Review: The Maid’s Spanish Secret by Dani Collins

Format: E-Bookthemaidsspanishsecret
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Rico Montero
Heroine: Poppy Harris
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 16, 2019
Started On: August 13, 2019
Finished On: August 14, 2019

Hankering to read a category romance, because it has been ages, I decided to opt for The Maid’s Spanish Secret by a new to me author, Dani Collins. The story begins as the hero, Spanish aristocrat, Rico Montero comes to find that he has a daughter with none other than Poppy Harris, the woman with whom he had had a one time passionate encounter, which he still remembers at odd moments.

The knowledge of the existence of his daughter snaps Rico out of the funk he is in, given the death of his wife under most unfavorable circumstances. Rico turns up on Poppy’s doorstep, the home which she shares with her grandmother and throws her for a loop, big time. Rico is the last man she would have expected to see, given all the hopes and dreams that she had spun out of that unforgettable encounter having being smashed to smithereens under the weight of the knowledge that Rico had chosen to marry another.

Rico’s demands that he be part of his daughter’s life is what propels Poppy to give in. Not to mention, the reckless abandonment that Poppy had felt in his arms then comes blazing to life the minute he re-enters her life, stoking the flames of her very dormant desires up till that point. Each passionate encounter with Rico leaves her wanting more, begging for more, but for Poppy, without Rico’s heart to claim as hers, it would never ever be enough, the concept of love being something Rico struggles with.

I greatly enjoyed this harlequin romance, and felt so grateful for the escape it provided me with. It is hard to find authors whose books in these category romances that I can enjoy without feeling like something is missing as is the case with most Harlequin titles of today. This titles makes me hopeful and pushes me into thinking that I should sample more authors like Dani Collins, if what she brings to her stories is replicated in some form or the other across the vast expanse of the Harlequin romance titles.

I loved Poppy, no questions asked. She is so refreshing as a heroine because she lacks the artifice that is usually part and parcel of many heroines who are featured in romances like these, especially of this particular trope where the heroine has a secret baby. Poppy’s uniqueness lies in her ability to let her feelings be known. She communicates with her significant other, even when it leaves her vulnerable, emotional and otherwise.

We as readers, have sort of come to accept that the lack of communication between the main protagonists is the reason behind the heavy angst in romances. Perhaps rightfully so as well. While love is one of the most potent of emotions that a human being can experience, it is also one that renders us immensely vulnerable. Our pride often does not let us follow our hearts for fear of it being trampled upon. But Dani Collins has done the unthinkable and created angst where I would have originally thought would render a romance to be a tad boring.

Rico was wonderful too. I enjoyed immersing myself in his sensually charged self, and delving deep into his character which sheds so much light on why he tends to shy away from the deeper emotions. Bound by duty, having always lived his life by strict rules, Poppy had been the one time he had thrown caution to the wind and indulged. The fact that he has a hard time getting a read on his own emotions, knowing what they mean; that struggle was very real for Rico and I enjoyed watching him get to that point where he felt comfortable in the acceptance of his feelings for Poppy.

All in all, this was a delightful read in so many ways because Rafe and Poppy gets under your skin and into your heart before you know it. Thank you so much dear Dani, for giving me a new author to be hopeful about when it comes to short, emotionally and sensually charged reads that leaves you with a happy glow, inside and out.

Recommended, for fans of Harlequin romances and those looking for a short read that packs an emotional punch.

Final Verdict: The Maid’s Spanish Secret has all the right ingredients which makes for a superb read. Dani Collins certainly knows how to deliver sensuality, romance, and the emotions that makes you fall hard!

Favorite Quotes

“Do you?” He refused to give her what she wanted until she answered.
Her skin grew too tight for the anticipation that swelled within her. Beneath the layers of her thick jacket, her breasts grew heavy. Her thighs ceased to feel the cold through the denim of her jeans.
“Yes,” she admitting on a throb of longing.
He made a noise of satisfaction and stepped so his feet were outside her own. His hot mouth sealed across her lips.
A sob of delight broke in her throat as his hard lips raked across hers, making real all the erotic fantasies she’d replayed in the long nights since leaving Spain. Her arms went up around his neck and he swept her closer still. So close she could hardly breathe.

She tried to open his shirt, but, like the first time, had none of his skill. His buttons were small and tight. Impossible. He brought his hand up and brushed hers away then swept his hand in a sharp yank that tore off buttons and ripped holes.
She gasped. “You didn’t have to do that!”
“I did,” he assured her, catching her hand and bringing it to his hot chest. “I’ve waited a long time for your touch.”

His legs were pinning hers, though, keeping her beneath him in a sensual vice where she couldn’t escape the pleasure he was bestowing on her. She finally clasped the sides of his head and dragged his mouth up to hers again. She pushed her tongue between his lips, flagrant and uninhibited.
Take me, she begged with her kiss.

“Poppy.” His voice reverberated from somewhere in his chest, ringing inside hers. “Open your eyes.”
She didn’t want him to read how anguished she was. How her soul was right there, seeking his as her body yearned for the impalement of his flesh. It was too much.
“Let me see you.”
She opened her eyes and time slowed.
“Take me into you,” he commanded, biting at her chin, using his powerful thighs to spread hers apart.

Did you ever touch yourself and imagine it was me?” He dropped one hand and drew his fingertip through her swollen folds, looking down again as he languidly caressed her. “Did you want to feel my hand here?”
She was immediately disoriented, glad for the hard wall at her back as she rose into his touch and draped her arm across his shoulders, seeking balance.
“Tell me,” he commanded between kisses. “Tell me or I’ll stop.”
“Yes,” she gasped.

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

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ARC Review: We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

Format: E-Bookwemetindecember.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Avon
Hero: Alex
Heroine: Jess
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: September 05, 2019
Started On: September 06, 2019
Finished On: September 14, 2019

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis is one of those books that leaves you with all the good feels and nothing less. Stumbling across this on netgalley in my bid to chase away the reading woes that comes to nest once in a while, I decided to give this a try because even the cover itself seemed to call out to me.

Told in the first person from both Jess (the heroine) and Alex (the hero)’s point of view, the story begins when 29 year old Jess moves to London, wanting to make a fresh start, or rather, go places where she has never dared go before. Coming from a quaint little seaside town, Jess is a romantic at heart, and she knows that she is undeniably lucky to have struck gold in terms of living arrangements and a job that makes her vocation one with her favorite thing in the world, i.e. reading.

When Jess meets Alex, one of her housemates, it is as if her soul leaps in recognition to its other half. But house rules require that house mates refrain from becoming romantically involved; however that does not prove to be the deterrent when it comes to Alex and Jess. It is rather the timing which is a bit off right from the onset.

In the meantime, Alex and Jess becomes good friends, their connection being one that is strong enough for Alex to start seeing Jess in a new light. Alex is not in the mood for a serious relationship, having just got out of one with the woman that he had intended to marry. Plus a career change which meant going back to school is one that should keep him occupied enough to prevent untoward thoughts about his friend from creeping into his mind and psyche.

Jess being the stalwart person that she is, tries her hardest to move on and even date, believing that Alex would never see her in a different light. But then true love has a way of coming together and taking its own sweet time getting there, and that is exactly what happens in this sweet and emotionally satisfying story that delivered just the right touch of angst to make me smile!

Recommended for romance lovers who would love an easy-on-the-heart read.

Final Verdict: I fell head over heels in love with Alex, Jess, and London in a way that no story thus far has managed to do. Heartwarming with just enough angst and emotions to make this a wholesome read.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo | eBooks

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Review: Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

Format: E-Bookpunk57
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: New Adult
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Misha Lare
Heroine: Ryen Trevarrow
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 21, 2016
Started On: April 29, 2019
Finished On: May 05, 2019

It has been seven years since Misha and Ryen started corresponding via letters as part of a school project which had paired students from both classes. Misha and Ryen had continues on that path long after the school project  is over, and become each other’s confidante along the way. At the same time, both Misha and Ryen had steered clear of using any other mediums of communication, lest what was between them become less special.

All of that changes after one fateful night when Misha completely disappears, leaving Ryen worried, wondering what it is that had put a stop to their communication with one another. At the same time, the new student at school who goes by the name Masen Laurent is far from the “friendly” sort, who manages to stir up trouble in more ways than one. In fact, Masen goes out of his way to be hostile towards Ryen, bringing all her deepest and darkest insecurities to the forefront.

Masen/Misha is on a mission that he would not deviate from and if Ryen had turned out to be less than what he had perceived her to be in his mind; what Ryen had portrayed herself to be throughout their communications, Misha is determined to bring Ryen down from the high horse upon which she is perched. However, what both Misha and Ryen do not count on is the deep-seated attraction between them which refuses to die down, no matter what.

While I enjoyed Punk 57, I would not say that this was my favorite out of every Penelope Douglas novel that I have read thus far. I found the teenage angst and drama often distracting and at certain points, I was definitely rolling my eyes. But at the heart of it all, Penelope Douglas manages to tell a decent story and also surprised me with how she brought the twists and turns into it. Through it all, Penelope managed to create characters who stood out for various reasons, some being less favorable than others.

But at the end of the day it is about where you lead your characters or perhaps where they lead you. Ryen and Misha leads you to a good place in the end and that is what matters. Misha’s confrontation with his mother was the best thing about the story for me, something that I didn’t foresee coming. Those surprises in a novel where you least expect them are the best. The lyrics that Misha writes that were very much a part of the story were highlights too. I just wish I could listen to some of them for real.

Recommended for those who love teen angst in their romances. Penelope Douglas brings in her special magic to it which makes everything work.

Final Verdict: Misha and Ryen’s journey begins at a point where everything is fraught with the ugly bits life has to offer. With Penelope’s intuitive writing, it is hard not to be caught up in the magic the story delivers.

Favorite Quotes

She arches up on her hands, meeting me halfway as her hot, little breaths fan across my lips. Her eyes fall to my mouth.
“What does it feel like?” she asks quietly, reaching a timid finger out and touching my lip piercing.
I groan, challenging her. “You tell me.”
She locks eyes with me as if scared, but then her gaze falls again to the piercing. Opening her mouth just slightly, she darts out her tongue and flicks the ring.
I groan again, unable to keep my eyes from falling shut. The wet heat from that small spot filters across my face, down my neck, and swoops low in my stomach, making my fingers dig into the leather seats.

His eyes drop to my lips, and he leans in, both of our breaths turning shallow, and I can almost taste him.
I lick my lips.
And he loses it.
He reaches down, grabs the backs of my thighs and hauls me up, and I wrap my arms and legs around him, letting out a small whimper. Yes.
I part my lips, running them over the lip ring and savoring the feel as he groans and digs his fingers into my thighs. I tighten my legs around him, needing to feel him.
“Bitch,” he whispers.
“Loser.”
And when I dart out the tip of my tongue to lick the little piece of metal again, he’s done being patient.

“Oh, my God,” she whimpers. “Masen, no.”
“Why not?” I hold her jaw, trailing kisses across her cheek as I pump my fingers inside her. “You think your friends will hate you when they find out you’re a slut who loves getting finger-fucked on a floor.”
I slide my fingers all the way in and back out a few times in long, full strokes, before bringing them up and rubbing her clit. She moans, arching her back, and my cock strains against my jeans, begging to grow.
“Yes.” She licks my lip ring, rubbing her ass into my dick. “I’m afraid they’ll find out I like it.”

“You turn me on.” He cups my face, brushing my hair away from my eyes and a tear off my cheek. “God, you turn me on. You’re driving me crazy. I want you to need my hands on you. Do you?”
I hold his eyes, seeing the pleading in his. Seeing, for the first time, the need. He’s desperate to hear me say it.
And I know right then and there I want to be the only girl he ever looks at like that.

Grabbing my waist, he brings me in close, forcing me up higher on my knees so that my breast is level with his mouth.
“Masen,” I gasp as he grabs my left nipple between his teeth, sending shocks through my system and right down between my thighs. “Oh, my God, we can’t.”
But he sucks the whole damn thing into his mouth, and I grip his shoulders, my eyes flutter closed and not giving a damn that half our class is right outside.
“Yes,” I whimper, losing my breath and wrapping one arm around his neck, holding him closer.

He suddenly pulls away from me, and I look to see him pulling his shirt over his head. I briefly see the rest of the tattoos trailing up his arm and over his shoulder, as well as the few across his chest and stomach.
He pulls me to him again, pressing his chest against mine. “I want to feel your skin on mine.”
He palms my breast with one hand while slipping the other down the back of my shorts and squeezing my ass.
I gaze into his green eyes, both of us breathing hard, but I see him pause, as if he’s suddenly not sure about something. And all of a sudden, I’m not worried about getting caught. I’m worried about him stopping.
Don’t stop.

My chest rises and falls, the incredible feeling wracking through my body, up to my head and down to my feet.
Masen lowers his hand, palming my breast before letting go. He rises up and leans over me, putting a hand on the door behind me to hold himself up as he unbuttons his jeans. My heart picks up pace again.
His hard eyes stare down at me, filled with lust. “Take off the thong, or I’m ripping it off.”

He kisses me, and I barely have time to adjust to him before he pulls out and thrusts back in, stretching me so good.

“Oh, God.” The sounds of the movie play in the distance, and I hear the muffled voices of people not far off.
But all I see is him. His lips hovering over mine, his breath warming my skin, his fucking that’s getting harder and faster as he thrusts between my thighs.
I look up, seeing his hand still gripping the door, the muscles in his arms bulging and tight.
“Look at me,” he whispers.
I drop my eyes back down as I lick his piercing and hear him growl under his breath.

“Masen,” I beg, licking and biting his neck and feeling myself coming again. “It feels so good.”
He slides a hand under my ass and nestles in deeper, grunting as he fucks me rougher. I hear a noise underneath us, from the truck, and I cast a worried glance around. “Go slow!” I plead. “The truck…”
But he growls and comes down, kissing and biting my lips. I slide my hands down, gripping his ass and keeping him close, and he thrusts his dick inside me again and again.
“Yes, yes,” I moan over and over, feeling another orgasm crest as I taunt him with quick, little kisses.

“Show me what you do with it,” I beg.
Her eyes flash up to me, worry and nervousness written all over her face.
I glide my fingers over her hard nipples. “I’ll love everything you do. I promise.”
She shakes her head.
I grip her breast harder, a little whimper catching in her throat.
“Do it now,” I growl, demanding.
Her head falls back, and she squirms a little, clearly turned on, and I moan in her ear, my dick fucking solid.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Lachlan’s Protégé by V.F. Mason

Format: E-Booklachlansprotege.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lachlan (Kaden Scott)
Heroine: Valencia Moore
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: August 15, 2018
Started On: April 19, 2019
Finished On: May 05, 2019

Lachlan’s Protégé by V.F. Mason is spectacular in the spellbinding tale it delivers. Like one of the reviewers on Goodreads has mentioned, V.F. Mason is unapologetic in the way she writes, the darkness that she brings to her stories, and the anti-heroes that she creates.

While Lachlan’s Protégé pretty much gives out similar vibes as Psychopath’s Prey, there are of course the differences that made this book worth every minute I spent reading it. Lachlan’s Protégé begins at a point where other stories would perhaps be reaching their climax. It is the way V.F. Mason puts it forth, taking readers back and forth along a journey where you cannot help but be invested in the lives of the characters you are reading about.

Lachlan, otherwise known as Kaden Scott, is an enigma amongst the circles within which he moves. Lachlan has one goal in life – to seek out the man upon whom he wants revenge. And if it means getting to that goal through Valencia Moore, an innocent who remains largely unaware of the evil that had been so close to her, so be it. In Lachlan’s mind there is no line that he would not cross to reach ultimate victory. What he never counted on perhaps, was that his need for Valencia would surpass his desire for vengeance above everything else.

Lachlan’s Protégé is not an easy read by any means. There is a wealth of emotion packed into this story as it takes readers through the lives of the younger versions of Valencia and Lachlan, both seeming to intertwine at one point. Valencia lives a sheltered life, pretty much clueless to the darker emotions that had clouded the marriage between her parents, which had ultimately broken up, with her mother having never given her any reasons as to why.

Lachlan is the character that makes you bleed profusely in cuts that are small and yet lethal. It makes you cringe in fear and also weep for the boy he was, who through no fault of his own finds himself prey to the darkest elements of society. Being abused at such a tender age, and reaching adulthood pretty much the same way has left its mark on Lachlan, something he refuses to give up, something he harnesses as his weapon of destruction of the same kind who preys on the most innocent and vulnerable.

The ending when it came was spectacular in the way everything came together. What I loved the most was reading the epilogue. Even knowing that Lachlan would never conform to the “norms” that society expects of a “hero”, there is no other sentiment in my heart but love for him. Love for the little boy he was who grew up in a world so cruel, love for the man he was, and love for the man he would always be.

There is a certain kind of acceptance that we all go through when we enter into long-term relationships or marriage with our better halves. For Victoria, it is an acceptance that reaches far beyond what normal couples would have to. But knowing what she knows of Lachlan and what she means to him, even though he may never say the words, it is in the way he lights up her world in all the ways that matter.

This story leaves me with a deeply resonating message. We as a society need to talk more about these kinds of issues, what it means to generations that grow up having gone through abuse so vile that we cannot even comprehend what it is like. We need to do more to weed out the evil, to protect the vulnerable. But we cannot hope to do that if we are unwilling to open our minds and hearts to what it means to actually undergo abuse as such, what it could do to the psychology of the person who undergoes that abuse. People spend their entire lives going through therapy and psychiatric treatment for the same. Seeing the abuser meet a violent end, is perhaps the only cathartic experience under such circumstances.

Final Verdict: Thought provoking and gut wrenching; there is darkness through which light seeps. The best one can hope for is for the light and dark to coexist. Recommended.

Favorite Quotes

Nipping on her sensitive skin, I still her in my arms. Her back arches under my touch when I kick her legs apart a little and slide my hand lower to her pussy. “Do you see how gorgeous she is? Flushed, against me, with her body begging me to touch her and pleasure her. Why would I need any reason but that to want her?” Sucking on her earlobe, I quickly bite it before skimming my lips over her ear, and whisper, “What would you want me to do, Valencia? All this sassy attitude needs punishment, doesn’t it?” She moans, pressing harder against me. “Do you need my fingers?” I probe her a little, just enough to give her clit a little friction through her leggings. “My tongue? I remember you could get off on it for hours.”

He spins me around and crushes his mouth to mine, changing my question into a moan as he slides his hands down my ass and hikes me up, leaving me no choice but to wrap my legs around him while my arms circle his neck.
His kiss is demanding, passionate yet punishing in a way that brings me pain along with pleasure. As if he wants me to forever remember the imprint of it but at the same time hates that he is doing it.
Hates that he needs me.

“Look at you, all flushed and ready for the taking. I could fuck you against the wall now and you’d scratch my back, welcoming every thrust. Right, Valencia?” he prompts, bending me forward, and then I feel my breasts press against the bed, the movement arching my ass up to him, and his hand palms it, molding and then squeezing, earning himself a moan. “But that’s not how I will give it to you tonight. You deserve to be denied a little for all the fucking hell you put me through.” And that’s when he spanks me, his palm bouncing off my ass cheek, and I still.

When I’m about to lose my freaking mind, he rises up, unbinds my wrists, and I hear the foil packet being ripped open. Then I feel him nudge against me, sliding his cock up and down over my heat, spreading the wetness all over me. He murmurs, “Fucking finally,” and enters me, stretching me wide, not even giving me time to adjust to his cock as he drags it out and slides back in, matching my gasp with his as we both groan.
He is right.
Fucking finally.

A moan slips past my lips, and he lets go of my mouth, trailing kisses down my neck while I throw my head back, groaning at his bites that will for sure leave marks for everyone to see.
I don’t dwell on it much as he rolls my shirt over my head and sends it flying behind me. His tongue circles my pointed nipple and licks the tip but then bites on it hard. I cry out in pain, scratching the back of his head, but still seeking his touch as it sends prickles of electricity through my skin.
“There is beauty in the ache, angel,” he rasps, immediately licking the abused flesh and driving me even wilder. “I know you like it long and hard, darling, but tonight it’s going to be only hard.”

I hear the belt buckle being unfastened, and then he places his palms on my knees, bringing me closer to the edge, and with one swift move, he flips me over again, and we end up on the floor, with me straddling him once more. My head goes dizzy and I can barely comprehend what’s going on, as he growls in approval.
“Have to keep you off-balance so you feel nothing but this.” And that’s when he enters me, filling me to the hilt. My arms automatically wrap around his neck as my cry echoes in the room, followed by his low groan, our lips inches away from each other.

My body aches, my nipples pucker, and I moan around the head before sucking on it lightly. What I’m doing must send vibrations through him, because I’m roughly hauled up, and without giving me a chance to take a breath, he tears the nightgown away. I only have time to blink as he throws me on the bed where I bounce, ending up on my back.
My heart stills and then gallops again as I see the expression on his face when he removes the strands of hair that fell over my face.
I think the gentle part has ended and I’m about to be fucked hard.

Sucking her neck, I make sure to leave my mark on it so she’ll always fucking remember who makes her body ache, and before she knows what’s happening, I enter her with one swift move, digging my fingers into her ass, adjusting her for a better angle.
Fuck, she is tight, so fucking tight I almost lose it right there. I catch my breath as she cries out and wraps her legs around me, pushing into my ass. “Move, Lachlan.”
“You are not in charge, darling,” I say, thrusting deep as her breath hitches. “I am.”

Her pussy clenches around me, her mouth hangs open, and her eyes fill with pleasure. A cry tears out of her throat and she falls back on the pillow, her chest rising and falling, my cock still drilling inside her, deeper, deeper, and deeper, finding solace in her heat and seeking the calmness only she can give me.
Then I feel it. The tingling of my spine, my balls draw closer, and finally I spill into her as pleasure unlike anything I’ve experienced before washes over me, almost knocking me out completely.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: The Marriage Bed by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-Bookthemarriagebed
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Guilty, #3
Publisher: Avon
Hero: John Hammond
Heroine: Viola Courtland
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 28, 2005
Started On: April 24, 2019
Finished On: April 28, 2019

The only instance that I am glad when I am “too late to the party” is when I discover an author with a treasure trove of books worth digging through. Laura Lee Guhrke has been that for me ever since I stumbled across her title And Then He Kissed Her. Since then, I have been reading her books on and off again, and I have enjoyed each of those reads immensely. Laura Lee Guhrke is the kind of author who does away with the details that are not needed, brings just enough angst to the developing story, and delivers so beautifully on the sexual tension she builds along the way.

I came across this particular title in my continued search for similar books as that of Sherry Thomas’ novel, Ravishing the Heiress. It is a novel that has been on my re-reads shelf since I first read the book in 2012. I wanted a similar kind of story that would deliver a ton of angst, and though both the stories have a great number of differences to them, I loved each in their own way.

It is 1833, and it is common knowledge among the peers of London that Lord and Lady Hammond (John Hammond and Lady Viola Courtland) cannot stand each other. Each goes out of their way to avoid one another, an estrangement that has lasted nine years which had definitely left its mark, especially on Viola who had felt the betrayal anew every single time John had taken on a new mistress in the wake of their separation.

A sudden turn of events changes things overnight, when suddenly John wants an heir from Viola, which means a return to their marriage bed, a thought that scares and repels Viola at the same time. Viola had stumbled head over heels in love with John when she had laid eyes on him at the tender age of 17, and that love she believes has long since died a painful death, buried deep within the scarred remnants of her heart.

John is adamant that Viola return to him, even though Viola makes him work to earn his entrance back into her life, bit by painful bit. John is a man who has never understood or perhaps known love in its purest of forms. Childhood had left its mark on the boy he had been, who had grown into adulthood without understanding the very nature of love and how to reciprocate that feeling in return.

When responsibility of his title had been thrust upon him, he had not been ready to take it on, especially not with the mountain of debt that had come along with it. Marriage to Viola had been a practical decision for him, but the one thing that had not changed is how his wife still has the ability to seduce him in ways he had never forgotten.

What makes The Marriage Bed stand out is how Ms. Guhrke handles everything. Without vilifying any particular character, she does an admirable job of bringing to light the complexities of human emotions and the ties that bind us when all is said and done. Viola had been young, with a heart full of passion and love, which was not reciprocated on the part of John, especially the part on love. A man who keeps his past buried and buried well, John does a good job of hiding from the demons that haunt him, a fact that comes to light as these two come together once again.

While what John had done while married to Viola would not win him any points, he did what any man in his position would have done, especially during the time. His wife had turned him away, and he had been too proud to ask her what it is that had made her do what she did. Viola’s maturity years later and her friend Daphne’s advice played a huge role in changing her perception of John towards the end, and giving their marriage a chance once again. Their marriage had been all about passion at the beginning, with no time taken to get to know one another, to find a common ground – which as Daphne explains, is important for any long lasting relationship.

At certain points in the beginning (since I never did read the first or second book in the series before jumping into this title), I disliked Viola and her at times seemingly impetuous nature. However, I fell completely in love with her at a very significant point in the book towards the end, and I believe Ms. Guhrke made the journey towards that a very worthy one. I absolutely adored the ending. Definitely could not have asked for more after all the emotional upheavals that the story delivered, in spades.

Final Verdict: Unconventional and realistic, with characters who are extremely flawed making the story relatable on many levels. Ms. Guhrke definitely knows how to tell a story!

Favorite Quotes

“Don’t. People are watching us.”
Being John, he ignored that. “If you have forgotten all about passion, and it is my fault, then I need to rectify my mistake, don’t you think?”
“John—” She broke off, forgetting whatever she’d been about to say as he kissed her ear and his thumb began to caress the line of her jaw.
“I could think of all sorts of ways to remind you,” he went on. “If you let me.”

He made a rough sound against her mouth and broke the kiss. He leaned sideways and with a sweep of his arm cleared the desk, sending the stack of books toppling off the side and onto the floor. Then his hands cupped her buttocks and he lifted her to set her on the desk.
He reached for the sash wrapped around her waist, untying the bow with a hard, quick tug. He parted the edges and pulled her dressing robe apart. His fingertips touched her breasts through her nightgown, brushing back and forth over the hardened nipples. Pleasure rose within her, pleasure long forgotten, pleasure that made her gasp and shiver with excitement.

His body was wet, his mouth was hot, and the feel of both disintegrated any resistance left in her. Like a dam breaking, the hunger she had been holding back for years was unleashed in an instant. With a cry, she turned and wrapped her arms around his neck. She caught his mouth with hers and kissed him, a hungry, open-mouthed kiss borne of being so long without him, of being alone and hurting. She clung to him now, kissing him with all the passion she had denied to him and to herself.

He pressed his hips against her, and she felt his arousal, hot and hard against her tummy. She took him in her hand, her fingers not able to completely surround his shaft, and she stroked him, her hand exploring the shape, a shape still so familiar.
He stopped her. “I want to be inside you,” he said with sudden urgency. He grasped both her hands in his and pulled them both down onto the bed. Then he rolled her onto her back and his knee moved between her thighs, urging her legs to part.
“Open for me,” he groaned, settling his body over her, resting his weight on his forearms. “Now, Viola, now.”

He gave a hoarse cry smothered against her hair and slid his arms beneath her, crushing her against him as if he couldn’t get her close enough, thrusting as deep as he could. He shuddered violently as his own pleasure was at last unleashed, and his body went rigid as the warmth of his climax poured from him into her.
He collapsed on top of her, breathing hard against the pillow. His hand came up to stroke her cheek. “Viola,” he groaned. “Oh, God, Viola.” He sucked in deep breaths of air, pressing kisses against her hair and her ear and her temple. “Meant it,” he told her in a hoarse, fierce whisper. “Meant every damn word.”

He made a rough sound and stopped her. He caught her hands and shoved them away. Gripping her shoulders, he pulled her to her feet. He kissed her hard and his hands began tugging at her skirts, pulling them up, quick and desperate, out of control.
Tossing up yards of silk and muslin, he wadded her skirts between them, then he gripped her buttocks in his hands and lifted her. “Wrap your legs around me,” he ordered, and when she did, he impaled her against him as he pressed her back against the wall.
“Oh God, oh God,” he groaned, and thrust into her hard—once, twice. Then he came, tremors running through his body as he climaxed.

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

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Review: Preacher Man by Jessa Kane

Format: E-Bookpreacherman
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Erotic Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Joseph Stark
Heroine: Mila
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: February 23, 2019
Started On: April 10, 2019
Finished On: April 10, 2019

I’ve done it.
I’ve made her my wife.
I’ve satisfied her.
I’ve claimed her, made her mine.

Preacher Man is a classic example of a properly done novella that delivers nothing but a healthy dose of smut. My first Jessa Kane turned out to be delightful in many ways, and perhaps delightful is too tame a word to convey the kind of scenes that she delivers in this short story.

Preacher Man is told in the first person, in both the hero (Joseph Stark) and the heroine (Mila)’s point of view. Mila is drawn to Joseph like a moth to a burning flame, as if the glow from the fire has been growing brighter by the day, beckoning the “evil” within her, or so she thinks. Little does she know that the town’s new preacher, who turned up just a year back, is just as drawn to her as she is to him.

Joseph is a man who is the furthest thing from a preacher. Having led a questionable life in the past, Joseph is a man with enemies who could do anyone he brings close to him a lot of harm. However, even that does not stop his possessive self from claiming innocent Mila as his own and ensure that she is his, forever.

I loved the short story this delivered, perhaps the perfect antidote from the lackluster reads that had disappointed the romance reader in me from the couple of books I had finished just prior to this. At least with a novella, you understand that there would not be much character building that would happen, but in Preacher Man, Kane did just enough to satisfy the need in me to make an emotional connection with the readers. I would have been disappointed had it been otherwise.

While there was an aspect to the story that I could have done without (I have never understood this need to call your partner daddy and I don’t think I ever will), I enjoyed the rest of the book with the sheer abandon that comes only from having a great book in your hands.

The epilogue tucked at the end made my day. I so love myself a hopelessly smitten couple, and a dangerous hero (otherwise), who is nothing but a possessive sweetheart when it comes to the woman he loves, above all else.

Recommended if you love a good smutty novella.

Final Verdict: Smut of the feel good variety! Kane delivers steam that accelerates not just your pulse but sets into overdrive your imagination in ways you never thought possible!

Favorite Quotes

“You wore this scrap of nothing to tease me, didn’t you?” I growl, ripping my mouth away so I can see her face when I thrust my cock into the notch of her thighs. Watching Mila’s eyes roll into the back of her head, feeling her legs begin to shake, I do it again and press my mouth to her ear. “You knew you’d break me.”
“I hoped so,” she hiccupped, her knees digging into my ribs. “I’ve been hurting so bad.”
“Shhh. I’m going to make it all better.” I lick my way through the hollow of her throat, using my hold on her bottom to ride her up and down my cock. “I’m going to fuck the ache away every day for the rest of your life.”

More moisture coats my thighs under Joseph’s watchful blue eyes and he groans, falling to his knees on the floor, lunging forward on his elbows to lick me straight up the center. A scream catches in my throat, my vision wavering. H-he licked me. There. A sensation I’ve never known gathers in my middle, a storm full of thunderheads preparing to break. And that’s before Joseph finds that secret nub at the very top of my flesh—I never thought to look that high—batting it with his tongue, before lightly sucking. Then he’s alternating between the gentle suction and rolling the flat of his tongue over me, side to side, teasing it with quick, little flickers.
“Oh my God,” I scream, my head thrashing side to side on the pillow, wrists yanking at the bonds. “My God, my God, my God.”

I can’t wait any longer,” I growl, coming to a kneel and unbuttoning my shirt as fast as I can, ripping it off and throwing it aside. Until I’m shirtless, I forget my tattoos have been hidden from view since coming to town.
But I remember when Mila’s eyes go as wide as silver dollars.
“Daddy,” she breathes, raking me with her gaze. “You are a bad man.”
With my teeth bared, I take hold of the neckline of her dress and rip it down the center, leaving her completely naked. My personal virgin sacrifice—and she’s even more incredible than I could have ever envisioned with her dusky nipples, rounded hips and open thighs. I take my cock and smack it against her pussy, spend dribbling from my tip to slip into her folds. “I’m your bad man now, little girl.”

I grind down one more time on his ample girth and let myself fly. Coming. I’m coming. Freefalling through a star studded night sky, my eyes rolling back in my head and everything below my waist squeezing hard, pulsating, pulsating and then I can do nothing but shake while relief courses through me, adrenaline still whipping in my blood stream. And love. My heart won’t let me forget about that.
I watch through half-mast eyes as the man who embodies love to me groans through the throes of his own peak, his hips jackknifing up and lifting me out of the water, his hands yanking me up and back, up and back on his lap, forcing me to ride him straight through to the end, the warmth of his spend jetting inside me.

“Brace your hands on the tree,” I rasp, unbuckling the belt of my dress pants. “I’m in need.”
“Me too,” she hiccups, doing as she’s told.
The act of lifting her hands has raised the hem of her white dress and I lift it higher now, overcome by the sight of her thighs, her supple butt cheeks. An emerald green strap of silk is tucked down the center—one of the new thongs I bought her—and I pull those panties down now, letting them fall at her ankles. I reach around the front of her body to slide a finger through the folds of her pussy, ensuring she’s warm, wet and ready, before I grip my cock and cram it up inside her, grunting into her smooth neck, growing louder with every inch she accepts. “Tilt your hips back,” I growl.

I reach under my dress and tug down my panties, goose bumps flying up my skin at Joseph’s starved expression, the way he groans when my panties hit the sand, that huge part of him bulging behind his fly. Wide eyed, I bite my lip and hitch my legs up around his waist. “Is it playtime, Daddy?”
Joseph fumbles with his zipper and finds my entrance with his erection, bouncing me five, six, seven times until I’m fully impaled and we’re both moaning. “It’s always playtime when we’re alone, little girl.”
And with the sea roaring behind us, we play fiercely, we love obsessively.
We begin our forever.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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ARC Review: The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-bookthedarkbones
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Thriller, Romantic Suspense
Series: Dark Lure, #2
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Ash Haugen
Heroine: Rebecca North
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: May 21, 2019
Started On: April 13, 2019
Finished On: April 19, 2019

Sergeant Rebecca North returns to her hometown in Cariboo Country upon the death of her father. Rebecca’s regrets are deep when she returns to the scene of her father’s death, all evidence pointing to him having taken his own life. However, Rebecca is determined to do right by her father, who had reached out to her on the day of his death, telling her of how he was being followed, of his case notes being rifled through, all circling around him digging up a cold case that is inexorably tied to Rebecca’s past, the past that had kept her from returning home.

Now a hot shot white collar crimes investigator, Rebecca puts all her efforts into finding out the events surrounding her father’s death. On the eve of the first day of her return, she runs smack dab into Ash Haugen, the man she had avoided for far too long, the man whose actions on the day of the disappearance of the woman who had been tied with the scandal that had driven Rebecca to flee from life as she had known it.

As Rebecca retraces the steps of her father on the days leading up to his death, she uncovers something far more deeper, darker, and sinister surrounding the cold case her father had been unable to let go. Rebecca takes on an investigation that has her stepping on toes of those would kill to keep their secrets buried, the mysterious events surrounding the disappearance of two key people who had left destruction in their wake of the kind they had no inkling of.

The Dark Bones takes place in the same setting as that of A Dark Lure, a definite favorite of mine and countless other readers when it comes to Loreth Anne White. Her mastery over bringing scenery to vivid life, the chills that runs up and down your spine owing to the evil that can lurk in your midst; all of that and more makes The Dark Bones just as highly readable.

I loved how the story developed up to a certain point. Don’t get me wrong, I truly did enjoy the book from start to finish. But I felt that there was a disconnect from a certain point onward in the story, from how it was at first initially developed to how everything was eventually resolved. Perhaps this was felt mostly owing to the fact that the villain(s) in this story wasn’t as prominently characterized as some of the books I have read from Loreth. I believe one of the most fascinating aspects of Loreth’s books is the fact that she care bring pure evil to life in a way that still has you questioning certain things, even when you know that there are no excuses to be had for their behavior in the end. I missed that in this story, mayhap one of the reasons why I felt that disconnect towards the latter half of the book.

In Rebecca North, Loreth creates the kind of strong heroine that her books always deliver. Independent, strong headed and strong willed, with a stubbornness that I can relate to being a woman myself. Rebecca’s role in the book as the lead detective through most of the story was fascinating; she after all had her considerable experience as a white collar crime investigator up her sleeve. Her determination to keep Ash at arm’s length, because she wanted him and didn’t trust him in equal doses played its role.

While I understand the need for strong female leads, I sometimes wonder if society at large has built up these expectations around women that we have to do everything by ourselves, if we are to show that we are strong and capable. We have come to a point in our debates on feminism and the role of women in society in which leaning on a man for support is often seen as weakness, which I do not believe it to be.

I did recognize where Rebecca’s character was coming from – she had her reasons to distrust Ash and his intentions. But for two people with such a strong connection that practically leaps off the pages from the moment they come into close proximity, I had a hard time envisioning Rebecca’s need for Ash, which somehow seemed mismatched when it comes to reciprocating how Ash views her. She had been all that he had dreamed of, everything he had wanted, until he had been forced to give up on his dream, tied to his own actions, born out of a need to answer deeply disturbing questions about his own self.

Ash’s character is the kind of hero that Loreth writes so well. I was drawn to him on an inexplicable level, Loreth’s mastery over characterization making it no hardship to fall deeply for Ash. I felt immensely sad and disturbed by his childhood, a truth that most had not seen. I found it odd that Rebecca’s father who had been a cop himself, had not seen the truth when it came to Ash, had never discovered the dark secrets that lay buried in Ash’s tortured soul. At the same time, I know how deeply seated these issues in society can be, especially in smaller communities where victims could end up being accused for the very atrocities that they desperately needed to escape from.

I wanted to shower Ash with love. I wanted to hug him close, wishing I could have saved him from way back when he needed it the most. I wanted to weep for him. Long after having turned the last page, I still cannot seem to get over his past, something that Loreth never delved deep into. Rebecca was center stage of the novel, and it is only through her pursuit of the truth that Ash’s past comes to light. If I could, I would reach through the pages, pluck Ash out of them, and give him the longest hug ever recorded in history. That is how deeply I felt about him and his character. It may also have something to do with the fact that even with all that he had endured, there is a wealth of kindness, love, & integrity inside of him, having survived horrors of the kind that I cannot even fathom.

I also wished Loreth had delivered just a bit on the tangible sexual and emotional connection between Ash & Rebecca. I do not think it would have taken away anything from the main story. Instead, I believe that it would have only added more nuance to a story through exploration of a facet of both Ash and Rebecca’s character that Loreth brought so strongly to life amidst the backdrop of everything else that was going on. After all, the connection between Ash and Rebecca had been what kickstarted the events from years back, what had driven Rebecca away while Ash had been forced to stay behind, what had in essence led to Rebecca’s return home in the end.

On a side note, Sergeant Grace seems to be an interesting character. The strong, capable, and the do-not-need-anything-else-in-my-life kind of strong heroine that Loreth loves to write.

Recommended for fans of Loreth Anne White and for those who love tangible thrillers and mysteries. The Dark Bones definitely delivers.

Final Verdict: Loreth Anne White’s masterful manipulation of the world she draws her readers into is one reason why The Dark Bones stands out. Recommended!

Purchase Links: Amazon

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