Review: Reckless Love by Elizabeth Lowell

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: MacKenzie-Blackthorn, #1
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Tyrell MacKenzie
Heroine: Janna Wayland
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: December 26, 2006
Started On: October 17, 2020
Finished On: October 25 , 2020

What is it about romances written years ago that has the unique ability of reeling you in until you are hooked, line, and sinker? That is what I experienced with my very first Elizabeth Lowell novel, i.e. Reckless Love. The debut book in the MacKenzie-Blackthorn series, Reckless Love tells the story of Tyrell MacKenzie and 19 year old Janna Wayland whose paths cross in the wild land of Utah Territory after the end of the Civil War.

Janna lives alone, in the company of mustangs, under the guise of being a male which serves her well. Tyrell in the meanwhile, is a man who comes from a previously wealthy family, who comes to Utah Territory looking for a wild stallion known as Lucifer, via which he aims to make his fortune. Tyrell dreams of marrying the silken lady of his dreams, and he is not to be waylaid by anyone or anything for that matter.

When Tyrell finds himself attacked and at the brink of imminent death, it is Janna who rescues him, nurses him back to health, and takes him to the one place that is her safe haven and home amidst the chaos that is life in the territory. Tyrell, believing Janna to be a lad, does not take it kindly when he realizes that he has been deceived all along, especially when it had given him cause to question his own sexuality at certain points through his recovery.

The desire that blazes between Janna and Tyrell is fierce and it burns hotter and brighter than Tyrell would have thought possible. Even as he gives in, Tyrell is determined not to lose sight of his dreams of finding his silken lady, and Janna, who has lived in the wilderness all her life understands that making Tyrell fall in love with her would be an impossibility. Determined to make the best of the time they have left, Janna does not ask for more, and is resigned to saying goodbye when their time is up.

However, fate decides otherwise, and Janna is forced to leave the one place that had been hers and become part of the world that is Tyrell’s, nursing a broken heart knowing that Tyrell would never ever be truly hers. It takes a lot for Tyrell to start seeing things differently, as he continues to lie to himself about his feelings for Janna that burns as bright as the sun.

I loved Reckless Love for many a reason. I was in need of a story with an alpha hero of the kind that is hard to find in the romance novels of today. Tyrell proved to be all that and more, making the pages comes alive with his mere presence alone. There is a way about him that makes all that is female in you yearn and yearn big, and that is what Tyrell was for me.

I loved Janna to bits – she was courageous and beautiful in a way that is indescribable. She may have lived her life up till then without the frills and whites to accentuate her beauty, but for me, the purity of her character and soul shone vividly from the onset. I love a strong heroine as much as I do an alpha hero and Janna was that for me in many ways. Ms. Lowell writes with the kind of prose that is reminiscent of earlier works of Sandra Brown and Linda Howard, perhaps one of the main reasons why I felt right at home amidst the magic she wove with Tyrell and Janna.

Recommended for fans of Ms. Lowell and fans of Western themed romances with an alpha hero who makes your heart go wild and heroines you absolutely root for.

Final Verdict: Reckless Love delivers an exquisite cocktail of romance, heat, and angst that is guaranteed to make your insides all warm and fuzzy!

Favorite Quotes

When Ty’s arms tightened around Janna and he whispered her name, her hands crept up his chest to his stubble-roughened cheeks and beyond. Her fingers sought the thick black hair she longed to caress as she had in the days when he had been too ill to object to her touch. She slid her hands beneath his hat, dislodging it, and she shivered with pleasure when her fingers knew again the silky textures and fullness of his hair. She moved her hands slowly, flexing them gently, caressing him and the sensitive skin between her fingers at the same time.
The intimate, changing pressure of Janna’s hands on Ty’s scalp made his breath catch, break and emerge as an almost silent groan. He moved his head slowly, increasing the pressure of her caressing hands, and the sound he made seemed to Janna more like a purr from a very large cat than any noise a man might make.

Heat stole beneath Janna’s skin, flushing her face, shortening her breath. Bubbles of sensation grew slowly inside her, expanding with each warm movement of Ty’s tongue until she shivered and a bubble burst, drenching her with golden heat; and then pleasure gathered again, burst sweetly, made her shiver and moan Ty’s name. The slender hands buried in Ty’s hair flexed and relaxed in the same rhythms of Janna’s tongue—seeking, stroking, finding, mating with the slow, deep motions he had taught her.
The sensuous, searching caresses brought a violent hardening of Ty’s flesh that both shocked and dismayed him, telling him that he was very close to the edge of his self-control.

“Don’t be sorry,” he said huskily. “I like knowing that I’ve pleased you.”
“You do?” she whispered, looking at his lips, wanting to taste him again, to feel his tongue moving within her mouth.
“Yes.” Ty smiled and nuzzled the slanting line of Janna’s cheekbones until he came to the silky edge of her hair. He stripped off her hat and headband, untied the rawhide thongs holding her braids and unraveled them until his hands were full of the cool fire of her hair. He made an inarticulate sound of pleasure as he searched blindly with his mouth for the tempting curves of her ear. “I want to please you, little one. Will you tell me if I do?”
“Y-yes.”

“Will going slow spoil it for you?” Janna whispered. “I don’t want to make it bad for you. I want to please you, Ty. I want that so much I ache.”
“Going slow won’t spoil it. In fact, it can make it so good you feel like dying.”
“It can?”
Janna’s voice was husky with the conflicting emotions racing through her, passion and nervousness and a hunger to touch and be touched that was completely new to her.
“It can,” Ty said. “At least, that’s what I’m told. I’ve never known that kind of pleasure myself.”
Janna tried to speak but had no voice. She licked her lips and tilted her head back until she could look into the darkly luminous green of Ty’s eyes.
“I want to pleasure you like that,” she whispered. “Will you teach me how?”

“Janna,” Ty said, breathing her name as much as saying it, “I hope to God I can set fire to you half as hot as you set fire to me. If I can, we’ll burn down the whole damn plateau.”

“Unbutton my shirt,” Ty said in a thick voice. “You’ll like the feel of my bare skin against your breasts. And so will I.”
The slight movement of Janna’s body when she reached for Ty’s collar button made her hips rock against the hot cradle he had made for her between his legs. He groaned in a kind of exquisite agony, for he had never needed a woman so much as he needed Janna at that instant.
“Again,” he whispered. “Move against me just once more. Just once.”

Janna’s nails dug into the flexed power of Ty’s buttocks and her body twisted wildly beneath his as she whispered again and again that what he had given her was good but not enough. With each movement she became more seductive, more demanding, more welcoming, so hot and sleek that he found himself pressing again and yet again at the fragile flesh that barred total consummation.
Ty groaned and forced himself to move just slightly while his fingers sought and claimed the slick, delicate nub of Janna’s passion. He controlled the instinctive rocking of her hips by settling more of his weight between her legs, pinning her in place while he caressed her, bringing her closer and closer to ecstasy.

And then it was happening, the hot rain and the sheathing, ecstasy bursting with each movement of Ty’s hips; and Janna wept at the perfection as he let go of control and locked himself so deeply within her that she felt the certainty of his climax as the most intimate kind of caress, a pulsing presence that sent her spinning into ecstasy once again, her body caressing him rhythmically in the quivering aftermath of his own release.
Janna’s tiny, ecstatic cries pierced Ty like golden needles, reaching past the flesh to the soul beneath. “Violent pleasure racked him until his muscles stood out like iron. The endless, shuddering release that followed overwhelmed him.

The knowledge of his own helpless response to her shocked Ty. He shouldn’t feel this way. The sweat wasn’t dry on his body from the first time he had taken her. He shouldn’t want her again the way he did right now—need knotting his guts, his body hard and heavy and hot, filled to bursting once more.
He fought to remain still, not to respond, not to move, but the knowledge of the ecstatic consummation he would find within Janna’s body was too new, too overwhelming for him to deny or control it. With a low, raw cry, he fought against the lure of her, but even as he cried out he was moving slowly, surrendering himself to her one hard inch at a time.

“Janna?” Ty asked, holding himself motionless but for the helpless shuddering of his aroused body. “Answer me!”
She tried to move, to take from him what he was withholding. It was impossible. He was too strong, too skilled, and she loved him.
“Yes, damn you,” she whispered achingly. “Yes!”
Ty heard only the agreement, not the pain. He let out his pent breath in a ragged groan.
“I need you,” he said in a low voice. His hips began to move in quickening rhythms as shudder after shudder of tension went through his powerful body. “God help me, I’ve never needed any woman like this.”

Janna trembled as Ty kissed and licked and nuzzled the length of her torso, smoothing her legs apart as he had in the pool. This time there were no hot swirls of water to caress her, only the heat and textures of her lover teasing the humid softness that his fingertips had first discovered.
The first gliding touch of Ty’s tongue brought a startled cry from Janna. It was answered by a reassuring murmur and a kiss both tender and hotly intimate. She tried to say his name, but all that came out was a whimper of shock and pleasure.

“Don’t,” Ty said huskily, biting back a raw sound of need. “You’ll make me lose control.”
“But I’m not even touching you,” she whispered.
“You are in your mind. And in mine. Satin butterfly, hot and sleek and perfect. When you took me into your body it was like being taken into a fiery paradise. You burned me to my soul. You’re still burning in my soul, burning in my body, everything burning. You don’t know what you do to me.”
Ty saw Janna’s shivering response to his words and thought he would lose what little control remained to him.
“You burned me the same way,” she said, touching him with the tip of her tongue. “I’m still burning.”

“I want you,” Janna said, her voice breaking beneath an unexpected, wild burst of pleasure at feeling him so thick and heavy in her hands. “I want to be joined so closely with you that I can feel each heartbeat, each pulse of life…”
Her words shattered into rippling sounds, tiny cries called from her very core as Ty swept her loose pants from her body and merged their bodies with a single powerful motion, giving her all that she had asked for and more, for he had wanted the joining as intensely as she had.
The swift fulfillment was like lightning searching through Janna’s flesh, creating an incandescent network of fire, burning through to her soul. She didn’t know that she called Ty’s name even as ecstasy transfixed her, but he knew. He heard his own name, felt the satin convulsions deep within her body, and he smiled in a mixture of triumph and passionate restraint as he bent to drink from her lips the taste of ecstasy.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Review: Beast’s Castle by Ella Goode

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Kale Schulz
Heroine: Summer
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 21, 2020
Started On: October 11, 2020
Finished On: October 17, 2020

Beast’s Castle by Ella Goode is a sweet novella, which I had fun reading. The story begins when artist and town’s hermit Kale Schulz has a new housekeeper hired for him, who is temptation itself that Kale vows to keep away from. Kale does not need company and he believes his life to be just perfect the way it is, that is until Summer and her little brother Colby proves to him otherwise.

22 year old Summer is left with no choice but to accept the housekeeper position if she wants to put a roof over their heads and look after her brother. When she first encounters the man of the house, he does not want anything to do with her and states in no uncertain terms that he wants to be left alone. But ultimately, it is also Colby’s presence along with the deep-seated desire within Kale himself for Summer that proves to be his undoing. There was good sizzling tension between Kale and Summer up till the culmination of events, that reluctance factor on the part of Kale adding a deliciousness to the whole setup!

I had fun reading this little number, my first ever book from Ms. Goode. There was just enough characterization and emotional depth to keep the pages turning and the characters endearing. Kale was just the right mix of grouch, grump, and reluctant hero, who in the end had no choice but to give in. Loved it when Kale went berserk after denying the truth of how possessive he is when it comes to Summer! The ending when it came, was just lovely!

Recommended for fans of beauty and the beast themed romances. If you like a bit of heat to go with your reluctant hero romances, this is just for you!

Final Verdict: Quirky, fun, and with just the right touch of emotions in the mix, Beast’s Castle provides happy escapism as needed!

Favorite Quotes

“Maybe this is a mist—”
I’m on her before she can finish her statement. With my mouth plastered against hers, I pin her to the wall. My hand delves under the scratchy material of the maid’s uniform to find her underwear. I pull that scrap of lace off and drop it on the floor. She yelps lightly but doesn’t pull away. I cup her ass and pull her against my hard-on. Her right leg comes up to curl around my hip, trying to get closer. I grind my shaft against her soft pussy, showing her how badly I want her. I tongue her deep and hard and long until her hands are gripping my shoulders and her hips are pushing against mine.

“Don’t stop. Kale please,” I beg. I’m so close.
“I don’t think anything could stop me right now, baby.” He comes down over me, the tip of his cock pressing inside of me.
“I like when you call me that.” I wrap my arms around his neck, pulling him down for a kiss. He comes easily. This kiss is soft and sweet. His body stills after he pushes his cock deeper into me. My body tries to adjust. There is a small burn, but I don’t care. I let my fingers drift down his face, tracing over one of his scars. Memorizing every small detail about him.
“Kale, I’m not scared.” I wrap my legs around him. “I want this. I want you.”

A soft palm comes up to cup my cheek. “What’s the fierce expression on your face for?”
I turn my lips into her hand and nuzzle her. “Just thinking about how I’d torch any man who’d touch you.”
She lets out a surprised laugh. “Really? For just touching me?”
I stare down at her, my dark eyes capturing her light ones. “For even thinking about touching you.” I drive forward until the full length of my cock is sheathed. Her eyes widen and her hands fly up to catch my shoulders. “You”—thrust—”belong”—thrust—”to me.” I pound her hard and fast. I use my body to open her wider, spreading her legs until she has no choice but to take everything I have to give her.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Teacher by Fiona Cole

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Voyeur, #6
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Daniel
Heroine: Hanna
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 15, 2020
Started On: September 25, 2020
Finished On: September 29, 2020

Teacher by Fiona Cole is a moving read in many ways, dealing with the difficult topic of recovering from past traumas that had left its weighty mark on both the hero and heroine. Book 6 in the Voyeur series, Teacher is a book that can be read as a standalone without feeling like you have missed out on something major from the previous books. I did not read the first five books for that matter and felt right at home with Teacher, from start to finish.

40 year old Daniel is the owner of Voyeur, a sex club where consenting adults indulge in their wildest fantasies. 26 year old Hanna is trying to live her life as she promised her twin sister Sofia and leave behind the major scars that had been the resultant effect of having being abducted at the age of seventeen and used pretty much in every way conceivable. Therapy had done its job for the most part, but Hanna still struggles with physical intimacy, and comes off as someone who is standoffish to most, when she is just unable to make herself enjoy being in the moment.

At the sex club, around Daniel, Hanna feels safe enough to let her fears go and perhaps think about physical intimacy as something she could enjoy. When the idea takes root, Hanna is determined that she would find her lost self with Daniel who is ready to help Hanna move past her fears and embrace her sexuality as it should be. Daniel tells himself that by helping Hanna, he is paying penance for the biggest failure of his life which had ended in tragedy, and that it would help assuage his guilt.

Daniel and Hanna’s non-relationship is perfectly suited for their needs; Daniel does not want romantic entanglements, the scars from his past having worked him over pretty good and Hanna, who does not like putting herself into situations she has no control over. The sex scenes are hot and steamy, with Daniel and Hanna losing themselves in each other and eventually their hearts to one another.

In the end, I was left with just one single sentiment – every woman should have a man like Daniel to initiate them into the wonderful world of physical intimacy. Reminds me of what Daphne says to Simon in an episode of Bridgerton that is all the rave on Netflix – that it was no wonder their mamas kept everything to do in the bedroom a secret, for if otherwise they [the women] would get nothing done. When it is right between two people, there is nothing like it, nor would there ever be, and that is ultimately what Daniel teaches us readers before the book is through.

Recommended for fans of romances that deal with recovering from tragic pasts and healing in the arms of that right someone. This book delivers in spades!

Final Verdict: In Teacher, Ms. Cole delivers beautifully on how the very concept of healing could be beautiful and utterly sexy both at the same time. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

On my second pass, she lifted up, pushing me inside more.
“Daniel, please.”
The woman panted on the other side of the glass as she rode the man’s cock. Hanna watched enraptured by the control the woman was taking over her lover, and I let her have the same control to fuck my fingers.
“You’re so tight, Hanna,” I groaned against her skin. “So wet.”
The words flew out of my mouth, and I waited, but Hanna was too lost to herself to care. She rode my fingers harder, and I used my thumb to rub at her hard, slick bundle of nerves. Her whimpers grew into moans that sank into my soul. Her pussy tightened, getting ready to come, and I feared I’d come in my pants right along with her.
When the man gripped the woman’s ass and pulled her cheeks apart, exposing every inch of him entering her, Hanna came.

My fingers moved faster and faster. I dug my heels into the mattress and swallowed, trying to get moisture back in my mouth.
Guilt poked at my pleasure that I was fantasizing about Daniel as I played with myself, but then I remembered his deep groan that had rumbled from his chest. I remembered the way his eyes watched between my legs, only sliding closed at the last minute before his cum shot out. He hadn’t even cared that it landed on his shirt and neck, he’d been so lost in his pleasure.
And just like that, I fell. Waves of ecstasy spread from my core over my body, bringing my skin to life. My lips fell open, freeing moans of pleasure I hadn’t even known I was capable of.

My entire focus centered on Daniel’s tongue and the need to come. There was no room for anything else.
“Play with your tits, baby.”
Without hesitation, I did as told. I had no idea my nipples were so sensitive. I should’ve been ashamed of how much I liked the rough pinches and hard tugs, but nothing mattered right then. Daniel pushed his fingers into me and latched on to my clit, sucking hard, and that was it. Pleasure crashed over me, flinging me off a cliff, sending me into a free-fall I never wanted to come back from. I wanted to live in this feeling, this pleasure, this oblivion.
Instead of crashing back into my body, soft licks and strokes cradled me back to earth.
“Beautiful.”
His praise wrapped me in the comfort I’d come to associate just with him.

I wasn’t sure who moved first. I wasn’t sure it mattered. I pressed up as he dipped down, and our mouths connected softly, afraid to break the fragile moment we’d created.
He drank from my lips, stroked them with his tongue, and I happily opened, needing to taste him. Sliding my arms around his waist, I held on tight, letting the intensity of us kissing wash over me.
We kissed and kissed. Not because we were at Voyeur and this was another lesson to help me accept touch. No, this was because I was Hanna, and he was Daniel, and we wanted to.
What that meant, I didn’t know, but I definitely didn’t care right then. Rules be damned.

“Does my cock feel good in your tight pussy?”
Rather than falling back into memories, I clung to him, held his stare, stayed in the present. My nipples pebbled tight and scraped his chest. “Yes. Fuck me, Daniel. Make me come.”
He pulled back until just the head rested at my opening. “Hold on, baby.”
And with that, his control snapped. He fucked me harder, stopping every once in a while to grind his hips to my clit, to suck my nipples, and whisper filthy things in my ear that did nothing but make me wetter. He made me listen to the slapping sounds of our flesh and admit how good I felt.
My nails dug into his back, and I clung to the reality he created—a reality I never wanted to lose.

“You’re a fucking queen. Taking my cock however you want.”
Her lush lip popped free, and she smiled, picking up the pace. She leaned back with the most delicious smirk on her mouth. Her back arched, making her bouncing tits all I saw. Needing to taste her, I sat up and latched on, wrapping my arm around her waist to help her ride me harder.
We lost our rhythm, a mass of need and desire twisted together, racing for the finish.
She whimpered and ground on me with each pass, and I needed her to come before I lost my control and came first. I slid my hand between our bodies, pinching her slick clit between my fingers as I bit around her breasts.
“Daniel, Daniel. Yes. Fuck. I’m coming.”
“That’s it, baby. Feel it. Fuck me.”
She wrapped her arms around my head and went wild, screaming her pleasure, ripping my own orgasm from me.

Sliding my hand up her spine, I buried my fist in her hair and gripped, pulling her head back and held on, fucking her hard now.
“Daniel. Oh, God. Yes.”
Unintelligible sounds of pleasure and begging fell from both our lips as we watched ourselves in the mirror.
“Look at you,” I growled. “Look at your perfect pussy taking my fat cock. Does it feel good, Hanna? Do you like the way it stretches your tight cunt?”
“Yes. More. Please.”
She was wild, her hand clawing at the mattress. One of them coming up to grip her own breast to pinch her nipple. Fuck me, that sight would be blazed in my memory forever.

Lightning fast, he rolled over, pulling me with him and sat up, holding me close, letting me control the rhythm.
This position had soon become my favorite. The control and dominance of it fueled my desire and flooded my veins with more heat. Using my thighs, I rose and fell, grinding down and moving faster.
He sucked on my flesh, and I held on tight, losing all tempo and riding him hard, needing to come. Daniel gripped my hips and helped me. Sweat coated my body, and my muscles ached from pulling so tight, clenching in anticipation of the orgasm to come.
“Come on, baby. Cum on my cock. Squeeze me with that tight pussy.”
Dirty talk once had me running, but now, it sent me over the edge, falling into the most blissful oblivion I’d ever known.
My world exploded all around me to the music of my own orgasm mixing with his grunts and groans.
“Fuck, yes,” he ground out. “Fuck. Hanna.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: Thick as Thieves by Sandra Brown

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Ledge Burnet
Heroine: Arden Maxwell
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 25, 2020
Started On: September 04, 2020
Finished On: September 13, 2020

Thick as Thieves by Sandra Brown may not be my favorite book from hers of late, but it is still a worthy read in many ways, the effusive charm with which Ms. Brown lures readers to her books ever so present. The story begins in the year 2000, with a theft of one million dollars taking place, by the following day which, one ends up in the hospital, the other dead, and another in jail. The money goes missing along with one of the men, never to be found again.

Years later, daughter of the man who went missing, Arden Maxwell returns to her hometown, drawn to find out once and for all what it is that had happened to her father that fateful night. Arden comes to town with her own little secret, yet finds herself dealing with a loss that is profound, which drives her more so than ever to get to the truth. However, the forces at play in town includes those that mean her harm, believing Arden to be the only way to find the missing money.

Ledge Burnet whose past is tied with that of the perpetrator, finds himself reluctantly drawn into the world that is Arden’s. When she seeks him out to undertake renovations at her family home, Ledge finds his protective and primal instincts roused, wanting to posses and be possessed by the woman who holds him enthralled.

I enjoyed the combination that is Arden and Ledge, Arden being just the right touch of defiance and vulnerability that meshes well with the totally alpha male that is Ledge. The one thing that I continue to admire, be a fan of, and be irresistibly drawn towards is the unique craftsmanship when it comes to heroes in Ms. Brown’s books. It is effortless, the way in which her heroes always makes me fall and fall hard, and that has always been the case, no matter what.

While I predicted what had happened on the night that changed the lives of both Arden and Ledge’s, I still enjoyed the immersive experience that this book offered and am definitely looking forward to Blind Tiger, which is to hit the book shelves on August of this year!

Recommended for fans of thrillers, romantic suspense, and fans of Ms. Brown’s impressive ability to write books that continue to amaze!

Final Verdict: With Thick as Thieves, Ms. Brown delivers a tale that is a page turner on multiple fronts, rendering the reader to be in a constant state of anticipation from start to finish.

Favorite Quotes

Throughout the day, she’d caught herself analyzing that kiss, the manly spontaneity that had sparked it, the bold lustiness of it, and its startling, erotic effect on her.
But all her analyses had left her no better prepared for this kiss. She might have invited it, but he immediately took charge of it. Taking unrestricted possession of her mouth, he slid his tongue along hers. She responded with an involuntary, shivery movement of her breasts against his chest.
A low growl emanated from his throat. His hands grazed the sides of her breasts before coasting down her rib cage to bracket her hips.

He raised his head, looked into her face, pulled his arm from around her shoulders, and swept his thumb across her full, wet lower lip. “You want to know about my interest in you? It has a lot to do with this.”
“Actions speak louder than words.”
Holding her gaze, he slipped his left hand beneath the hem of her top, pressed his palm against her midriff, then moved it up to squeeze her breast and keep it plumped above the cup of her bra while lowering his head to nuzzle her.
He rubbed his face against those tantalizing breasts that for days—seemed like a lifetime—he had wanted to put his mouth to.

“That morning when you came uninvited to my house, you ran your hand—this hand—along the bannister and across the mantel. Appreciatively. Like a caress. You probably weren’t even aware of doing it. But it was so sensual, it took my breath. And ever since, I’ve fantasized you stroking me, just that way.”
Lust as incendiary as lava coursed through him, overtaking everything. In its path, conscience, morality, and honor were consumed, and supplanted by unstoppable desire.
Glass of whiskey still in hand, he curved his arm around her neck, hooking it in the bend of his elbow, and growled, “Your fantasy is a helluva lot tamer than mine.”

She reached between their bodies and wrapped her hand around him. Her eyes widened in appreciation of his ampleness, which made him groan around another half smile. It turned into a grimace of pleasure as she stroked her way up, back down, up again.
Then she caressed the tip. It was full and taut, and already slick. The slow revolutions her thumb made to spread the moisture caused him to hiss and squeeze his eyes shut. “Damn, Arden. Now.”
She did as asked and guided him. He pushed into her, but drew in a sharp breath over her tightness. “Jesus. Are you sure you—”
“Yes.” She clutched his butt and tilted her hips up.

He kept the pace languid, but with each gliding arc, he pushed in a little higher, reaching her where he hadn’t before, and when she said his name on a near sob, he gathered her against him until there was no space between them. Nothing existed except her body and his, his hard and insistent, hers soft and inviting, his inside hers, a perfect coupling.
The chair rocked slowly; they spun out of control.

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

Review: His Father by A. E. Murphy

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Sargent Wolf
Heroine: Tempest
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 01, 2018
Started On: July 25, 2020
Finished On: August 06, 2020

Having experienced the high that came with reading Becoming His Mistress, I quickly grabbed a copy of His Father by A. E. Murphy as this one seemed to be right up my alley. Younger heroine who meets the father of her best friend, and bam! The sparks fly and there is no looking back, even when the union is bound to be opposed and face a lot of turbulent times before reaching the ultimate happily ever after.

When Sargent Wolf’s son Maddox brings home his best friend Tempest, with whom Maddox had been backpacking all over the world, the reaction that the first introduction itself triggers in both Sargent and Tempest is one that cannot be denied. Sargent hides his obvious fascination with Tempest’s piercing and more behind gruff indifference, while Tempest tries her hardest to act as if its every day occurrence to meet a man who makes her wet with want with one searing glance sent her way.

Before long, Sargent and Tempest give in to their desire for one another, come what may. There is no denying that they fit like two peas in a pod, with Tempest answering a deep seated need in Sargent for acceptance and love, something that he would not have admitted to even with a gun pointed at his head. However, there are darker forces at play in Sargent’s life that he has to sort out before anything longer term can come of what is between him and Tempest, not to mention facing Maddox once the cat is out of the bag.

His Father, though not of the caliber as Becoming His Mistress, was a compelling read for the most part. I liked both Sargent and Tempest; Sargent is the kind of hero that I love best – gruff, demanding, and reluctant to face the truth of his feelings towards the heroine. Tempest was exactly what Sargent needed – kind and gentle, with a depth to her character which gives her a maturity that most people her age would not have.

There is a particular incident in the story as it reaches a pivotal point, which many readers may find to be a turn off. But I think I understood why what happened took place. There was literally nothing else Sargent could have done at that point in time, but give in. But at the same time, I found the turn the story took to reach that point a bit jarring. While it was understood that Sargent had had a tough time with Maddox’s mother, the whole drug sale affiliation tangent just seemed out of place, even though I suppose it served its purpose towards the end.

I loved the angst factor that came later on, and how Sargent came through at the last minute, lending the emotional depth to the story that I craved when all was said and done. The one thing that I missed was an epilogue – it would have meant so much more for the story had there been an epilogue at the end.

Recommended for fans of those who love age gap romances, when falling in love seems so wrong, but feels so darn right.

Final Verdict: With emotional depth, angst, and scorching hot sex leaping out of the pages, Ms. Murphy hits it out of the ballpark with His Father.

Favorite Quotes

“Jesus,” he whispers when he finally makes contact and slips his finger into the wetness between my thighs. I whimper, shifting on the soft rug as he drags the moisture to my clitoris and rolls it gently, only quickening his pace when I shudder.
I reach out and grab his bare arm as my aching, clenching, and burning body writhes from his touch alone.
“Please,” I beg on a whisper, aching to be filled, touched more, something. Anything.
When his mouth closes around my pierced nipple and his tongue rolls around it I grip the fur rug and come undone.

I crush my lips against hers, making her squeak with surprise. Making myself groan as she accepts me so willingly, tangling her tongue with mine perfectly. I grip her around the back of her neck holding her to me as I pull her closer, forcing her to slide her leg over my lap until she’s straddling me.
Her fingers push through my hair, it feels incredible and sends tingles down my spine and straight to my dick.
When she releases my mouth for a breath I kiss her throat, her collar, then yank down the front of her shirt, popping out the pierced breast so I can suck it into my mouth.
She gasps, and that goes straight to my cock too.

My body is trembling, almost weak as I fight to hold onto my control. She’s so good. She feels so good.
“A little more,” I whisper as her mewls get louder and her grip gets tighter. “I really need you to get there.” I’ve never not lasted the length required.
I’m going to blow it and she’s going to laugh at the experience with the old man.
Fuck that. I am not old. I have better stamina now than I did in my twenties.
I drive into her faster, my hips hammering at a speed I didn’t realize I was capable of.
“God,” she whispers, clutching me tighter.
Her pussy starts pulsing around my swollen dick and I know she’s there.

“Hold tight, angel.”
“To what?”
She gasps when I slam into her so hard she shoots forward, face-planting the mattress. I laugh, but only for a second as she starts to quiver around my hard dick that’s still firmly inside of her tight little cunt. She’s so wet, making it hard to manipulate her clit in the right way. Though I know I must be doing it right because she’s mewling like a fucking porn star and her entire body is shaking.
I pump slowly, circling my hips and then jackhammering into her quickly until I feel her nearing the edge. I’m teasing her but I love it. Her little curses and whimpers and moans are fuel to my already heated fire.

I reach between us for his belt and undo it quickly as he tugs my shorts down to my knees and I manage to wriggle one foot free.
He doesn’t wait, the second I palm him with my hand he nudges inside, filling me completely. I sigh happily, never feeling more aroused than when I’m with him.
His lips touch mine gently as he slowly glides in and out. Pushing himself to the hilt and withdrawing to the tip so slowly it’s all I can do to stop myself from mounting him and riding him in a way I know he loves.

I squeal, not expecting it at all but then I melt because he presses his palm against my clit as his finger sinks inside.
“Sargent.” I hiss his name but I don’t know if it’s because I want him to stop or I need him to continue. Both are tangling together on this web of pure lust, adrenaline, and arousal he’s brought me to.
My head lolls back as he fucks me with his hand, kissing my neck before watching my reaction as I come undone by his touch alone.
I choke out a cry with my orgasm. His satisfied, smug, aroused grin only powers my climax further. I can’t handle it all. It’s too much.

I hardly get the chance to think or protest when she drops to her knees, pulls me free of my clothing and sucks me into her mouth.
“Jees…” I murmur, placing my hand on her head as she goes to fucking town on my cock. Her warm, wet, willing mouth is so soft and perfect. I lean forward and push gently into her mouth. She sucks, licks, grips, and rolls in all of the right places and then she swallows the head of me and I am so glad I came home when I did.
I’m so close, my balls are so fucking tight it’s painful. I want to hold out and fuck her right here, but I also want her to swallow me, not just my dick but everything I give her when I come.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Devil You Know, #1
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Hero: Piers Gedrick Atherton
Heroine: Lady Alexandra Lane
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 27, 2019
Started On: June 23, 2020
Finished On: June 28, 2020

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days is the debut book in the Devil You Know series by Kerrigan Byrne. Ms. Byrne came to my notice through her Victorian Rebels series, with her penchant for writing dark heroes, unacceptable in the modern times we live, where everything is dissected to the point where the enjoyment factor is taken away in order to publish books that seeks to placate all the notions and theories of those who shape the discourse of the current times.

Either way, Ms. Byrne is an author I choose to come back to because she delivers heroes of the kind I mentioned, with strong heroines who aren’t afraid of accepting the love of their lives for who they are. Of course love in its truest form, tends to change everyone for the better. How love influences the life of even the coldest of us is a marvelous thing, and that is what I have come to expect in her books, though her most recent works haven’t been hitting that spot exactly.

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days is quite a lengthy read – one more reason to love her work; she does not shy away from giving us stories that prolong the delicious goodness that is usually delivered. The series introduces to readers the lives of the Red Rogues, three women who come across one another at L’Ecole de Chardonne Mont Pèlerin in Switzerland. The three redheads being Lady Alexandra Lane and her dearest friends Francesca Cavendish and Cecelia Teague.

The three of them had gotten away with a lot of things then, pursued the sort of activities that were considered to be out of bounds for ladies. They read books that they were not allowed or supposed to read, they go on adventures of their own making, each on the verge of charting their own course in life when tragedy strikes and Alexandra faces the most heinous of crimes that can be committed against a woman on the cusp of adulthood, changing the course of the lives of the trio in a way they never saw coming.

What happens that night servers as a secret that ties them together through the years that leads up to the current events, where the three who have vowed they would not be taking husbands, finds themselves attending the betrothal of Francesca. However, things take a surprising turn when Alexandra offers to take the place of Francesca instead in marriage, something about Piers Gedrick Atherton, the scarred Duke of Redmayne calling to her.

Alexandra being who she is, wants to face her fears of intimacy head on, but matters of the heart aren’t as simple as she thinks them to be and it is a wild and turbulent ride for both Piers and Alexandra before things take a turn for the right for these two. In the midst of it all, with someone going to extraordinary lengths to target the Red Rogues, the secret that they had sworn to keep all those years back coming to haunt them now, there are no easy answers to be had for everything that unfolds along the way.

I enjoyed How to Love a Duke in Ten Days for the most part. I felt that the story was slow going in some places, especially at the beginning, while juggling the characterisation of multiple characters that Ms. Byrne introduces to readers. It is sometimes the norm for the debut book in the series to take that tangent because this is often where the author has to lay the groundwork for the books that would be published down the line in the series.

I enjoyed Alexandra and Piers, and fell in love with both of them at crucial junctures in the story. Piers, even though he remains clueless about his wife’s past, believing that her fear of intimacy comes from being with a brutish looking man such as himself; he is tender and looks out for her pleasure in every sense. But at the same time, the man who he is deep inside, an alpha who is dominant in nature does show up every once in a while, not to mention his childhood and the trauma associated with it affecting his perception of the fairer sex in a large way.

I fell in love with Alexandra the moment that she cast aside her stoic mannerism in the face of an attack that leaves her with the possibility that Piers might be no more. That was the moment that all her walls came crumbling down, that she showed the depth of her feelings towards her husband, the man who wanted to lay the world at her feet for her enjoyment.

Ms. Byrne does a pretty good job of working through Alexandra’s trauma and there are no miracles which suddenly propels her recovery. It is time as well as the man she calls her husband who helps her, once Piers comes to know of what had actually taken place, lending him that insight to take care of Alexandra’s needs in a way that would allow her to test her boundaries and find her comfort zone and be open to the idea of exploring beyond that. I think that, for the most part was why I enjoyed the story that unfolded. The mystery surrounding the events that takes place as attempts to take the lives of the Red Rogues was just a side story for me, which surprisingly I enjoyed towards its culmination.

While I enjoy the concept of strong and independent heroines, I like the concept of strong and alpha heroes just as much, who do not turn putty in the hands of their beloved from the onset. While Piers was alpha in his way, I am of the opinion that his character was tamped down in a huge way to suit Alexandra’s needs for the most part, and as a result he never really did get to revel in the true joy of being who he is; free to unleash the man within, who has a hunger so deep that it would have been breathtaking to watch unfold. That is the tragedy of this book in my opinion, which could have delivered so much more if not.

Recommended for fans of historical romances that offers rich detail and in-depth characterisation that suits modern tastes of readers today.

Final Verdict: How to Love a Duke in Ten Days delivers a splendid story for the most part, delving into the lives of three rebellious women who defy the norms and conventions to chart their own course in life.

Favorite Quotes

Only when she allowed herself to exhale did he press his mouth fully to hers, coaxing it to soften in sweet, aching drags. She felt the impression of his scar. Sensed his hesitation as it caught against her lower lip. And in that moment, she felt the need to encourage him more urgently than she required reassurance.
She lifted her hand from his shoulder to shape it over his jaw. The hair there was wondrously soft, and she tested it with questing fingers as she turned her mouth to press against the tight stratum where his scar interrupted his lip.
At this, he went impossibly still. His own breath catching as he awaited her next move.

Beneath the clever ministrations of his fingers, something inside her core melted, twisted with exquisite, rapturous heat. His fingers were so incredibly wet, gliding over every tender recess, leaving sweet trails of pleasure in their wake. Teasing her, driving her to the brink of. Of …
Something.
Alexandra’s hips lifted from the bed, as a visceral jolt seized her. “Piers?” she gasped.
“Let it come, darling,” he breathed. “Don’t fight it. Embrace it.” All his movement centered on the throbbing peak then, awakening from her body an unholy delight.

“It wouldn’t do to spend our honeymoon apart,” she said, turning from him. “But if that is your wish—”
He seized her arm, pulling her back into their intimate posture, his breath hot against her ear as his body melded to hers. “Do you have any idea, wife, what ten minutes in your company does to me?” His whisper was almost like a snarl in its animalistic intensity. “Do you really think I can smell your scent, that I can watch you knowing what lies beneath your shapeless dresses, and keep myself from tasting what is mine?”

“I don’t see why … we couldn’t make some sort of arrangement,” she offered breathlessly.
“Arrangement?” The word sounded indecent from his voice.
“We could … trade favors. Without intercourse. It could … help us to further our acquaintanceship.”
And, if they were lucky, they could teach each other a little about trust.
“I have one condition,” he murmured into her ear.
“What’s that?”
“You let me use my tongue.”

“Where did you go?” she whispered gently. “You’re miles away.”
“I was visiting the future,” he said casually.
“Oh?” Her brows rose. “And what did you see there, pray?”
“You,” he murmured, inhaling her vaguely tropical scent. Sweet and citrus. Intoxicating.
“And what was I doing?” she inquired.
He leaned in as low as he could while maintaining their waltz. “You were screaming my name.”
She blanched and would have stumbled had he not such a solid hold upon her. “W-what?”
“You were crying out blasphemies to every god you don’t believe in while you came apart in my arms.”

“Piers!” she gasped against his mouth.
“I like it when you say my name,” he growled. “I’ll like it even better when you moan it.”
“What—what are you doing?”
“I’m going to make you come.”
“Come.” She whispered the word as though testing it, and the husky, illicit sound of it almost broke his last vestige of restraint. “Like—like you did last night? With your fingers?”
Christ, was she trying to kill him? “Is that what you want?”
She paused, her short, hard breaths breaking against his. In that moment, he would have given his left eye to see her expression. “I would,” she said breathlessly. “I want…”

He gripped her hips. Ruthlessly pinning her still as he focused wet, rhythmic darts of his tongue across the trembling peak of her clitoris. The sensation of it seized every one of her muscles with such arching force, she’d not realized what his other hand was about to do.
Until his finger sank inside her.
She clamped her other hand over the first, unable to contain her scream. The pleasure locked her muscles. Held her captive in a dizzying, almost terrifying summit.

Tonight in the dark, a part of him had entered her, if only for the briefest of blissful moments … and she’d drenched him with her sweetest release.
At once, his cock was no longer in his trousers. He dipped the finger into his mouth, then another, searching for the trace of her flavor. Leaving moisture on his fingers, he brought them down to his pulsing sex, spreading what he could over the steely length of him.
He wanted this to be her hand. Soft and small where his was large and rough.
Or her mouth. Hot and wet and welcoming.

The climax began as a burn in his spine, spilling down his entire frame like an avalanche. Inevitable. Unstoppable. Overpowering.
As the shocks of release became surges, he made a sound only an animal could have. Bringing her drawers down to his hips, he spilled liquid heat on the snowy-white linen. The sight of it inflamed him further as pulse after pulse was pulled from his very core for such a length of time, he wondered if it would ever cease.

He was like a human incinerator, immolating her with his carnal heat.
Alexandra felt light-headed, not only disoriented by the swiftness of his kiss, but by the change in him. This was no patient, roguish seduction. This man grinding her against his very powerful, very naked body heeded no rules and brokered no patience.
He’d become a creature of raw, animalian need.

Alexandra looked down to where she straddled his thighs, where the formidable shape of his sex tented the sheet.
“I—I don’t know how to please you,” she confessed, suddenly daunted.
He gazed up at her with a patience so tender, so genuine, it released a swell of emotion inside her. “Don’t you know by now, Alexandra, that everything you do pleases me? To look at you pleases me. To touch and kiss you pleases me. The scent and taste and shape of you is the greatest pleasure I’ve ever known. Anything you do beyond that…”
His words died on an indrawn hiss as she reached between them and uncovered him, curling her fingers around the jutting base of his erection. It was warmer than she imagined. Hotter, even, than his fevered body.

He dipped his finger lower, wickedly testing where their bodies were joined, gathering the abundant moisture there and swirling it around her throbbing hood.
Her lips tore from his as her spine arched and flexed, her head dropping back on her shoulders as a hoarse, guttural cry broke from her.
She convulsed around him, over him, her sex milking at him in voluptuous, rhythmic waves. Her unbound hair brushed the small of her back, and her clasping fingers tore at his own locks as she shivered and shuddered in a long, extravagant release.

He slid into her with one fluid, beautifully deep motion, settling into another deliberate, controlled rhythm. His alert eyes searched her face, gauged her expressions.
She felt his hesitancy. His lingering restraint, and she brought her hands around his waist and lower, pressing him deeper.
“More,” she whispered, feeling him tense, seeing the question in his eyes. “More,” she repeated, lifting her hips to meet his.
His thrusts quickened, driving deeper, pressing her higher.
She loved this, the softness of the mattress at her back, the hardness of him on top of her. She felt safe. She felt … glorious.

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Review: The Duke’s Treasure by Minerva Spencer

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Arrangement, Anthology
Publisher: Kensington
Hero: Beaumont Halliwell
Heroine: Josephine Loman
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 28, 2020
Started On: June 22, 2020
Finished On: June 22, 2020

The Duke’s Treasure by Minerva Spencer delves into a marriage of convenience between 35 year old Beaumont Halliwell, Sixth Duke of Wroxton and 23 year old Josephine Loman. Beau having returned from war to find his family impoverished and in need of finances of the kind that Josephine’s father has to offer in return for his hand in marriage. These two are opposites in every way, with Beau being sinfully good looking from the ton while Josephine is plain and has no beauty to offer.

As she enters the marriage, Josephine carries a secret close to her heart that she vows never to let be known. That she has fancied Beau from way back when they had first met, the incident which had not even registered for Beau. With the marriage having taken place, Beau expects nothing more from his wife than bed-sport and companionship, having no expectations beyond that when it comes to a union that he had been forced into.

However, from the very first night of their marriage, Beau is taken by surprise when it comes to the chemistry that sizzles between them, and how different his marriage turns out to be from the get go. However, trouble is not afar, as his past comes calling, trying to win his affections over once again, creating friction in the fragile ties being forged between him and his spouse.

This was a very sensible marriage of convenience story for the most part, with communication between the Beau and Josephine doing away with the misunderstandings that would otherwise have been plentiful in a marriage such as theirs. For the most part, Beau is the one who gets ahead of the misunderstandings that may arise, because he chooses to explain to Josephine where he is coming from and comes clean on whatever secrets that maybe buried in the half truths that comes to light during the course of their marriage.

The story did actually have the fundamentals in place to deliver a good and healthy dose of angst, but in the end, even without it, I enjoyed the story that Ms. Spencer delivered via this novella. The heady sensuality that was interwoven into the story made it so, the connection between Beau and Josephine an undeniable one that made for scrumptious reading. The only thing I could have wished for was for this to be a full length novel, which could have been ideal for bringing a healthy dose of conflict and angst to the story.

Recommended for fans of historical romances with that bite of sensuality that takes you by surprise, all in a good way!

Final Verdict: The Duke’s Treasure is a surprisingly delicious morsel of a story, recommended for those who love a healthy dose of sensuality in their stories!

Favorite Quotes

“Yes, Josephine, take what you want—use me,” he whispered as a second finger joined the first, the uncomfortable burn only momentary before the friction was pleasurable, the motion hypnotic.
Jo hadn’t even noticed he’d lowered his body over hers until she felt the puff of hot air on her sex. Before she could move or close her legs or do anything, his tongue pushed between her folds and his lips closed around her throbbing peak. Jo sobbed as he sucked, his hand still moving in controlled thrusts, until her hips began to buck wildly.
He gave a breathless laugh and pulled away just as a wave of pleasure slammed into her. And then again and again.

“You’re small—so tight,” he purred, his hips beginning to pulse, only lightly at first. “I want to fill every part of you,” he hissed, his thrusts smooth and strong. “Tilt your hips, Josephine—take me deeper, as deep as you can.”
Jo did as he bade and he groaned, his hips beginning to drum.
Jo clenched her teeth but reveled in the signs he was losing control—his movements less precise, his breath coming in harsh gasps, and the part of him that was inside her was so very hard. This was all her doing; she was the reason he looked less and less like a cool aristocrat and more like a feral, earthy, primitive savage.

“Did you wear this hideous nightgown to express your displeasure?”
She gave an adorable gurgle of laughter. “Yes, is it terribly obvious? I just thought—”
“I want it off. Now,” he said, standing and lifting her to her feet along with him. “Do you want to dress in a way that pleases me, Josephine?” he murmured as his fingers made quick work of the few buttons.
“Yes, of course.” Her voice was flatteringly breathy.
“Then you will wear this for me in the future.” He lifted her gown over her head and flung it aside.
“I want you waiting for me in nothing from now on.”

“Watch me as I take you,” he ordered her, his heavy-lidded eyes dropping to where he was pressed against her opening. And then he entered her in one smooth thrust.
Unable to look away from the place where they were joined, Jo cried out as her body struggled to accustom itself to his thick length.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” he gritted, holding her impaled for a long moment before pulsing his hips in sharp thrusts. “I’ve thought about being inside you all day long,” he said while they stared at the mesmerizing sight of his slick shaft sliding in and out of her body. “Did you think of me today, Josephine? Did you want this?” He lifted her hips up until only his crown was inside and then brought her down hard.
“Yes,” Jo gasped, shuddering at his powerful assault.

“You are so wet for me,” he murmured into her neck, biting and kissing and licking while he pulled her tightly against his chest and drove her ruthlessly toward her climax.
When she began to shake and cry out he kneed her thighs apart and entered her with a punishing thrust, riding her hard while teasing another orgasm from her just before burying himself to the hilt and emptying deep inside her.

“Have you pictured yourself spread out on a bed like that ever since, Josephine? Naked, exposed . . . vulnerable,” he whispered, his hand never stopping. “Am I the man in your fantasy? I hope so. Am I cruel? Wicked? Relentless?”
Jo bit her lip hard enough to taste metal. She would not—she would not—
“I would tie your wrists . . . restrain your ankles . . .” he murmured, his voice hypnotic, his breath coming in rapid, heated puffs on her throat. “If I had you bound that way . . . what do you think I would do . . . Josephine? Do you think I’d make you . . . come?”

“Shhhh, I’m not going anywhere, my lovely, needy darling,” he whispered, positioning something bigger and hotter against her entrance. “This is what you want,” he told her.
“Yes.”
“Yes,” he agreed, “and I’m going to give it to you. Hard.”
He took her with agonizing slowness, making her feel each and every inch, his body sinuous and undulating, his thrusting slow, lazy, deep.
“Tell me the way you want it,” he said, his voice strained, his body slick with the effort of resisting his own need, but his motions smooth, thorough, controlled.
“Please,” she whispered.
“Tell me,” he ordered through gritted teeth.
“I want you . . . hard, Beau.”

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ARC Review: Cold Cruel Kiss by Toni Anderson

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice: Crossfire, #4
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Max Hawthorne
Heroine: Lucy Aston
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 28, 2021
Started On: January 12, 2021
Finished On: January 19, 2021

Cold Cruel Kiss, the 4th installment in the Cold Justice: Crossfire series brings to readers the story of FBI Supervisory Special Agent Max Hawthorne and Lucy Aston, a staff at the US Embassy in Argentina. Story begins when the daughter of the US Ambassador to Argentina is kidnapped in broad daylight on Christmas Eve, and FBI sends Max, one of their best agents in hostage negotiations to find a way to navigate the treacherous waters surrounding the Ambassador’s family in the wake of the kidnapping.

As Max tries to piece together the events that led up to the kidnapping and attempts to make sense of what has unfolded since then, the one person who gets under his skin is Lucy. She stands out, not because she wants to. On the contrary, she tries really hard to fade into the background, to be rendered as unnoticeable as humanly possible. And she has been quite adept at achieving what she had set out to do, that is until the too sexy for his own good FBI agent, with that sexy accent of his, walks through the door.

When Max and Lucy are “forced” to work together in the field owing to circumstances, Max’s interest is piqued beyond the professional lines, and it is not long before the two start developing feelings for each other. Lucy however, carries a secret that could devastate the fragile ties that are coming to life between the two. Her penance for that one mistake in trusting the wrong person had cost her more than she is willing to be let known, and she walks a path sharper than a double-edged sword when it comes to balancing out her duty to her country and what she must do in order to keep her deepest and darkest secret from becoming common knowledge.

However, Max and his sincerity makes it difficult for Lucy to stay unaffected, and before long she is pulled deep into the web of desire and want that wreaks havoc on both their senses. At the same time, the kidnappers reach a point of no return which could mean devastating consequences for the Ambassador’s family, if even the slightest mistake were to be made. With a second operation running in parallel which brings the Kremlin to the forefront, it is a race against time for Max to bring the Ambassador’s daughter safely back home.

Cold Cruel Kiss for the most part was an engaging read for me. I liked the main protagonists fairly well and rooted for their happily ever after. At the same time, the investigation and the secrets lurking in the deep shadows of the world of secret service operatives was one that had me working through nervous tension as the story sped along.

The most intriguing aspect of the novel for me was the setting – how FBI had to balance out investigations into a crime involving an American diplomat in terms of working with the less than reliable local law enforcement and getting the job done.

Recommended for fans of the Cold Justice series.

Final Verdict: Cold Cruel Kiss explores the shades of grey that colors the world of secret service agents and the murky waters that federal agents must navigate through when it comes to crimes committed on foreign soil.

Favorite Quotes

She tilted her hips and took him deeper as he found the rhythm that made them both gasp and groan and cling. Again and again, over and over. She did not want this to end. She would live in this instant for an eternity if she had the choice, poised on the edge, waiting for the crash that they both knew was coming.

He positioned himself at her slick entrance and pushed inside, and it felt so good, so right, she bit her lip to hold back a moan.
She tipped her head back as Max filled her perfectly. She saw the pulse in his neck kick up a notch and then he began pounding into her, all raw power and honed male beauty. They were both wet and slippery, and his grip on her bit into her muscles with a delicious sharpness. It was incredible. It was amazing. Once again, she never wanted it to end.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple Books

Review: An Unbreakable Bond by Robyn Donald

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Eliot Buchanan
Heroine: Tifaine Brandon
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 24, 1986
Started On: May 29, 2020
Finished On: May 29, 2020

Published in 1986, An Unbreakable Bond by Robyn Donald is not for the fainthearted. Featuring a hero that borders on and ventures into the territory of cruelty, with a heroine who stands her ground, as confused as she is by the tidal wave of desire that clouds everything between them, this is Harlequin as I love their titles.

22 year old Tifaine Brandon (Tiffany) meets Eliot Buchanan not under the best of circumstances, with Eliot thinking her to be the mistress of his uncle. The disdain that Eliot feels for her partly results from how she makes him feel; unhinged in a way that he has never been around any woman in his life.

With a secret that Tiffany holds close to her heart, Eliot has no way of knowing the truth, even as the clash of wills results in scenes a lot of readers would find it hard to accept. At the same time, this rollercoaster ride of emotions and the constant upheaval that is a given when it comes to stories by Ms. Donald makes it hard to put this down. Fact that I finished this in one day is testament to that.

With all the misgivings I had, especially in relation to a particular scene which I will not detail here, I still loved the escape the story provided me with. The ruthless nature of Eliot drew me in as much as the proudly defiant nature of Tiffany’s did. The passion and sizzling attraction between the two is often thick enough to cut through with a knife, and that was as invigorating and heady as the rest of the components of the story as they came together.

In a way, what made Eliot’s cruelty “worthwhile” was the fact that he actually admitted to what had or almost did happen at a certain point in time in the story. He abashedly points out to how out of control Tiffany makes him feel, and the depths to which his emotions go when it comes to her. Somehow I understood where he was going with that; great passion does not allow for placidity when it comes to emotions. If you want peaceful, you go with the person who makes you feel as little as possible.

Recommended for fans of older and vintage Harlequin titles. This is not everyone’s cup of tea, especially in this day and age.

Final Verdict: In An Unbreakable Bond, Robyn Donald gives readers a tale that consumes the whole of you, even as you are reluctant to give it your all.

Favorite Quotes

His eyes blazed into flames as his mouth came down again, forcing her lips apart so that he could explore the depths of her mouth in a kiss so unlike any other she had ever received that she thought she might faint. Indeed, her knees did buckle. He made a noise deep in his throat and shifted one arm so that it supported her. His mouth burned down the stretched arc of her throat.
The weakness in her limbs spread until she was trembling. Deep inside her strange sensations sprang into life; they flamed fiercely, heating her blood so that a flush ran like fire across her skin.

‘No,’ she gasped, using her hand to push at him.
‘Don’t be silly.’ He too was breathing heavily, his expression set as he used her hand to pull her out of the chair and into his arms. He looked—out of control, she thought with a tremor of fear. But Eliot didn’t ever lose control. And she wished that she knew more about men because perhaps then she would understand his actions.
Fear was swept away as he groaned and bent his head to capture her mouth in a kiss so seducingly sweet that she could not resist him.
‘Relax,’ he muttered, his breath warm in her mouth. ‘I swear I’m not going to hurt you. I swear—oh God, you torment me…’

Completely unconscious of what she did, she slid her arms around his shoulders, holding him firmly. A moment ago she had been furious, his black enchantment of her senses only adding to her rage. Now a strange and awkward tenderness filled her. She didn’t know what to do.
‘Oh, God,’ he muttered, his face drawn. He looked exhausted, almost haunted; as she watched his eyes closed and he began to kiss her, tiny little kisses across the high line of her cheeks, tracing out the contours of her face with his mouth.
‘You’re driving me crazy.’ The words were barely understandable, his voice was so thick.

Purchase Links: Amazon | AbeBooks

Review: Lovewrecked by Karina Halle

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Tai Wakefield
Heroine: Daisy Lewis
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 25, 2020
Started On: May 27, 2020
Finished On: May 28, 2020

Lovewrecked is my very first read from Karina Halle. It seemed to be the perfect fit at that point in time, as the country was slowly emerging from the first and God willing only lock-down that will be imposed owing to the pandemic, and I was feeling a bit antsy, in need of something that would provide the sort of escape I was looking for. Seeing this on Amazon, promising a sizzling enemies to lovers story, I thought to myself, why not, and the rest as they say is history.

Lovewrecked tells the story of how 34 year old Tai Wakefield meets 28 year old Daisy Lewis, when the latter travels to New Zealand for her elder sister’s nuptials. Having lost her job and her boyfriend who was supposed to help her get through the wedding which she wasn’t all that much looking forward to attending, needless to say Daisy is not in the best form when she meets the formidable grump that is Tai.

From the onset, Tai’s grumpy nature makes Daisy want to ruffle his feathers in an attempt to see how far she can go. There is a lightheartedness to her character that I found a bit annoying at times, but then there is a reason behind why she is the way she is, which Ms. Halle unveils as the story moves further along.

As the story moves forward, Tai and Daisy along with her sister and husband find themselves shipwrecked and with no rescue in sight, the group of four are forced to spend time together in a way that no other situation would have imposed upon them. It is then that we see the other side of Daisy, where readers get an insight into where her seemingly frivolous and carefree attitude comes from, and the simmering tension between Daisy and her sister, which all goes back to their childhood.

I would not go as far as to say that I loved Daisy when all was said and done. Even though for the most part, I did find appealing qualities about her towards the end, I was not overly enthusiastic about her because of her annoying habit of skimming everything on the surface as things seemed to happen. I also found it a tad abrupt, the way she came to terms with her past, her wants, and needs towards the end, which just seemed to align with what was burgeoning to life between herself and Tai.

Tai on the other hand, was the kind of grumpy hero that I live for. Gorgeous, and sinfully sexy, Tai is a man with a past that makes him weary of long term commitment, especially when it comes to someone like Daisy who would never feel at peace living the kind of life that Tai has built for himself in a remote corner of the world. Tai makes it his life’s mission to keep emotional entanglements at bay, and yet it is Daisy’s persistence when it comes to him that chips away at the armor around his heart.

Overall, Lovewrecked did provide the kind of read that Karina Halle promises readers at the beginning. It was fun and lighthearted for the most part, with the secondary characters adding value to the story and characterization without deflecting attention from the main protagonists. The epilogue was also cute and served the story well towards leaving the reader with a good feeling overall.

Though promised as an enemies to lovers story, I found very little of that in the romance that buds to life between Tai and Daisy. Perhaps that was one reason why this depraved heart of mine wished for Tai’s character to have given the story more angst than it did, because I did expect the story to take a different turn than it did. But then most books do end up doing that. However, with all that, I still enjoyed Lovewrecked and would definitely look up Ms. Halle’s titles in the future.

Recommended for those who enjoy a feel good contemporary romance with a sexy grump of a hero who who continually has the habit of making your toes curl.

Final Verdict: Pure escapism, with just the needed touch of emotional depth is guaranteed with Karina Halle’s Lovewrecked!

Favorite Quotes

“Fine. Fine, you saw me get off,” I grumble. “You happy now?”
“Very.”
I cock my brow, the words taking a moment to rest on my tongue before I spit them out. “Did it make you hard?”
Yeah. I said it.
A bold look flashes in his eyes, more intense than the darkest coffee. “What do you think?”
I think yes.
“Are you still hard?”
I don’t know where the hell I’m getting the gumption to ask him these questions, but fuck it. It’s only fair now.
The look in his eyes intensifies and I watch his throat as he swallows.
“Why don’t you find out,” he manages to say, his words measured.

Before I even know what’s happening, I lean forward, my body operating on instinct only.
And I kiss him.
I can’t help it.
All these weeks of wanting to do this, wanting to know what his lips feel like against mine, it was inevitable that I’d lose control.
He stiffens at first, hesitating, then I feel the muscles in his back relax as he kisses me back.
And…shit.
I mean…wow.
He’s a good kisser.

“Tai,” I whisper, sticking my finger into the jar.
I stand right in front of him, holding my finger out, the honey dripping on the end.
He blinks at it. “Where did you get that?”
“Open your mouth.”
His eyes meet mine and for a moment I think he’s going to be a real hard-head and refuse.
Then he does as he’s told.
Opens his mouth.
That gorgeous, sensual mouth.
Wraps his lips around my finger, and gives it one, long deep pull that I feel all the way to my toes. His eyes never leave mine, if anything they intensify as his tongue rolls over the sides of my skin.
A moan vibrates through him, and I think it might be the sexiest sound I’ve ever heard.

I can see the fight in his eyes. The want to say no, the urge to say yes.
His urges win.
So do mine.
In a flash he whips me around so I’m pressed up hard against the palm tree, the rough bark digging into the back of my head.
He’s kissing me roughly, with impatience, teeth, lips, tongue all in a frenzy, creating a hurricane that will gladly consume us.

The pressure inside me goes over the threshold.
My skin flushes like I’m on fire and then…
I’m falling.
Sinking against the palm tree.
Falling into his hand.
Letting go.
Coming hard.

“Tai,” she whines, sounding breathless, impatient.
“It’s Captain Wakefield,” I tell her, grinning.
“Captain Wakefield. What are you waiting for?”
Nothing.
I suck in my breath and with one swift, hard thrust I plunge my cock deep inside of her.
“Fuck!” Daisy yelps, and I realize I may have been a bit rough.
I’m about to apologize when she cries out, “Keep going.”
That I can do. I slowly pull out and then spear her again, my cock sinking into the hilt as my fingers make bruises on her hips.

With my finger slipping and sliding all over her swollen clit, I stroke that sensitive bundle of nerves until she’s tense and ready to explode. Then, as she yells out my name and begins to shake and shudder, clenching around my cock, I let go.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” I growl, thrusting in harder and deeper, faster, like I’m trying to impale her right into the sand. Everything inside me tenses from my balls to my chest and then I’m being walloped by a tsunami, the orgasm ripping me apart and dragging me out to sea.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo