Review: The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Bookthehighlander.PNG
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Rebels, #3
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Hero: Lt. Col. William Grant Ruaridh Mackenzie
Heroine: Philomena St. Vincent
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: August 02, 2016
Started On: August 17, 2019
Finished On: August 20, 2019

The Highlander, the 3rd book in the Victorian Rebels series turned out to be my first sampling of Kerrigan Byrne’s stories. Discovering a new author that speaks to you on so many levels is rare and so very treasured, and I intend to go through the back-list of her books in its entirety to sample each and every one of her published works over time.

The hero, 40 year old William Grant Ruaridh Mackenzie (Liam), comes from a place of violence. The fact that his childhood had been a difficult one would be an understatement. With an abusive father who had cared naught for the physical and emotional well-being of his children, legal and otherwise, Liam had been the big brother who had taken most of the physical brunt to protect his younger siblings. But that had not been enough to prevent them from witnessing the horrors of a childhood better left in the darker fringes of one’s memories.

The main story begins 20 years later, with the opening chapter focusing on the heroine, Lady Philomena St. Vincent (Mena), Viscountess Benchley, who has been institutionalized by none other than her husband and his family. Mena who grew up with a father who thought the world of his daughter and brought her up to be an intellectual, kind and generous soul, the horrors of her marriage that are revealed in stages to the reader is something that is as old as time itself.

The mental asylum, which was a norm in the past for husbands to commit their wives to just to get rid of them, is the mother load of horrors. Tortured in ways that really leaves a mark on the reader, some may find those particular scenes to be too disturbing for them to continue with the story. However, that particular aspect of the book does not set the tone for the rest of the book as the author brings to readers the stunning and vivid portrayal of a love that was so worth delving into.

When Mena is rescued and her well meaning and newfound friends sends her away to Scotland to evade the clutches of her husband, it is to the keep of Liam she is sent, where the very first moment she lays eyes on the strong, deeply masculine, and beautiful man that he is, something long forgotten stirs to life inside of her. Liam too is shaken by the very physical and visceral reaction he has towards Mena from the onset, but even though both of them might think to avoid each other hoping that the yearning for the other is a fluke on their part, things of course do not work out that way.

Liam’s haunted eyes that bespeaks of horrors and regrets of his life draws Mena to him like a moth to flame. Mena’s gentle strength and wit that had remained unbroken by the violence she had experienced in her adult life speaks to Liam on a level that he cannot comprehend. However, old enemies stirring in the darkness, tempting and beseeching to turn on Liam might prove to be the undoing of what blossoms to life between him and Mena, if her husband’s search for her does not bear fruit first.

I enjoyed my very first novel by the Kerrigan Byrne. Mena was glorious. Beautiful, kind, and soft, with just the right touch of authority to her which made her appealing on so many levels. I rooted for her with every fiber of my being, wanted the best for her because she deserved nothing less.

Liam’s soul is a broken one, even though he does not let it on. Betrayed and widowed, there is a wealth of unspoken pain in his heart. His inability to get through to his own children is a source of continued frustration for him, that is until Mena comes into his life and shows him what that entails. Drawn to each other by the kind of tangible connection that leaves the reader breathless, Byrne does a marvelous job of crafting both characters and bringing them to life.

The sexual tension that is interwoven into the very fabric of the story was just as enticing, and Byrne definitely delivers without leaving the reader hanging. Absolutely loved this gem of a novel and would recommend it for readers who love historical romances with characters that speaks to you. These are two very broken characters who meet and find their way to a happily ever after. Don’t let the barbarity depicted in the first couple of chapters deter you from reading. I believe we have to take the bad with the good to achieve a balanced nuance in order to deliver a story worth sinking into.

The epilogue was super cute and healing in so many ways. Perhaps, Byrne may write a novella depicting two secondary characters who definitely deserve their story to be told somewhere down the line. A reader could always hope!

Final Verdict: There is a rawness to Byrne’s story that speaks to me. A ruthlessness to her heroes that does things to this wanton heart of mine. The Highlander is marvelous in every sense.

Favorite Quotes

Then she saw him.
Her mouth became dry as the desert, and a tremor that had nothing to do with the cold rippled through her.
Though he wore a soiled kilt and loose linen shirt beneath his drenched cloak, he sat astride a black Shire steed with the bearing of a king. Dark waves of hair hung long and heavy with moisture down his back, and menace rolled off the mountains of his shoulders in palpable waves.
Whoever he was, he was their undeniable leader. She saw it in the way they looked to him, in the deference they used when speaking. If not by birth, then by physical laws of nature, surely. As the largest, the strongest, and the most fearsome of them all, he towered above the brawny men as he scowled through the window at her.

“Och, lass.” Liam beat her to it. “These roses are a jealous flower.” Cupping her hand with his, he pressed a thumb into her palm to secure it before plucking the thorn out quickly, to cause her the least amount of distress.
A tiny drop of blood welled from her fingertip.
Liam had no other handkerchief to offer her, and didn’t want to use the one on the ground, so he did the only other thing he could think of, and slid her finger into his mouth. Closing his lips around the insignificant wound, he watched her reaction with rare pleasure.
She froze, her eyes growing round as two glowing moons.
His body’s reaction was just as astonishing, and just as instantaneous.

Liam sprang toward her, grasping her wrists and pulling her back down to him. He sank his fingers into her luxurious hair, loosening the intricate coiffure there, and pinned her head between his two strong palms as he took her wicked mouth with his own.
It was in the joining of their lips that Liam found what he’d come to the chapel seeking. He kissed Mena with a reverence he’d never felt in the entirety of his life. Driven by a hunger that welled from the darkest, most heretical depths of his soul, he knew he’d finally found something worthy of his worship.

He swallowed her shocked gasp and plundered her with his tongue as though she were a lifelong conquest. Digging his fingers into her ribs to keep from taking what she did not offer him, he deepened the kiss, using his tongue to convey what he could not find the words to say.
She wasn’t the only one who was afraid. Liam was terrified.
Of losing her.
Of loving her.
And at this moment, he was in mortal danger of both.

“Kiss me, Mena,” he moaned against her mouth, his hot, sweet breath fanning over the moisture on her lips. “Touch me. Teach me to keep the demon at bay.”
She could only see the whites of his eyes in the dim light, circling the obsidian of his pupil and iris in such a way that truly seemed demonic.
With trembling fingers, she reached up to softly test the shape of his masculine jaw. Bristle scraped against her fingertips as they explored the raw, hard features that she’d always wanted to study, but didn’t even allow herself to look at for too long, lest she be lost.

Then his hand was there, clever fingers slipping into the wet cleft and touching a place no one had ever before paid attention to. He somehow ignited frenzy into her blood with infuriatingly slow strokes. A curious heat unfolded in her core and quickly caught into a blaze of sensation.
Mena writhed helplessly against him, riding his strong thigh as more heat created more friction, which in turn built the flames even higher. What sort of pagan magic was this? How could hands so rough and raw create such smooth, silken sensations against her most tender skin?

“I can’t,” she cried, feeling her knees melt.
His lips left her with a wet, wicked sound. “Ye will,” he breathed against her most intimate flesh.
“I’m going to fall,” she warned weakly, her hips undulating toward his mouth with mortifying wantonness.
“Fall apart in my arms, lass,” he soothed, his hands caressing around to fill his palms with the flesh of her backside, making a cradle of her hips. “I’ll not let ye go.”

“Can ye take more of me?” he panted.
Mena’s eyes flew open. How could there possibly be more? He withdrew yet again, gazing down at her with dilated eyes as he surged forward. He touched a place inside her she’d not known existed, and Mena tossed her head from one side to the other, letting out a high cry of ecstasy.
“Yes,” he whispered fervently. “I knew ye would take all of me, Mena.” He drove forward again. And again.

When another climax blinded her with pure bliss, she locked her legs around his pistoning hips, pulling him impossibly deeper. Shivering pleasure assaulted her in wave after unrelenting wave.
He roared her name to the sky as her pulsing body gripped and stroked at the swelling length of him. Hot spurts of his release spilled inside her. His great body locked with spasms as he crushed her to him and joined her in that place where right and wrong no longer mattered.

Then they said nothing at all when he pulled her above him and split her legs over his lean, sinuous hips. They’d communicated only in gasps and sighs as she’d ridden him with sensual rolls of her body. He’d palmed her breasts in his warm hands and said wicked things in his people’s native tongue while she pleasured herself upon his sleek and magnificent body. Then, when he could stand it no more, he’d dug his strong fingers into the flesh of her hips and driven upward until he’d bowed with such shocking pleasure, Mena had thought his back would break.

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

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Review: Medicine Man by Saffron A. Kent

Format: E-Bookmedicineman.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Hero: Simon Blackwood
Heroine: Willow Audrey Taylor
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: September 27, 2018
Started On: July 07, 2019
Finished On: July 22, 2019

Medicine Man by Saffron A. Kent is by no means, an ordinary tale. It is unique in the way it is told, the way the story unfolds, and the way that the characters demand nothing less, but all that you have to give. It is classic Saffron Kent, as I have come to find, having gone through her entire back-list of books available. Can you hear my soul weeping because there are no more books I can get my hands on when it comes to her?

Medicine Man begins with 18 year old Willow Audrey Taylor, institutionalized at the Heartstone Psychiatric Hospital for four weeks, where she meets Dr. Simon Blackwood, the son of the founder of the hospital. From the moment Willow meets the 33 year old Simon, who should rightfully be a man out of bounds for a patient at the facility, not to mention the 15 year age gap, there is no denying the way she yearns and wishes to make him take notice of her existence.

Simon might act like he does not care, but as the story delves deeper into the lives of Simon and Willow, the picture that emerges is one that is as heady as it is angst-ridden. The taboo factor alone is enough to drive up the reader’s emotions, and the artful way in which Saffron brings in the heat is enough to take the reader from zero to hundred in just the blink of an eye. The connection that is between Simon and Willow is almost a physically palpable one, and it is hard not to be affected by everything, and I mean, every single thing that happens between the two.

Simon is the proverbial definition of a fixer and a lonely one at that. Perhaps that is one of the residual effects of being one. No one else notices just how much you too are in need of reciprocation of the TLC you give out in abundance. Simon carries a lot of pent of up emotions within him, anger too if you ask me, mostly owing to his childhood and the trauma of having watched his mother struggle with mental illness all her life. Simon has no intention of being roped into the same situation, which is where he would end up if he were to give into his feelings for Willow. However, life has a way of throwing one for a loop, and that is exactly what happens when Simon, against all his misgivings, against all reason and rhyme, takes that plunge into the unknown.

Willow’s story is just as tragic, having being diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of fourteen. Willow had always known that there was something different about her, something a little bit off. Trying to hide all of that, putting all of her effort into being “normal”, or acting as such takes its toll. And for someone like Willow, the toll it can take is hundred times worse in comparison to someone who does not suffer from a mental illness. That is exactly what happens when all of her pretending culminates in her being sent to the psychiatric facility, where she is counting the days until it is time for her to walk away – which she intends to do, until Simon walks into her life.

For a reader like myself, authors like Saffron are rare gems in the world of romance. I say this because the romance genre is increasingly filled with books that are intended to be “politically correct” in every single aspect. Good old fashioned romance and angst seems to have taken a long hike, and is often seen as a mirage on a hot and dusty desert.

Finding an author like Saffron therefore, someone who is not afraid of taking the story where it leads her to is refreshing. To read about the men she writes, far from perfect, and oft times abrasive and ruthless is a novelty. Getting to the end is a heartbreaking journey, yet when they do get there, it serves to be the reason why romance readers by large stick to reading nothing but romances – the happily ever after that brims with hope and all the good things in life.

Saffron takes on mental illnesses as a pivotal theme in most of her books. That is with reason too I believe. It is not easy to read about these issues, because for one, I think more than half of the world battles with mental illness in one form or the other. Diagnosed or otherwise, for most, some days are good, others bad, and the rest are those where you feel hopelessness of battling the disease weigh you down in such a huge way that there seems to be no way out. I am one of the few lucky ones I believe, because I have managed to stay off medication after two bouts of coming down with depression, and lifestyle changes have definitely helped. But there are days when I feel the darkness roll in and every day is a day I battle with my anxiety in one form or the other.

To read about something so intrinsically a part of my life since seven years and counting, I identified with many aspects explored in the book. The struggles,  difficulties, and the triumphs. I know what it is like to celebrate those little victories people outside of the illness cannot fathom. Globally, we seem to be moving towards a point where mental illness is more or less accepted by a larger segment of the population than ever before. When I first struggled with mine, I did not have many people to turn to. And that I believe is one of the biggest obstacles to fighting the effects of the disease; having very few who understands, who empathizes, and who can be there for you through it all.

Medicine Man is a beautiful novel in those aspects and more. Perhaps, some might find the whole premise off putting. But we do find love in the most unexpected of places. It is not unheard of for one to fall in love with their therapist. Unprofessional as it may seem, there are many instances where we are drawn towards what is “forbidden” and “taboo”, and Medicine Man, like many of Saffron’s works, explores what is inherently believed to be those areas of life where we should steer clear from. But fall in love both Simon and Willow does, and therein lies the beauty of the world. Just as you can find cruelty in the most unexpected of places, so can beauty struggle to emerge, and that is what Medicine Man is all about.

Recommended to those who love taboo tropes, a hero who can make you weak in the knees, and a heroine who has just enough spunk to see through to a happily ever after that makes you want more and sigh with satisfaction, both at the same time.

Final Verdict: In Medicine Man, Saffron weaves a tale of a love that should never have seen light of day, with mastery and vivid beauty that is solely her trademark. A love so beautiful, fragile, and strong all at the same time.

Favorite Quotes

“Willow.”
He flattens my cheeks with his hands, asserting all his stupid authority over me. Too bad it only makes me hornier and I have to clench my thighs against the shivers running through my lower body.
“What?” I somehow manage to squeak.
“Shut the fuck up.”
I gasp; how dare he?
But it gets swallowed up by his mouth.
I freeze. It’s happening.
He’s kissing me.

Simon…” I whimper when he lets me come up for air.
“Don’t talk,” he orders and resumes kissing me.
Jesus.
His authority will kill me. I’m so fucking wet right now. I moan with how swollen I am. I’m almost tempted to let go of him and rub my pussy. Shamelessly masturbate as he cures me.

“I play with myself, then. I touch my clit and put my finger inside me. But j-just one finger.”
I feel him grazing the column of my throat with his nose as he grinds his erection into my core.
“Yeah? Why just one?” he growls.
His question coats me in embarrassment and I shut my eyes, biting my lip and shaking my head. Simon doesn’t let me escape though. His hand in my hair moves to my chin and he forces me to look at him.
“Why?” he asks, again.
Swallowing, I tell him, a flush covering every inch of my body. “B-because I don’t want to stretch it out. I want to keep it tight and small for you.”

“God. Simon… this is…” I moan as I begin to move as well, my wet, sticky hands coming off his dick and gripping the side of his shirt.
We both rock against each other, my cunt stretched around his cock so tightly. I whimper, my eyes clenching shut. I wish I could keep them open and see it. I wish I could watch as he thrusts his hips in a rhythm, pumping, the head of his dick hitting my clit.
My pussy is clenching, fluttering with every slide. It’s juicing up, probably preparing itself for that massive shaft that keeps working it. My pussy is hungry. I’m hungry.

I want to scream. I want to shout. But my detonation has to be silent because we can’t get caught.
In the midst of my world getting flipped, Simon lets go of my tender, swollen flesh, and comes up to his feet.
I don’t have time to catch my breath or stop shaking when I’m heaved up again, my spine sliding up on the wall, and Simon’s breathing over my mouth, smelling like the rain.
Smelling like me.
“I’m sorry,” he whispers thickly, and then I feel like someone has stabbed me with a knife, and I stop breathing.
I think I’ve died.
And I’m not happy about it. Not at all.

“Then why were you with them in the first place?”
He growls when I circle my palms over his chest. God, he’s sweaty and hot and his muscles bunch up under my touch. It’s like I control them. His heart is booming, and I can feel it. It’s like I control it too.
“Biology,” he clips as I trace my fingers up and down, trying to memorize him.
I sink my hands in his dark chest hair. “This isn’t biology?”
“This is fucking madness.”
This time I definitely feel the shakes roaring through his body. His restraint is turning me on.
Fuck pain. Fuck everything. I want him to move.

“Does my princess like it?” he rasps in my ear, his hand grabbing the back of my neck in a possessive hold while his lips place soft kisses in my hair.
I buck again at the word princess. If he decides to make a habit of calling me that, I might never come down from this high. I might always be falling. Flying.
I look at him with foggy eyes. “Yes.”
“Yeah. I can feel it. I can feel your pussy loving it. She’s fucking strangling me.”

Hours later, when I go to his office and see the closed blinds and hear the two clicks of the door closing and locking, I don’t feel the same satisfaction as I felt days ago.
“Simon, listen—”
“Don’t say no,” he rasps.
There’s so much anguish packed in those three words that my tears start falling. Like I’m the rain and he’s the cloud that makes me flow.
Does he really think I’ll ever say no to him? If he does, then he really doesn’t know the things I feel for him. The things I’ll do for him. The depths I’ll go to and fall in, for him.
Simon Blackwood doesn’t know anything, then.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: The Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent

Format: E-Booktheunrequited
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher:  CreateSpace
Hero: Thomas Abram
Heroine: Layla Robinson
Sensuality: 4.5
Date of Publication: July 13, 2017
Started On: June 19, 2019
Finished On: June 24, 2019

“You know, Layla, falling in love isn’t bad or wrong or even hard. It’s actually really simple, even if there’s no reciprocation. It’s the falling out that’s hard, but no matter how much you convince yourself otherwise, reciprocation is important. It’s what keeps the love going. Without it, love just dies out, and then it’s up to you. Do you bury it, or do you carry the dead body around? It’s a hard decision to make, but you have to do it.”

First of all, let me start by saying, dear Saffron, I am forever grateful to you for writing The Unrequited. You have literally swung up to the position reserved for the authors that I hold in the highest esteem. That is all!

I quite don’t remember how The Unrequited by Saffron A. Kent landed in my hands. I believe it was through one of my countless search attempts for new books on Amazon, especially after the lackluster book that I had just finished reading. The Unrequited gave me everything I wanted and more, and as a romance reader for life, there is nothing that makes me happier.

Being my first book by the author, I waded into the book cautiously at first. I shouldn’t have even bothered, because I felt right at home from the very start. With the heroine Layla Robinson who hides in her heart unrequited love for a man that had gone unnoticed by everyone else for years, that hopelessness now accompanied with the guilt of being “responsible” for sending him away, Layla is not at all prepared to meet her newest professor in poetry, Thomas Abrams who literally and figuratively takes her breathe away.

Thomas is a man hardened under the emotional assault of a life that had gone awry. Married with a son to his name, Thomas is not the kind of man who should rightfully entice Layla. But then Layla is someone who is adapt at finding men who are emotionally unavailable, or so she tells herself as she unwittingly pursues the heady and wanton feelings of desire and want that sparks to life between them.

There is cheating involved in this novel, there is no escaping that. Saffron does not try to justify it either, but rather, she tells the story as is, leaving the reader to make whatever judgements that they may. Because in real life, our emotions, actions, hesitancy, and  inner fears all bring us to the inevitable conclusion that things are not as black and white as we may like them to be. Or deem them to be. The people who always sit on their high horses and judge the rest for being human, are those whose desires and passions have never been tested, or lead a life that is more hedonistic than most, who hate themselves for it and takes it out on other people.

Thomas is an intense man, a poet, who has lost his muse in the wayward direction his life had taken. He struggles with his burgeoning desire for Layla, going above and beyond to push her away. However, Layla seems to be made of sterner stuff than most, and she comes back time and yet again, and revels in the “punishment” that he doles out for her “misbehavior”.

This was a novel that took my very soul on a journey it has not forgotten four months down the line when I sit down to write my review. Sometimes the hardest reviews you write are for the books that steals the very essence of you, taunts you, haunts you, and makes you revel in the emotional upheaval it gives you.

Thomas, my God, Thomas – he just assaulted all my senses and has not left since. He invaded my emotions and took over my whole being in all his arrogance, wiping out basically every other hero I have read and fallen in love with – hot damn! To see Thomas lose his ironclad control was one of the best parts of this story. At the risk of repeating myself, Thomas is a fascinating man. The way Saffron brings him to life; the rough and hard edges to him, the tender and vulnerable side to him, and the passionate poet within brings remarkable beauty to the story.

I loved how Saffron pushes the boundaries of what constitutes as acceptable romance stories. The aspect of cheating in this story may put a lot of readers off, but for me, this was as realistic as it gets. How Layla comes and basically smashes into Thomas’ life, how both of them are so caught up in this web of desire and want, how all of it is tied together with deeper feelings of tenderness and love, which both of them deny at first, and are forced to face towards the end. I loved how the story did not take readers on other tangents that would have reduced the whirlpool factor when it comes to Layla and Thomas. I dislike it intensely when authors create situations to prolong the inevitable, but what is the point?

There is obsession and desire, and then there is Thomas and his need for Layla and vice versa. While the story is mostly written in the perspective of Layla in the first person, Thomas’ view of how things are unfolding, his painful past and the present give insightful clues to readers along the journey. In Layla, Thomas finds the kind of woman who would give him her all, no questions asked. She matches him, word for word, kiss for kiss, and answers to the needs of his soul.

I love how effortlessly Saffron seems to bring out the best and the worst in her characters, how she so expertly wields the words she uses, often as if she is spinning poetry of her own. The interview on Huffington Post on this book perhaps explains that vibe, because according to her, the story does take its premise from a poetry class she attended.

The tightly wound sexual tension in this book is so darn good. The premise of this book alone lends a sharp agony that twists and turns inside of you, and ain’t that the best feeling? Even with the whole world stacked against the two, there is a part of you that remains hopeful that everything would work out somehow.

There is deep pain in the throes of unrequited love. It is a rather heavy burden for one to carry. But carry it, a lot of us do. Because often, we do not get to choose who we fall in love with. The only thing that we can control is how we act upon it.

The epilogue that was published separately from the story was so welcome after all the emotional wrangling that I went through to read this book – which I am sure all readers who have gone through this story would have appreciated. The endless quotes section of the review perhaps hints at how much I loved The Unrequited.

This is no light and easy read – if you are looking for one, this is definitely not the book you should be choosing. But if what you want is a book that would literally consume you in every single sense, this is the book you definitely should be reading.

Recommended for anyone who loves taboo tropes and boundaries pushed. This is for the readers who have at one point or another in life held unrequited love in their hearts for someone. This is that book!

Final Verdict: The Unrequited delivers perfection at every page you turn. It will dominate your every waking thought because Thomas is the man who is going to eviscerate your heart before you are done.

Favorite Quotes

I’ve got goosebumps under the sleeves of my sweater, followed by flashes of heat. I touch the spine of his book, going up and down the length with my finger. The smooth texture of it causes something heavy to swirl inside my chest. It causes me to bite my lip. As if he’s attuned to my actions, his gaze falls on me. We stay connected a beat before we both look away. For that one beat, I saw his eyes flare, and the blue was so prominent, it took my breath away.

“How did you like the class today, Miss Robinson?”
Busted. I wasn’t paying attention—he knows it, I know it, but still I keep up the charade. “Great, as usual.”
“Is that right?”
I nod, keeping my gaze on the desk.
“Remember what I said, Layla?” His powerful, rich voice creates a buzz inside my body. “Lying might land you in trouble.”
I lift up my eyes to look at him. The buzz escalates into a restless trembling and words slip out of my mouth in a thick whisper. “I’m not afraid of a little trouble.”

I palm his hand that cups my cheek. The dusting of hair over his knuckles grazes my skin. It teases my senses, liquefying them, heating them up. I want to suck on his fingers. I want to taste them after he touches me, taste his flesh after it comes in contact with mine.
I’m assaulted by images of him—his fingers—inside me. Inside my needy core. Petting it, soothing it, stroking it. I picture them curling, hooking inside my channel to coax out my juices and then feeding them to me.
The desire is so strong, so alive that I can’t stop myself from nuzzling in his hand. He grows even hazier, covered by a certain mist, sparkling.
Fuck it. I’m doing it. I’m tasting his skin. Just one lick, I promise myself. It won’t hurt anyone.
I turn my face and peek my tongue out. I make contact with the juncture where his fingers meet the palm. The touch is barely existent. It barely registers in this vast, vast universe, but his taste bursts in my mouth—the strongest, most provocative flavor of salt and chocolate.

Abruptly, he fists my curls and stops me. I look at him fearfully, ready to apologize—not for the kiss, but for being the kisser. His gaze reflects passion, stark, raving need, and I shiver, despite wearing layers and sweating with his heat. “Are you trying to kiss me, Layla?” he rasps, flexing his fingers on my makeshift ponytail. He couldn’t tell? Blush rises to the surface and I know I’m glowing like a neon sign. Swallowing, I nod. “Yes.” He inches closer to me, still not touching—as impossible as that is—but infinitely closer. “You want to kiss me, Miss Robinson, you do it right.”

I rotate my hips, searching for that magical friction against the ridged planes of his body. Then I feel it—his erection against my upper tummy. It’s huge. Hard. A heated rod. It’s alive, and when I move against it, I feel it throb. A tortured moan rips out of his chest.
Thomas tears his mouth away from me and even my soul mourns the loss. We stare at each other, gasping for breath. I’m still clung around him and his cock is still nestled between our aroused bodies. I adjust my thigh around his hip, and it throbs with the small movement.
“Don’t fucking move,” he tells me, emphasizing it with a tug on my hair.

“I can do whatever I want with you and you’ll let me. Isn’t that right, Layla?” He licks his lips as if savoring his own words. “I can tell you to jump and you’ll ask how high. I can tell you to strip and you’ll strip as if your clothes are on fire.”
“Yes,” I moan.
He rewards me by grinding his muscular thigh and my cunt pulses. My lust-addled brain commands me to move, to chase the friction, and I do it. I slide up and down his maddening leg, digging my nails into his scalp as the pleasure mounts.
I feel the angry and rhythmic jerk of his cock on my stomach and I love it. I love the fact that I’ve shed all my inhibitions and am reduced to this, a lust-drunk puppet. I love that it gives Thomas pleasure. He isn’t sad anymore, or vulnerable.
Yes, I love all that.

“You want me to make you a grown-up, Miss Robinson?” His eyes smolder, and I’m glad I’ve got my arms around him or I would’ve dropped to the floor in a puddle. Something is so…weirdly erotic in that sentence.
I don’t have time to analyze it because he begins moving his hips, giving me that sweet friction, and Jesus fucking Christ, it’s the best thing I’ve ever experienced. The pressure is making my wounded pussy bleed cum.

“Fuck.” His agonized whisper brings my attention to his bowed head. I loosen my fingers from where I’ve been strangling the beautiful strands of his hair. “Your pussy is so tight, tighter than I ever imagined it to be, and I’ve imagined a lot.”
My breath evaporates as he looks up. He is aroused, flushed and sweating, yet he appears godlike. How’s that possible when he’s the one on his knees? He’s a beautiful, sexy god who has my sticky juices painted on his mouth and chin. It glistens in the yellow light like liquid fire.
“I’m not proud of it. I don’t want to think about it, but you tempt me, Layla, so fucking much. You make me feel crazy.”

“You think I hate you?” A short laugh escapes him, resembling the bark of an animal. “I don’t hate you, Layla,” he grits out. It sounds exactly like he hates me.
“So you like me?” I squeak.
My naïve question seems to have angered him more. His face is red, the vein on his neck bulging out. It’s scary.
“God, you make me so fucking mad.” He shakes his head. “Do you think this is a joke? Huh? Do you think we’re in high school? Do you think I’m going to kiss you and make out with you and take you to the movies or something? Is that what you think, Layla?”
“N-No.”
“Then what do you think is going on here?”
“I don’t…I don’t know.”

“You don’t get it, do you? I’m not a nice man, Layla,” he warns.
“I don’t believe that.” I fist his shirt tightly. “You’re just lonely, like me. Lonely and brokenhearted.” I let go of his shirt and caress his heated, chiseled jaw and cheeks. “You can touch me, Thomas. I won’t regret it, I promise.”
He shudders under my touch, as if coming apart. This is the most vulnerable I’ve seen him. But then he steels himself, goes rigid. I’m afraid he’ll push me back and send me away, but he hauls my body flush with his.
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” He breathes over my lips.
“When you regret this—and I know you will—just remember that you asked for it.”

He walks closer to me; putting his hand on my cheek, he tips my face up and makes me stare at his gaze. I see desire lurking there and my heart skips a beat.
He wants me. So fucking much.
As if to prove it, he leans down and resumes kissing me. This time it’s even hungrier and more urgent, if that’s possible. I lean into his clothed body, my skin brushing over the warm fabric. It makes me wet and horny and so powerless that I’m exposed and he’s not. It makes me feel like a slut. His slut. Horny and shameless.

I arch under him, making his cock throb between us, and he clenches his teeth. He grabs a chunk of my hair in his fists and stares down at me. There’s anger and satisfaction in his eyes. “You can’t stay still, can you? You can’t stop tempting me for one fucking second.”
“No, I can’t,” I admit. “I don’t know how.”
“You’re always hungry, Layla. Always starving.” He rocks into me, drags his weighty arousal against my stomach, and blows a breath into the nape of my neck. “Why’s that? Huh? Why are you such a cock-hungry girl?”
I moan at his dirty words. God, he’s such a poet, speaking filthy poetry to me.

“Do you like that?” he asks.
I swallow and moan, “Yes.”
“I’ve thought about you like this,” he says in the thinnest of whispers. “Under me, naked and desperate. You moan when I touch you like this but I tell you to be quiet. I tell you to keep it in because I want to hear something else.” He presses his thumb and I bob under the pressure. His erection jostles, reminding me that I’m stuffed full of him.
“Do you know what I want to hear, Layla?” The pressure on my clit increases and I can’t keep the moan inside.
“Thomas… Oh God.”
“Shh. Tell me, do you know?” When I shake my head, he clarifies, “The poem you wrote for me.”

My desire ups with every slide and I forget about the pain. I wrap my legs around his waist and bring him closer. Thomas speeds up his thrusts until he’s slamming into me, grunting like a man possessed.
“Oh God. Oh God. Oh God,” I chant as his hips smash into mine, as his balls slap against my ass. I am sobbing with every jab.
Thomas has gone speechless as he stares down at me, at my rebounding breasts. He is feeding off my moans, my pleasure, my restlessness like a demon. My desperation spurs him on as I meet him stroke for stroke.

Thomas drops his head on my shoulder, his thrusts erratic. It’s a mad race to his own climax, the jerky movements, the rotation of his hips—and then it all stops. Orgasming, he throws his head back, exposing his neck.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful than this, than him. I’ve never heard anything more melodic than his animalistic grunts.

Thomas brings his hand over to my cheek and tries to wipe the salty water away, but I’m filled to the brim with emotions. God, I hurt so much right now. For Thomas. For myself.
“So you see,” he whispers over my lips, ghosting the wet, soft flesh over my plump, salty ones. “You can fall out of love if you’re in love with someone like me.”
As he hauls me even closer and fuses his lips with mine, I can only think of one thing. If I ever fell in love with Thomas Abrams, I’d never fall out of it.

“Caleb wouldn’t do that, would he?” He adjusts the waistband of the useless material so that it cuts into the soft flesh just above my knees. “He’d stop if you asked him to, but who am I, Layla? What’s my name?”
“Thomas,” I answer, quivering as he circles his hot hands along the back of my thighs. My frozen insides begin to melt under his touch. The cold has no meaning, no power over me.
“Yeah.” He rumbles, as if pleased. My breaths shake with the pleasure in his voice. “I won’t stop even if you beg me to. I’ll make you strip in the cold, put you on your knees on the ground and fuck you till I fill you up.”

“You’re so fucking wet.” He bites the juncture of my neck and shoulders, then soothes the sting with his tongue. “Ask to suck my cock.” Another whisper followed by another bite on the neck and a lick of his tongue. He is running his finger up and down my pussy before sliding under the fabric to play with my wet hole, but he never makes contact with my tight bud. He doesn’t give me relief.
“Come on, Layla. Beg me.” The need in his voice supersedes the need in me, and I’ll do anything for him. I’ll forget about my own pleasure and suck his cock, just so I can feel him pulsing on my tongue.

“This is what happens, Layla.” His speech is both slurred and cutting at the same time. “This is what happens when you do something I specifically told you not to. This is what happens when you strut in here in your short skirt and purple fucking coat and give me those big, violet eyes.”
He is panting, keeping up the punishing pace that feels anything but punishing. It feels…intimate, out of control, desperate, and I love it. Every inch of my body loves it. My thighs shake as he predicted they would. My breasts dangle heavy and full, and my tattoo burns bright on my stomach.
“You make me do this.” He rolls his hips, making my eyes water with the pressure. “You make me abuse your mouth.”

“Remember when I told you I’ll set you on fire and won’t even look back?” He strokes my sweaty hair and whispers in my ear, “That’s how I’ll do it, while fucking your ass. I’ll pour the gasoline, light the match, and watch you burn, Layla—and trust me, you’re going to love it. I’m going to ruin you for every other man out there and you’re going to love every second of it.”
God. God. I think I’m dead. I’m in heaven and hell. In another stratosphere. I’m everywhere. He has shattered me with his dark promises, broken me, and I don’t think I’ll ever be pieced back together. “Not today though.” He moves away, one hand on the nape of my neck, keeping me down.
“No. Today I’m going to show you something else. Today I’m going to show you how I burn.”

“Rub your clit. I want you to get yourself off.”
All thoughts evaporate at his commanding voice and I do as he says. I flick my clit and play with my puffy nipples.
“This is what I think about,” he bites. “It doesn’t even matter if you’re around. This. Bursting every door down so I can get to your pussy. All I can think about is fucking you, Layla. All the time. Every time. You’re in my fucking blood, and I’ll tear apart anyone who dares to fucking touch you.”
That’s when I come. My body strains, goes rigid as I come at his confession—a confession that seems to be torn out of his very soul.

I tip up my chin and open my legs, ready for him. Thomas clenches his jaw and in one stroke, jams his cock inside me. I nearly come off the desk, my nails skating along the hard wood. Gasping, I go back down and grab the edge to brace myself, because in the next second, I’m in danger of flying off and crashing to the ground.
His slams are punishing. Brutal. Borderline violent. My teeth chatter with every stroke. My breasts heave and rebound. His grip on my thighs is going to leave marks, I know it, but most of all, it’s the obvious pain of his hip bone hitting the desk that jars me. He is punishing himself as much as he’s punishing me.

He frames my face with his hands so I have nowhere to look but him. “Do you hear those sounds, Layla?” he whispers thickly. “That’s me talking to your pussy.” Then he changes angles, holds himself inside me, rotating his hips, bucking up and down, hitting me in just the right spot. In turn, I hear the sloppy gurgling of my core, a slightly different tone than the previous sounds, wetter and angrier.
“And that’s your pussy telling me she likes it, saying she loves to feel me inside her.” He stops grinding at that and starts ramming with a savage force that doesn’t let either of us breathe. Sweat drips from his forehead, plopping onto mine. “That’s all the talking we need to do. That’s all the fucking talking we ever need to do.”

“Why aren’t you in New York?”
“Because I have to tell you something.”
“Wh-What?”
“You’re beautiful, you know that?” he says, instead of answering my question. Somehow his voice shivers too, a rumbly sort of vibration that I feel in my tattoo. He lets go of the door frame and crowds me, forcing me to take a step back.
He brings his other hand to cup my cheek. His fingers tremble over my skin and I put my hand over them to give them stability. “Thomas, please, tell me what’s going on.”
His Adam’s apple jumps up and down. “No, that’s…that’s not right. You’re not beautiful. I think you’re the most exquisite thing I’ve ever seen.” He licks his lips, his eyes flitting back and forth. “No, not a…not a thing. You’re more than that, Layla. You’re…the poem I can never write. Yeah, you’re the piece of poetry I can never hope to finish, no matter how hard I try.”

He keeps sliding his cock in, and I swear I hear the muscles stretching, peeling away from each other. Oh God. Tears form as I breathe through my nose, trembling with pain.
This was a bad idea. Bad. Bad. Bad.
“Shh…” Thomas caresses my spine with his other arm, trying to soothe my skittish body. “It’s gonna be okay. It’s gonna be okay. I’ll take care of you.”
“Is it…all in?” I whimper.
“No, baby, not yet.” He whooshes out a long breath. His strong thighs vibrate against the back of mine, telling the tale of his control and exertion.
That slip of his tongue, that casually thrown in endearment makes me open my eyes and look at him. Every hollow and crevice of his body stands taut and highlighted. He appears to be made of stone. My fire-breather. My stone god.

He falls over me as his cock pushes out hot cum. I sigh under his delicious weight and we lie in the puddle of our orgasms. His shuddering chest bumps with my back, his arm thrown over my shoulder. I smell his skin, nuzzle my face in the coarse hair of his forearm. His sighs scatter the hair on my neck.
For the first time in a long time, I feel sleepy on my bed. I don’t need the hard surface of the bathtub. My eyes are on the verge of falling shut when I hear him whisper, almost distractedly, “You bring them back…my words.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Withering Hope by Layla Hagen

Format: E-Bookwitheringhope
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Tristan Bress
Heroine: Aimee Myller
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 18, 2015
Started On: June 10, 2019
Finished On: June 11, 2019

Aimee Myller is on the way to get married, traveling to her fiance’s vacation home in Brazil. It is just Aimee and the pilot Tristan Bress alone in the flight, a route that both Aimee and Tristan as Chris’s personal pilot has traversed many a time. However, things go awry and the flight crash lands, leaving both Aimee and Tristan stranded in the middle of the Amazon jungle, with no sign that help is imminent.

Tristan is better equipped to handle survival in the wilderness than Aimee is, but that does not stop her from giving it all that she has and hoping enough for the both of them even when it is futile. Tristan with his experience in the military, carries with him the psychological scars that prevents him from interacting much with Aimee at first. But being forced to spend so much time together, especially with someone like Aimee slowly works its magic on Tristan.

As the days fade into each other, the dangers surrounding the two become all too real. As friendship blossoms and turns into heated desire, it is a conflicted Aimee who decides to bid farewell to the man she had been engaged to, the person who had been her best friend all through her life. For when it comes to Tristan, it is a desire that scorches and a love that refuses to be denied.

The conversations that these two engage in, the fears they share, the myriad of words unspoken; all of that and more invokes feelings that is indescribable as you read along. It is as if they are wrapped in a cocoon that nurtures and cradles the fragility of their love in the wilderness. It is as if at any moment, danger could smash through the walls and take away what both of them holds most precious.

Towards the end, it was sheer agony to turn the pages (you are both hopeful and fearing the worst simultaneously); there was pain, sorrow, and tears. But for a love that had persevered through so much, there is nothing but hope that they would endure to live on.

When the epilogue came, I did not know whether I wanted to bawl my eyes out or smile through my tears. In short, I was a mess. For the very first time in my life as a romance reader, I did not know how I could be so happy and so devastated at the same time.

One reads about the concept of soulmates all the time, especially if you are into romance. But in Tristan and Aimee, I believe that the concept came alive for me, for the very first time. They are literally soulmates in every sense. The ending brought to mind a real life story that my father related to us one day; how two people who had been married for most part of their adult life had passed away, just a couple of hours from each other. There are people who literally die of broken hearts, and that teaches the living that true love in its purest form can exist, even amidst all the cruelties that this world has got to offer.

There is so much that goes on in this story that it is hard to put into words the harrowing journey that these two go through to come out safely on the other side. There is love that surpasses everything else in life and that is the kind that Tristan and Aimee found in each other in the dangerous wilderness of the Amazon.

Though Aimee “cheats” on her fiance, at that point, there is nothing I would have done differently, had I being in her shoes. Because it was as natural as breathing to stay alive at that point, the connection that was forged in the midst of fighting for their lives and nearly losing each other towards the end.

This is a story that should be read with a box of tissues ready. You will not be the same having gone through Aimee and Tristan’s journey towards their happily ever after. Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Layla Hagen’s impressive and evocative writing had me on the edge in more ways than one. There is a beauty to Withering Hope that stays with you long after you are done.

Favorite Quotes

The touch of his lips on mine electrifies me, shimmer after shimmer coursing through my nerve endings. His tongue takes mine in a primal claim. Icy shivers splinter my skin, and at the same time, fire awakens deep within me. I’ve never been kissed like this. Ferociously, with absolute, desperate need. I try to temper the heated emotions building inside me. I try to remember it’s wrong. But that fleeting thought is drowned by the heat igniting his lips and hands, and I surrender. Tristan deepens the kiss until I’m out of breath.

I cradle his head with my arms, forcing him to kiss me even deeper. I’m rewarded with a groan. With one swift move, he pulls me underneath him. His expansive chest pushes against my breasts, and a deep throb pulses low in my body. Desire takes a life of its own when he slams his hips against mine, and I feel his need for me—his hard length strained by the fabric of his pants. In a haze, he frees me of the straps on my shoulders and pushes my dress down to my hips, revealing my breasts. His lips dart to my neck, suckling their way to my collarbone and then to my breasts, leaving a trail of fire in their wake that burns away any ounce of control I still have.

“You’re so beautiful,” he says in a breathy voice. In the moonlight, I see his heavy-lidded eyes raking over my naked body. I’m shaking with consuming need. His eyes meet mine, and my need is mirrored in his dark gaze. He cups my backside greedily with one hand and sinks into my core with abandon.
“Aimeeeeeeeeeee,” he grits in the curve of my neck, the feral sound spearing through me.
His hands are everywhere. Grazing the skin on my thighs, cupping my breasts. His passion pushes me to the edge, until I’m brazen enough to let out without restraint the proof of my own passion.

When I can’t tolerate the ache anymore, I pull him to me, kissing him, and rocking my hips against his. He plunges inside me, filling me, ripping whimper after whimper out of me. His mouth dusts my arms, calling my name in deep, guttural sounds that unhinge me. He increases the pace of his moves, thrusting so deep my thighs wobble. Eagerness swirls up inside me as wave after wave of pleasure engulf me, my body surging forward when my release shatters me.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: Outfox by Sandra Brown

Format: E-Bookoutfox
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Drex Easton
Heroine: Talia Shafer
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 06, 2019
Started On: August 09, 2019
Finished On: August 13, 2019

Outfox by Sandra Brown tells the story of Drex Easton, an FBI agent who is determined to find a killer who has eluded the authorities for years. Drex’s hunt is a personal one, which makes him relentless, willing to bend the rules if they fit the purpose, all to hunt down a serial predator who has bested the system for far too long.

Drex’s hunt finally brings him to a man known as Jasper Ford, married to a Talia Shafer, which in itself is a deviation from the norm. But from the moment Drex meets Jasper, his hunting instincts go full throttle, being finally able to put a face to the man who had killed eight women or perhaps more, if the stealth under which this particular killer operates is anything to judge his kills by.

Drex’s encounter with Jasper is further complicated by the fact that his newly wedded wife, Talia Shafer, gets under his skin from the onset. So much so that his partners and loyal friends caution him against doing something that could derail an already delicately balanced operation. Things reach a climactic point when Jasper once again disappears, driving Drex to take measures into his own hands.

From the beginning, Outfox is a novel that throws the reader off course by a huge margin. One can guess as much as they want to, but apart from a few circumstances, I for one ended up being completely wrong on my hunches (when I am usually right), which made this a stellar read in my opinion.

In short, I loved Outfox and what it delivered. While I will continue to bemoan the fact that Ms. Brown only releases one novel per year now, the fact that what she does release into the market is always stupendous goes a long way towards easing those particular woes.

How Ms. Brown still manages to take my breathe away with every hero and heroine that she brings to life in her books is a factor that continues to confound me, even when I should know better. Her heroes are intriguing to a point where they are sexy without even trying.

There is vibe that her heroes give without even putting much effort into it. Ms. Brown does not have to go on describing each perfectly crafted muscle on the hero’s body to get the reader to sit up and take notice. He just has to walk into the scene and you are a goner. No matter how many books I have continued to read from Ms. Brown, I am still a sucker for her heroes and I would not have it any other way. In true Sandra Brown style, Drex threw every preconceived notion I had of him out of the window, even as the pages dwindled to reach the very last couple of paragraphs in the story.

When it comes to heroines, Ms. Brown creates women of class, seemingly out of thin air. It is in the way they carry themselves, with dignity and beauty to their character which is not just skin deep. There are many factors which makes a heroine stand out, and Ms. Brown does a perfect job of bringing together just the right ingredients to make Drex and Talia inevitable.

The suspense factor was really done well in the story. Outfox is an apt title for the story because somehow, you never quite figure out what is going to happen next. That takes mastery over storytelling that Ms. Brown has damn near perfected over years of publication. And I for one hope that she never stops crafting these gems. Jasper is a villain who was ingenious in the way he works the system, cunning in a way that makes the heart beat just a tad faster. It was not only Talia who felt uneasy during the scenes where Jasper is featured prominently. He is the sort of character who makes your skin crawl, without even trying.

Outfox is a novel recommended for those who love superbly crafted and tightly plotted thrillers. With just the right amount of romance in the mix to appease readers like myself, Ms. Brown seems to have outdone herself, yet again!

Final Verdict: Just when you think you have got everything figured out, Ms. Brown throws you for a loop until the reader is left running around in circles chasing their own tail. Ms. Brown only gets better with time and Outfox is a testament to just that.

Favorite Quotes

“Talia.” He bent his head lower and nuzzled her just below her ear. “This isn’t only doing my job.” He caught the lobe of her ear between his teeth.
She stirred and whimpered his name. He followed the soft expulsion of breath to its source, her parted lips, and covered them with his. Her mouth was hot and wet and receptive when he pressed his tongue inside.
Unlike when he’d kissed her before, this time she didn’t turn her head aside and angle away. Instead she leaned into the kiss, not just with her mouth but with her body.

When he didn’t think he could withstand any more, one hand didn’t slide off at the tip. It stayed. Fingers dripping lather made teasing rotations around the crest, over it, again, as though testing its tautness, and then something wicked was done to the slit.
Through clenched teeth, he strangled out, “When.”

He turned around and hauled her against him. He tried to pause and register all the incredible sensations that holding her wet and naked against him induced, but his brain was functioning on a more primitive tier.
He gathered up a handful of her hair and pulled her head back, tilting her face up to his. He looked into her eyes, then covered her mouth with his. It was a ravenous kiss. He couldn’t get enough of her, and she was as hungry.

He levered himself up and above her—and was shocked to see tears sliding down her temples into her hair. She reached for him, grabbing at him until their mouths were melded and he had pushed into her.
But he went only far enough to secure himself just inside. There he waited, wanting to commit to memory this moment of feeling her around him for the first time. Then he continued pressing into her until he was solidly imbedded.
She hugged him to her tightly, and it was fantastic, but he had to move or he was going to die. He buried his face in her hair. “If I get too rough, slow me, stop me. I want…I want…Oh, God…”
The mating instinct took over. In spite of his best intentions, his strokes became faster and stronger. A slight shift in his position enabled him to reach deeper, and he did. God, did he.

She opened her thighs and guided him in. He hissed swear words as she slowly sank down onto him and began rocking. He grunted with pleasure. “And I thought the first time was good.” He angled himself up in order to reach her breasts. His mouth was hot and avid, and left her nipples wet with loving.
When he lay back, he gripped her hips between his hands and coaxed her, coached her, cajoled her in the raunchiest language. Several minutes later, on short puffs of breath, he said, “Have at it. That’s what I said. But, sweetheart…God a’mighty.”

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

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Review: Too Hard by Alexa Riley

Format: E-Booktoohard
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Erotic Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Butch Barton
Heroine: Harlow Harrison
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: April 04, 2019
Started On: May 17, 2019
Finished On: May 18, 2019

Too Hard by Alexa Riley features heroine Harlow Harrison and hero Butch Barton, Butch being much older than Harlow. Harlow with her fascination for technology and Butch with his own construction company are two people whose lives would never have crossed each other’s had it not being for an emergency plumbing situation that arises at Harlow’s place.

From the moment both of them lay eyes on each other (as it always does happen in Alex Riley novels), these two develop the hots for each other. While Butch does resist at first owing to the huge age gap, Harlow has no such problems as she is a woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get what she wants.

An Alexa Riley is good when you need a smutty novella that would not require much from the reader. While there is the usual dose of sensually charged scenes in the novel, the scenes sort of lose their appeal because of my inability to connect with the characters on a more emotional level. It wasn’t the age factor that put me off, but it felt as if I was just on the fringes, observing two people who had the hots for each other going at it. I wanted more, and sadly that did not materialize in this story.

Recommended for fans of Alexa Riley.

Final Verdict: Too Hard delivers smut well and good, just not enough emotional depth to give the story the wholesome edge it deserves.

Favorite Quotes

I drop the screwdriver from my hand and brace myself with both my palms on his chest. I know this orgasm is going to rock my whole world and I dig my fingers into his shirt as I feel it get closer. My eyes lock with his as I search for something. I’m so close but I need more and I don’t know why I’m not cumming. At first I thought I was going to go over instantly, but now I’m teetering on this edge and can’t go over it.
“Good girl.” His words are my undoing and the unknown thing I was looking for was his approval. That’s all I needed for him to push me over the edge and send me into pure pleasure. I cry out his name and my whole body shakes as warmth swallows me. I close my eyes. I fall into it and let it take me over as a peace I’ve never felt blankets me.

“You’ve got a body made for me.” Her pussy grips my fingers and I groan at the sensation. “I can’t stop now that I’ve had a taste.”
I take my fingers out of her and turn her around so I can lick her pussy. I push back into her warmth and she cries out while I rub on her G-spot and suck on her pussy lips.
“Butch, I’m so close,” she whines, and it makes me feel like a god.

“More,” she whispers, wiggling her lower half, and I know she’s probably soaking wet for it.
“I’ve got plenty where that came from.” I wrap an arm around her waist and lift her up as her legs go around me. I tear off her thong and thrust all the way inside of her wet pussy while still standing up.
She cries out and clings to me, and I hold her steady as I keep moving. “Shhh, just breathe. It will stop hurting in just a second.” I grip her hips and move her up and down, planting my feet on the floor. “Your little pussy is brand new to this, but it knows what to do.”

Purchase Links: NA

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Review: Secret Desires of a Gentleman by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-Booksecretdesiresofagentleman
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Girl Bachelors, #3
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Phillip Hawthorne
Heroine: Maria Martingale
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 06, 2009
Started On: May 16, 2019
Finished On: May 17, 2019

29 year old Maria Martingale is looking for the right place to set up her very own patisserie, when she runs smack-dab into none other than Phillip Hawthorne, the Marquess of Kayne, the man who takes her back on the memory lane from 12 years back.

Maria had been at Phillip’s mercy when he had interfered with the relationship that had blossomed between her and Phillip’s younger brother. Phillip who had always been the proper one, nary a button nor hair out of place, the man who had always taken his responsibilities seriously, a man who in Maria’s eyes would probably have ice running through his veins instead of blood.

An arrangement is struck between Maria and Phillip which puts both of them in close proximity with one another. And thus tumbles forth a story that was beautifully moving in a way that I have almost forgotten that romances could be. Because it has been that long since a book moved me as much as this one did.

Phillip’s ironclad restraint is sorely tested by Maria, who is the very opposite of what he is, bringing forth memories he had thought were no longer his to revisit and enjoy. Upon the death of his father and the debts under which his family was reeling at the time, Phillip had been forced to grow up and assume responsibility way ahead of his time. Perhaps that is the reason why he is such an excellent match for someone like Maria, who is all fire and warmth – a combination that I enjoyed so very much.

There is a poignancy to this story that stemmed from the fact that the main protagonists had a shared past. The memories of it from Phillip’s viewpoint were what moved me the most. It is usually the heroine’s emotions and musings that wreaks havoc on the reader’s emotions and provides a well spun romance with that angst factor that I love so much.

However in the Secret Desires of a Gentleman, it was the hero’s thoughts, desires, and memories that sucker-punched me with a ferocity that shook me to my core. The deep wealth of passion and desire Phillip has held in check for so long which tumbles forth, giving readers tantalizing glimpses of a man who would hold his own when it comes to a woman like Maria; beautiful, vivacious, and full of life was the best aspect of this book.

The groveling towards the end by Phillip was well done. Or I must say, the proposal. I read from a book recently that love is when you are ready to make a fool out of yourself for the one you love and don’t even realize it. That was in essence what Phillips was at the end. The epitome of gentlemanly behaviour, laying himself bare for the world to see, his love unmistakable, his desire for Maria everything she had ever wanted it to be.

I believe that this would be my favorite from the series thus far. Perhaps my favorite book from Laura Lee Gurhke herself. There is nothing more that I love than a hero that unravels so beautifully, given the right woman. Enjoyed this delightful tale in so many ways. I’ve missed books such as this, wildly evocative and emotional in depth, that one cannot help but want more.

Definitely recommended. For the emotional angst, for Phillip himself. Darling Phillip, oh how I love thee!

Final Verdict: Unraveling Phillip is a journey I would gladly go through all over again. There is just something about a buttoned up hero letting loose that speaks to this wanton heart of mine.

Favorite Quotes

Phillip tensed in his chair as she slid her fingertips beneath her braid and began to rub the nape of her neck. She was clearly unaware of his presence, and he knew that in such a situation, offering a slight cough was the appropriate thing for a gentleman to do.
He did not do it.
Instead, he remained perfectly still as she tilted her head to one side and began massaging the muscles of her shoulder and the side of her neck.
She groaned, and with that tiny sound, lust washed over him, an inexorable wave of heat and hunger that was so powerful, he could not move.

His fingers curled around the nape of her neck and his thumb pressed the underside of her jaw, lifting her face. His free arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her hard against him. She sucked in a startled breath, but she had no time to react before he bent his head and captured her lips with his.
The kiss was not tender. It was hard and hot, bruising her mouth, and yet, she felt a thrill like nothing she’d ever felt in her life before.

“What’s wrong, Phillip? Don’t you trust me?”
“I don’t—” He stopped and cleared his throat. He tilted his chin down and met her gaze in the dim light. “I don’t trust myself.”
“I do,” she whispered, and before she even realized what she was doing, she turned in his arms and pressed her lips to his.
“Then you’re a fool,” he muttered against her mouth. His hands gripped her arms as if to push her away, but then, with a groan, he pulled her hard against him.

Kneeling on the floor, he hovered above her. He was breathing hard, but he did not move.
She opened her eyes. His face above hers bore a harsh expression, almost as if he were in pain; a frown creased his forehead, drawing his dark brows together, and his glittering gaze pinned her to the seat. “Maria.”
It was a hoarse whisper. It was a question. It might have been a plea. Whatever it was, she had no time to respond before his body came over hers, the weight of his much larger frame driving the air from her lungs.

When he slid his hand inside her shirtwaist and his fingertips touched her bare skin, she jerked in sharp reaction, for just that light caress sent shards of tingling sensation through her body. When he spread his palm over her breast, shaping it through the layers of her clothing, she arched upward into his hand. “Phillip,” she moaned, “Phillip, oh, yes, oh, please, yes.”
She was pleading for more. More of what, though, she did not know. She could not even guess.
“Damn,” he swore, his lips brushing her skin, his hot breath making her shiver. “Damn, damn, damn.”

“Maria,” he ground out through clenched teeth. “For the love of God…”
He slipped his fingers inside the opening of her drawers. And then he touched her in her most intimate place, and she cried out at the sharp, piercing pleasure of it.
He began to caress her with the tip of one finger in light circles that seemed like torture. She moaned in protest of this exquisite teasing, and pressed her hips up toward his hand.
“Maria, you are so soft, the softest thing I’ve ever felt,” he murmured against her ear. “I knew you would be. I’ve always known.”

He tried one last time to warn her. “I won’t be answerable for my actions.”
“I know.”
He cupped her face, his thumbs touched her soft, soft mouth. “I’ll take your virtue.”
“That’s all right,” she whispered, her lips brushing his thumbs, sending that lust spreading throughout his body. “I won’t tell on you.”
With those words, his reason dissolved. His honor crumbled. Like a dam breaking, the hungry need for her that he’d held back for so long broke through his resolve and poured through his body like a powerful, raging flood.

Shirt and cufflinks hit the floor as she flattened her palms against his chest, and the warm touch of her hands sent his control slipping down another notch. He fought to regain it, but he couldn’t stop the groan that escaped him as she began to caress his bare skin. “Yes,” he said, his voice a harsh rasp in his throat.
“Touch me, Maria. God, yes.”
He tilted his head back, letting her explore him, savoring her curiosity even as he struggled to keep his arousal in check.

“Take off your chemise for me,” he said. “I want to watch you take it off.”
Mesmerized by the heat of his gaze and the intensity of his command, she obeyed. Reaching for the hem of her chemise, she pulled the garment up her body and over her head, then tossed it over one shoulder and shook back her hair. When she looked at him again, she sucked in a sharp breath, startled. Though his expression was grave, as always, she saw something else in his face, something she had never seen there before. Tenderness.
“Oh, God,” he whispered hoarsely. “God, Maria, you’re so lovely. Even more lovely than I imagined.”

She stared at him, appreciating that he had done this very thing to her countless times in his imagination—undressed her, kissed her, made love to her. All these years, he’d had that ribbon, and he’d thought of this, imagined this. That knowledge sent a feeling through her like nothing she’d ever felt before, a feeling beyond physical sensation, a joy so powerful it was like pain, yet so sweet that it was pleasure, and she knew Prudence had been right. She was in love with this man.

“Maria, I want to take you. I want to be inside you. Do you understand what that means?”
“Yes,” she gasped, but when she felt the tip of his shaft pushing between the feminine folds he had stroked with his tongue, she felt a wave of something different. Panic.
“Phillip?” He heard the apprehension in her questioning voice, and he paused, lifting his body above hers. “It’s time, love,” he murmured, nuzzling her throat, kissing her ear. “I’ve waited so long. I can’t wait any longer to have you.”

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