Review: Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookonceuponamaidenlane.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #12.5
Publisher: Forever Yours
Hero: Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell
Heroine: Mary Whitsun
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 14, 2017
Started On: June 02, 2018
Finished On: June 03, 2018

Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt, a novella set in the Maiden Lane series is readable as a standalone. However, for the diehard fans of the series like myself, the story of Mary Whitsun, a character that we have witnessed growing into her womanhood is definitely one too good to pass up on.

Set in 1747, London, Mary is out and about on her full day off for the week, browsing in a bookshop when she encounters Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell. The chance meeting changes Mary’s life forever in ways she has never expected, and before she knows it, she is taken into a residence of confluence and finesse, as a family’s long lost daughter and finds herself to be betrothed to none other than Viscount Blackwell himself.

Mary has a lot of adjustments to make when it comes to settling into her new life. The most unsettling aspect of it perhaps being the way her body responds to Henry. Building castles in the air is not for the likes of Mary, but she does get drawn into the web of desire, sensuality, and want that is Henry in his entirety. But ofttimes, fate has a cruel way of taking away from you what you want the most, unless you are willing to make a sacrifice that could either make or break you.

I loved Once Upon a Maiden Lane, undoubtedly so. After being a trifle bit disappointed with certain aspects of the last book in the series, Duke of Desire, I was totally enamored by the charged sexual tension deliciously entwined with the rest of the story as it happened along.

I loved both Mary and Henry, and couldn’t have asked for more. Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: Once Upon a Maiden Lane is a succulent little morsel of a delight. Loved, loved, loved!

Favorite Quotes

He examined her as if he could see through the silk of her bodice, through the whalebone of her stays, to all her vulnerable places underneath.
She felt her nipples tighten almost painfully as he watched her, and she wondered wildly: did he know what his examination did to her?
Did he know that her center was melting because of his eyes?
Holding his blue gaze was an almost-unbearable torture.
Just a corner of his mouth curled up as he stared into her eyes, and she had her answer.
Oh, he knew all right.
The realization should’ve sent her running from the room in embarrassment. It didn’t.
Instead she raised her chin in challenge.
The curl of his lips widened into a true smile.

She’d never been kissed before.
This…this was…a revelation. His mouth was hot on hers, his chest firm. She could smell him. A lemon scent, perhaps from his hair, and a hint of tea.
She felt her controls slipping. Felt him urge her on—toward what she wasn’t sure. She mustn’t. She mustn’t.
But part of her wanted what he offered.
Freedom. Sensuality. Bliss.
His tongue ran along her bottom lip. She tentatively opened her mouth, answering him, gasping in sudden wild heat when she felt his tongue touch hers.
Only to have him abruptly let her go and step back.
“I beg your pardon,” he said, his voice husky. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

He stepped closer so that his chest almost, almost touched the tips of her breasts, and she was forced to tilt back her head to keep her eyes locked with his. He bent and murmured in her ear softly. Intimately. “Only a small time to learn your likes and dislikes. Your favorite foods. The thing that disgusts you the most.” He paced around her, and she was reminded of how he’d stalked her in the sitting room. His voice came from over her left shoulder. “What authors you like to read. What you look like when you laugh from your belly. How your tears fall. If you like to stroll in the morning or if you’d rather laze abed. If the sound of an orchestra makes your heart sing or leaves you unmoved. How to make you smile and how to make you sob.”
His breath was hot in her right ear, and Mary shivered, closing her eyes to keep herself calm.
“I want to learn all of you. I want you to know me in return. When I next kiss you, I want you to welcome my lips like a lover instead of a stranger.”
She inhaled sharply. This was like a waking dream, for this man, this fascinating, handsome aristocrat to speak to her so bluntly.
So passionately.
“Do you want that as well?” He was in front of her now.
“Yes,” she said, opening her eyes to meet his gaze boldly. “Yes, I do.”

He took possession of her lips without any sort of hesitation, parting them and running his tongue along the inner edge of her bottom lip.
Mary stifled a moan as pleasure burst through her body.
She’d wondered if what she’d felt with that first kiss might just be an oddity. Something that couldn’t be replicated.
But it hadn’t.
It was he—Henry.
He slid his tongue into her mouth, moving forcefully even as he angled his face against hers, his arms pulling her close against his chest.
She felt taken. Captured. As if he commanded her at the moment.
As if he could do anything to her.

He lifted his lips from hers and looked into her eyes.
“That’s it,” he said, unsmiling. It was as if he were searching for something. “You’re so beautiful like this. So open and wanton, all your defenses down. I want to keep you like this forever, hanging on the edge of my hand, weeping over my fingers, desperate and undone. Mary, my Mary. Darling. Let go for me and only me. Let go for me now.”
And she did, her soul, her body flying apart.
She let go and fell, her limbs shaking, gasping for air. It was awful. It was bliss. It was like nothing she’d ever felt before.
And when she opened her eyes she saw his eyes locked on hers.
His beautiful, witty mouth was twisted, and his gaze was somehow tender. “Darling Mary, you destroy me.”

She clutched at him. At his buttocks and his shoulder. Moving her hips up to meet his descent. Spreading her legs even wider.
Feeling the jolt when he rubbed her just there.
Sweat slicked his back, hot and real, and he moved faster now, his hips thumping into hers.
She felt the tension build, felt his penis thrust in and out of her, felt her body coil tight.
He hitched his hips and made a swiveling motion on her and stars exploded behind her eyelids, white and sudden, hot and bright, shattering her.
She gasped into his mouth as he kept kissing her, his tongue claiming her, his lips rough and hard.
Until he jerked his mouth from hers and gasped, his head arching back, his eyes squeezed shut. She could feel heat pulsing into her even as he cried out her name.
She watched him, wanting to remember this moment forever.
She. She had brought him this pleasure.

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

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ARC Review: My Roommate’s Girl by Julianna Keyes

Format: E-bookmyroommatesgirl
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Aidan Shannon Shaw
Heroine: Aster
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 12, 2017
Started On: May 04, 2018
Finished On: May 08, 2018

I have been a fan of Julianna Keyes ever since I discovered her from one of those chance reads I took on Netgalley. Julianna has a way of writing that delivers stories that maintain a realistic edge, and at the same fulfill the yearnings of the romance reader for the angst-ridden and sexy reads that make our day. Plus, Julianna always has a unique tangent to her writing, with twists to existing tropes that makes her books so worth your while.

My Roommate’s Girl toting a gorgeous cover, is written in the first person, told from both Aidan Shannon Shaw, the hero’s, and Aster, the heroine’s point of views. Aidan meets Aster through Jerry, his roommate, whose girlfriend turns out to be none other than Aster. From the moment Aidan lays eyes on Aster, he wants to have her for himself, he needs to have her. But there is of course that little pesky problem of the boyfriend who stands in his way. So sets Aidan on the course that would deliver Aster into his arms, as conniving and manipulative as it sounds.

What unfolds next was not by any means predictable. One would think it would be, given where the story was headed, but the way Julianna peeled back the layers to both Aidan and Aster was truly masterful.

Aidan’s character is easier to figure out in a way; the troublesome background, the way it had been easier for him to fall in with a bad crowd and lose his way. Until a judge had seen through his belligerence and decided to give him the chance to clean up, or else. But like a tweet I came across just today, “the devil works hard but peer pressure works harder”, and that is exactly the case with Aidan as well.

Now Aster, she is the true gem of the story. Her character managed to surprise me at every single turn, and that is no mean feat for someone who reads through so many romance novels and can often predict character behavior from a mile away. But damn, Aster certainly managed to shake my preconceived notions and then some. I felt proud of her for identifying with what had happened, and even fighting back just as dirty to get even. But then again, Aster did not take into account how seductive it is to be stripped bare of all the fronts she has put up, and to be seen exactly for who she is; not the image of perfection that she presents to the rest of the world, but a woman with faults and flaws of her own, someone who learnt from her past and aims to never go down that path again.

Like every single hero I have read from Julianna, Aidan is sexy personified. From his dirty blond hair and that raw physique of his, to the way he wants Aster with every fiber of his being; all that and more made him pretty alluring. Even though the only way Aidan knows to get what he wants is to fight dirty, with Aster, he finds that his conscience doesn’t allow him to be half the douche bag he could really be. For him, Aster is the woman that makes it all matter; she makes him want to stand steadfast on the path of the straight and narrow.

I loved Aster just as much. The fact that she had been able to leave a difficult past behind and clean up her act, that spoke volumes when it comes to the strength of her character and the kind of person she is. And she proves to be just that, honest and kind where it matters. I loved the ending, the way it all came together and how everything worked out. There is nothing better than a happily ever after for a couple you root for from the very beginning, even when that beginning might be the furthest thing from perfect.

Recommended for fans of romances that deliver unusual twists and turns that makes the book that much more worth it.

Final Verdict: My Roommate’s Girl delivers a succulent tale that is trademark Julianna Keyes, with characters that are relatable, and a happily ever after that I rooted for from the very beginning!

Favorite Quotes

I kiss her.
I don’t even think about it, I’m just acting on instinct. The hand on her hip slips around to the outside of her arm, up to her shoulder, her neck, fingers curling into her nape. She doesn’t move, doesn’t look away from my mouth, and the soft flutter of her lashes is the last thing I see before my lips touch hers.
She makes a tiny sound when our mouths meet, and I feel a tremor roll through her, like a frisson of energy arcing from her body into mine. I fumble behind me to stick the spoonful of melting ice cream back into the carton, only fifty percent sure I manage the task, a hundred percent sure I don’t care.
I cup her face with both hands, feel her silky hair teasing my fingers, the softness of her mouth, her breasts pressed against my chest. The tip of her tongue touches my bottom lip at the same moment her hand comes up to stroke my cheek, and I leap away like I’ve been electrocuted.

“Aidan,” she moans again.
“What…do…you…need?” I grunt out. Sensation is rocketing up and down my body, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, things I’ve never felt before and don’t know what to do with.
When I first saw Aster, first thought of fucking her, I didn’t think it would be like this. I thought she’d be prim and proper, maybe ride me like a dainty cowgirl. I thought I’d dirty her up, scandalize her a bit.
Now I don’t think I could scandalize Aster if I tried. She fucks like it’s the most natural thing in the world, like my hands pulling her hair is the thing she likes most. Like my mouth on her nipples and my cock plowing into her is something she lives for. I want to earn those responses. I want to hear them. I want to taste them.

When I first arrived at Holsom, I was terrified. It was new and strange and even among thousands of students, I felt hopelessly alone. Meeting Jerry helped, but I never truly relaxed. Never felt like I belonged. I thought I might, one day, but even after a year of dating I knew that deep down, he never really knew me because I never really let him.
Aidan knows me. I only let him know me because I thought I’d never see him again, but here we are, out in the middle of nowhere, and I don’t feel alone at all. I feel like he sees me and he’s totally okay with what he sees. Scars and all.

At long last I’m seated, his cock buried inside, taking a moment to adjust to the aching fullness. I grind my forehead into his shoulder, feeling him, feeling everything, and he lets me take my time, no pressure, no hurry.
I shift so my lips find his neck, his racing pulse betraying his laidback demeanor. I flex my thighs and lift up slightly, then slide back down, finding an easy, unhurried rhythm that makes everything inside me go soft and molten.

Aidan drops his hands from my hair and I see him digging his fingers into the sand at his sides, trying to hold on. Trying to wait for me.
That’s what sends me over. The sight of this man, weak but still so strong. Hard, solid, tough, sweet. A study in contradictions.
I come with a soft cry, stifling the sound in the curve of his neck, tasting his sweat on my tongue. My body spasms in long, slow waves for what feels like an eternity, and when the orgasm ebbs away Aidan jerks beneath me, hips pushing into mine as he anchors me with his hands on my waist, holding me in place while he takes what he needs.
My limbs feel like jelly, like there’s no earthly way I can stand, no possible way I’ll be able to hike back. I lift my head and absorb the quiet forest, the pristine lake, the boundless sky. This is the farthest from civilization I’ve ever been, but out here, with just me and Aidan, I’ve never felt closer to home.

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

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Review: The Thief by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookthethief.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #16
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Hero: Assail, son of Assail
Heroine: Marisol Maria Rafaela Carvalho
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: April 10, 2018
Started On: April 25, 2018
Finished On: May 04, 2018

The sixteenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward brings to readers the much awaited story of Assail, son of Assail, and Marisol, the beautiful human female that has haunted him in a way that no woman ever has before. Both Assail and Marisol are characters who have more or less led a life of criminal activity. Marisol because it had been the only way of life she had known and grown up with, the kind of life that had meant security for her grandmother for whom she would do just about anything, even if it means walking away from the one man who makes her soul sing.

Assail had fallen into the life of crime mostly out of a need for something to validate his existence. After the attack of the Lessers on the members of the glymera (vampire aristocrats), Assail had taken over the drug trade that had been left solely for human traders ever since Rehvenge left that part of his life altogether. Along the way, Assail is seen as someone for whom there is no line he would not cross, even if it means trading with the Lessers themselves. It is not about the money for Assail, and his dangerous habit of indulging in the goods takes its toll, until he willingly puts himself into rehab under the care of Doc Jane.

Because vampires have huge physiological differences in comparison to humans, the detoxing takes its toll on Assail in a way that no one foresaw. With his life hanging on the balance, it is his cousins that seek Marisol’s help because there was no other avenue left to reach out to him.

Marisol, having grown up with a religious Catholic grandmother, even as she defies conventions that religion dictates of her, she is bound by her faith in God. That is the one reason why she leaves with her grandmother even as her heart breaks in half when she has to leave Assail. At the time, it had been solely to act upon the promise she had made unto God, should she ever manage to escape the ordeal her life of crime had thrown her way. Making a clean cut and a life in hiding is what Marisol is prepared for until she returns to Assail’s side once again.

Marisol has no idea as to the true nature of what Assail is, and as Assail returns back to the fold of the living and regains his full strength, it becomes more complex as time passes to keep a lid on the bonded vampire that is unleashed every time they are together. But would Marisol be able to look beyond all that and see a man of worth behind what he is, and accept all of him? That is the question that haunts Assail as he sets out to convince his Marisol that they are meant to be together.

On the sidelines, the story of Doc Jane and Vishous takes a turn for the worse. Continuing from what happened in the book The Chosen, Vishous sets forth on a path that has the potential of destroying the bond between him and his shellan for good. While a lot of readers were put off by Vishous and his sentiments that drove him to this point, I actually understood where he was coming from. I guess it takes one who can admit to their own failures to empathize with an individual on their failings as well.

Vishous comes from a place of pain which he does not identify as such. Jane says as much when the finally let it loose, the frustrations, the fears, and the disappointments that had been festering between them for a while. Jane with her duties as the healer at the Brotherhood compound, takes her duties seriously, perhaps all too seriously.

Similarly, Vishous, the son of a deity, the most highly intelligent of the Brothers, takes his role just as severely. Which leaves them practically with no downtime, and especially with everyone else of the Brothers finding that one thing that acts as the glue that reaffirms the love they have for their shellans, Vishous is seemingly adrift in an abyss that he does not particularly understand, which is something rare for someone like him. Vishous has mummy issues that would probably fill up pages and pages of a psychiatric manual and all of that and more leaves him in a position of vulnerability, even if that does not excuse his behavior.

I wonder though, when all was said and done, and Jane and Vishous managed to talk it out and deal with everything that had been problematic between them, whether Vishous doesn’t yearn for a young of his own. Even if he is of the mind that he does not want one, and Jane seems oblivious to such a need within herself because lets face it, she is not in a position to offer that dream to Vishous, I wonder if this issue wouldn’t come up time and yet again between them. Vishous might be more of a ‘softie’ than anyone gives him credit for. It is those who appear hardened from years of neglect and parental issues that are often most in need of love and families of their own. I hope I am wrong, but then there is this feeling that I cannot quite shake off.

I believe The Thief actually brought to the forefront a lot of issues that needs addressing in terms of Scribe Virgin, the abandonment of the old ways of life of the Chosen, and the neglect in the Sanctuary that might cause serious harm if left to own devices. For instance, Throe and his formidable army that he is forging out of a book of dark arts seems to have been stolen from the Santuary, when previously that would not have been possible. There is also the need for record keeping in the Sanctuary which has also been abandoned, which is crucial for the survival and continuity of the vampire race and their way of life, as tumultuous as the changing times might be.

Up next seems to be Murhder’s story, a character that seems to excite me on many levels because his past is a mystery that needs unraveling. One thing I missed dearly was seeing my beloved Xcor settling into his life with Layla and the twins. I would love to read or catch a glimpse of them sometime in the next couple of books. I also hope that Assail does find that calling in his life that would keep him from getting into “trouble” all over again.

Recommended for fans of the series!

Final Verdict: JR Ward definitely cannot write the BDB series fast enough to suit fans like myself. The Thief concluded the chapter on Assail and Marisol’s story, and leaves readers hankering for Murhder’s story that is to come. Now, that is how masterful storytellers get it done.

Favorite Quotes

Marisol laughed, and then she took him in hand—and now he was the one gasping and rising up for more of her touch.
“Please…” he groaned.
“I couldn’t agree more.”
Straddling his hips again, she angled his arousal…and sat down, impaling herself in the most marvelous way.
Assail’s eyes rolled back, and his body drank in the sensation of completeness. “My Marisol…”

Assail extended his tongue and was done with any preamble. He licked up the center of her, flicking the top of her sex. Then he sealed her with a kiss.
The groan she tried to stifle made him smile, but then he had work to do. Sucking her in, then licking at her, he took his time, enjoying the feel and taste of her, the warmth and the rush—and greedy for even more, he spread her knees farther apart, his hands locking on, squeezing.
The lapping sounds were loud in the silence of the room—and so was her breathing. And both got their volume turned up as he started flicking at her, his tongue a darting, dancing tease that had her hips jerking back and forth as she rode his face.

His penetration was so fast and deep she yelled. And then she didn’t know what the hell she did—and she didn’t care.
Vishous was dominating by nature, a force in the world that wasn’t to be denied. And he had sex in exactly that way: He pounded her furiously, his body clapping against hers, the structural integrity of the marble wall she’d put her back against the only reason they were still standing.
And even that was a “maybe” instead of a “definitely”: At the rate he was going, he was liable to fuck her right through the stone and out onto the lawn—and she loved it. She loved the near-violence, the knife-edge of pain, the sense that she had walked into the woods and found a snarling beast and laid herself down so it could take her.
He was the out-of-control that she otherwise didn’t let into her life. And she had missed this. She had missed him.

Sometime after sunrise, Jane had her face in a pillow. Her naked body was flat on the mattress, and her legs were spread, and there was good reason for both. A huge weight was on top of her, moving, penetrating, the rhythm like waves in the ocean at high tide. Her hands were held down, big palms pressing on them, keeping her in place. Fangs, sharp and delicious, were sunk into her shoulder, the bite deep.
How Vishous managed to be in all those places at once was something to ponder—at a different damn time.

When he put one of her hands on his arousal, she started stroking him—and he climaxed immediately, coming on her belly, the ejaculations hot and powerful. In the back of her mind, she had a split second of disappointment that he had finished so soon, the session ending before it got started for her.
She couldn’t have been more wrong.
Before she knew what was happening, he was lifting her up and she was grabbing on to the top of the stall’s glass panels. Suspending herself at his hip height, he entered her core with a hard shove, the penetration slicing through her with an erotic sharpness. And as he began to move inside of her, an unusual tingling flowed throughout her body, as if her blood had turned to sparkles.
So hot. So heavy. So hard. And then his mouth was at her breasts, his dark head moving as wet suction locked on her nipples.

“I love you, too, Assail.” She leaned in and kissed him. Then ran her tongue across the points of his canines. “Man, I am so turned on—”
Before he could help himself, he snatched ahold of the nape of her neck and yanked her to his mouth. After he kissed her hard, he set her back so he could meet her eyes.
As the scent of her arousal flared, he knew she was staring at his fangs as they descended from the roof of his mouth.
“I will never hurt you with them,” he said in a guttural voice. “Ever. But if you want them—”
“I do,” she breathed. “I want you to do…whatever you do.”
Without thinking about it—and even though the door was not locked and there were people around—he took her hand and pulled it under the sheets. Placing her palm on his erection, he rolled his hips.
She took over from there. As they kissed, and his hand found her breast through her fleece, she stroked him.
It did not take long. And even though his fresh stitches stung as he worked with her rhythm, the pleasure was so great, he started coming almost immediately—and he didn’t stop.

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

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Review: The Beast by J.R. Ward

Format: E-bookthebeast.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #14
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Rhage
Heroine: Mary
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 05, 2016
Started On: February 27, 2018
Finished On: February 28, 2018

The Beast, 14th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood (BDB) series seems a trifle bit “odd” an installment. Yet I suppose there was the need for a brief “reprieve” so to speak, to give other unfolding events the time to catch up to a point where all hell would break loose. The Beast nevertheless proved to be a fabulous read because what JR Ward does, she does in style whenever it comes to the series.

The Beast focuses on one of the old-time favorite couples in the series; Mary and Rhage, who got their story in the second book. Rhage is the Brother with the “curse” from the Scribe Virgin (the mother of the race), which had left him with a beast inside of him, which requires that he be in control of his emotions that can reach high octane levels given the right circumstances. Mary is the one person who has the ability to tame both Rhage and the Beast inside, both of whom love and adore Mary equally and just as ferociously.

By the end of the last book, the relationship between Mary and Rhage were beginning to show signs of strain, just like any long-term relationship would have its ups and downs. Rhage doesn’t even know where his discontent stems from, the hollowed pit of a feeling inside of him that he desperately craves to fill without trying to acknowledge its existence.

The opening scene of The Beast is one that could have taken the whole series in a direction that would have left a lot of broken hearts in its wake. But luckily for everyone involved, it turned out that Rhage’s act of defiance in the face of Vishous and his warning proved to work out just fine. But that moment defines a pivotal point in the lives of Mary and Rhage as a couple, because it leaves both of them at crossroads over the moments of clarity the situation had exposed them to.

In the end, everything does work out well; Rhage and Mary gets to the crust of the issue between them, and a solution presents itself which answers to the needs of all parties involved. All the while, I kept waiting for a final showdown with the Omega, who makes an appearance in the story. The eerie moments that Vishious and couple of other Brothers witnessed, was by far the most interesting moments in the story as it unfolded. By the end, I was still waiting for a scene that never emerged, which makes me wonder what sort of ingenious plot has Ward in store when it comes to a final showdown between good and bad; or in fact whether it is ever going to happen.

Another aspect of this novel that did not settle all too well with me was how Throe, second in command to Xcor of the Band of Bastards who had plotted to take down Wrath the King and assume the Throne for themselves, suddenly turns out to be the bad guy. Throe never came off as someone who was full of himself, narcissistic and egoistic enough to warrant such a radical change in his personality and the direction he chooses to take once Xcor lets it be known that his ambition to overthrow the King was no more. While the rest of Xcor’s soldiers fall in line, Throe decides that he would do what is needed, with or without them.

There was no prior indication that revealed that Throe, who had once been a member of the vampire aristocrats, actually wanted back the glamour and the glitz that would afford him the high life. His loyalty to Xcor and the Band of Bastards had been absolute, even though he had been forced to join them initially. In time, he had become one of the most formidable fighters, and of course with the kind of loyalty that warranted he be the second in command. All of a sudden, Throe is shacking up with a glymera wife who is unhappy with her spouse, and plotting ways to get rich enough to afford whatever plan he has hatched in order to assume his “rightful” place in life. Maybe I might have missed something in one of the books, but I just haven’t been able to wrap my head around it to make enough sense.

The Beast also ushers in the end of an era; where the Scribe Virgin ups and leaves. There were moments in the story where I kept wondering whether she was depressed, and then I wondered whether deities could get depressed. In the end, perhaps I was right, because it felt like Scribe Virgin was “misunderstood” by the race she had given birth to, that she had tried to direct and command to follow the old Laws and way of life which had slowly crumbled to dust while she had watched on. It is as if what had been sustenance for the Scribe Virgin had ceased to exist, which meant that she had been slowly being robbed of her strength and that indomitable will of hers. Vishous being the one to find it out was perhaps a turning point in his non-relationship with the woman, who is in fact his Mahmen.

Interesting developing plots still remain; story of Xcor and the Chosen Layla, and Assail and Marisol whose stories are still set to continue. Xcor’s story is the one that I want to read the most and hide from at the same time. Because I would not be able to bear it if there is even the slightest injustice done to his character. There was also one other point that caught my attention, held it, and made me sit up a little. The emergence of Dr. Manello’s sister in the midst of it all. I am waiting to see what interesting turn that mini-plot might take.

Final Verdict: The Beast takes readers through the changing lives of the Brotherhood and the world of the Vampires and the rapidly evolving dynamics between good and evil. It also brings to the forefront the struggles of Rhage and his beloved Mary as a couple. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

The hospital bed’s mattress shifted as she stretched out next to him, and her palm moved under the sheet, traveling oh, so very downward. Spreading his legs to give her all the access she wanted, he arched his head back and bowed his spine toward the heavens as she gripped his erection. Shouting her name, he felt the beast surge as well, the dragon riding the crest of pleasure along with him, while still staying leashed.
As if it had learned its good manners.
“My Mary…” And then he gasped. “Oh, yeah.”

“Oh, God, I need you,” Mary said as he slammed the door shut, manually turned the dead bolt, and popped her up off the floor.
As she grabbed the bottom of his muscle shirt and yanked it over his head, the thing got caught on his nose, nearly shearing his nostrils off. But like he gave a fuck? And then her shaking hands were clawing at the zipper on his leathers.
“I need you in me, hurry—I need you.”
“Oh, fuck, Mary, you have me—” The second her hand came into contact with his cock, he arched back and shouted something. Her name? Something about the Scribe Virgin? F-bomb? Again, who the fuck cared. “Let me get you—”
Next thing he knew, she was off the shelf, at his hips, and pushing him back until he slammed into the opposite side of things so hard cans of soup bounced down and rolled across the floor like they feared for their lives.
“Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaary—”
That mouth of hers sucked his erection in deep, and though the warm, wet hold and suction were out-of-this-world erotic, what was even hotter? The sense that she was so fucking desperate for him, she couldn’t wait for him to get his pants down and hers off.

Mary sat down hard on his cock and both of them cried out. Then she leaned forward, propped her hands next to his head, and began pumping her pelvis, his erection going in and out of her sex, their bodies slapping together, Rhage’s eyes latching onto her as she stared back at him with a combination of fierce determination and utter adoration.
She still had her coat on. The thing was flapping around her, and though he would have loved to see her breasts and her neck, her stomach, her sex, he was too caught up to be any kind of coordinated with his hands and his thoughts.
It was just really fucking awesome to be wanted like this. Ridden like this. Taken like this.

As she grabbed onto his back, she felt the beast surge under her nails, the tattoo rising up and creating a pattern in his skin as if it wanted to get out.
“Mary,” Rhage said into her neck. “Oh, fuck, Mary…”
At the sound of his hoarse voice, an orgasm hit her like a lightning strike, the pleasure making her call out as he punched his pelvis into her again and again while he ejaculated.
When they finally went still, she stroked his spine, petting the beast, which surged under her touch. And it was so strange. In moments like this, even though it was crazy, it seemed like the three of them were together.

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Review: The King by J.R. Ward

Format: E-booktheking.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood, #12
Publisher: Signet
Hero: Wrath, son of Wrath
Heroine: Beth Rendall
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: April 01, 2014
Started On: February 05, 2018
Finished On: February 17, 2018

We have come a long way since the beginning of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The King is the 12th novel in this magnificent series of books that JR Ward has written, and it brings us back to where we started, with the characters having taken on the roles that were required of them. We get to take a closer look at Wrath, the King of the Vampire race, who assumed his responsibilities in the debut book of the series, Dark Lover. Wrath is the last pure blooded vampire on the planet, and even though he chafes at the duties of being the King to the race, it is a “prison” from which there is no respite for him.

Wrath’s frustration and dissatisfaction at being “hogtied” to the throne is one that runs deep. Just how deep, realizes Beth, his shellan i.e. mate for life, only after Wrath lets loose when his formidable temper gets the best of him. Known and revered as the Blind King, and for good reason, Wrath has been constantly battling to keep a throne he had never meant to ascend in the first place. But the same genetics that had demanded he be King, had also rendered him unfit to fight in the field alongside with his Brothers. Furthermore, there is no way that the Brothers would let their King back in the field, no matter how much he might want to.

Wrath’s personal life isn’t going exactly in the blissfully wedded direction either. With his mind solidly made up on not fathering any children, the clash with his shellan is not the kind that one can just brush under the carpet, especially with Beth’s needing seemingly on the way. To add to the pressure, The Band of Bastards from the Old Country is out to get Wrath one way or the other, even if they had lost in their initital attempts to assassinate him.

Everything comes to a head at junctures where one just has to plow through the worst to get to the other side. There is always so much going on in a JR Ward book that it is near impossible to just focus on one aspect of the book thinking it would give a holistic view of the book. The storylines concerning other characters that were prominent in Lover at Last continue even in The King, most of them coming to a turning point where things were looking rather gloomy for everyone concerned.

By the time the story was done, except for one aspect of a continuing storyline that has been running for a long time in the books, the one concerning John’s true identity, everything else seems to have worked out. Wrath managed to thwart yet another attempt at dethroning him, and used the opportunity to make that one move which shocked the vampire aristocrats to boot.

I loved how Wrath transformed in this novel, finally, and at last, embracing his role as the King of the race wholeheartedly. There is no running from fate and destiny, especially leaving a role such as that of a King, particularly at a time when the race was in near tatters, clearly at a point where leadership was needed the most.

I also loved how insightful the story of Wrath’s parents proved to be. Unlike what Wrath thought of his father’s reign to be like, the traitors were around him just the same, just as insidious in their bid to dethrone him and take over the reins in their hunger for power. Another character trait Wrath seems to have inherited from his father? That take-charge attitude of his, in bed and out of it.

There was one rather unusual character that piqued my interest in this story; s’Ex, the executioner of the s’Hisbe sect of the vampires. He is a character I want a story for. Pretty please, JR Ward?

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of Wrath!

Final Verdict: With The King, JR Ward brings readers full circle with the characters we fell in love with at the very beginning. Wrath’s story the second time around was just as indomitable as the vampire himself.

Favorite Quotes

The kiss that came at her was brutal and she wanted it that way, Wrath’s tongue thrusting into her as he shoved her backward through the open doorway of their secret hideaway.
Slam!
Best sound in the world. Well, okay, second-best—number one being what her man made when he came inside of her. At the mere thought of it, her core opened even further.

“Oh, fuck,” he said into her mouth as one of his hands slipped in between her thighs. “I want this—yeah . . . are you wet for me, leelan.”
Not a question. Because he knew the answer, didn’t he.
“I can smell you,” he groaned against her ear as he ran his fangs up her throat.

“The most beautiful thing in the world—except for your taste.”

“I’m sorry,” he bit out as he grabbed her behind the neck and mounted her.
As she opened her thighs wide for him, she knew exactly why he was apologizing. “Don’t be—Jesus!”
The blazing possession was exactly what she wanted—and so was the rough ride he gave her, his heavy weight crushing her, her bare ass squeaking against the floor as he pounded into her, her legs straining to link around so he could go even deeper. It was total domination, his great body pistoning in an erotic pump that got ever faster and more intense.
But as good as it was, she knew how to take things to the next level. “Aren’t you thirsty yet?” she drawled.
Total. Molecular. Stoppage.
Like he’d been hit with an ice ray. Or maybe a truck.
As he lifted his head, his eyes lit up so brightly, she knew if she looked on the floor next to her, she’d see her own shadow.

Get off of her, he ordered his body. Get the fuck off of—
The undulation beneath him took a moment to register. And then he realized it was her. She was . . . moving against him, and not as in she wanted to get free. Her eyes, once alarmed, were now glazing over, her lips parting as she arched into him.
She wanted him. Fucking hell, her scent was flaring into his nose, her blood running fast and hot as his own.

“Selena,” he groaned. “I’m sorry. . . .” “For what,” she said roughly.
“This.”
He struck her throat, fangs sinking deep, blood rushing onto his tongue, down his throat. And as he nursed at her, his body pumped against the wadded duvet, desperately trying to find her core through the layers of sheeting, his cock throbbing, the friction making everything worse.

“Fucking hell,” he gritted as his eyes traveled from the crown of her head to her tight nipples . . . past the flat plane of her belly, to her sex and her legs.
His dark hand was a contrast to the paleness of her skin as he drew a lazy stroke from her collarbone to one of her breasts. Capturing the weight in his palm, she groaned and undulated, her knees bending up . . . and falling open.
His towel dropped away from his body, exposing his hairless beauty and his formidable sex.

“Take me,” she ordered him. “Teach me.”

Beth yelled out his name as he entered her, her nails tearing into his shoulders, her breasts shoving up against his chest. He came immediately, his balls tightening up and then releasing—and he wasn’t prepared for the response from her. As she orgasmed along with him, her sex milked him, pulling at his length, all but yanking at him—
He came again. So violently, he bit into his own tongue.
Pumping against her, pumping into her, he went hard and wild—until his body took a short pause to recover. And that was when he felt the difference he’d made in her: She, too, was at a brief rest, the tension in her body uncoiling as if her very molecules were taking a deep breath.

Instead, he braced his upper weight on one hand and gripped his glistening cock with the other. Stroking himself, he groaned as if he were getting ready to come again.
The second orgasm shot out of him and he directed it all over her sex—and he didn’t stop there. After he’d covered her core, he moved up, shifting himself so that he came on her stomach, her rib cage, her breasts, her neck, her face. He seemed to have an endless supply of releases, and as the hot jets hit her oversensitized skin, she found herself orgasming along with him, sweeping her hands up and down her body, feeling the hot mess he was coating her with, cupping her own breasts.

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

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Review: A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant

Format: E-bookachristmasgoneperfectlywrong.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Blackshear Family, #0.5
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Andrew James Blackshear
Heroine: Lucy Anne Sharp
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 04, 2014
Started On: December 20, 2017
Finished On: January 03, 2018

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong, a novella set in the Blackshear Family series by Cecilia Grant is my very first venture into sampling books by the author. A historical romance that I stumbled upon quite by chance on Twitter, I liked the sound of the tale and decided to get myself a copy.

25 year old Andrew James Blackshear comes across the all-too-delectable-for-his-state-of-mind 21 year old Lucy Anne Sharp deep in the wilds of Norfolk. Andrew in in pursuit of purchasing a hawking bird for his sister who is engaged to be married soon.

Andrew’s plan had been a simple one, one that had not factored in meeting the most desirable woman he has ever come across in his entire life. With just one glance, Lucy has a way of inviting him to shed off the layers of propriety and rigid rules that he had adhered to, setting an example for the younger ones in his family. With their mother having died when all the siblings had been quite young, a lot of responsibilities had fallen upon Andrew’s shoulders, ones he had taken to heart, which inadvertently had meant that he had always played by the rules. Rigid control should be his middle name, but then again, some temptations are too great even for a man like Andrew.

Lucy having grown up in a less than conventional household with a father who had remained single all throughout her childhood into adulthood had meant that the usual rules of decorum had not applied much to her life. Coming across Andrew feels as if fate had tossed her way the kind of man who could fulfill every single desire of her wilful heart, and yet Andrew seems determined every step of the way that he would do the honorable thing, leaving her untouched for a husband of her choosing – a husband who would be more well suited for her than him or vice versa.

Fate throws them together under circumstances during which their desire grows, the heat between them burns stronger, with their hearts and minds entwined in that short span of time over shared cups of tea and conversations that had made Andrew delve deep into his conscience to air thoughts he never even thought he held. When all good intentions of Andrew falls sideways, that was the most delicious aspects of the book.

I enjoyed this novella for what it brought. There was humor of the kind I could really get. For instance, Andrew’s thoughts on matters of research, Really. If there was a more futile, unproductive, dog-chasing-its-own-tail occupation for a man’s mind than the study of how we know what we know, it was beyond him to name, was one that had me in splits. Plus, there was this undercurrent of delicious sexual tension that buzzes slowly along your veins, lulling you into this warm corner where you block out the rest of the world.

I loved both Andrew and Lucy and believe wholeheartedly that they are each other’s match in every way. Lucy is the woman who loosens up Andrew, something much needed if you ask me. Andrew needs to let his hair down and live a little, and he needs a woman strong enough to take his passion in its entirety and I believe that Lucy with her independent mind, her enjoyment of the less than conventional life would be able to do all that and more for Andrew.

As much as I enjoyed the novella, I felt that the story dragged on in places where it need not have been. That was perhaps the only factor  that distracted me from reading this in one sitting.

I definitely loved the prose, the characters, and the humor. Recommended for fans of historical romances that gives slow burn reads.

Final Verdict: Lighthearted & fun in a way that draws you in. Andrew’s character is the game changer.

Favorite Quotes

She turned, a lash of wind snatching her hood from her grasp and throwing it back to expose her, and the question of what a decent man would do went spinning off like another wet leaf in the storm. Shock sparked at the nape of his neck, followed by a faint, irrational prickling of shame, and an impulse to avert his eyes.

He had a strong, expressive mouth, fit for barking out commands or whispering improprieties to a lady as he brushed by her in a dance. He had eyes dark as the mahogany inlay on the tea-chest, and hair like polished cherry-wood, and arms and legs and shoulders made to take up space. Men who looked like Mr. Blackshear generally strode through life helping themselves to what they wanted, or so she’d always assumed.

For all that came afterward, she would have to blame that dimple. The dimple and perhaps his mulled-wine voice. And his stature. And his painstaking propriety, and his admirable affection for his sister, and the sweet fizzing awareness that raced through her blood when his eyes followed her hand from her skirts to her hair.

He was dreadfully handsome when he spoke of honor. So righteous and terrible and vigorous he nearly gave off sparks. A more persuadable lady might be pledging to run off and join an order of nuns now, or whatever it was that zealously proper ladies did, just to win his approval.

Somewhere around the time she uttered the word barn, the kitchen’s traffic rearranged itself to give him a view of her. She stood at the room’s other end, taking cups down from a shelf and handing them to the comparatively diminutive Mrs. Porter. She was smiling already round her stream of good-cheered narration, but when she caught his eye she somehow shaped the smile into a greeting just for him. And for a moment he had the oddest sensation of homecoming.

His chest rose and fell with his breath. His eyes roved all over her face. A swallow rippled down his throat. And of a sudden she could not look anywhere but at his mouth, strong and expressive and made for whispering improprieties.
His hand came away from the window—she saw it from the corner of her eye—and up to touch the side of her head. That was all. His gloved fingers made one pass over her bound-up hair, and the hand fell away.

You wouldn’t think the weight and shape of her hand could still have such an effect on him, after the brash liberties his body had taken with hers. But he could think of little; perceive little; know little beyond the rise of each knuckle into his palm; the occasional fidgeting of her fingers on his sleeve; the bunched leather at her wrist, beneath his fingertips.

Her mouth was every bit the wonder he’d imagined, shaping itself against his with infinite variation. Feather-light teasing kisses across his lower lip; those were very fine. A bolder kiss that took that lower lip in between hers; that was even better. By and by he dared a single short stroke with his tongue; her lips parted on a breath of surprise and stayed parted in sweet invitation.
He let go her face to settle his hands on her waist, and he put his back against the wall and pulled her in close enough that her bosom brushed his chest, and Lord help him, he wanted to do this forever.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: The Angels’ Share by J.R. Ward

Format: E-booktheangelsshare
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Bourbon Kings, #2
Publisher: NAL
Hero: Edward Baldwine
Heroine: Sutton Smythe
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 26, 2016
Started On: September 02, 2016
Finished On: September 29, 2017

Even though I usually write my reviews before starting on the next book in the series, the part of my life that was dedicated to reviewing  romances that I read and enjoy so much took a hiatus in recent times. But I am someone who believes in the “better late then never” concept when it is about people and things that matter above everything else.

The Angels’ Share, book 2 in The Bourbon Kings trilogy picks up where the first book ends. That things are a mess for the Baldwines would be an understatement. With their father dead, the family’s finances in a mess, it is Tulane Baldwine (Lane), the poker playing former man-whore who returns home to pick up the pieces. Four siblings, all of whom are “estranged” from one another in different ways; JR Ward lays out a complex family for readers to sink their teeth into, and the surprises keep coming forth, urging the reader to turn the pages faster to get to the inevitable conclusion of it all.

Lane has his work cut out for him in trying to make sense out of the mess that his father has left in the wake of his death, an autopsy of which proves more than what Lane bargained for. William Baldwine is not the beloved father figure that most would presume he would have been. Instead, he is the father who destroys a family with his words and actions, and inaction when it came to Lane’s eldest brother Edward..

One has to read the trillogy altogether to get a sense of just how deep JR Ward digs when it comes to the Baldwines. Having never read anything else but the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by the author prior to picking up this particular trilogy, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but in usual JR Ward fashion, she blew me away with the depth that she brings to her characters and the story.

While I didn’t particularly root for the Edward and Sutton connection (which I am pretty sure I would be in the singular minority in this case), I felt intrigued by Gin’s story most of all. I think that would have been the case for most readers. Gin and her ongoing tit-for-tat, explosive relationship with Samuel T. took my breathe away every single time they were in the same room together. Gin’s inability to face her inner demons, to right the wrongs of her past, to accept herself for who she is, to draw on her inner strength and fight; those were all things that I wanted for her, from her. That in my opinion is a character well written.

Gin is not without her fair share of faults. But, given all that, I fell for her, hard. Unlike most of the characters in the book, and even Lizzie for whom I just had a passable liking at best, Gin stood out from everyone else like one of those exotic creatures gracing the cover of a glossy magazine tossed on a pile of old, worn and torn ones that no one would look at twice. That is how Gin materialized for me in the story and captivated me all throughout.

Enjoyable in a way only great storytelling can deliver, The Angels’ Share provides for enjoyable reading.

Final Verdict: Incredible, the level of depth to the story. It just keeps getting better.

Favorite Quotes

It was not supposed to go like this, he thought to himself. He’d banked on her backing away from him, leaving him alone, forgetting about the damn doctor.
“Sometimes the land must accept the storm,” Shelby whispered.
“What?”
She just shook her head as she moved up his lower body. “It’s not important.”
And she was right. Nothing much was important at all as she was the one who kissed him, her lips soft and shy, as if she knew nothing about seduction.

His hands swept up and cupped her breasts as his hips rolled against her, stroking her with an erection that was so hard, so distinct, she didn’t know whether he’d taken his pants off. Her skirt didn’t last long, Edward taking advantage as she arched up to his mouth to release the back fastening and do away with it.
Her stockings followed suit.
And then her panties.
And then his mouth left her breasts … and went other places.
The orgasm was so strong, her head knocked into the hard table, but she didn’t care. Throwing her palms out, they squeaked against polished wood as she called his name freely.
There was no one to know.
Nobody to hear.

He whispered something in her ear that she didn’t catch.
“What?” she said.
“Nothing.”
Edward stopped her from asking again by kissing her some more. And then he was moving inside of her, his erection still hard, his hips still strong, his need still for her.
For some reason, her eyes watered. “Why does this feel like you’re saying good-bye?”
“Shhhh …” he said before kissing her again.

Samuel T. to Gin – “What I really want to say is two things,” he continued. “First, I want you to know you’re better than that, and not because you’re a Bradford. The truth is, no matter what happens to the money, you’re a strong, smart, capable woman, Gin—and up until now you’ve used those virtues in bad ways, dumb-ass ways, because quite frankly, you haven’t had any real challenges put in front of you. You’ve been a warrior without a field of battle, Gin. A fighter without a foe, and you’ve been lashing out at everything and everyone around you for years now, trying to burn off the energy.” His voice grew unbearably hoarse. “Well, I want you to channel all that in a different way now. I want you to be strong for the right reasons. I want you to take care of yourself now. Protect yourself now. You have people who … you have people who love you. Who want to help you. But you’re going to need to take the first step.”

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

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