Review: Cold & Deadly by Toni Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Definitely recommended!

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Bitterleaf by Lisa Gregory

Format: Paperbackbitterleaf
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Jove
Hero: Jeremy Delvin
Heroine: Meredith Whitney
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 01, 1983
Started On: March 15, 2019
Finished On: March 18, 2019

Bitterleaf by Lisa Gregory aka Candace Camp was first published when I was just barely one year old. Since this book has never been released in the eBook format, I purchased a used paperback copy of the novel sometime back. This book was listed in one of the recommendation threads I had been searching through way back, in my attempt to find novels where plenty of angst is to be had in a story that brings together two strong willed characters in a marriage of convenience.

When Bitterleaf begins, 21 year old Meredith Whitney, considered plain and gawky because she is taller than average and is not considered a beauty that would turn a man’s head, goes to Charleston with her stepfather Daniel Hurley. Meredith’s mother had died sometime back, leaving her with her stepfather, whom she had grown to love and respect in time. Under Daniel’s hands, Bitterleaf, the homestead where Meredith had grown up, had flourished and prospered, making Meredith a wealthy woman in her own right.

It is when Meredith, in her bid to escape the companionship of her vapid cousin Phoebe steps out into the market with her stepfather that she faces the man who would change her life in ways she would never have thought possible. Jeremy Devlin, a member of the aristocracy, whose uncle finally has enough of him and sends him on his way to the colonies as an indentured servant, finds himself purchased by none other than the man accompanied by the haughty woman whom he promises to teach a thing or two, if he ever has the chance.

Even though Jeremy finds Meredith to be plain and lacking in terms of beauty, there is something about her that draws him to the “Amazon” that she is in his mind. Jeremy prefers women who are more comely, but it is Meredith and the way she looks at him, with innocent wonder in her eyes that makes him burn.

For Meredith, laying eyes on the tall and sapphire-eyed Jeremy is the end to life as she has known it. Meredith, who had considered herself above those ruled by their want for pleasures of the flesh, finds herself wanting something that she herself does not even understand. It is perhaps owing to this and Jeremy’s frustration with Meredith that culminates in the resulting events, causing a rift that practically defines the whole story from that point onward, casting a dark shadow on every interaction that takes place between Meredith and Jeremy, especially when they are “forced” into a marriage of convenience.

I wanted to like the story, I really did. After all, this had all the ingredients that should rightfully satisfy my appetite for the less than conventional/accepted romances by readers today. To a certain point in the story, everything did work for me. But from the point where Meredith couldn’t seem to come clean about what was bothering her, how she started to continually grate on my nerves (now imagine poor Jeremy who actually had to put up with her?) was the point of no return for me when it came to my dislike for Meredith as a character.

Meredith turned out to be a tiresome, hateful in some ways, unable to look beyond her own insecurities that are of course ingrained deeply in her psych. However, for me, just like a man’s inexcusable behavior towards the heroine is not forgiven all because of what he may have faced during his childhood, I hold the heroine too to the same standard. I found Meredith wearisome especially when it came to not being able to see Jeremy’s desire for her for what it truly was – desire for the woman he wants above anything and anyone else.

Meredith never gives Jeremy the chance to explain things, which once again puts a black mark against her already laborious character. I dislike couples who detract from the enjoyment of the angst that should rightfully be present in a book such as Bitterleaf, but Meredith’s way of being unable to open her mouth without something scathing coming out of it, her self righteousness above everything else was certainly the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to Meredith and the story itself.

I felt that the story would have been better had Jeremy left and Meredith finally had to face the erroneous assumptions she had made about a man who would would have given her everything. She should have learnt the hard way that Bitterleaf alone wouldn’t give her lifelong happiness. The way one of the secondary characters left the story was also a bit of a sore point. While I understood Meredith’s jealousy, I found her inability to forgive and move on a sore point, especially when nothing had actually happened. For me whatever good that was Meredith was overshadowed in a large way by her critical nature. Her inability to look beyond and see the larger picture.

In the end, I skipped through huge chunks of the story just so I could reach the ending because I had invested a lot of time in reading Bitterleaf, not to to mention the first half of the story that was enjoyable.

Final Verdict: Bitterleaf’s name is synonymous with a character trait that defines the heroine. I expected more from the story than a woman who could not look past her own insecurities.

Favorite Quotes

“Jeremy, what are you doing? Stop this at once.”
He chuckled. “Your voice lacks conviction.”
“You startled me, that’s all.”
An eyebrow quirked in disbelief. He dropped her glove on the ground and placed his hands on either side of her face, imprisoning her head and forcing her to look at him. For a long moment, he stared into her green-brown eyes, and then his face lowered. Meredith closed her eyes and sought to pull away, but his grip held her firm. Jeremy’s lips took hers gently, moving upon them in exploration as if he had all the time in the world before him.

At first his kiss was harsh and angry, more a demand than an expression of feeling, but at the touch of her soft lips it didi not remain so for long. His lops gentled as he tasted the sweetness of her mouth. He worked at her with tongue and lips and teeth, exploring, hungry, until she responded with a whimper and her arms came up to curve around his neck. Her tongue met and matched his, easing tentatively into his mouth.
Jeremy shudderedm hurled violently into a relam beyond reason, aware of nothing but the supreme pleasyre he held in his arms. He rained wild kisses across her face and neck, mouthing the soft flesh of her throat, nibbling her sensitive earlobes. Meredith moved in his arms, unable to absorb the multitude of delights he showered upon her.

Suddenly his lips dug into her fierecely. He wrapped his arms around Meredith, pulling her down with him until they both knelt on the floor. Jeremy pressed her torso against his firm body, savoring the thrust of her breasts against his chest. “Meredith,” he breathed. Holding her, he lay back on the floor, pulling her on top of him. It seemed to Meredith a surprisingly natural place to be.
With one hand he shoved down the bodice of her dress, and his mouth trailed down her neck and chest to explore her breasts. He made asoft, wordless noise as he took her nipple into his mouth and felt it harden at the touch. The sound stirred Meredith almost as much as his caressing tongue. She felt strangely weak and melting, itching, yearning.

Jeremy drew back, panting. “God, you tempt me. But I won’t take you like this, on the floor of the study. Not the first time. We shall splendidly be married and marvelously naked in our own bed. I wanted to give you a taste of what you’re ‘buying.’ Perhaps there will be women who snicker, but you can bet there isn’t one who wouldn’t trade places with you, because you’ll wake up smiling. They’ll pretend to pity you, but in reality it’s envy they’ll feel, thinking about the nights you spend tumbling in my bed, well-serviced, while their own husbands are out wenching at the tavern or sporting with a slave girl or too tired or lazy or old to give their wives pleasure. They yearn, my love, they hunger for a young, healthy male like a mare in heat. Believe me, they’d grab at what you have. They’d pay any price to have the sleepy, well-loved look your face will wear. Maybe you bought me on the auction block, but I’ll give you more than you could ever pay.”

“Jeremy,” she sighed when his mouth released hers.
He nibbled at her earlobe, sending bright shivers all through her. “Say it again.”
“Jeremy?”
“Yes.” His breath came hard, in short gasps, his skin as burning and damp as that of a man in the throes of a swamp fever. “My name. You’ve never said it. Jeremy.”
“Jeremy,” she repeated in wonder that he should want her to say his name.
“Oh, Meredith, Meredith.” His mouth was running wild over her neck and shoulders.

“Oh, Jeremy, you won!” Meredith’s eyes sparkled.
The hand that had lifted her up fastened behind her neck and turned her to him, his mouth sinking into the softness of hers. The warmth that had mushroomed in her belly now shot through her enture body. Meredith didn’t give a thought to the other spectators. Instead, she wrapped an arm around Jeremy’s neck and pressed her lips against his. He was hot, his shirt damp beneath her hands. Her nostrils were filled with the pungent odor of horse and sweat. Boldly, instinctively, her tongue flicked out to scoop up the tiny droplets beading his upper lip. Her movement interruped their kiss, but Jeremy didn’t seem to mind. He made a startled, almost animal growl deep in his throat. His free hand slipped beneath her volumnious cloak, straining her against his body, and he kissed her with even more passion, his tongue raking her mouth.

His hands went to the sash of her wedding gown, untying the knot and letting the belt fall. Slowly, savoring the moment, he shoved back the heavy velvet robe, exposing her body clad only in the almost transparent nightgown. She heared him catch his breath and glanced up. His face was flushed, the eyelids heavy, shuttering the intense blue gaze. The dressing gown crumpled silently to the floow as he studied her. All mockery fled from his face as he looked at the swelling mounds of her breasts, nipples dark against the thin material. His eyes moved downward, taking in the smooyth line of her legs, hazily revealed beneath the cloth, all the more tantalizing for their faint concealment. Meredith watched him, braced for a jest or offensive mark, but none came. She sucked in her lower lip, Jeremy’s eyes darkened to a deep midnight blue. “Meredith.”

He began to move within her, but unlike their earlier lovemaking, he thrust again and again. Instead of satisfying her ache, it seemed to make it grow until Meredith involuntarily rolled her head from side to side. Jeremy pounded into her, and she arched up to take him in more fully. She wanted all of him. And something more. She didn’t know what, but the urge was deep and driving.
But Jeremy knew. At her whimper of frustration, he began to move faster, his hips churning, carrying her with him to a new universe of blinding pleasure. He hurled her higher and higher, until she was gasping for breath and clutching at his back, her nails digging unthinkingly into his skin.

Purchase Links: Amazon | AbeBooks

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Review: In Bed with the Devil by Lorraine Heath

Format: E-bookinbedwiththedevil
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Scoundrels of St. James, #1
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Lucian Oliver Langdon
Heroine: Catherine Mabry
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 24, 2008
Started On: December 29, 2018
Finished On: December 30, 2018

In Bed with the Devil by Lorraine Heath is the debut novel in her Scoundrels of St. James series. Lorraine Heath is an author who writes evocative tales of romance, that basically punches you in the gut with the depth of emotions they invoke from the reader. In Bed with the Devil seems to be a favorite amongst readers, which is why I picked this number up to read, after having read When a Duke Loves a Woman and the book having failed to deliver on all those things I expected from a Lorraine Heath.

The hero Lucian Langdon, the Earl of Claybourne (also known as the Devil Earl) is a man who believes himself to be a fraud owing to his childhood, having escaped a life of being part of a gang of ruffians in the London streets. Having no recollection of the events that preceded his life to a certain point, Luke might have grown up by all appearances to become an aristocrat, but beneath the surface, he has remained a scoundrel at heart.

Lady Catherine Mabry seeks Luke’s services for an act that would be considered nefarious by society’s standards. But Catherine is a courageous woman who has single-handedly being taking care of her bedridden father in the absence of her brother who had left and never returned. For Catherine to watch her friend live a life of abuse is something she cannot take anymore, the reason behind her seeking the services of a man who had tempted her senses since she had been an impressionable seventeen year five years past. She cannot explain what it is that had beseeched her to invite him to events since then, invitations that Luke had never acknowledged, and five years later, Catherine finds herself at the doorstep of the man himself, propriety of society be damned.

To find Catherine in his home is the last thing Luke would have expected, especially having returned home after another night of delaying the inevitable; asking Frannie Darling for her hand in marriage, something Luke believes to be his destiny given how their pasts entwine so deeply. Catherine seems to invoke in Luke a torrent of feelings that Frannie does not, but Luke is determined to stay true to his course, even if his heart might say otherwise.

Through the events that takes place in the story, a bond forges between the two, something Luke tries to allude to the fact that they spend so much time together. Catherine’s strength of character is immense throughout the story, the one defining factor in the novel that made me fall so completely in love.

I so adore a heroine who is not constantly trying to prove herself in the story, someone who is comfortable in her place, and shows bravery and courage where it matters. Catherine was that sort of heroine for me. She has no qualms about who she is, what she wants, she has no artifice when it comes to the opposite sex.

Even though Catherine knows that her reaction towards Luke has always been out of the norm, that does not stop her from seeking him when there is a need for it, and even when Catherine knows that her heart is in danger, that doesn’t stop her from giving all the love she has in her heart to Luke, all the while knowing that Luke has a different destiny in mind for himself.

Luke himself was admirable in so many aspects as well. Simply put, I loved him. There was a vulnerability beneath that cool demeanor of his, a soul that needed to belong under that facade of indifference. When the truth comes to light in the final couple of chapters in the book, this is where once again Catherine’s remarkable character shines through.

I so did love the ending, seeing Heath’s evocative and gut wrenching writing emerge.

Final Verdict: Realistic, evocative, and beautiful in prose; In Bed With the Devil was just wonderful.

Favorite Quotes

“Catherine?”  
A warm hand cradled her cheek, turned her head. She gazed into eyes so silver, so filled with concern. “Think about something else,” Claybourne ordered.  
She shook her head, trying. To her mortification, she flinched and released a tiny squeak when she felt something sharp being jabbed into her flesh.  
Claybourne leaned near and then his mouth was blanketing hers, skillfully plying her lips apart. Oh, the fool, did he not fear that she might bite down—
He tasted of the whiskey that he’d ordered her to drink, and she wondered if he’d needed some to fortify himself for what she was about to endure.

He’d covered her mouth with a blistering kiss before he’d thought it through. He could tell himself that he was bored with the dinner, bored with the conversation, but the reality was that it was driving him mad to watch her sip wine, to gaze at her slender throat and shoulders, to see her smiling at Bill when Luke wanted her to smile at him.
As he swept his tongue through her mouth, he knew it was wrong, but he wanted her, wanted her in a way he’d never desired Frannie. He wanted Catherine rough, he wanted her tenderly. He never thought of taking Frannie to his bed. He thought of marrying her, he thought of having her as his wife, but carnal images of them together never filled his mind. With Catherine, he saw a kaleidoscope of their contorted naked bodies.

A fine sheen of sweat coated his throat. Sweat belonged to laborers, not gentlemen, but she kissed his throat anyway, felt his pulse jump beneath her lips. Felt her own pulse leap when he buried his fingers in her hair and blanketed her mouth with his own.
She didn’t know what she’d expected. Something quick, painful, but still somehow exquisite. But this was more than she’d ever imagined. Beautiful in its intensity, frightening because she didn’t know how she’d live without it when it went away.

“Does it hurt?” she asked.  
“God, no.”
She slid down, enveloping him in her silky wetness. He almost spilled his seed then and there. Instead he clenched his jaw, fought for control. He ran his hands up her slender back, slid them back around to her breasts, and began to knead her soft flesh.
Dropping her head back, she moaned. Then she began to ride him as though her life depended on it.

But his body wouldn’t be held back. He bucked beneath her, his deep feral groan nearly drowning out her cry of satisfaction, her back arched, her face carved in an expression of awe and wonder. Shudders wracked his body as the pleasure coursed through her.
She went limp, falling to his chest, spent. He wasn’t sure where he found the strength to wrap his arms around her, but he wanted to hold her close too much not to find the energy. He thought he could lie there forever. If he died this moment, he’d die content.

“Why do you have to be so damned courageous?” he asked as he kissed her neck, her ear, her throat, her chin.   She wondered if he’d want her if she weren’t, but she wasn’t brave enough to ask, so perhaps she wasn’t as courageous after all.  
“Don’t talk,” she murmured as she kissed his temples.
He took her slowly, as though he realized this would be the last time, savoring each thrust, creating memories with each touch. There was nothing frenzied about their joining. Rather it was simply an appreciation that they’d escaped the fire, a celebration of survival, and perhaps in a way, a farewell.

His mouth was hot, desperate, eager. She was more than ready for him when he drove himself into her, like a man possessed, a man running from his past, a man unable to see his future. He pumped fast and furious. She met his eagerness with her own, digging her fingers into his firm buttocks, riding him as he rode her.
His powerful thrusts had the headboard knocking the wall, the pleasure rippling through her in undulating waves. There was madness here, and she didn’t care. She cared only about him losing himself in her, and her losing herself in him.

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

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Review: Indecent Exposure by Tessa Bailey

Format: E-bookindecentexposure
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Academy, #2
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Jack Garrett
Heroine: Katie McCoy
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 30, 2018
Started On: August 27, 2018
Finished On: December 18, 2018

Indecent Exposure by Tessa Bailey is the second book in The Academy trilogy. When I was done with Disorderly Conduct, I knew right away then that I wanted to lose myself in the third installment in the series. But since I have a level of OCD of my own when it comes to reading books in order in a series, I decided to go with the flow and read Indecent Exposure first.

Jack Garrett is the kind of hero that is hard not to notice, even when he is lurking in the background. It was Jack’s voice as described in Disorderly Conduct that stuck with me when I picked this number to read. Apart from that, Jack is known as the one out of the trio (Charlie, Jack and, Danika), who is not serious about his training at the police academy.

Jack had grown up at a brothel where his mother had worked to make ends meet. That had exposed Jack way too early in his life to the realities and the ugly side of sex and what it could mean. A man who could practically charm the panties off of any woman he chooses to, it surprises Jack when his obvious interest in Katie McCoy goes unreciprocated at first. But the truth is, none of the ladies he pursuits or does the pursuing of him, ever realizes that deep down inside, Jack loathes the way he feels when the act is said and done.

Katie is in New York to have fun. To loosen up. An Olympic gold medalist in the air rifle competition, and a special weapons instructor, Katie turns out to be the new arms instructor for the recruits undergoing training. Jack’s interest in Katie doesn’t even begin to show signs of abating, even with the notion that he would be skirting dangerous waters by wanting to get it on with an instructor. 

Jack has a problem with alcohol. He drowns out the blackness that is inside of him, owing to a secret that he has never confided in with anyone, something that eats at him day in and day out. Katie on the other hand, is someone who avoids watering holes altogether. She has her reasons for it, and knowing that Jack imbibes in alcohol should have been a deal breaker from the very start.

But just like Jack tries to give up his acquired habit of drinking too much because he wants to be worthy of Katie, the desire to be with Jack is is something Katie cannot ignore as well. But giving up a lifelong habit is easier said than done, and it is the struggle that both Jack and Katie go through together to come through that makes this story delightful.

When I first began reading Indecent Exposure, I am sorry to say that I was not that enamored with Jack nor Katie. But as I went deeper into the story, I started seeing fascinating tidbits into both characters that made me fall in love. That is the kind of author Tessa Bailey is. Which is one reason why I never give up on a book from her, knowing that, one way or the other, she tends to deliver the kind of emotional story that I would always fall in love with.

Even though Jack’s character did not impress me all that much in the first book, I loved what I saw inside of him when it came to his story. He has a tortured soul. I mean who wouldn’t have issues when you grow up in a brothel, watching your mother put up with men of all kinds just so she could provide for you? Returning that favor is Jack’s sole aim when it comes to getting through the training at the police academy.

While Charlie and Danika are invested and fully committed and go out of their way to excel when it comes to the training, Jack is half-assing his way through – just so that he can provide for and take care of his mother.

I would have loved to see Jack’s mother a bit more than I did in the story. It would have been good to see the kind of relationship that Jack has with her, and how it has shaped his outlook on life. That is something I did enjoy when it came to Disorderly Conduct, because both characters had issues that had stemmed from the environment within which they had grown up. We all do, some definitely more than others.

Katie’s character was certainly one that I enjoyed. She has an innocence that belies the formidable woman she is career-wise. There is a sweetness to her that remains unchanged at the very core, a sensitivity to her character that fits in well with Jack. She has keen insight into people, and is fair and honest, which is one of the reasons why she is not hesitant when it comes to seeing Jack’s talents for what they are, and giving Jack a chance to prove himself, in the process gain the respect of fellow trainees and supervisors.

While Jack’s struggle in terms of dealing with his reliance on alcohol is dealt with sensitivity, there are also no fairy tale solutions to his struggle, which is what I believe made this story that much more realistic. It is something Jack has to work at, continually more or less, because he believes in Katie and himself, because he believes that Katie deserves the best, and he wants nothing but to be the best there is when it comes to her.

Hopping onto see my favorite duo next. Greer baby, here I come!

Recommended for fans of Tessa Bailey and those who love a sinfully good romance! With the mistress of finely tuned dirty talk, you can never go wrong!

Final Verdict: Jack and Katie has the ability to sucker-punch you with the ferocity of emotions they invoke. Add in the blazing hot sex, and Tessa Bailey has definitely got herself a winner

Favorite Quotes

[Katie] His rough exhalation shakes out into my mouth when our lower bodies meld on a single grind, his eyebrows slashing down as though he’s in pain.
“One more, Katie. One more, one more, one—”
I yank him back down, cutting him off with my waiting kiss and his hands, they become these sweeping sources of hot want,dragging down my sides, clutching my hips and pulling me up onto my toes, sliding me side to side against his large arousal.

[Katie] One big hand invades my hair, the other slides down my back like it owns me. And very slowly, he rocks me, rocks me on the ridge behind his fly.
The flesh between my legs clenches—a hot, insistent squeeze—and it’s like Jack knows I’ve just been hit by a massive lust tidal wave. While his mouth continues to devastate me, his eyes open and lock with mine . . . and he rolls his hips. Rolls them twice, three times, dragging his bulge up and back underneath my quickening heat.
I tear our mouths apart with a gasp. “Wow.”

[Katie] His tongue leaves me, though, and I lose myself completely, locking my heels and trying to keep his mouth in that perfect place where I need it. Need it so bad. When Jack lays a kiss on my stomach and whispers my name, I loosen my muscles. Justin time for him to ease a finger into my dampness. Pumping it. And again, the storm whips. I’m looking up at the ceiling,but I don’t see it. His knuckle twists on top of my clit, his finger jiggling inside me. My pleasure is blinding me. I’m shaking.There are tears or sweat or both sliding down my temples and I don’t care. My body has a mind of its own, arching and clenching,my voice begging.

[Katie] I pull him down on top of me, just as my body wins the battle, reeling in the orgasm that ironically, sends me out to sea.A current carries me, rippling over and through my body, my eyes full of nothing but exhilarating blue. Above me, Jack grits out my name and joins me, bringing the violence of the water, his muscles jerking, his throat gasping for oxygen. My arms and legs wrap around him tight, forcing him to share his spasms with me, forcing him to accept mine. Afterwards, we lay there,too spent to move for what feels like hours.

[Jack] When I realize Katie is looking up at me, that’s when I begin to lose it. Her lips stretch as she sinks down to my root, keeping those blue eyes on me the whole time. She’s excited. There’s a light in her gaze, like she can’t believe what we’re doing.Can’t believe how much I’m enjoying it. As if . . . it’s her first suck-off. Jesus Christ. Am I a pervert for wanting to flip our positions and fuck her mouth hard now? Just like last night, when I hit this point of no return, all I want to do is claim her. Make her mine.

[Jack] “Jack!” She grinds back against my mouth, thighs shaking out of control and come shoots up my cock so fast, I groan and flick my tongue along Katie’s convulsing flesh, refusing to stop until she’s wrung out. My stomach constricts so hard with the climax,I must be dying. My body moves without any kind of mental command, writhing and bucking, trying to get rid of the liquid lust that seems to be never-ending.

[Katie] “I know you had a physical before the academy, which means you’re all clear. Have you used protection every time since then?”
“Yes. I’ve never, Katie. Never without.”
Our foreheads bump when I nod. “So tell me you’re clean, like I know you are.”
His breath races in and out. “I can’t let us do this. You’re—”
“I’m on the pill.” With lust lacing in my blood like lightning, I bring his erection between my legs, dragging it through my wet heat. “Yes or no, Jack?”
There’s no earthly description for the sensation of a man’s muscles shaking, the heat of his hands hovering above my ass,his flesh thickening in my hand. It’s the epitome of anticipation. An aphrodisiac. “Yes, I’m clean for you, but—”
He breaks off with a growl when I tuck the head of him inside me. A plump, pulsing inch that stretches me and zaps eagerness to my nerve endings. “Have me.” I raise my knee, resting it on Jack’s hip. The movement allows him to slip deeper, just a touch, but I might as well have pushed him in all the way, his reaction is so intense.

[Jack] “Drop your legs,” I order in a desperate voice. “I’ve got you.”
Confusion wrinkles her brow, but she follows my order, leaving her feet dangling down near my straining calves. A split second later, when I thrust up between her thighs, a scream leaves her mouth, the advantages of the position clearly hitting her. “Oh my God, Jack. M-more. Please, more.”
Easier said than done, shout my balls, but my mind, my heart is obsessed with the pleasure on her face. My experience isn’t something to be ashamed of in that moment, but something to be celebrated.

[Jack] “Mine,” I groan into the top of her head. “Mine?”
“Yes.”
“Mine to come inside?”
“Y-yes.” The single, incredible word splinters into husky cries, her pussy clamping around my dick. And I lose it. I bend my knees and fuck up into her in a rough push, smacking her ass against the wet wall and circling my hips, grinding into her spasming flesh, marking it as mine. The battle ends when she screams Jack, her fingernails raking down my back and burying in the flesh of my ass. My orgasm is painful in its intensity, rocking me
from the soles of my feet to the top of my head. I press my mouth against the damp marble wall and shout through the ringing
of my insides, the emptying of my lust.

[Katie] Silence thrums around us. “Are you worried about what I’ll do when you leave? Is that what this is about?”
A tank crashes in my stomach, because I hadn’t considered the obvious. But there’s no pretending when our heartbeats are pressed together. “Yes.”
“Me, too.” He tilts my chin up. “You’re the one who held up a mirror. You’re the one who brought me to the meeting.” Regret mixes with determination on his face. “But I’d be worried about slipping even if you weren’t leaving. Fixing this problem of mine? That’s on me. You’re not responsible, Katie, understand?”

[Katie] A kiss on my nape, following by a rough bite. “It’s coming, honey.”
No sooner does that bathroom door slam shut, leaving us alone once again in the restroom, than Jack drives himself inside me so hard I’m elevated several inches off the ground. I scream. I scream without attempting to subdue the wild sound, but it’s swallowed in the loud, fast-paced music and the sharp slap of Jack’s thighs against my bottom. My orgasm is blinding, tightening and loosening bolts beneath my belly button, shaking my limbs and filling my eyes with startled tears.

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: Lily by Patricia Gaffney

Format: E-booklily.jpeg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Leisure Books
Hero: Devon Darkwell
Heroine: Lily Trehearne
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 01, 1996
Started On: October 20, 2018
Finished On: October 24, 2018

Lily by Patricia Gaffney is one of those novels that lifelong romance readers will come across, either in a list of books to avoid, or a list that is at the other extreme end. I believe that with Lily, there is no middle ground to be had. You either fall in love with the story, the heartache, the imperfections, the hero who borders on anti-hero material, and the heroine, who is a pillar of strength with courage of the kind that we would all like to possess.

Lily is the sort of book that one has to experience to get the full impact of what the story entails. It is not the kind of story you can read with your emotions detached from what is taking place. It is not light and fluffy, nor is it humorous. But there is love, an abundance of it, especially from Lily’s end towards a man who is deep in denial, a man who has undergone tremendous pain and betrayal, a man who has been bitten once, and is more than twice shy.

Lily Trehearne is caught in a fix when her last male relative upon the death of her father and becomes the executor of her father’s estate and her legal guardian for thirteen more months, winds up wounded from an act of self-defense. Believing that the death of Reverend Soames would probably see her hanged or worse, Lily flees her home, and finds herself hired as a scullery maid in the household of a viscount.

Lily’s paths cross with Devon Darkwell, Viscount Sandown, the master of Darkstone Manor, the very first night that she arrives at his household. The anguish and rawness of the pain that Devon was leaking from his very pores at that moment strikes something deep inside her. But as a mere servant in a household that is run under the iron fist of Mrs Howe, the housekeeper who hires her, Lily believes that there is futile chance of their paths crossing again.

However, life does not prove to be so “fortunate”, as Lily finds herself rescuing the master of the house, taking care of him, and lying for him when the authorities come calling. Even with Devon feeling like he is waking up from deep sleep of the nightmarish variety when Lily is close to him, Devon does not want to believe in the goodness of the human heart, not with a past that keeps mocking him for his reckless behavior and the price an innocent life had paid for it. Devon’s scars run deep, his wounds never did heal, and it is Lily that pays the ultimate price for it all.

There are many occasions upon which any sensible female would have given up on Devon. But Lily sees beyond the anger, heartache, and the unwillingness from Devon to move on. So love him she does, enough for both of them, or so she thought, until the moment arrives which makes it easy for Devon to kick her loose, all because he was afraid of confronting his own feelings that run amok when it comes to Lily.

What Devon does to Lily in the guise of revenge is pretty much unforgivable, but in the end, he does pay the price for it. Lily is no doormat heroine, though I suppose some might see her that way. But for me, the strongest of us are those who can love, and love so deeply, even when it leaves them vulnerable to a wealth of hurt and pain. That is what Lily endures, time and yet again at the hands of Devon, until truth comes calling, and Devon realizes the fatal mistakes he has made along the way. All because he could not move on from the betrayal that had marked his life so terribly.

Nothing absolves or excuses Devon’s behavior towards Lily, especially that last act of betrayal on his part which nearly costs Lily her life. But once again, it is her own strength and the help of kindred spirits along the way that keeps her going, putting one foot in front of the other, to keep moving, until she is able to live again. Lily definitely makes Devon work to earn her forgiveness. I believe as readers, we might never understand how Lily was able to forgive Devon when all was said and done, but I believe that for someone like Lily, whose heart is pure and her love for Devon the kind that blazes from deep within her soul, it was a foregone conclusion.

Like I said at the beginning of this review, Lily is the type of book where you need to live through the ups and downs of the story to become whole again. Its not easy. But then love is never easy. That is the lesson that Lily leaves readers with. I believe that I as a reader, find profound meaning in that message.

Recommended for those readers who don’t shy away from anti-heroes and the heartache and pain they can cause along the way.

Final Verdict: Lily is the kind of book that will crush your soul, break your heart, and oft times your spirit. Through it all, Lily shows the remarkable strength of true love, the kind that never falters, even in the face of the greatest of tragedies.

Favorite Quotes

“But he doesn’t mind kissing, does he?”
“What?”
He caught her up in his arms again. “Your young man won’t care if we do this,” he whispered, and kissed her hard.
Lily’s resistance crumbled at the first touch of his lips. It was as if they had never stopped, as if that interruption had been some perverse mistake they both regretted and were making up for now. She wound her arms around his neck and pressed against him, every sense engrossed and besieged by his mouth and the fervent stroking of his hands on her back. He dragged her cap off again and filled his fingers with her hair, never stopping the kiss, and she moaned her perfect willingness against his lips and into his mouth.

Lily sighed against his lips, and her breath was warm and moist on his skin, gentle as a blessing. “Dev,” she whispered, so amazed. The straining weight of his body on hers felt perfect. She pulled him closer. They kissed with fierce, greedy passion until the last second. Then they just held on to each other, stunned and humbled, while time stopped and they suffered together the tumultuous recoil of an identical explosion. Lily thought she was lost, that it would never end, and the minuscule piece of herself that was still intact knew a second of panic—no more. But the storm subsided, and time started again, and Devon kissed the tears on her cheeks with such tenderness that her heart cracked open and she loved him.

He didn’t have to tell her to fold her legs back and straddle his lap: she figured that out for herself, almost instantly. But she loved his passionate instructions. Were all men so—talkative? she wondered. His volubility gave her courage. To hide her face she kissed him, then murmured against his lips, “I love the way you feel inside me. It’s like everything is melting.”
He dragged his mouth down her throat, her chest. “Lean back,” he ordered in a guttural murmur; when she did, he took her breast into his mouth and suckled her with greed and thoroughness.
Gasping, she clutched at his shoulders. “I’ve never done this with anyone but you! Do you believe me?”
He answered, “Yes,” immediately. Could it be true? He didn’t care, didn’t care.

She pulled back, and they watched each other’s eyes again, spellbound, gauging. He slid lower on his spine until she lay on top of him, her feet just touching the floor. She braced herself with her forearms against his chest and set the new rhythm herself. Nothing had ever felt like this, this wild mix of power and surrender, control and abandon. Finally it was need, raw and burning and urgent, that overpowered her. “Devon, I can’t—I can’t—!”
Hold back, she meant, but he thought she meant the opposite. He clapped his palms to her buttocks and thrust into her again and again, grunting, breath rasping, and suddenly her whole body convulsed. She shouted out something loud and incomprehensible, and he felt her helpless, uncontrollable quivering for a long, long moment before she softened and finally sank against him. He held her tightly—too tightly, he knew, but God! he couldn’t help it—while he unleashed himself and plunged inside her over and over and over. He thought it would never end. When it did, they were both as limp as rags, and he was incapable of moving.

She shifted subtly and pulled her knees up, lodging him higher, tighter. Legs locked around his waist, she began to rock him with the same slow, canny, devastating artistry he had taught her. His face was buried in her hair, but she thought she could hear him grinding his teeth. Patient and passionate, she gave herself to him, daring him to reject the gift this time. She knew the instant his resistance began to disintegrate. He raised his head; just for an instant, behind the desire, she caught a glimpse of haggard suffering in his eyes. Her heart contracted. Cradling his dear face, she touched her lips to his in a soft, gentle kiss. He shuddered, not moving, and then suddenly his open mouth slanted over hers and he returned her kiss with all the wild tenderness she had been afraid to hope for. He only lifted his head to grit out a low, hoarse shout when his climax came. It surged through him with a rough, tumultuous violence that she accepted gladly. She held him tightly, needing to shelter him until the storm passed. Afterward, he lay limp in her arms, sprawled across her, his breath rasping. But she could not tell from the heaviness of his body whether what he felt now was satisfaction or defeat.

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

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ARC Review: Barbarous by Minerva Spencer

Format: E-bookBarbarous.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Outcasts, #2
Publisher: Zebra
Hero: Hugh Redvers
Heroine: Daphne Davenport
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 30, 2018
Started On: September 29, 2018
Finished On: October 02, 2018

Minerva Spencer is a Canadian author, who writes Regency Era romance. With two of her published works out, both in the series entitled The Outcasts, I came across her work when acclaimed historical romance author Elizabeth Hoyt recommended her books in one her tweets. I have loved almost everything that I have read from Hoyt and believe her to be a sensational author. So when she recommends an author whose books have spoken to HER, well, needless to say, I needed no further urging.

I did not read this series in order and read Barbarous first. In doing so, I did not feel like I had missed out on understanding the characters or felt that any of the story line was missing. So it is safe to say that this can be read as a standalone.

Barbarous begins when Hugh Redvers returns from the “dead” fifteen years after he was presumed to be so. A handsome daredevil who had stolen bits and pieces of Lady Daphne Davenport even when she had been an impressionable child when Hugh had been banished by his uncle, the older and mature version of him, scarred as he is, is a sight to behold.

Daphne’s first impression of Hugh upon his return is explained in a manner that does justice to what his character brings to the story. “Daphne knew she was gawking, but she couldn’t stop. His sun-bronzed skin and golden hair were an exotic surprise against the pallid gray of the spring sky. But it was the black eye-patch that covered his left eye and the savage scar that disappeared beneath it that were truly arresting. He lacked only a battered tricorn and cutlass between his teeth to be every maiden’s fantasy of a handsome pirate. Was he lost on his way to a masquerade ball?

Daphne’s biggest fear upon Hugh’s sudden return is that he would find out her “deception” and the fact that she had robbed him of his rightful inheritance. Daphne’s marriage to Hugh’s uncle is one that Hugh cannot wrap his head around, and he knows that he no right to be entertaining such wicked thoughts about his “aunt” – spread for him to feast upon, in all her wanton glory.

Daphne knows that she is not the type of woman that would excite a man like Hugh. But the manner in which Hugh slowly seduces her is reason enough to drive her ever slowly out of her mind. Even if she is determined to stay unmoved, there is no helping the fact that her body responds to the proximity and wicked looks that Hugh throws her way. However, for Daphne and Hugh to have their happily ever after, the need to face their past and reconcile with it is a must, before the dangers closing in from all sides could destroy what they have, even before their entwined life could begin.

Before I start gushing about this book, I just have to put this out there. I have the utmost respect for Canadian authors. The few Canadian authors, whose books I read, have wowed me in ways I cannot even comprehend. Some of them are the reason I continue to read the genre even when most tales in the genre today have grown pale in comparison to what my reader tastes are like. In Minerva Spencer, I believe I have found one more author that I will continue to watch out for, because she has a flair for bringing all the elements together that makes a romance work, which makes reading no hardship at all.

Barbarous was amazing in its prose and delivery – no two ways about it. I loved how both Daphne and Hugh’s characters were crafted. Daphne is the ultimate bookworm, a bit lost inside her head, and has a heart that is warmth itself. Her difficult past, the way she had found a sanctuary in being married to her deceased husband, and the twins that had been borne out of horrible circumstances, but whom she would give her very own life for; all this and more define Daphne. The way she responds to Hugh, that innocence of hers, her curiosity, and the way she loves and accepts Hugh wholeheartedly, for all that and more, I loved her character.

When it comes to Hugh, he is a man who strides into the story, giving it a vitality that I am hard pressed to explain. He is like a warm beating heart, pulsating with life, giving energy to the rest of the elements that makes up the story. His kindness above everything else, made me fall like a ton of bricks for him. His wicked, wicked nature when it came to the slow seduction of Daphne made me want to hoot and give out a catcall, especially when he strip teased for her. A hero doing the teasing in that manner is something I have seldom come across in romance novels, especially when it comes to the historical genre. His possessiveness was just the right touch, the balm that soothes the heart and soul of someone like Daphne who considers herself to not have anything much to offer a man like Hugh.

The cast of secondary characters definitely brings added color to the story, with every character multi-faceted in a way that lends credence to the unfolding story. Even the “villain” had his own story to share, which makes one think along the lines of how under similar circumstances, good and bad can thrive and persist, even beyond human comprehension.

If scrumptious love scenes, an interesting cast of characters, and excitement of the kind that would keep you turning the pages is what you want, Minerva Spencer is the author for you. I cannot wait for the next couple of books (which I am hoping the author is working on) to be out!

Final Verdict: In Barbarous, Minerva Spencer delivers a delectable tale of a larger than life hero who returns home to find himself scandalously in lust with his uncle’s widow. To say that sparks fly would be an understatement. Definitely recommended!

Favorite Quotes

Tendrils of her luxuriant hair had come loose as she played. Some spiraled wildly, glinting pale gold in the light, some lay damply against the exposed skin of her throat. Each time Hugh turned a page, he bent lower than necessary, breathing her in, inhaling her. She smelled clean, unper-fumed with anything but the vague scent of soap. Never had Hugh realized just how heady another human’s natural scent could be.
By the time the final notes came to a crashing conclusion, Hugh ached with the effort of holding his body in check. The cavernous music room was silent but felt crowded and small, the atmosphere heavy with a maelstrom of emotions he had no interest in examining.
Her arms trembled with the mere physicality of the past moments and a slight shudder passed through her, as if she’d just come out of a trance. She followed his hand—which rested on the piano—up to his face and blinked, surprised to find she wasn’t alone.
Hugh gazed into her heavily lidded eyes and was astounded by the violence of his need to touch her—embrace her. Instead, he took a small step back, even that much a struggle.
“You are magnificent,” he said, his voice hoarse.

His handsome features were taut and intense, but no longer angry. “Daphne—” He stopped and shook his head. Daphne stared into his emerald eye, mesmerized by the gold shards that glinted in the green, like slivers of sunlight through a forest canopy. His fingers tightened and his disconcerting gaze traveled from her eyes to her mouth and then back.
He gave a low groan of frustration. “Oh, bloody hell,” he muttered, just before his mouth crushed hers.
Daphne closed her eyes.
Finally
. The word echoed so loudly inside her head that, for a moment, she feared she’d spoken out loud.
If she had, Hugh did not appear to notice.

Daphne shuddered and grabbed onto his body to steady herself as his gentle sucking set off colorful explosions behind her eyelids. The tautly bunched muscles of his upper body were hard and hot beneath the smooth wool of his coat and her hands traveled the broad expanse of his shoulders toward his neck, lightly grazing his cravat before she pushed her fingers into his thick, surprisingly wiry curls.
He growled and inched even closer, releasing her lip and then pushing at the seam of her mouth with his tongue, as if he was trying to . . . enter her.
Daphne inhaled sharply and the room shifted beneath her feet as he took her face in both hands and tilted her, stroking into her . . . tasting her . . . licking her.

He traced the gentle curves with the tip of his tongue, teasing the thin silk barrier that molded to her lithe body. As he’d suspected—a million years ago at the wretched dinner—her nipples were less than an inch below the tissue-thin fabric of her gown.
Daphne shifted and arched as he suckled her through the silk, bringing the tip to tantalizing hardness before moving to the other, working her until the noises coming from deep in her throat were so hungry he had to see her.
He held her at arm’s length, staring into her sleepy eyes. “You are so beautiful,” he said, his hands moving to the damp, stretched fabric that barely covered her.

She lightly dragged the very tip over his lips, as if drawing his features, leaving a searing trail of heat as she kissed and licked and nipped her way up his scar, pulling his head lower and feathering the torn, tender skin with the lightest of kisses. Before Hugh knew what she was doing she’d untied the ends of the strap that held the patch over his eye.
He moved to grab it, but she flung it away and then clutched his face in both hands and pulled him lower.
“I want all of you.”
He hadn’t believed he could become any harder; he’d been wrong.

He circled his hand over her, stroking her pelvis from side to side until her hips pressed against his palm on the next sweep over her sex.
Hugh smiled at the familiar gesture of need and cupped her in his hand before dipping a finger between her swollen lips. She reacted with a convulsive thrust and he probed deeper, working her with a gentle but persistent rhythm, each stroke a little deeper, a little harder. She swelled around him and her hot wetness told him when she could take more. A second finger joined the first and her hips responded eagerly, thrusting in time to the motion of his hand.
“God, you’re so wet. So sweet and tight,” he whispered, the words causing her body to shake.
Hugh felt as though he’d barely begun when she contracted, her hips bucking hard, as if she couldn’t get him deep enough.

Holding her gaze, he withdrew almost all the way and then filled her with a single slick thrust. Her eyelids fluttered and her body tightened around his and a groan tore out of his chest.
“Touch me, Daphne. Stroke me while I stroke you.” Again he pulled all the way out and drove himself home, harder this time. Her hands began to roam his body, exploring his torso, his chest, his buttocks. He moved faster and pumped harder, driving into her with powerful, deep thrusts, holding nothing back.

She met him stroke for brutal stroke, until his body was about to fly apart. He was afraid he could no longer wait when she contracted around him.
“Yes, Daphne, yes. Come for me.” He punctuated his words with one savage thrust after another. She sank her teeth into his chest, her crisis coming fast and hard and triggering his own petite mort.
Hugh threw back his head and yelled something mindless as he drove himself home and spent deep inside her.

The sculpted muscles of his back and shoulders bunched with controlled power as his blond head moved rhythmically, his skilled tongue and fingers working their magic. Daphne gave herself up to pure pleasure and rode the crest of the wave that had been a long time coming. A wave that built and built until it crashed, taking her with it and pummeling her body over and over, until she was weak, breathless, and limp.
“Hugh,” she whispered, her hands slipping from his hair, where they’d somehow become tangled.

“I—I want . . .” Daphne had no recollection of what she’d meant to say.
He laughed wickedly. “You want . . . this?” He entered her in one slick, endless thrust, driving her in to the mattress with the force of his action.
Daphne groaned, her head falling back, her eyes closing. It was . . . too much, too intense, too—
And then he began to pound her with merciless, measured thrusts, each invasion deeper than the last.
“Your body is heaven,” he gasped, halting his savage thrusting and instead pushing slowly into her, inch by inch by inch. “Take all of me, darling.”
She wrapped her legs around him, tilted her pelvis, and tightened.
“My God, Daphne!” He shuddered violently enough to shake the four-poster bed, lifting her higher, his fingers digging into her hips while he drove into her, his body taut and slick with the strength of his need.

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