening folds, then rammed inside, deep and hard, making her cry out.
He didn’t ease up. He didn’t take it easy. He fucked her, like he hadn’t really done before. He gave her everything, rough and hard, like he’d been wanting to and worried she couldn’t handle. She groaned and moaned and clawed the mattress, writhing like she was trying to get away and get closer, but he didn’t let her go anywhere. He held her down with one hand and gripped her hip hard with the other, knowing he’d leave marks on her tan skin and not giving a fuck.

She straddled him as he freed his cock and rolled on a condom, then dragged her down where he needed her most. Her eyes sank shut and she bit her bottom lip, taking him deep. He watched her face, stroking her neck and her back, eyes settling on their joining bodies. He heard her breath hitch and looked up to see her flushed cheeks as she watched him watch them. She smiled and he kissed her, thinking that he’d been doing a lot of kissing this past month. Maybe more than he’d ever done in his whole life, all combined.

He curled over her, moving his hands to squeeze her slim shoulders as he pounded inside, pouring out his release with a groan, burying his forehead in her neck. When their breathing slowed, she lifted a hand to stroke his hair, soothing him, as though she somehow knew he needed it. Letting him know without words that he could trust her, too.

“I was hoping your first time sleeping over would alleviate your fear of spending the night when you realized nothing terrible would happen.”
His laugh was pained, muffled by her skin. “It’s the opposite of terrible, Liv. You feel so fucking good. All over. You’re the best thing I’ve ever felt.”
She ran her fingers through his curls, letting them tangle. “You’re sappy in the morning. Is that why you avoid staying over?”
“Guilty.” He rocked against her, his pubic bone hitting her clit and sending her over the edge. He followed, lips fastened to her neck, hard enough that she knew she’d have her first hickey in years.

She squirmed and complained and he ignored her, pressing into the soles of her feet with his mean, awful fingers, dragging them up her calves, finding muscles she didn’t know she had. “Please,” she gasped when she was about to combust. “Stop. But don’t stop. Please.”
Her eyes flew open when he sat beside her, back resting against the padded headboard. He dragged her onto his lap so she straddled his muscled thighs, and she waited, quaking, as he rolled on a condom. She suspected he was suffering as much as she was, but it wasn’t confirmed until he held her hips and guided his cock inside her that he cursed furiously and pressed his head back as though in agony.

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

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ARC Review: Lake of Dreams by Linda Howard

Format: E-booklakeofdreams.png
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Pocket Star
Hero: Richard Chance
Heroine: Theadora Marlow
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 02, 2016
Started On: March 22, 2016
Finished On: March 22, 2016

I have been undergoing a vicious dry spell in my reading the last couple of months. Every single book that I have picked up to read (some even from my favorite authors) have proved to be lackluster in some way and I eventually put them on hold. There were times I kept wondering whether romance genre altogether had lost its appeal to me. Maybe I had come to my saturation point where my beloved genre was concerned – all very alarming conclusions of course for someone who seldom goes on to read other genres.

Then I picked up Lake of Dreams by Linda Howard, up for grabs on Netgalley. Linda Howard has been a legendary writer back in the day. Her recent novels have lacked the punch that is the usual accompaniment of her novels. I actually believed this to be a full length novel and one that has not been previously published – I was wrong on both accounts. But the story that Lake of Dreams delivered is the reason why Linda Howard rose to stardom in the first place.

Theadora Marlow, a house painter who seems to lead a reasonably normal life is being plagued with dreams of the erotic variety. The man who visits her in the dreams takes her, possesses her in ways that she would never have thought possible, and yet at the end, always leaves her aching and crying for more when she eventually wakes up. Thea becomes affected to the point where she cannot concentrate on much, going to sleep itself becoming one of the hardest chores of her life.

To get away from it all, Thea makes her way to her family’s summer vacation cabin, hoping to let loose and relax without anyone intruding on her. However, as soon as she turns up, Richard Chance comes calling, the embodiment of the very man who has been visiting her dreams, some of it ending with a less than favorable impression of the man, leaving her bewildered and scared at the same time.

The short story that unfolded proved to be the balm that my frayed soul required, the water to my parched throat, the book that answered every single of my needs when it comes to reading romances. This was the Linda Howard that I remember, that I want to remember and keep in my memories and recall them from time to time. Earthy heroes, feisty heroines and a love so affecting that one can never be removed from it, if at all. 

I could not help but sigh as I turned the last page – because that is what a good book does to a soul that is starved for one.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: The beauty that is a well written romance is enough to tide one over a lifetime. 

Favorite Quotes

He took her that way, pulled to the edge of the bed and with only her lower body bared, and the mosquito netting between them. He took her with anger, and with tenderness. He took her with a passion that seared her, with a completeness that marked her forever as his. And, in the end, she did cry out. That triumph was his, after all. But her cries weren’t of pain, but of pleasure and fulfillment, and a glory she hadn’t known existed.

Before she could ask why, now that she was perfectly comfortable in his arms, he withdrew his arm from beneath her legs and let her lower body slide downward. Though he took care not to let her nightgown get caught between them, the friction of her body moving over his could scarcely have been more enticing. She caught her breath, her breasts and thighs tingling with heat even as she sought his boot tops with her feet and let her weight come to rest on them. Nor was he unaffected; there was no mistaking the firm swelling in his groin.

The taste of him was like coming home, their mouths fitting together without any awkwardness or uncertainty. A growl of hunger rumbled in his throat, and his entire body tensed as he took her mouth with his tongue. With the ease of long familiarity he thrust his hand under her T-shirt and closed it over her breast, working his fingers beneath the lace of the bra cup so his hand was on her bare skin, her nipple beading against his palm. Thea shuddered under his touch, a paroxysm of mingled desire and relief, as if she had been holding herself tightly against the pain of his absence and could only now relax.

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

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Review: Until You by Judith McNaught

Format: E-bookuntilyou
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Westmoreland Saga, #3
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Stephen David Elliott Westmoreland
Heroine: Sheridan Bromleigh
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 1, 1995
Started On: January 29, 2016
Finished On: January 31, 2016

Until You by Judith McNaught is one of my favorite books by an author who would always remain as one of those that are unforgettable for me as a romance reader. For myself, authors like Judith McNaught remains as my go to authors when most books of today fails to satisfy me and hit all those spots that need to be petted and stroked when I pick up a romance to read.

Until You is the 3rd book in the Westmoreland saga and tells the story of Stephen David Elliott Westmoreland, Earl of Langford, Baron of Ellingwood, Fifth Viscount Hargrove, Viscount Ashbourne. Well, that was a handful if ever there was one. Stephen is the younger brother of Clayton Westmoreland, the much revered hero of Whitney, My Love, the book that saw Judith McNaught rise to stardom. All the books in the series are 5-star reads for me. However, for some reason, Stephen has always occupied a special spot in my heart, perhaps owing to the fact that he is a hero overlooked by many fans of the author.

Stephen finds himself in a fit of bad luck when an accident makes him responsible for informing the deceased’s fiancée that her intended had met an untimely demise. Unknown to him, Sheridan Bromleigh, the woman who was entrusted by the bride-to-be’s father to safely transport her from America into the hands of her betrothed finds herself in a bit of a fix with the bride having eloped with another man. Sick with fear that she would be imprisoned or worse, not knowing what had happened to the groom in question, Sheridan meets an accident that nearly ends her life, leaving her in the hands and of Stephen himself.

Stephen believes that the woman who has somehow invaded his very thoughts and desires is the fiancée of a dead man, whose death he holds himself responsible for. It doesn’t help matters when Sheridan wakes up with no memories whatsoever of how she got there and what had happened before. Stephen’s reluctant attraction to Sheridan is clouded by the fact that Sheridan is led to believe that Stephen is her intended husband. The fact that she cannot recall any memories of a man as Stephen makes her panicky, but the moments of tenderness that catches Stephen unawares as he unknowingly starts courting the woman he would take as his wife makes her believe in the connection that exists between them.

Truth comes to light at one of those hold your breaths moments and the sheer betrayal that Stephen feels and his ruthless reaction towards it is perhaps the reason why I love Until You so much. It is the way he reacts that gives the book the angst factor, that makes my throat close up, no matter how many times I read this story. Characters from other stories make their appearances, giving a helping hand in a romance that is fraught with tension. Stephen proves to be a hard nut to crack, but then again if he were that easy, I believe I wouldn’t have loved him half as much.

A classic for me, if ever there was one. Recommended!

Final Verdict: Does not disappoint. Ever!

Favorite Quotes

His warm breath in her ear sent shivers up Sheridan’s spine, and she turned her face away from the cause, which brought her lips into instant contact with his. Stephen had intended to kiss her as Burleton might have done, but when her soft lips parted on a shaky breath, his intentions slipped from his mind.
Sheridan knew the moment his arm tightened on her waist and his lips began to move insistently against hers that she couldn’t have been expecting this… not the stormy rush of sensation that made her gasp and cling tighter to him, nor the compulsion to yield her mouth to his searching tongue, nor the frantic beating of her heart when his fingers shoved into the hair at her nape, holding her mouth tighter to his while her body seemed to want to meet and forge into his.

Stephen said abruptly, “Since we’ve ruled out rouge and curtsying, what are you interested in?”
You, Sherry thought. I am interested in you. I am interested in why you seem uneasy right now. I am interested in why there are times when you smile at me as if you see only me and I am all that matters. I am interested in why there are times when I sense that you don’t want to see me at all, even when I’m in front of you. I am interested in anything that matters to you because I want so much to matter to you. I am interested in history. Your history. My history. “History! I like history,” she provided brightly after a pause.

Her smooth brow furrowed in bewilderment. “I can’t quite remember what sort of injury it was, however.”
“A head injury,” Sherry provided helpfully.
“Yes, that was it.” Her bright blue gaze darted to Sherry’s head for a moment. “It looks as if it has healed.”
Dr. Whitticomb intervened. “The injury has healed,” he reminded her. “But there is still a troublesome aftereffect. Miss Lancaster has not yet recovered her memory.”
Miss Charity’s face fell. “My poor child. Do you know who you are?”
“Yes.”
“Do you know who I am?”
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Who am I?”

Stephen felt her hand slide up his chest, felt her press closer to him, and he claimed his victory, plundering her mouth with his, teasing and tormenting her, and she responded instinctively. The fires within her that had fueled her tempestuous rebellion earlier, now burned hot and bright with passion, and Stephen found himself in the midst of a kiss that was wildly erotic—and rapidly getting out of control. His hand was sliding over her breast, cupping it, and she was straining toward him in sweet abandon, offering her mouth to him. He told himself to stop and kissed her deeper instead, making her moan softly, and when she kissed him back, tentatively touching her tongue to his lips, it was the gasp of his own breath that he heard.

Every nerve in his body was screaming for release and still he held himself back, driving deeply into her, while the muscles in his arms strained with the rest of his body, refusing to deprive her of the same pleasure she was going to give him any second now. She was whimpering, eyes closed tightly, desperate for something she didn’t understand, afraid to have it. Afraid not to. Sobbing with desire, needing reassurance. He gave it to her in a hoarse whisper. “… Any second now…”
She went up in flames before he finished the sentence, her body clenching his, and Stephen heard himself groan with the extravagant splendor she was somehow making him feel. And then he gave himself over to it, driving toward it… and then past it, climaxing, his body jerking as he poured himself into her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo

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Review: Once and Always by Judith McNaught

Format: E-bookonceandalways
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Sequels, #1
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Jason Fielding
Heroine: Victoria Elizabeth Seaton
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January, 1987
Started On: January 26, 2016
Finished On: January 26, 2016

Judith McNaught is one of the most revered authors in the romance genre, and with good reason. Her books have turned many a romantic soul into romance readers, giving them all something to dream, sigh and moon over. I have read all the published works by Judith McNaught to-date and loved almost each and every single one of them. I have revisited the books that I consider my favorites many a time. Most of those re-reads took place before I established my blog in 2009. So here goes, a review for Once and Always, a tale that for me, stands the irrevocable test of time itself.

Jason Fielding, the Marquess of Wakefield is a man who hides a wealth of pain beneath the formidable exterior of his. Life has taught him time and yet again that love and happiness is not meant for the likes of himself. His failure of a marriage and the consequences left behind in the wake of the disaster that particular venture had proven to be makes Jason a man wary at best of getting entangled with the opposite sex in a way that would lead to anything permanent. Most of all, Jason considers his heart closed off forever. His less than stellar childhood had also taught him that valuable lesson. That is until Victoria Elizabeth Seaton makes her way into his life and changes it forever.

18 year old Victoria is forced to leave the home that she has known all her life that is in America and sail to England where her maternal relatives await her and her sister’s arrival. From the moment Victoria and Jason meet, sparks fly. Victoria being the kind of person who is concerned about the welfare of those around her clashes at every turn with someone like Jason who has closed himself off from caring about what goes on in other people’s lives. Moments of hilarity and mirth fill this novel, at least during the beginning of the “courtship” stage where Jason hardly knows what to do with Victoria and Victoria in turn wants nothing more to do with the likes of him.

Moments of truce disappear into thin air more often than not, especially with Jason’s plans to wed her off so that the Duke of Atherton would stop trying to push him to take her as his wife. Victoria is equally determined to stay unwed, until her beau from America returns for her. But alas, as fate would have it, with more than a little helping hand given by the Duke, Victoria finds herself wedded to an exasperatingly beautiful man, who makes her senses go alive with the merest of touches. Each kiss and caress exchanged convinces Victoria of the fact that when it comes to her and Jason, falling in love is a foregone conclusion. But their future and happiness depends on how soon Victoria can make Jason see that when it comes to her, he would always get nothing but the purest of love.

Once and Always is a wonderful novel to immerse yourself in, if you like romances that deliver a ton of angst that can make you tie yourself up in knots, even when you know that the inevitable conclusion would be a happy one. Jason is a hero whose commanding presence alone makes a woman go gaga over him. Taming someone like Jason is a task for someone who is as strong as Victoria, someone who wouldn’t back down in the face of all the rejections and walls that Jason puts up, all because he can’t bring himself to be that vulnerable towards someone, ever again. But tame him Victoria does, and the result of course is a man whom you would indeed fall head over heels in love with.

This is exactly why Judith McNaught is an author that remains unrivaled in her contribution to the world of romance. Tempestuous, angst ridden and filled with so much love and passion that you would feel like dying if you didn’t read it to its ultimate and very satisfying conclusion, Once and Always managed to keep me spellbound, and God knows how many times I have already re-read this particular book already.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Jason and Victoria’s love is bold and vivacious; it is all encompassing. Not to be missed!

Favorite Quotes

“Have I made another social blunder—like failing to knock?” he inquired in a low, amused voice, his lips offensively close to her cheek as she took her seat. “Is it not the custom in America for a gentleman to seat a lady?”
Victoria jerked her head away. “Are you seating me, or trying to eat my ear?”
His lips twitched. “I may do that,” he replied, “if the new cook provides us with a poor meal.”

Charles pushed her out the door under the guise of escorting her to her carriage, and Victoria halted and swung around on the stairway. Like a beautiful, outraged goddess she stood trembling with wrath, staring down at Jason. “Am I to understand,” she enunciated furiously, “that the engagement you said was ‘off’ was our engagement?”
Jason’s only answer was a tightening of his jaw, but his silence was a tacit admission, and she glared at him with blue sparks shooting from her eyes, heedless of the servants who were staring at her in paralyzed horror. “How dare you!” she hissed. “How dare you let anyone think I would consider marrying you. I wouldn’t marry you if you were—”
“I don’t recall asking you to marry me,” Jason interrupted sarcastically. “However, it’s reassuring to know that if I ever took leave of my senses and did ask you, you’d have the consideration to turn me down.”

Victoria saw something primitive and terrifying flare in his eyes as his hands tightened on her arms. She jerked back, a scream rising in her throat, but his lips covered hers, stifling her voice with a demanding insistence that stunned her into immobility. Like an alarmed rabbit captured in a painless trap, she struggled until she felt his hands stroke soothingly up and down her spine and shoulders, while his lips moved on hers with inflaming expertise.

“William Rogers,” Charles shot back in a challenging voice, “and he’s tall, conservative, mature, intelligent, and handsome. He’s also heir to one of the finest estates in England. I think he would do very well for Victoria.”
“No.”
“No?” Charles burst out. “Why not?”
“I don’t like the way Rogers sits a horse.”
“You don’t like—” Charles bit out in angry disbelief; then he glanced at Jason’s implacable face and sighed. “Very well. The last name on my list is Lord Terrance. He sits a horse extremely well, in addition to being an excellent chap. He is also tall, handsome, intelligent, and wealthy. Now,” he finished triumphantly, “what fault can you find with him?”
Jason’s jaw tightened ominously. “I don’t like, him.”
“You aren’t going to marry him!” Charles shot back, his voice rising.
Jason lurched forward in his chair and slammed his hand on his desk. “I said I don’t like him,” he said through clenched teeth. “And that’s the end of it.”

But in the mounting turmoil of their kiss and unaware of the hardening pressure against her stomach, Victoria let her fingers slide into the soft hair at his nape while her body automatically fitted itself to his—and suddenly everything changed. Jason’s arms closed around her with stunning force, his mouth opening on hers with fierce hunger. He parted her lips, teasing her with his tongue until he coaxed her to touch her own tongue to his lips, and when she did, he gasped, pulling her even closer, his body taut with fiery need.
When he finally lifted his head, he stared down at her with an odd expression of bemused self-mockery on his ruggedly chiseled features. “I should have given you diamonds and sapphires the other night, instead of pearls,” he commented. “But don’t kiss me like this again until after we’re married.”

“You have a very peculiar idea of what being a wife means,” he mocked savagely. “Now, get out of here.”
“Damn you!” Victoria blazed. “I don’t know how to be a wife, can’t you see that? I know how to cook and sew and look after a husband, but you don’t need me for that, because you have other people to take care of you. And I’ll tell you something else, Lord Fielding,” she continued, working herself into a fine rage, “I may not be a very good wife, but you’re an impossible husband! When I offer to play chess with you, you get angry. When I try to seduce you, you get nasty—”
She saw Jason’s head jerk up, but she was so angry she didn’t pay any heed to the stunned expression on his face. “And when I bring you a gift, you go off to London to see your mistress!”
“Tory,” he said achingly, “come here.”

Beneath her she could feel the pulsing of his rigid shaft, the fiery touch of his heated skin, the violent hammering of his heart against her breasts. But instead of taking her, as she expected, he gazed at her with desire raging in his eyes and humbly said the words he had tried to force her to say last night. “I want you,” he whispered. As if he didn’t think he had humbled himself enough, he added, “Please, darling.”
Feeling as if her heart would break with the love bursting in it, Victoria answered him with a melting kiss. It was answer enough.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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