Review: The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended for those who love darkly mesmerizing historical romances.

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

awesomeread

Review: Love in Lingerie by Alessandra Torre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

greatread

Review: Guys My Age by Saffron A. Kent

Format: E-Bookguysmyage.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: New Adult
Series: Mixtape: A Love Song Anthology
Publisher: Shady Creek Publishing
Hero: Fallon
Heroine: Dean
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 07, 2019
Started On: August 02, 2019
Finished On: August 05, 2019

I was born with love for Dean and now that I have him in my arms, I’ll never let him go.

Following on the heels of Medicine Man, Saffron Kent has chosen to bring to her reader-base the story of Fallon and Dean, two people who are on the very fringes of the story, but make a huge impact as you read along. The fact that it is a novella made me a bit sadder than I should have been, because Saffron is an author who delivers such good angst and emotions of the feel good variety when it comes to writing on taboo tropes in romance, and I definitely wanted a full length novel to explore all the dangerous possibilities between Fallon and Dean, and I am pretty certain I am not alone in feeling this way.

Nevertheless, being the voracious reader that I am, and having discovered someone like Saffron whose books I identify with on so many levels, wanted to devour as quickly as I could, and at the same wanted that list to be endless,  meant that I of course went ahead and took this on as my next read! Part of an anthology with a bunch of other readers, I dived into the story I wanted to read and did not even skim through the rest.

It had been fifteen years since Fallon had asked Dean to marry her; she had been three and he seventeen. Fallon had not known what the huge age gap meant at that point in time, but what she had known with utter certainty even back then was how Dean could make her feel good about everything, and even make the sad days feel less so.

Saffron’s books always explore aspects of mental health, which was one of the pivotal themes of Medicine Man; the female lead character who suffers from chronic depression. Fallon too has bouts of it, and over the years, Dean had become her best friend, the man she was in love with, the man whose successful career keeps him far too busy for visits.

When Fallon suggests that they take a five day drive back to New York for Christmas, even though Dean is reluctant, he agrees to her plans, crucial for Fallon’s plans of coming clean with Dean about her feelings for him to be successful. Fallon knows deep in her heart just how special it is between them, and if it is going to take a five day road trip of close proximity with her for Dean to get it through his thick head, so be it.

In a short number of pages, Saffron takes readers through the tumultuous emotions that comes from love between two people that society at large would most likely frown upon. Dean’s sense of responsibility and the way he cares about Fallon and her well-being speaks volumes, while at the same time, he his reluctance to cross a line that he could never walk away from speaks of his discipline.

Fallon, in all her wisdom, knows that there is no other for her than Dean. But to convince that to the man of her undying love and affection, it is going to be a bumpy ride, all worth it towards the end. The huge age gap, lusting after someone who was that young, meant Dean had been hard on himself because it should never be. But who is he to deny the woman he loves when she puts forth such a convincing case?

In Guys My Age, true to Saffron’s style that I have come to adore and fall hopelessly in love with, she manages to take the reader on a ride that they would never forget, be it the story is 70 pages or 300 plus pages. I loved Dean to bits. What’s not there to love when it comes to a man who is sexy, collected, authoritative, knows his heart, and is terrified of losing the woman he loves, but at the same berates himself for loving her so much?

I loved Fallon too! She reminds me in a huge way of her mother, a character I fell in love with from the get-go. I just wish that there had been more in-depth exploration of both Dean and Fallon to go around, before the story had ended. Which is where my wish for Fallon and Dean’s story to have been a full length romance gains strength once again.

I believe it would have been emotionally more satisfying to go through the different phases of their lives together, to see Dean’s struggles owing to his feelings for Fallon and vice versa. The full punch of angst did not emerge because a quick resolution is required in a novella. Nevertheless, I enjoyed their short journey towards happily ever after.

Recommended for fans of Saffron A. Kent. If you are not one and a romance reader, do avail yourself to the nearest book by hers you can get your hands on!

Final Verdict: The conviction with which the young love is often infallible. Some are born knowing who their soul belongs with. That is in essence what Saffron explores with Fallon and Dean’s story. Beautifully told, as always.

Favorite Quotes

His grip in my hair, my breasts flattened against his wildly breathing chest. His mouth slamming into mine as he groans like he’s dying. His hot skin, soft hair and rough mouth.
When we break apart for air, my hands are tugging at the shirt at his shoulder and one of my legs is wrapped around his hips.
“I—I’ve wanted to kiss you for a long time,” I admit to his glistening lips.
“Not as long as I have,” he says.

Pinning me with his eyes once again, he growls, “Stop tempting me, Tiny.”
“I will, if you agree.”
“I’ll burn in hell for this.”
I cock my head to the side and smirk, “I thought you were already burning. Exploding.”
“Fallon,” he warns.
His reluctance is weak, weaker than his desire to claim me; I can see it in his eyes. And it makes me bolder, shameless. “I’m burning too, Dean. I swear. It hurts, you know. I’ve been hurting ever since you went away and every night, I dream of you coming back and kissing me. Touching me where I hurt. In my—” I lower my voice and whisper the word I’ve only thought about in the dead of night “—p-pussy.”
I don’t even have time to catch my breath after that. Dean hauls me up, causing both my thighs to clench around his hips and he claims my mouth in a kiss.

“Y—you’re taking care of me,” I whisper, rubbing my cheek in his hair, feeling his thumb on my clit, his teeth on my neck.
Dean looks up, his eyes intense and full of what I feel for him in every corner of my heart. Love. “Always.”
“I love you, Dean.”
“I love you too, Fallon.”
He kisses me then, and I lose all my words. I lose myself. In him, in his mouth, in his body that’s moving in a slow, smooth rhythm inside me. I don’t feel pressure or pain when he thrusts deep, taking away my virginity in one stroke.
All I feel is my love for him. My lust and hunger and this urge to make him mine forever and ever.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

greatread

Review: Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young

Format: E-Bookbeforejamaicalane_
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: On Dublin Street, #3
Publisher: Penguin
Hero: Nathaniel Sawyer
Heroine: Olivia Holloway
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: January 07, 2014
Started On: April 28, 2019
Finished On: April 29, 2019

It is no secret that I love a good and healthy (sometimes a not so healthy) dose of angst in my romance novels. Heroes who have lost the love of their lives tend to give this factor to a book, and that is one reason why I picked up Before Jamaica Lane as my next read, the third book in the On Dublin Street series by Samantha Young, a totally new to me author.

Before Jamaica Lane tells the story of 26 year old Olivia Holloway who loses her mother to cancer at the age of 21, and hero Nathaniel Sawyer, who had lost his childhood sweetheart to lymphoma at the age of 18, rendering him to become the commitment-phobe that he is.

Olivia’s lack of experience in terms of flirting, talking to the opposite sex in any manner of interest that goes beyond friendship has meant that her love life remains pretty much nonexistent. Though Olivia and Nate have grown to be close friends, simmering beneath the surface on the part of Olivia is an attraction towards Nate she wills away quite successfully, most of the time.

All of that changes however, when Olivia seeks Nate’s help in honing up her skill-set in the seduction of the opposite sex, having grown tired of constantly being on the outside looking in. What starts out as one friend helping out the other, combusts into something more, something that neither Olivia nor Nate are prepared for.

Nate is a man who prefers to live in the past, someone who has never moved on from the tragic loss of the love of his life. It is as if Nate himself has become the shrine to the woman he had lost, and Nate avoids entanglements at any cost that could jeopardize his lifelong mourning.

Nate does not take to it kindly when he discovers that his feelings have definitely become more where Olivia is concerned. The blow-up that happens as a result was raw and emotionally draining as they come. The real conversations that Olivia and Nate have at different points in the story served to be one of the best aspects, which gives the tale such emotional depth that you cannot pull yourself away from any of it.

Nate’s character was one that I fell in love with, right away. There is this quality to him whereby he is equal spades charming, kind, and so effing sexy that it takes your breath away; he just sort of makes you literally swoon on the spot. And oh my stars, can the man kiss? I believe his kindness was the aspect that pulled me in the most (yes, me, who loves villainous heroes). It goes to show that if an author crafts a character well, the unexpected can always happen. Of course, it does help that Nate is a force to be reckoned with in the bedroom, when and where it matters.

Olivia was just as wonderful. I could not have asked for a better heroine in terms of the tale that unfolded. Even with her insecurities that were understandable, rising up to the challenge, putting herself out there, and taking charge of her love life was something I wholeheartedly supported. Even when it came to the inevitable point of no return between her and Nate, the fact that Olivia believed that she deserved better, that she deserved it all, made me want to stand up and give her the biggest hug she had ever received in her entire life.

Before Jamaica Lane is a story that needs to be read by anyone and everyone who loves romances, angst, and the reawakening of a hero who had lost himself to grief. Wholeheartedly recommended.

Final Verdict: Before Jamaica Lane is a novel that carries enough emotional punch to fell you in one single swoop. Nate will claim your heart and Olivia your soul. This is that book.

Favorite Quotes

His mouth parted, letting me in. I flicked my tongue against his, and suddenly I wasn’t in it alone. He moved his lips against mine, gently licked at my tongue until all I could taste was sugar and beer and Nate. Our kiss deepened.
Goose bumps rose all over my arms, and my breasts swelled against him.
He groaned, the sound vibrating in my mouth.
My fingers tightened in his hair. I couldn’t even remember putting them there.
My chest was pressed against his. I couldn’t remember him putting his arm around me to haul me close.
God, he could kiss.

The pressure built between my legs, and frustration grew along with it. I needed more. More somehow. Clasping my hand around his neck I pressed my knee between his to bring me that little bit closer. Wanting a deeper taste, I sucked on his tongue.
A growl rose from the back of Nate’s throat and suddenly I was pushed away from him. The absence of his mouth was almost painful. It took me a minute to come out of the fog of desire to realize Nate was staring at me wide-eyed, panting.

When that hot mouth of his closed around my left nipple, my hips slammed against him in reaction. ‘Oh, God.’ My thighs gripped him as I urged him closer, my back arching for more as he first licked me and then sucked hard, all the while pinching my other nipple between his forefinger and thumb.
I felt a wet rush between my legs.
‘Nate.’ My fingers dug into his shoulders. ‘Oh, God …’
He lifted his head, his eyes black as he undulated against me, his dick pressing between my legs now, only the fabric of his boxer briefs shielding me from its throbbing heat. ‘You like that, Liv?’ he asked, his voice thick. ‘Like me sucking hard on your nipples?’
I flushed at his crude question but found myself nodding quickly. ‘Yes, I like it.’

At first I was frozen by the foreignness of having him in my mouth, tasting him, feeling him as if he were all around me, as if there was nothing else in the world but him. It felt odd. It felt alien. And I was afraid I just wasn’t cut out for this part of sexual intimacy.
Until I looked up at his face from under my lashes.
This was Nate.
I gathered my courage.
I began to do everything that he asked, and as I did I watched him – watched the color rise in his cheeks; watched the way his chest rose and fell in rapid breaths; watched his fists curl in the sheets around him; watched his mouth open on pants; watched the sheen of sweat build across his skin; watched his abs ripple. And I got off on it.

My breath stuttered as I felt his tongue push the fabric against my clit. ‘Nate,’ I whimpered, my right hand moving to curl in his soft hair. ‘Please …’
He relented, leaning back to remove the panties. I tried to help, but my legs were shaking. After he peeled them off, Nate slid his hands around both my calves and glided his fingers upward. ‘You’ve got fantastic legs,’ he told me quietly. ‘I remember one night while we were watching a movie and you were wearing leggings. It was the first time I’d seen you in anything that showed the shape of them.’ He kissed the inside of my knee and looked back up at me with a fierceness that made me throb. ‘You stretched them out, feet up on the coffee table, and I couldn’t stop staring. I couldn’t believe you’d been hiding those long, gorgeous legs. I dreamt of your legs that night, Liv. I dreamt they were wrapped around my back while I fucked your brains out.’

He was slow and tender, his hands gripping my thighs lightly as he slid in and out of me, every stroke a gradual climb toward climax. His eyes drank me in, watching me pant beneath him, watching my breasts quiver gently against his thrusts, and suddenly he was pushing that little bit harder, moving that little bit faster. ‘Liv, come for me, babe,’ he commanded, his voice guttural. ‘You’ve got to come for me.’

Straddling him, I gripped his hair in my hands and kissed him hard. His arms banded around me and just as easy as that, Nate took back control of the kiss.
Fine, no kissing.
Pulling away, I gently pressed him back with a hand to his chest.
‘Well?’ he asked, his voice low, eyes questioning. ‘What now?’
In answer I began unbuckling his belt, quickly unbuttoning his jeans so I could slip my hand inside. Nate hissed as I fisted him.
‘Feel good?’ I purred across his mouth, a part of me floating on the outside of this little scene and wondering who the hell I thought I was.

‘Take off the nightdress,’ Nate insisted. When I didn’t move, he rubbed a hand over my thigh, his expression gentling. ‘Liv, I want to see you.’
I stilled, tilting my head to the side as I studied him carefully. ‘You do?’
There was so much more in my question than I wished there was.
And just like that Nate understood completely. ‘I want you. I want you to ride my cock and I want you to ride it hard. And then afterwards I want to sit with my friend, eat some food, and watch a movie with her. I’m not going anywhere.’ His grip tightened. ‘Now take off your nightdress.’

I whimpered against his mouth as he sucked in a deep breath.
And then I moved.
I tried to go slow, to take it easy, to build it, but I was too impatient, too desperate for it.
Too greedy.
Too inexperienced.
Yet Nate let me control it.
And by his doing so, we both came hard but much too fast.

I tried to move my arms, but they wouldn’t budge, and I was wickedly surprised to feel swift arousal move through me at the feeling of being completely under his control.
His to do with as he pleased.
With a growl of need he slammed into me and all I could do was take it as he pounded me into the mattress, my cries growing louder and louder until an eyes-rolling-to-the-back-of-my-head orgasm shattered my insides and I screamed his name upon beautiful release.

‘What? You think a bit of leg cramp will turn me off you?’
I half shrugged again.
Nate’s weight lifted from my back, but as he sat up his hands gripped my hips. He jerked my body up so I had to bend my knees to steady myself. I rested on my elbows, the breath whooshing out of me as I stared at him over my shoulder. ‘What are you doing?’
He caressed my ample bottom, his eyes filled with a dark intensity as his knees nudged my knees apart. Without a word he slid inside me.

‘This is me and you,’ he panted, driving faster and harder into me. ‘Don’t ever run. Not from me.’
‘Okay.’ I shook my head against his shoulder. ‘Okay.’
He stilled his fingers on my clit. ‘Promise me.’
‘Nate, don’t stop, don’t stop,’ I whispered hurriedly. ‘Please, I’m so close. I’m so close.’
He rocked up into me and stilled.
‘Nate!’ I keened, my hands dropping to his hips, gripping him behind me. ‘Please!’
‘Promise me. Tell me you won’t run.’ He bit my ear, the nip almost painful. ‘Tell me you won’t run from me ever. And then beg me to fuck you.’

I only had a moment to see the anger flare in his eyes before he rushed me. I found myself gripped by the nape of the neck as he hauled me up against him and started kissing me. It was rough, bruising, nipping, biting, and I gave as good as I got.
Breathing harshly, Nate pushed me back on the hood, insinuating himself between my legs. Shoving my dress up, he leaned over me, eyes black as the night around us, and I arched into his mouth as he pulled the straps of my dress, and the bra underneath, down to allow his lips access to my naked breasts. His hand slid along my inner thigh, his fingers dipping under my panties and pushing inside me.
I cried out as he cursed hoarsely at finding me wet and ready.
And then it was all about desperation.

At first he was rough, wild, hot. I let him kiss me. I let him undress me. I let him lead me into my room. I let him caress every part of my body.
Somewhere along the way he turned tender.
I let him slide inside me and take me slowly, beautifully. I closed my eyes.
‘Don’t,’ he said gruffly, grasping the back of my thigh to change the angle of his deep, slow thrusts. ‘Look at me. Give me those eyes.’
So I let him look into my eyes while he made love to me, until I came with tears in them.
I let him push my uncertainty aside.
I let him back in.

Shoulder blades pressed against the wall, my breasts heaving with breathlessness, I widened my stance, causing Nate’s nostrils to flare. ‘I want your thick, hard cock inside of me now and I want you to fuck me against this wall until we can’t breathe.’
I barely got a chance to see the way his lower abs jerked at my words before he was on me. His kisses were bruising as he slammed into me, pushing his jeans down to free his dick, seconds before he wrapped his hands around my legs, sliding me up the wall, angling my body just right.
He thrust into me.
Hard.
Deep.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

fantasticread

Review: The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

amazingread

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Format: E-bookeleanorandpark
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Hero: Park
Heroine: Eleanor
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 26, 2013
Started On: September 07, 2016
Finished On: September 08, 2016

Rainbow Rowell is an author who is completely in a league of her own in the way she makes her characters and stories come alive with so much emotion that it practically hurts you – but in a good way. Eleanor and Park is no exception to this rule, and though the ending was a bit hasty for my tastes after the grueling bouts of angst that Rowell puts readers through, this is a story that has stayed with me long after I was done with it.

Eleanor is the new girl, who with a style that does not fit in with the rest, makes Park want to get away from it all. But even then, with all his misgivings about her, he does slide over in the bus and gives Eleanor the seat next to him to sit. Thus Eleanor and Park finds themselves going through the motions of friendship which grows into something tender, stronger and wilder by the turn of each page, all right before your eyes. Their love unfurls in a setting that is as simple and ordinary as they come. At the back of a school bus that ferries them back and forth day in and day out.

While Park has a relatively good life, Eleanor’s is one that is filled with horrors of the kind we would all rather not even think about. The fact that her mother does try to protect her does not mean much in the face of what is as inevitable as night turning to day, and one cannot help but be appalled, scared and wanting to grab Eleanor right out of the pages and provide her with a safe haven.

Like most readers I believe, I loved the bits where Park started to communicate with Eleanor in subtle ways at first, which developed into something that was so wonderful that it made my heart ache. I could not put this down from the minute I started reading, and I would not have had it any other way. Eleanor and Park is a story that is meant to be read in one sitting, a story that is meant to be devoured, if nothing else, just to feel the thousand and one emotions that courses right through you from start to finish.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: A love that leaves you aching and wanting; Eleanor & Park is a novel not to be missed!

Favorite Quotes

“I read it again twice last night. You can take it tonight.”
“Yeah? Thanks.”
He was still holding the end of her scarf, rubbing the silk idly between his thumb and fingers. She watched his hand.
If he were to look up at her now, he’d know exactly how stupid she was. She could feel her face go soft and gummy. If Park were to look up at her now, he’d know everything.
He didn’t look up. He wound the scarf around his fingers until her hand was hanging in the space between them.
Then he slid the silk and his fingers into her open palm.
And Eleanor disintegrated.

“I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…”—her voice nearly disappeared—“think I live for you.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath. That’s probably why I’m so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?”

There’s only one of him, she thought, and he’s right here.
He knows I’ll like a song before I’ve heard it. He laughs before I even get to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes me want to let him open doors for me.
There’s only one of him.

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

greatread

ARC Review: Chasing Chris Campbell by Genevieve Gannon

Format: E-bookchasingchriscampbell
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher Australia
Hero: Harry Jay Potter
Heroine: Violet Mason
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 1, 2015
Started On: November 15, 2015
Finished On: November 18, 2015

Chasing Chris Campbell by Genevieve Gannon is a novel that completely surprised me and delivered such entertainment that it will be hard to forget the magic that Genevieve Gannon wove with this number. Genevieve is a completely new to me author whom I stumbled across only because of Netgalley. Chasing Chris Campbell is an apt title for this novel because the heroine Violet Mason chases the man of her dreams (or so she thinks), all over Asia and then some, until she realizes her worth and comes to accept the fact that the only one responsible for charting the course of her happiness is herself.

Violet is in a relationship with a man whose idea of a future together is to be frugal and save until there is no spontaneity in their shared lives. When Chris once again walks back into her life, Chris being the one that got away, Violet is determined that she would follow him, even if it means leaving everything that is dear and familiar to her behind. From the busy streets of Hong Kong to Goa of India and then to Nepal, Violet goes on an epic journey of a lifetime where she discovers the beauty of shared experiences as well as the life lessons that come associated with leaving behind one’s comfort zone.

Violet being a germophobe and a vegetarian makes things doubly difficult for her in certain aspects but it does bring out the sort of ambition in her that otherwise might not have materialized. I had such a good time reading and enjoying the antics of Violet’s life and her attempts to make Chris notice her. And just like anyone who is smitten with the person who is wrong for them in all the ways, Violet too doesn’t realize the worth of the man she meets along the way. But it all does work out well in the end.

The best part of the novel for me was the journey itself. Violet learning the ropes of letting go, of letting things work out for themselves and of her wising up enough to know what she wants and needs. This book had a little bit of everything going for it. A bad breakup, unrequited love, the one you meet in the midst of it with whom the timing was off but turns out to be the best thing that could have happened to you, which all made for wholesome reading.

I absolutely loved the author’s voice. It was refreshing, insightful and a bit quirky with big doses of humor of the kind that makes you laugh and snort your way through the story. Chasing Chris Campbell even suffices as a travelogue because it brought so many aspects of traveling alive. The descriptions through Violet’s eyes, tinged with the humor of the sort that is hard to pull off was just the icing on the cake for me. Not overly descriptive but somehow just the right touch to give the reader that sense of what it was like. Having being to India, I could just vividly recall back everything about it that makes it so alluring. The good and the bad. And sharing Violet’s journey with her as the reader who was cheering for her on the sidelines, I very much wanted to pack my bags and leave to India for a sojourn too.

One of the bits about the journey to India that just had me hooting with laughter because I have been there myself was this.

Despite my claim that I wasn’t afraid of flying, Air India seemed qualified to instil that fear in anyone. The engine whirred and the seats started to shake as we began our shunting journey down the runway. As we sped up, the engine noise grew louder and louder. I wasn’t sure if we were going to lift-off or explode. I felt like cheering when we left the ground and things seemed to smooth-out.

It is books like this that makes me want to travel, to explore and to store up the experiences in my heart so that I can revisit them later. But it is books like this that allows people like us who can only afford to dream about traveling to visit places. That alone in my opinion makes the book worth a read!

Recommended.

Final Verdict: Refreshing & insightful with just the right touch of humor. Loved!

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

greatread