Review: The Sister Swap by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookthesisterswap_susannapier.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Hunter Lewis
Heroine: Anne Tremaine
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January, 1996
Started On: October 24, 2018
Finished On: October 26, 2018

After the recent rounds of lackluster reads from Susan Napier, The Sister Swap turned out to be a godsend in the way it sent my senses humming. This is the Susan Napier that I fell in love with when I first read her work, and this is the voice that I seek every time I pick up one of her titles to read.

Anne Tremaine has a big heart, which means that she always puts her family first. When her sister Kaitlin requests from Anne to swap places with her, Anne enters into a deceptive existence, seizing the opportunity, given her thirst for knowledge and want for a college education. With her nephew Ivan in tow, Anne foresees no dangers of her secret coming out, that is until she meets her neighbor aka Professor Hunter Lewis.

Hunter does not want distractions, which includes neighbors who play trashy music loudly enough to disturb his peace. A writer who requires his quiet, Hunter is further disconcerted by the fact that he literally cannot figure out Anne as a woman. Just when Hunter believes that he knows everything there is to her, she surprises him in a way that intrigues him. Hunter does not like it, not one bit at all, which is why his temper gets the best of him where Anne is concerned.

Anne cannot believe that she is stuck with a surly and churlish neighbor the likes of Hunter. But when circumstances bring them together time and yet again, Anne finds that she is rather fascinated by the conundrum that Hunter presents to her as a man. He excites her, arouses her, and irritates her in equal doses. There is no denying that for an innocent like Anne, Hunter at full throttle was definitely going to end up being a disaster. Hunter gets a dose of what its like to be confronted by a woman who is all that he wants, but his fear that stems from the past acts as a deterrent.

I so loved The Sister Swap and what it entailed. I cannot quite figure out why the book has received bad ratings. Because Susan Napier is at her most charming and hilarious form in this novel, presenting to readers two characters that cannot stand each other and at the same time want each other so very badly.

Hunter’s character was riveting. He is equal doses passionate and likes control in his life, especially given the circumstances upon which he had become a widower a couple of years back. He has no intention of letting the feels catch him once again, but for the love of him, he cannot stop the avalanche of need that seems to take over his body when it comes to Anne.

I loved watching Hunter unravel, piece by piece. I reveled in the fact that he could not help himself when it comes to Anne. I enjoyed watching him succumb, watching him lose that patience of his, that intellectual part of him being taken over by the passionate man he is deep inside, until he gives in, and oh so headily.

I loved Anne, for the warmth of her character, the spark of her intelligence, that wit and sarcastic humor that sets the pace between the two of them, and the love she shows to Hunter in abandon, even when he tries to steer clear of emotions that could bring him down.

The ending was equal parts hilarious and endearing. Anne certainly knows what she is doing when it comes to Hunter. I closed the book with a huge ass grin on my face, already envisioning a Hunter trying to keep up with his charming and sexy wife, who stirs him in every single way that matters, with a bunch of small Hunters and Annes’ in the mix, with more on the way. I could literally picture that, given the earthy nature of both characters. The way Hunter gets seduced by Anne’s long and plaited hair was one of the highlights of the story.

Loved, loved, loved! Recommend this wholeheartedly for the fun and sizzle!

Final Verdict: A super grumpy hero who is reluctant to fall in love, a heroine who holds a secret that she would take to her grave with or die trying; but when these two meet, there is no denying the sparks that fly.

Favorite Quotes

‘I’m sorry.’ His quiet sincerity took her off guard and she turned, just as he moved to pick up the tea-towel on the bench beyond her. Trapped against the cupboards, Anne could feel every inch of him from chest to knee…every impressive inch! ‘Anne?’ He picked up her plait, which had flopped on to the bench, winding it around his hand as she maintained her silent resistance, forcing her to look at him. ‘I’m sorry.’
She meant to say something flippant, something smart, something sophisticated. Instead she could only stand there, transfixed by the dark compassion in the heavy-lidded gaze, aware of simmering heat that had nothing whatsoever to do with the sultry, late-summer night.
And then he kissed her.

His fist tightened on her plait, pulling her head back, and she instinctively went up on tiptoe to meet his descending mouth. It was hard, hot, and faintly hostile. Instead of frightening her, his restrained aggression was fiercely exciting. He wasn’t asking for a response, he was demanding it, and Anne gave with greedy generosity. When he bit at her soft lips they parted instantly and he plunged inside, making a rough sound of triumph that vibrated on her tongue. He tasted deliciously warm and spicy, and as he sank recklessly deeper she pressed her palms flat against his chest to steady herself and was entranced by the straining tension in his body, the rapid, erratic pounding of his heart.

She pushed her hands eagerly up under his shirt to stroke his silky, hot, hair-roughened chest. She touched his flat, masculine nipples and was startled to feel them react sharply, hardening under her clumsy caress. Intoxicated by a rush of feverish curiosity, she pulled her mouth away from his and pushed the soft fabric up out of her way, revealing the thick muscles bunching and shifting with every convulsive breath.
‘Anne…’
She was too enraptured by her discovery to notice the husky note of warning in his voice as his hand stilled on her breast.
‘Why, you’re just like me,’ she murmured wonderingly, touching a finger lightly to one rigid nipple where it peeped out of its thick nest of hair and watching it stiffen further.
He shuddered and swore savagely under his breath and she looked up at his face, fascinated by the mixture of smouldering resentment and carnal desire that she saw there.

Anne lifted her knee, not even feeling the shoe slip off her foot and bounce into the gutter as she pressed the inside of her thigh against his lean flank, like a rider trying to sense the next move of a powerful, unruly stallion.
He made a thick, greedy sound and immediately slid his hand into the crook of her raised knee, tugging it higher on his hip so that he could settle more securely between her legs, trailing his hand up the back of her thigh to cup the curve of her buttock, its smooth roundness tautened by her wanton pose.

He opened his mouth against her and she went utterly weak, not even noticing the rough hand glide smoothly under her hanging blouse and unclip the plastic fastening at her back. As her breasts tumbled free he made a rough sound of greedy satisfaction and sank back down with her on to the firmly sprung couch, holding her across his lap and nuzzling the flimsy fabric aside with his mouth before lapping at the soft, shyly trembling peaks with long, lazy strokes, gliding them with his clever tongue until they were rigid and glistening. He admired his erotic creations with little crowns of biting kisses, then cupped her again in his strong fingers, guiding each stiff nipple in turn into the scalding moistness of his mouth, drawing them deeper as he suckled hotly, with a fierce, lusty enjoyment that drove her into a frenzy of delight.

Anne was lost in a world of languid bliss, unaware of the passage of time as Hunter teased her skirt slowly up her legs, deliberately taking his time in order to savour her uninhibitedly sensual response to each fleeting caress, his warm fingers stroking, delving, sliding, enticing, his mouth always moving, tasting, exploring her with a thoroughness that would have shocked her had she not been blinded by the shattering glory of her first physical experience of love.
She wasn’t aware of the skilful disrobing that accompanied his wildly erotic explorations until she opened her pleasure-dazed eyes and suddenly found herself nude in her lover’s arms, unbearably excited by the feel of his rough clothing against her singing skin, the slide of smooth cotton against her bare back as he shifted her to accommodate his needs. He had released her hair from its faded hoop of elastic and fanned it out to frame the lush, pearly curves of her body, winding his hands in its gleaming luxuriance, teasing it over her gloriously sensitised breasts, tantalising her with its feathery friction.
When she teased him throatily about his fetish and protested at the inequity of their dress, Hunter laughed smokily and touched her where she was most vulnerable, stroking her with excruciating delicacy until she melted with a drenching cry, praising her for the splendour of her response.
‘So soft, and hot and silky wet… Don’t lose the rhythm, darling, stay with me… that’s right… a little harder… a little faster… No, darling, don’t fight it…’

Am I the first man to do this to you, Anne?’
He withdrew once more, and again she couldn’t stop herself from panicking, digging her short, practical nails into his tight buttocks until he eased forward, this time a little faster and more roughly, beginning to establish a rhythm that was both exhilarating and frustrating.
‘Am I, Anne?’
This time as he pulled back Hunter deliberately hesitated and, as he expected, his answer arrived in a wild rush as she wound herself around him.
‘Yes, yes! Although if I’d known it was going to be this good I wouldn’t have waited so long!’ She slid her fingers through the hair on his chest and stroked the fine pelt, following the silky line down his belly to push into the thickening where his body joined with hers—Anne and Hunter, Hunter and Anne—if only it could go on forever.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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Review: Deal of a Lifetime by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookdealofalifetime_susannapier.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Mills & Boon Romance
Hero: Frazer Conway
Heroine: Emmaline Rainer
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: 1991
Started On: September 22, 2018
Finished On: September 29, 2018

In Deal of a Lifetime, Susan Napier explores and navigates the world of a woman who wants to succeed in the business world. To not let herself get lost in what everyone else believes would bring her happiness; getting married and popping the 2.5 kids who would adore her till the end of times. Emmaline Rainer (Emma) has her work cut out for her when it comes to maneuvering the cutthroat world of ConCorp, the company she works at. Dealing with male chauvinism is something Emma has pretty much perfected, and alongside with her assistant Marc, Emma is ready to show the bosses that she is the woman for the executive position that is soon to be up for grabs.

Emma’s plan for making the perfect pitch gets derailed when a weekend away from the corporate headquarters is planned, especially one which includes an invite for the kids of contenders to join. Emma’s avoidance of kids comes from the fact that she looks like the motherly sort, which draws children to her, an image that she wants to dissuade at any cost.

It is by chance that Emma happens across Frazer Conway, the sibling who would be taking over the reins of the company soon. From the start, Emma’s senses are rubbed raw from the onslaught that Frazer delivers. He is everything she has avoided successfully thus far. But there is something about Frazer that calls out to everything that is feminine inside of her, which makes it extremely difficult to put up the front that usually works for her. Even her scathing sarcasm does not seem to work on discouraging Frazer, in fact, it seems to draw him closer to her.

Amidst a lot of back and forth between Emma and Frazer, the story continues, delivering the trademark Napier heat that she is famous for in her stories. However, Deal of a Lifetime fell short for me in many ways, mainly due to none other than Emma’s character.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for women’s rights, which I view as equal rights as that afforded to men and the opportunity to do compete in an even field. Almost 27 years has gone by since the publication of this novel, and we are still battling with the issue of male chauvinism and at worse, harassment in various forms coupled with the lack of equal opportunities to compete against men on an even setting. Part of it is related to biology, the other part related to circumstances and societal perceptions of what women are supposed to be.

I have noticed (from having read a lot of novels by Napier), that her works tend to focus on creating strong women who defy the time periods within which the stories were written. Of course, it is owing to women like Napier writes them that we have made the minute progress we have achieved even today when it comes to equality of the sexes.

Emma is the type of character cut from the same cloth, i.e. trademark Napier heroine. She is determined to make her way in the world. None of it had been easy, given that her big family had wanted her happily settled down by the time she was of age. Emma had wanted more, and that had been the sole reason behind her seeking a university education, to become a lawyer nonetheless, and that is where she had gotten burnt enough to be twice shy when it comes to men and their pursuit of her.

However, because Frazer is made from sterner stuff, he does not give up as easily. In Frazer, Emma finds that she has met her match in stubborn. Furthermore, knowing that he is a single father, a domesticated male makes him more dangerous to her ambitions. So push she does, to keep him away from her, but alas, along the way, her emotions do get involved from which there is no hiding.

While I liked the overall premise of the story and of course Frazer, I couldn’t bring myself to like Emma all that much. There was this edge to her that I at times nearly found annoying. I am all for standing your ground and not letting a man walk all over you. At the same time, I would also appreciate that same strength to make an appearance when the woman is in the wrong, and has wronged the male. But that is often a problem in Napier’s books, as it is usually the male who has to do the chasing, the groveling, and the winning. If we are to talk about equality, the female should also do her fair share of work, especially when it comes to making up for what she puts the male through.

Frazer deserves awards for how patient she is with Emma. A widowed hero who is a single father, wanting the woman who has practiced to perfection what it means to not give into societal demands by getting married and starting a family.

While the story did have its moments when it comes to debates on patriarchal societies and societal expectations, I just didn’t feel that Emma met the hero halfway or did enough on her part to convince the readers that for her as well, the feelings were of the same intensity and ferocity.

Loved the sexual tension and the thick and heady web of desire between Emma and Frazer. The lack of an epilogue was sorely felt. After putting readers through that much of a wrangler, this book definitely needed the epilogue. But Harlequin novels rarely deliver epilogues, but this should have had one in my opinion.

Final Verdict: The battle for equal rights versus the battle for love. It does not always have to be one or the other, and Frazer is determined a male if ever there was one, to show his woman that he is in for it all.

Favorite Quotes

He lifted a hand and ran a finger along the underside of her proud jaw. ‘What’s part of him is part of me. That promise makes me your friend, too, Emma. And I take the demands and responsibilities of friendship very seriously.’
The pressure of the slightly callused pad of his fingertip tilted her face up and his mouth came down, warmly covering hers.
He tasted different. No alcohol this time, diluting the flavour of him, just pure essence of male. One arm went around her, supporting her against the hard length of his body while his mouth thoroughly explored her shocked lack of resistance.

She felt his hunger in the strong fingers cupping her back, the thud of his heart vibrating against her breasts, the restless surge of his hard thigh against the constricting narrowness of the skirt that prevented him from tucking himself between her legs. He lifted his mouth and she dragged in a ragged breath, finding no will to object, and then he was kissing her again, harder, deeper, more intensely than before, taking her acquiescence for granted.

She stared fixedly at his face as his fingers curled into the soft jersey and he slowly eased the top of her dress down, pushing it into folds around her narrow waist, holding it there. She watched, fascinated, the tanned, handsome face harden, his breath hissing through his teeth as he looked at what he had uncovered. A tinge of
dark blood anointed his slanting cheekbones, his pupils expanding like black storm-clouds in the hot blue sky.
‘Is this new, too?’ he asked softly, no trace of honey in his voice now, only rough, jagged edges that snagged at her senses as he touched the lacy side of her daring bra.
‘I… yesss…’ If only he would touch her properly, instead of tormenting her with his tantalising eyes.
‘Did you wear it for me?’
Her head fell back on her shoulders, baring the truth.
‘Yes!’

He lifted his mouth and groaned at the sight of her, naked to the waist, aflame with a passion that fuelled his, her wide mouth lush and full and moist for his pleasure, an erotic dream in itself. Then he was lifting her, pushing her back on to one of the wider lower helves, moving in between her thighs, pressing hot and tight and close, whispering of forbidden delights as he urged her to feel what she did to him, no longer the slow, sensuous lover but all blind, driving masculinity taking everything he could get and wanting still more…
His mouth on her breasts was their undoing. Emma gave a small, whispery scream as he bit into the swollen ripeness to suckle with a strong, rhythmic, hungry impatience that wrenched at her womb.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: The Counterfeit Secretary by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookthecounterfeitsecretary_susannapier.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: James Everett
Heroine: Ria Masson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October, 1986
Started On: July 29, 2018
Finished On: July 30, 2018

The Counterfeit Secretary by Susan Napier delivers a story that makes you laugh one minute and fan yourself from the heat between the protagonists the next.

Widowed with twin boys, Ria Masson is finally in a place where she can think about a second marriage and moving forward. Her job at Everett Communications is perfect for her home situation, and her boss James Everett, while demands a lot from his employees, had made it clear the boundaries that would exist between them as employer and employee from the get go.

Even then, the thought of spending the rest of her life with Louis, the man she is dating does not seem like much of an exciting prospect. Furthermore, Ria has her sons to consider, while at the same time, she craves for excitement of the kind that only a lover who is considerate and fiery at the same time could bring.

Ria has never seen James in any other way than the boss whose temper she handles as if he were a little boy throwing a tantrum. Three years into their working relationship, everything changes on the night of her thirtieth birthday, when Louis takes her out to dinner, and a bit of dare devilment on Ria’s part brings her into close contact with none other than James himself. A stolen kiss makes Ria believe that in all probability, her safe haven of a job would be in jeopardy, only to realize later on that James does not seem to have arrived at the conclusion that it had been his secretary who had lured him the previous night like a siren to a drunken sailor.

However, once James does realize the truth, there is no holding him back from his pursuit of Ria, to fully explore what is between them. Ria proves to be a formidable adversary, keeping certain truths to herself and trying to prevent herself from giving into something that could only end in devastation in her opinion.

Life, however, has other plans in store for them, and it is a moment of near tragedy that unleashes the passion that exists between Ria and James. Even then, Ria is a woman on the retreat, believing that for her and James, there would be no future beyond that of what takes place in the bedroom.

I loved the overall story, but sometimes had a hard time with Ria because she certainly does hurt James in a way that I thought, if it had come from James, readers would have demanded that he grovel for forgiveness. Even with all the reasons on Ria’s side, I do not believe that it calls for the callous disregard she showed to James at that point. Everything does get resolved in the end, but I certainly wanted to see Ria ask for forgiveness from the man who loves her to pieces.

Recommended for fans of Susan Napier and angst-ridden Harlequin romances.

Final Verdict: The Counterfeit Secretary delivers a tale of the kind Harlequin romances are synonymous with; tons of angst, heat, & emotion.

Favorite Quotes

His mouth lifted briefly, long enough for him to mutter, ‘You kiss like an angel, no wonder Tony looked so dazed.’
Then his mouth enveloped hers again, barely giving her time to draw breath, his teeth biting sensually into her lower lip. Ria shivered, dissolving as she felt the warm fingers of his hand slide indiscreetly under the low curve of silk at her back. His middle finger brushed a tiny, whispering rotation on the sensitive skin where the cleft of her buttocks divided the smooth line of her back. It sent a shooting fire up the length of her spine to where his other hand massaged the hollow at the base of her skull.

Ria shivered with dangerous delight. She could feel her breasts swelling tightly against the lace of her bra and experienced an aching desire for his touch. As if he sensed her innermost needs, his hands shifted to grip her above the waist, his thumbs digging into the sides of her swollen breasts. But instead of fondling her, he anchored her firmly and began to move his torso, twisting it slowly from side to side so that the hard wall of muscle that was his chest rubbed teasingly back and forth, intensifying her arousal. It was as though he was massaging her entire body with his. Ria had never felt such an excruciatingly sensuous frustration, the urge to bite and kick and fight and make him take her.

‘James–‘
‘Ria–‘ He’ mocked her uncertain sigh. She was wearing her hair loose these days and he
marveled anew at how the sheer redness of it reacted so vibrantly with the passionate redness of her mouth, tempting him to lose himself in both. The freckles that were such intriguing indicators of her moods seemed to glow and he wondered with a sudden , pulsing curiosity whether they extended over the rest of her body, imagined kissing his way along the tiny, delicious, honeyed trails, wherever they might lead, imagined hearing her say James’ in that husky voice, but as a plea not a protest.

He bit her ear, his tongue teasing the lobe, questing for pleasure points. She gasped as he found one, heat streaking downwards as she, sagged against him, her breasts vibrating deliciously to the quiet groan that rumbled in his chest. ‘You like that, don’t you?’ he murmured, stringing kisses along her jawbone to her other ear which he nibbled contentedly. ‘You like me to do this to your ears, it makes you soft and weak inside, it makes you want what I want: He kissed her mouth, smothering her reply. ‘Do you know what I’d like to do right now? I’d like to take you home with me and spend the rest of the day’ making love. I want to hold you in my arms and feel your skin on mine. I want the heavenly scent of you in my nose and in my mouth, I want to hear the sounds that you make as we make love. Do you scream, Ria? Do you cry out your joy or are you all quiet sighs?’ His tongue slid along hers, hot and velvety, his hands stroking the taut arch of her back, his hips creating a gentle pressure between her thighs. ‘I want to see you, Angel Mouth. I want to watch our bodies join and break apart, I want to feel the sharp sting of your mouth on me, the silky heat of your hands. I want to ‘taste you, touch you, please you, rock you into sweet, sweet oblivion with me .. .’

Biting, kissing, sucking, stroking, he travelled over her body, peeling off her nightdress and his own pyjamas, meshing their bodies together with teasing movements of long, hair-roughened limbs. As his hands skimmed her breasts, Ria gasped frantically, aching for his intimate touch. But he circled – the taut mounds, avoiding the stiff centres until Ria was moaning with need. When he did it was like a sword plunged to the core of her womanhood. She cried out when his fingers splayed under her breasts, readying them for his mouth.’

His tongue moistly lashed her until she tore his head away and launched feverishly into
her own explorations.
No, Ria, not like that…’ He kissed her hotly, lifting her up so that her thighs fell over his, holding her hips and lowering her on to him. ‘This way, angel…’ He moaned softly as her thighs fell either side of his and he felt her trembling softness above him. ‘Come, Ria,’ he enticed thickly, ‘take what you want.’

He gloried in the explosive lack of control that arched her body. Ria threw her head back,
shuddering as James manipulated their pleasure, feeling his hands move languidly on her swollen breasts as his hips rotated beneath hers. Then the whirlwind dashed away her heady sense of power, sucking everything inwards for an instant then shattering outwards. Ria fell, sprawling across the hard, masculine body, hot salty tears of release falling from wide, wondering eyes.

‘You see,’ he murmured into her relaxed, passion washed face when it was over. There was a masculine possessiveness about him that she felt too deliciously languid to deny. ‘Whatever the reason we came together last night, this morning proves that we should give it a chance. It feels so good, Ria, to make love to you, so natural.’ He closed her mouth with a gentle finger as she opened it to protest. ‘I know it’s a difficult time for you, so I’m not going to press it. Deep down, you know you trust me, or your subconscious wouldn’t have let you give yourself to me the way you did. Trust me enough to look after you while Michel’s ill. Stay here… you and Paul and Jamie. Lean on me, use me, whatever you need, Ria just don’t shut me out. I need to be needed, too, you know.’

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Fortune’s Mistress by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookfortunesmistress
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Hero: Nicholas Fortune
Heroine: Maggie
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April, 1990
Started On: July 27, 2018
Finished On: July 28, 2018

Susan Napier is one of my go-to authors when it comes to the Harlequin line of romances. Having discovered her books somewhere in 2013, I have delighted in the depth of her characterization and emotion she brings in the scant number of pages that usually makes up a Harlequin romance.

Fortune’s Mistress happened to be my next pick by Susan Napier to sample, and while I enjoyed certain aspects of the story, I realized that there were bits and pieces to it that didn’t quite work for me. The heroine Maggie is married to her best friend Finn when the tale begins. Their marriage is not unusual if you consider most marriages of conveniences. Given how their marriage started, the reasons behind it, an open marriage where they were both free to come and go as they please, while respecting certain boundaries worked for them. That is until Finn announced that he was in love, which meant that their brief sojourn through marriage had to come to an end.

Maggie is more apprehensive about who Finn had fallen in love with than the fact that he had. Although Maggie cannot deny that she feels completely alone for the first time in her life at the thought of the changes that are to come, she cannot help but feel a bit cautious because the love of Finn’s life turns out to be none other than the coveted daughter of Nicholas Fortune.

Known as a ruthless corporate raider who was rumored to have been a boxer at one time, was now considered amongst the societal elites of New Zealand. Maggie, always in her encounters with Nicholas had barely skimmed the surface, preferring to avoid him altogether, without delving too deeply into the reasons as to why she does what she does.

Needless to say, a lot of misunderstandings happen before everything is put to right. It’s not like “my husband is in love with your daughter” is the kind of statement you blurt out with a man as closed off as Nicholas Fortune. Nicholas’s take on Maggie and Finn’s marriage, though he doesn’t have the full facts to form a comprehensive picture, is spot on when it comes to discerning Maggie’s thoughts and deeper feelings, which unnerves her in a way that leaves her altogether not too comfortable. Maggie likes her life the way it is, uncomplicated, even if people might surmise her to be a spoilt rich socialite.

What I found tiresome were the countless conversations that took place between Maggie and Nicholas, without anything really happening. Maggie and Finn’s marriage, having never being consummated, had proper grounds for an annulment. But the fact that there was a family history as to why they had gotten hitched in the first place, prevents them from making a go for it. I wanted more for Nicholas and Maggie than witty dialogue and exchange of sarcastic quips. I wanted the passion between them to materialize and take a hold of my senses. I wanted Nicholas and Maggie together, and it just happened too late for my tastes.

Sometimes, it so happens that an author makes conversation such a huge part of the novel that the rest is left behind. Slow burn is all well and good. But when slow burn becomes an excruciating burn, no reader wishes to go through that and feel like they have been cheated out of the climax that should have been coming. Pun intended.

Recommended for fans of books that are steeped in witty banter and fans of Susan Napier.

Final Verdict: Even though Fortune’s Mistress is not Napier’s finest, her ability to keep the reader engaged is a testament to her talent that lives on through her stories.

Favorite Quotes

She decided that flippancy was the only defense. ‘Are you trying to appeal to my sense of decency?’ she mocked in turn, and she was relieved to see that trace of compassion vanish like smoke from the grey-blue eyes.
‘Do you have any?’ he grated.
‘What do you think?’ she asked archly.
‘I think .. .’ Whatever he had been going to say, he changed his mind. His voice dipped roughly.

‘I think you’ve been spoilt to hell and back, and it’s a bloody waste.’
There was real anger in the growl, and a regret that whipped under Maggie’s defences. Her eyes widened and they stared at each other for a moment; she saw the hungry male curiosity stir and the regret took on a far more personal flavor.

When their mouths touched there was an explosion of heat, a sweet eruption that quaked through Maggie and left her weak and shaking. No other man had kissed her, touched her. .. only Nick. His mouth was bold and intoxicating, like rich red wine that lingered on the palate. His tongue moved in her mouth, tasting the tart sweetness of her surrender, curling around her tongue and enticing it into an uninhibited exploration of its own, drawing her skillfully into his possession so that he might suckle her with a slow, erotic rhythm that shocked her un-tutored senses. He didn’t touch her with anything but his mouth, and Maggie didn’t dare unfold her fists clenched at her side for fear that if she touched him she would never let him go … But for the pleasure he gave her they might have been naked on a bed, locked in each other’s arms.
When the kiss broke, something in Maggie did, too.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Reckless Conduct by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookrecklessconduct
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Marcus Fox
Heroine: Harriet Smith
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November, 1996
Started On: October 07, 2017
Finished On: October 13, 2017

Never have I laughed so hard and so much while reading a romance novel in recent times as I did when I was reading Reckless Conduct by Susan Napier. I would always be forever grateful for having found Susan Napier’s books because they are aboslute gems in the world of Harlequin romances.

Reckless Conduct is a novel that is to be lauded for so many reasons. It has got that oh-so-good-i-am-going-to-die-of-laughter variety of humor going for it. There is a deliciously controlled hero who made every single sense of mine stand on high alert. Then there is the heroine, whose makeover and clumsy antics, plus the way she seems to always find herself in one tantalizing position after another with the hero became one I reveled in. The sense of want and desire that is continuous thread throughout the book was one that I found heady and enjoyable on so many levels.

Harriet Smith, the heroine is someone who has continually being considered as staid, boring, and conventional. However, all of that changes when Harriet decides to have the makeover of a lifetime which turns her from the wallflower so to speak to the stunningly beautiful and curvaceous woman that turns heads as she makes her way to the office on the morning following the makeover.

Marcus Fox is the chairman of the board of Trident Finance where Harriet works. When Marcus enlists Harriet’s expertise on a personal matter, Harriet is forced into close proximity with a man who makes her want to throw caution to the wind, who brings back that edge of spontaneity to her character which had died a painful death under the hands of her ex-fiance’. It also makes her want to flee because she is reluctant to get into something that could spell long term heartbreak for her. That sense of awakening in a heroine as reluctant as Harriet was one of the best aspects of this book.

If you are a fan of Harlequin romances, this is a must read. Susan Napier is brilliant in her execution of romance novels. Her books have foresight and depth to them that few Harlequin authors bring to the table. Her stories are less than conventional and for me that is one reason why I absolutely adore them and indulge in one every now and then.

Definitely recommended. If not for the laughs, for the sheer experience of Marcus Fox in all his glory. Loved the last chapter. Made me want to bawl my eyes out, and smile from ear to ear at the same time.

Final Verdict: Susan Napier wows her readers with unconventional stories that stand out for their sensuality and strong leads. Reckless Conduct is classic Napier in this sense and I cannot recommend it well enough.

Favorite Quotes

‘Not only is Fleet indiscriminate, but he has no respect for the woman’s privacy when he notches up a victory. He’s an inveterate boaster about his conquests. He’s even been known to bet on the outcome of a date. All he’s interested in is having a good time, and he expects the women he goes out with to have the same free-and-easy morals—’
‘Good!’ she snapped, using the element of surprise to grasp his solid wrist and push it sharply away from the control buttons so that the doors sprang open.
‘Good?’ Marcus Fox stayed rooted to the spot as she stepped out onto the thick grey carpet of the executive-suite foyer. ‘What do you mean—good?’
Harriet turned to look at him and was deeply gratified by his censorious expression. At last she had surprised a genuine reaction out of him!
‘I mean good, he sounds like a really hot date,’ she said with a reckless toss of her head.”
“A hot date?’ He repeated the words slowly, as if they were in an alien tongue.
‘Yeah, you know—one where there’s a lot of action.’
‘Action?’ The doors were closing on him and he darted out between them with a startling burst of agility for such a powerfully built man.
‘Fun.’
His black brows lowered even further as he towered over her. ‘You’re going out with Michael Fleet for fun?’ he rumbled.
‘Well, I’m certainly not going out with him in order to have a perfectly miserable time,’ she said sweetly.
He dismissed her dripping sarcasm with an impatient wave. ‘Miss Smith, I wonder if you’ve quite grasped the import of my remarks?’
‘Of course I have,’ she said in exasperation. ‘You’re warning me that by tomorrow I’ll just be another notch on the matchwood that passes for Michael’s bedpost.’
‘Miss Smith!’
‘Mr Fox!”

She sat down with relief, only to find that her narrow skirt shrank alarmingly up her slender thighs. She pretended not to notice. She hadn’t taken into account things like bending and twisting and sitting when she had been burning up the boutiques during the long weekend. She had just stood in front of the mirror and ruthlessly bought whatever the shop assistant had recommended.
Harriet folded her hands in her diminished lap and tried to remember everything she had ever read about miniskirt etiquette. Did one cross one’s legs or slant them primly parallel to the side? The idea of being prim decided her. She slid one knee rashly over the top of the other. The skirt retreated another crucial few centimetres.
Marcus Fox’s steepled fingers collapsed and his voice was slightly hoarse as he began ominously, ‘Miss Smith, I am about to break one of my cardinal rules about not allowing personal problems to intrude on matters of business.’

He rose abruptly from his chair and, against the tinted window, he was suddenly a dark, shadowy figure sweeping across her dazzled vision. Harriet’s heart pulsed erratically in her ears and, even knowing that the width of the desk was between them, she instinctively shied away from his dominance, a slender heel catching against the chair-leg behind her as she did so, half wrenching her shoe from her foot and throwing her off balance.
She stumbled forward several steps, banging her hip as she ricocheted off the sharp corner of his desk. One windmilling hand clipped the eyepiece of the telescope and it teetered on its extended tripod. Harriet whipped around to clasp and steady it, letting out a small cry of pain as a bolt on one of the legs jammed into her knee.
“What on earth—?’ Marcus Fox was there immediately, untangling her from the apparatus and setting them both upright.
‘I’m sorry,’ she gasped, hopping on one leg as she tried to refit her shoe.
He let go of the telescope to support her by her shoulders, half lifting her with easy strength to perch on the edge of his desk while she fumbled. ‘Little fool,’ he said gruffly. ‘What are you wearing heels like that for around the office? You’re an accident waiting to happen.’
‘To stop people like you calling me little,’ she huffed.

“They’re not pantihose,‘ she said absently, thinking gloomily that it didn’t take much to make expensive elegance look cheap and tacky. Maybe black hadn’t been such a flattering choice after all.
‘I beg your pardon?’
He hadn’t moved and Harriet was acutely aware that he was standing between her legs, the fabric of his dark trousers brushing against the sensitive skin of the insides of her knees. This time the threat posed by his proximity was unnervingly real. He was overpoweringly close, his warmth radiating through her like an invisible touch, his clean male scent creating a curious disorder in her senses. He made her feel both fragile and vulnerable and she panicked lest he detect her irrational fear, rashly seeking to repulse him with offensive brashness.
‘I said I’m not wearing pantihose. They’re stockings. See?’ She provocatively lifted her knee to press it against his hip, and flipped back her hem to reveal the lace-trimmed suspender that gripped the opaque band of her laddered stocking. A strip of smooth, naked thigh was also inadvertently revealed—a starkly erotic contrast to the black lingerie.

Feeling safe and yet aware of a tantalising danger, Harriet inhaled and let out a shuddering sigh and wriggled deeper into his lap. The malleable outline against her hip was large, and Harriet felt another wave of prickly heat wash over her as she indulged her sinful curiosity and wondered what it would take to arouse a man of his iron self-control and how different he would feel in his state of excitement.
She imagined what would happen if she was lying like this in his arms but for some inexplicable but necessary reason they were both completely nude. Surely he wouldn’t be unaffected then, no matter how skinny or pathetic he thought she was? He was a man and he wouldn’t be able to help himself. He might fight against his primitive instincts because he didn’t want to hurt her, but he would eventually succumb to the feel of her naked breasts and thighs rubbing against him. He would kiss her fiercely, and smother her small breasts in his big, clever hands, and then he would go thick and hard against her squirming bottom and he would turn her in his lap and—

Intent on preventing him from reaching the bottom of the pile, Harriet hastened forward, but she was too late. His eyebrows shot up as he studied the final cover.
‘Sexual Fulfilment: Erotic Techniques To Enhance Female Pleasure’
‘Give me that!’ Flustered, she tried to snatch it out of his hand.
‘Give you what? Sexual fulfilment?’ he enquired with a wicked grin, easily evading her attack by catching her wrist and pulling her down onto the bed beside him. ‘Why, Harriet, I’m flattered by your eagerness but it’s rude to grab.’
‘I meant give me the book!’ she grated at him, feeling the heat of his thigh against her hip as they bounced lightly together on the edge of the bed.

He kissed her deep and hard, burying his mouth in hers, using his teeth to tease her lips apart and his tongue to thrust roughly inside. His hand slid from her upper arms to her ribcage, his fingers splaying up her slender sides, gripping her, supporting her torso while he slowly twisted from side to side, massaging her breasts with the rigid muscles of his chest. With a groan he turned her even further into the heated embrace, forcing her head back with the power of his kiss, lifting his knee to rest his thigh heavily across her sprawled legs, urging her against the hardness between his legs.
‘Kiss me; touch me the way she was touching him.’ He whispered the ragged command into the moist depths of her being, and she felt him tear at his buttons so that his shirt parted across his smooth, hot chest.

“Marcus—’
He bit her throat, his fingers curving into her soft waist as he sucked at her flesh. ‘Yes, say my name; tell me where you want me to stroke you; tell me what excites you…’
Everything excited her. She could barely string two coherent thoughts together, let alone utter any words. All that came from her lungs were gasps and tiny whimpers and moans that seemed to drive him into a greater frenzy.
Harriet clutched at the thick-hewn shoulders under the loose white shirt, her manicured nails biting into the rippling muscle and raking down his biceps, causing him to arch and shudder and rub himself more frantically against her. The heat was coming off him in waves, the muscles in his arms and chest jerking with convulsive tension, his hot mouth ravishing her senses as he hungrily devoured her response to his astonishing explosion of desire.

“I knew you weren’t wearing a bra,’ he muttered harshly, covering the delicate mounds with his palms, cupping and shaping her with his fingers, finding the soft nipples with his thumbs and tracing their outline by feel, circling them over and over again, drawing them out with the gentle pressure of his nails. ‘I could see these shadowed against the cotton… dark, smooth, round discs that I wanted to touch and lick and suck until they were ripe and wet and hard… as hard as I was…’
He nuzzled her mouth as he told her what else he had wanted to do to her breasts with his tongue and hands and body while she had been standing there talking, innocently unaware of his lustful fancies, and his eloquent description made Harriet so dizzy that if she hadn’t been lying down she would have swooned like a Victorian maiden.

He donned the protection without the least sign of modesty or embarrassment and Harriet fleetingly compared him with Keith, who used to fumble around in the dark, as if it was an offence to his masculinity. She even suspected that Marcus lingered deliberately over the intimate task, enjoying having her watching him touch himself, heightening their anticipation of the pleasure to come.
‘Next time you can do it for me,’ he promised huskily, and with a stunningly swift movement caught hold of her ribcage, his thumbs curving up under her breasts as he pulled her down on her knees to straddle his lap, arching his hips so that he slid smoothly inside her in the same fluid motion.
‘Oh!’ Harriet’s hand spread across his chest as she felt him take a heaving breath and arch up again, pushing deeper, tighter, a huge, hard invasion of heat that made her instinctively grip his hips with her knees and rock forward, flexing her inner muscles around him.

“Don’t move.’ This time she knew that his grating harshness wasn’t anger, it was rigid self-restraint. She obeyed, her bottom settling on his iron thighs. After a few moments of absolute stillness Marcus lifted his head and gave her a lazy smile that made her toes curl in her black shoes.
‘What now, Mr Fox?’ she teased him throatily.
‘Now?’ His hands swept down her sides and over her stockings to the knees that were wedged against his hips, and then slowly followed the same course back again.
‘Now, Miss Smith, we stay like this for the next ten hours.’

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

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Review: Cry for the Moon by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookcryforthemoon.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Yorktown Towers, #4
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Simon Zebriskie
Heroine: Marielle Brandt
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 01, 1988
Started On: December 15, 2016
Finished On: December 17, 2016

Widow of six months, Marielle Brandt turns up with her five year old daughter Emily and eighteen month son Christopher at the doorstep of Farnum’s Castle, against all the advise doled out by the elderly attorney, who from the onset tries to convince her to sell the derelict building which Marielle is now to call home.

Left destitute with a mountain of debt by her husband, Marielle leaves behind a life which she particularly wouldn’t miss. The attorney goes as far as to tell her that the building is haunted, which does not in the least deter a very undaunted Marielle. The determination with which she was going to make Farnum’s Castle perhaps borne a bit out of the fact that she has nowhere else to go.

When one of the tenants of the building, the mysterious Simon Zebriskie encounters the very young Marielle, whom he considers so owing to perhaps his failed marriage from before, he is distrustful. Not so much because she is untrustworthy, but a distrust that stems from a side of himself that he had thought had gone dormant that comes to life with Marielle’s presence.

Simon is a man paying penance for something that had meant the end of life as he had known it, which had afforded him a life of luxury that is a distant memory from what his life is like now. With an odd cast of secondary characters who magically brings the “Gothic” side of the story alive, Cry for the Moon is once again a testament to Anne Stuart’s ability that remains unrivaled even with the multitude of romance writers out there.

A book written when I was in my early childhood, and yet even today stands firm with the test of time is exactly why I would always pick an Anne Stuart to chase away my reading blues. In Simon, there is the deliciously tender hero that any reader would fall in love with. Minus the anti-hero qualities that makes Anne Stuart so famous in the development of heroes in her novels, Simon is a man haunted by a past that makes him aloof and reluctant in many ways to confront his rioting emotions when it concerns Marielle.

Marielle on the other hand, is the strong, kind, and yet emotionally scarred heroine that anyone would root for. Her reluctance to step into anything with Simon comes from a marriage that had failed her miserably when all had been said and done. Having gotten married at a young age, Marielle would rather forge ahead on a path of her own making and do it alone, and yet, she cannot help but be ensnared by the passion that rises to the surface and explodes with every deliciously lazy kiss that Simon lays on her.

Final Verdict: Beautifully rendered, Cry for the Moon belongs in the collection of gems with which Anne Stuart has enriched the reading lives of many a romanceaholic like myself. Recommended.

Favorite Quotes

“Let go of me,” she said, her voice a hushed command in the still room.
“Yes,” said Simon, not moving.
“We can’t do this.”
“No,” he agreed.
“Simon.”‘ Her voice held a very definite note of warning.
“Yes,” he said. Then, “No.” And then he dipped his head, blotting out the moonlight, and his mouth caught hers.
Unbelievably, it had been years since she’d been kissed. Possibly not since the night Christopher had been conceived, and she wasn’t even sure of that. And she’d never been kissed the way Simon was kissing her, all urgency gone now, slowly, thoroughly, his mouth touching and teasing and tasting, nudging away her panic until she had no choice but to soften her mouth, to part her lips for him, to let him take possession with a sudden sly ferocity that left her trembling beneath him.

Suddenly she decided to shock him in return, to prove to him that she wasn’t the skittish little coward he seemed to think her. Reaching out with the tip of her tongue she touched the firm contours of his lips, teasing the edge of his teeth, exploring, very gently, very shyly.
She was unprepared for the intensity of his reaction. He’d been standing there completely passively, hands at his sides, when a strangled groan caught at the back of his throat and he pulled her into his arms, his tongue meeting hers. He picked her up and turned her in his arms, pressing her against the graffiti-covered wall of the apartment as his tongue took up where hers had left off.

Simon paid no attention to her protests. He kissed her, his mouth covering hers and sealing her objections as his long, deft fingers stroked and caressed her. Now she was clutching his arms, fingers digging into his hard-muscled flesh. She wanted to beg him to stop—except that she didn’t want him to stop. She wanted him to keep on, keep on forever, his hand between her legs invading her, arousing her, taking her from blind innocence to someplace dark and dangerous and overwhelming.
Marielle tore her mouth away from his. “No!” she choked. “No, stop! I can’t stand it! I can’t…”
“Yes, you can.” He was relentless, and for just a moment she fought him, pushing against him. Then the first wave hit, a jolt of sheer, agonizing pleasure shooting through her with the power of an electrical charge. She went rigid in his arms, shock and reaction keeping her still for a moment. Then her body convulsed against him as wave after endless wave of response twisted her into a helpless rag doll.

She shut her eyes, still tense, still waiting. But he made no move at all, despite the power vibrating in his arms, despite the need covering his body with a fine film of sweat. “Look at me, Marielle.” There was a hoarse note of pleading in his voice, one she couldn’t resist. Her eyes shot open. “Say something, Marielle. Anything.”
“I thought you liked me quiet.” It didn’t sound like her voice. It was raw with need and wonder and emotion.
He still didn’t move. “Not that quiet. Say something, Marielle. Say you want me.”
The ghost of a smile twisted her mouth. “Of course I want you. I’ve never in my life wanted anyone the way I want you. I never thought I’d want anyone the way I want you. I want you, I need you, I…” His mouth silenced the last, dangerous statement that might have slipped out, and his body pushed into hers, settling deep.

Maybe it was the two glasses of wine, or the roller coaster of emotion she’d been riding; maybe it was just time to take a chance and stop being so damned serious. Marielle lifted her flowing black chiffon skirts, just high enough to expose black lace ankles and spiky black shoes, and sauntered across the room toward a wary-looking Simon. “Saint Simon,” she murmured, her voice low and throaty when she reached him, “am I another one of your charity cases?” And before she could think better of it she reached up and pressed her red-painted lips on his, her heady perfume enveloping them both.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Chain of Love by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookchainoflove
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Sinclair MacDonald
Heroine: Cathy Whiteheart
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 1, 1983
Started On: April 03, 2016
Finished On: April 09, 2016

Anne Stuart has sort of become my go-to author when books are failing to give me what I am looking for. When you pick up an Anne Stuart novel, you are guaranteed a story that will stay with you for a while, if not for a lifetime. Even Chain of Love that was published a year after I was born, managed to give a read that held me enthralled, though I didn’t quite agree with one incident that took place in the book.

Cathy Whiteheart is coming out of a relationship that she never would have pegged as one that would turn abusive. Holing up inside of her own sanctuary, Cathy refuses to go out and make nice with people. She just does not have it in her. That is until her sister Meg forces her to do so and in the process thrusts her in the path of the sinful Sinclair MacDonald.

Sinclair otherwise known as Sin to his friends, is a man who is handsome, charming and seems to have got it all. Cathy does not trust the way her body reacts in Sin’s presence. Furthermore, her reactions are not what is normal for a woman like her, who had sworn off of men because she just cannot handle another relationship of the sort that had nearly broken her to begin with.

However, Cathy is no shy damsel in distress even though she might have gone through hell in her previous relationship. Far from it. Cathy remains spirited, the fire in her burning anew when Sin makes it impossible for her to hide from the feelings that starts to churn deep inside of her. I at times felt a bit overwhelmed for Cathy. Because once Sin had her in his sights, there was no way that she could have prevented the chain of events that led to its ultimate conclusion.

While Sin’s frustrations when it came to Cathy was understandable, his one act during the latter part of the story made me take a step back. But then again, given how Cathy reacted to it right after made me think that that even though I might abhor the reaction on Sin’s part for what it was, it seemed to have worked with Cathy. I would like to think that getting physical never solves your problems. But perhaps in the heat of passion, sometimes that is all there is left.

Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart. There indeed is no author who even comes close to what she is.

Final Verdict: Sin MacDonald is a man made for sin. No choice for Cathy but to give in!

Favorite Quotes

“Don’t you think it’s a little dark for sunglasses?” he inquired gently, reaching out and taking them from her face before she had a chance to gather her wits and stop him. The car was parked outside her apartment building, and he was hunkered down on the sidewalk, inside the open passenger door, staring at her face in great concentration. The streetlight was very bright overhead, and she heard his sudden intake of breath.
“My God, they’re green,” he murmured, his voice low and husky. “If I’d known that I wouldn’t have let you wear those damned sunglasses for so long.”

The elevator arrived; the door swished open beside him. Those searching hazel eyes looked at the elevator, and then back at Cathy’s motionless figure waiting by her door. Slowly he straightened up, and the panther look was back on him in full. He headed into the elevator, did a sudden about-face and turned back toward her, stalking her like the jungle beast he so resembled.
Before she had time to react he had pulled her slender body against his, hard. Her hands were caught between them as she instinctively raised them to ward him off, trapped against his broad chest. “To hell with keeping my place,” he said succinctly, and lowered his mouth to hers, gently at first, as if not to frighten her.

“Open your mouth, Cathy,” he whispered as he moved back to recapture her lips. Closing her eyes, she obeyed, letting him regain possession of her mouth even more intimately than he had before. His tongue explored every inch of her warm, moist mouth, demanding and drawing from her a response that she had never given another man. Her heart was pounding, her breath coming in quick, shallow pants, and her entire body trembled from pent-up desire. She could feel the flat surface of the wall behind her while every square inch of his body seemed burned into her flesh, and still he kissed her, as if he could never get enough of her willing mouth.

There was nothing tentative about this kiss, none of the reassuring gentleness of the night before. He kissed her long and deep and hard, with a kind of savage tenderness that was inexplicably arousing. Pressing her back into the soft mattress, he half covered her body with his, his long, bare legs holding the lower part of her body captive, as he plundered her willing mouth. His hand, which had been stroking her neck with long, sure strokes, moved down to caress one full, straining breast, his thumb rubbing gently until the tip hardened in fevered response beneath the silk gown. All her free will seemed drained away, leaving her a grateful captive of his knowing hands.
“Oh, God,” he muttered against her soft mouth. “I want you so much.” The hoarse words warmed her fluttering heart as she pressed closer.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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