Review: Love Conspiracy by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookloveconspiracy
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Daniel Bishop
Heroine: Kathleen Kendon
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 1, 1990
Started On: January 16, 2016
Finished On: January 17, 2016

36 year old Daniel Bishop is a financial magnate heading his family business, on the verge of getting hitched to a woman of his mother’s choosing. Daniel remains a bit removed from the machinations of his formidable mother, whose most recent of problems has everything to do with her grandson Todd getting engaged to a woman who is the farthest thing from the impeccable background that she would have chosen and accepted within the folds of her family.

23 year old Kathleen Kendon is unwittingly drawn into the drama that is the Bishop family through Todd, Adelaide Bishop making it clear in too many ways to count that her “engagement” with Todd wasn’t accepted. At all. However, Kathleen is one made of sterner stuff and one who has a chip on her shoulder when it comes to confrontations of the nature. Having being brought up as a State ward in a small orphanage, owing to the death of her parents at a very young age with no relatives to speak of, Kathleen is more than able to stand her ground where the elder Bishop is concerned. But when it comes to Daniel, well, that is another story.

Daniel’s engagement to the female version of himself should have been reason enough for Kathleen to cease thinking about him. But, for the very first time in her life, Kathleen finds herself confronted with desire of the kind that she cannot turn away from, the kind that she knows deep inside, spells trouble for her heart and soul.

Daniel himself is drawn to Kathleen on a level he would rather not be, having learnt his lesson the hard way, years back. But Kathleen answers to a need inside of him that grows stronger each passing day, until all of it comes to head with a satisfying conclusion at the end.

Susan Napier is one of those authors that any fan of romance that clamors for angst and unpredictable storylines must read! The Love Conspiracy had the sort of storyline that signaled to me that all wasn’t what it seemed to be. But when all was said and done, I couldn’t have imagined that things would turn out the way it did. That was enough reason for me to fall in love with the story.

Daniel’s character was by far the most complex. There is a hidden facet to him, the tiger that lies in prowl, ready to spring into action the minute it needs to, that catches you unawares. Daniel tamps down his wild side in the ruthless manner that is required of him when he takes the reins of the family business. But that doesn’t mean that the passionate side of him has been taken completely under submission. No. And Susan Napier shows us in one delicious scene after another, how wrong we can be in our initial perception of a character.

Kathleen was a feisty heroine, who drew the hidden facet of Daniel out and made him embrace it once again. There is a fire to Kathleen’s character that makes people be drawn towards it. The reason I loved her was because she is not afraid to look deep into herself and accept it when she is at the wrong end. Given Kathleen’s young innocence, it is a given that she wouldn’t react very well to the possessiveness that grabs a hold of her when she embraces  her burgeoning feelings towards Daniel, which is not made easier by the fact that he is engaged to another woman, who is far more suited for him in the eyes of everyone else. I loved the bits where Daniel talked to her, tried to make her understand and see things from his point of view. And I loved Kathleen for trying.


Final Verdict: Sizzles your nerve endings with wanton longing!

Favorite Quotes

‘Ah,’ Kat nodded sagely. ‘You like your sex dressed up. I bet you insist on having the lights off, too. Or do you close your eyes in case you see anything nasty? How do you know you’re not asleep? How does she know?’ She laughed, exhilarated by the brief flash of temper that penetrated his coolness, and the novelty of saying such wicked things with impunity. He was asking to be shocked.
‘I’m very articulate. I tell her.’
‘W … what?’ Kat’s laughter died in her throat. Her eyes widened on his bland face.
‘I like to describe what I’m doing, and what it feels like, and what I want her to feel,’ he continued in the same soft, measured voice. ‘Most women find it … instructive … as well as arousing. I don’t, however, talk in my sleep.’

‘Don’t crowd me, Daniel-‘
‘The hell I will! I’ll do more than crowd. You’ve had your fun tonight, Kathleen. Now it’s my turn .. .’
There was a rough, cold, aggressive passion in the threat that prompted her to struggle until he put his mouth against hers. The contact burned so much that the recoil was instant and mutual. There was no sound but Kat’s ragged breath. Daniel wasn’t breathing at all. Oh, dear heaven, no! was her last thought before the face above her cleared of its dark, rigid shock and displayed instead a hungry curiosity that swept resistance before it. The second kiss was equally tumultuous, but this time there was no drawing back. The thrust of his tongue in her mouth allowed no polite preliminaries; it was a furious battle for ascendancy, Kat’s arms rising stiffly to lock around his neck, her fingers sliding up into the thick black hair at his nape as he wrapped her breasts and hips against his lean hardness. His hands spanning her waist, Daniel suddenly swung her around, pushing her backwards over the thick carpet until Kat walked into the side of the padded brown leather couch half-way across the room. He arched her over the high back, tipping her hips into his until she gasped into the dark, echoing cavern of his mouth.

Belatedly she began to struggle, to deny his conquest, hands tugging helplessly at his iron wrists as his hands contracted around her sweetly aching breasts. Watching the frantic passion of her struggles, Daniel felt a bolt of pure energy explode inside him, generating immense’ heat. Colour poured into his face as a groan tore loose from the cramped vault of his chest, his eyes closing as he bent his head, no longer laughing, no longer triumphant, suddenly as helpless as she against the physical onslaught, a violation of mind and will.
His mouth parted fiercely against hers, his hands on her breasts no longer subtle and skilled but rough and eager, seeking to assuage the need generated by blood boiling violently through his heart and loins. His body moved against hers as if he would merge them through the constricting cloth by sheer force of desire. A tremble began to shiver through Kat’s body until she cried out with the agony of building tension. He swallowed her cry, driving more deeply with his demanding tongue, a searingly graphic representation of the act that, in their minds, was already taking place.

She arched against him, trembling, and his groan was muffled against her skin as his hands moved druggingly over her.
‘Daniel yes .. .’ he corrected her in a rasping whisper, moving his lips against her bare shoulder where the torn strap had fallen away. He tugged at the stretchy fabric, pulling the damaged edge down over her white cotton bra. Her nipple was a dark point against the thin white cotton. He found it with his teeth as he cupped his hand around her lush fullness, his thighs tightening around her trapped leg, forcing her hips into intimate contact with his potent maleness. Kat’s fingers dug into the taut muscles ridging his waist as he roughly pulled aside her bra and began to suckle the creamy flesh beneath.

She was awash with pure sensation, the slide of silk beneath her, the brush of his sweater against her sensitised breasts and belly, the musky male scent of him seducing her willing heart and mind. .
‘That’s right, kitten … burn for me, ache for me .. .’ he whispered as he nipped her skin. ‘This is what I’ve been thinking about all day, why I couldn’t concentrate … I was thinking of you, waiting for me in my bed … But we’re not going to hurry. We have all night, and the first time should always be slow and easy . . . a glorious, long-drawn-out agony of sighs.’

Purchase Links: Amazon


Review: Levelling the Score by Penny Jordan

Format: E-booklevelingthescore
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Simon Townsend
Heroine: Jenna
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 1, 1988
Started On: December 24, 2015
Finished On: December 24, 2015

Leveling the Score by Penny Jordan was recommended to me by KC on Goodreads. I had been hankering for short reads that would deliver on the romance and the angst, something that the older Harlequin novels are famous for. I had even resorted to reading some of my favorite re-reads, books that I keep on standby for occasions just like that, where I don’t want to venture into reading anything new, all because I want to indulge in a book that I know for certain would deliver exactly what I want.

Leveling the Score is a difficult novel to review. First published in 1988, this book proved to be highly readable even with all the problems I had with the story. I guess that alone tells the talent that authors like Penny Jordan wielded back in the day.

Jenna and Simon Townsend’s lives had always moved amongst the same circles when they had been younger. Simon being much older than Jenna had meant that even though Jenna crushed on him like no one before and since then, her feelings remained unreciprocated – or so she thinks. Fast forward a couple of years, and it is Susie, Jenna’s best friend and Simon’s younger sister that brings Simon back into Jenna’s life, a most unwelcome entrance if Jenna has anything to say about it.

When the story initially began, I was rooting for Jenna, without even knowing what Simon had done to her – believing it would be something deplorable like making fun of her feelings for him. But as the story progressed, I realized that whatever had taken place had happened only in the figment of Jenna’s imagination. Yes, Simon is sarcastic and a tad cruel at times, but I have read of heroes who are more cruel to their heroines in books, even books written by Penny Jordan herself.

In the end, I felt sorry for Simon. The story having never been told in Simon’s point of view meant that it was difficult to find where Simon was coming from. But, it was evident and clear as day to anyone who has a modicum of sense in them that Simon was completely into Jenna, something that Jenna in her clueless nature or I would rather say, in her attempt to be the “martyr” of her own making, refused to see. Because Simon’s thoughts weren’t part of the story, the reader needs to take his feelings for Jenna in a bit of a state of suspended disbelief. Most of the time, not having the hero’s point of view can be fun, extremely so if the heroine’s side tells of reactions on the hero’s part and if she doesn’t play the dumb card to get out of accepting what is right in front of her. Alas, the latter was the case in this story.

In the end, of course Simon and Jenna do get together, Jenna finally believing that Simon loves her and her alone. Like I said earlier, I waited to see what it is that Simon had done that was so wrong – apart from dating other girls when Jenna used to stay at their family home. I didn’t find it to be something unforgivable, all the more so because I just found Jenna to be outright silly.

Even with all those points of contention I had with Leveling the Score, it managed to deliver a story that delivered a good read.

Recommended for fans of old school Harlequin romances and fans of Penny Jordan.

Final Verdict: A heroine who gets on the nerves and a hero you try your damndest to figure out!

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


Review: Substitute Lover by Penny Jordan

Format: E-booksubstitutelover
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Hero: Gray Chalmers
Heroine: Stephanie Chalmers
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 1988
Started On: November 29, 2015
Finished On: November 29, 2015

To think that I was barely six years old when Substitute Lover was initially published, and I am enjoying this book after so many years have passed since then, attests to the talent that authors like Penny Jordan wielded in the romance genre. Though Penny Jordan is no more, I read her older books with the fondest of memories, memories of how her books used to spin and weave magic for me, which made me want to read more of the same. My reading did move onto other circles, especially given the fact that most Harlequin titles of today just seem lackluster in comparison, few giving a reader their worth in money spent.

Substitute Lover tells the story of 28 year old Stephanie Chalmers, a widow going 10 years, who has to force herself to return to the place of her “wedded life”, a marriage that had done a number on the innocent and naive girl that Stephanie had been back then. The one thing that should calm her in the midst of the storm that is blazing to life inside of her at the mere thought of going back should be Gray Chalmers, the man who had stood by her all these years, pushed and prodded her to move on with her life, offering her the shoulder of friendship when she had needed it the most. What she doesn’t count on this time around is for her feelings towards Gray to turn towards murkier waters, surprising her by the ferocity of what strikes her, when she has an aversion to being touched by the opposite sex after the number her brief marriage had done on her.

Gray was done being patient, standing on the sidelines and watching Stephanie remove herself from even the possibility of a shared life with another. Thus brings about the charade about Gray needing Stephanie to ward off the unwanted attentions of another woman, a task to which Stephanie takes to all too well, leaving her floundering in the wake of the emotions that being up close and personal with Gray brings about.

Substitute Lover is a novel that was full of the angst of the kind that I love and revel in. I treasure old Harlequin titles for this reason. Even though miscommunication and sheer stubbornness on the hero or heroin’s part to see the truth is not what I am talking about, there is a certain kind of lure to the kind of angst some of these books deliver and Substitute Lover managed to deliver just the right touch of it. The agony that Gray himself goes through to keep his end of the bargain, the scars and horrors of the past that Stephanie has to deal with to move on were the reasons the pages kept turning into the wee hours of the night.

Stephanie’s short lived marriage is the kind of stuff nightmares are made of. To think that she had suffered through it all alone, blaming herself for failing to be the woman her husband had required her to be was one that struck an emotional chord deep within me. Gray’s pain and the secret he has held on for so long made the story that much more delicious and I loved every single moment of this wonderful story. Reading and revisiting books by an author who made me fall in love with a genre I continue to read 15 years on is my way of giving tribute to someone who has illuminated the world of so many romance readers with the wonderful hues of bright and colorful lights of lust, angst & ever lasting love. 

Final Verdict: Penny Jordan definitely knows how to deliver on the angst. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

A thrill of some dangerous and alien emotion raced through her. Without being aware of the provocation of what she was doing she touched her tongue-tip tentatively to the dry outline of her lips.
Someone shuddered. Herself, or Gray ? She looked up at him, and trembled beneath the expression in his eyes.
‘Do that again and I won’t be responsible for what happens next,’ he warned her in a curiously rusty, hoarse voice, that trapped her attention, focusing it on the shape of his mouth.

‘I want to see what you’re feeling when I kiss you.’
Gray. No . . . don’t…’ She struggled to free herself, squirming against the almost painful hardness of his body, until she realised the effect her frantic movements were having on him.
He watched the hot colour scorch her skin with cynical detachment, demanding acidly, ‘You’re not that naive, surely, Stephanie. Rub yourself against any normal man like that and you’d get exactly the same response.’
When her embarrassed colour deepened he smiled sardonically and bent his head to her ear and mouthed softly, ‘I’m a man, Stephanie, and not a machine, and what you’re doing to my body right now is driving me right out of my mind.’

Quite when her lips parted to the subtle persuasion of his tongue she didn’t know.
It seemed as though one moment he was kissing her as though he was comforting a hurt child and the next the touch of his mouth had aroused such a storm of passion within her that she was clinging helplessly to him, responding to every passionate movement of his mouth against her own with a responsiveness that her conscious mind could only observe with awe and disbelief.
His robe had come open and her breasts were pressed against his chest, only the thin cotton of her nightdress between them.
His hands moulded her body, caressing her back, his touch making her spine arch, making her …

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo


Review: Meant to be Married by Ruth Wind

Format: E-bookmeanttobemarried
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Men of the Land
Publisher: Harlequin Treasury
Hero: Elias de Jesus Salimento Santiago
Heroine: Sarah Greenwood
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 15, 2011
Started On: October 18, 2013
Finished On: October 18, 2013

‘Absence is to love what air is to fire. If it is small, it soon goes out. If it is great, it burns stronger.’

Ruth Wind is an author who has an amazing way with words. It is evident in the style of writing that she uses to bring her stories alive with the different nuances and colors that makes her books the vibrantly haunting reads that they are.

Meant to be Married is the story of the love affair between Elias Santiago and Sarah Greenwood, a love that had blossomed from friendship between two people whose families have been warring for decades. Their love had been an all consuming one that had left them with no room but to give it their all. But then Sarah’s father wouldn’t have his only child marrying one of the enemy and that is how these two find themselves torn apart from each other until 12 years later Sarah returns home which once again stirs up things between them.

Elias is a proud man, his pride evident in the way he holds his head high, has made a name for himself and proved himself a successful man capable of a lot more than people would have given him credit for. And when Sarah strolls back into town, the well ordered life that Elias had been living for a long while now comes crashing down at his feet, awakening all those emotions that had made him the adolescent who had been drunk on the love that had pretty much devoured them both.

Elias might want to enact his revenge on the man who had almost ruined his life 12 years back by using Sarah as the tool to achieve that, but that is not exactly how things turn out when both Sarah and Elias realize that for both of them, the other had been what had in actuality made their lives complete. But for them to have even the slightest chance at happiness, Sarah would have to stop running from her past and Elias would have to let go of his pride in order to go through that final stage of acceptance and love that would lead them through the rest of their lives.

While I loved Elias as a hero, I found that even towards the end he was a bit too stiff and unrelenting for me to really believe that Sarah and the love he has for her had won over the fire of hatred that has burned through him for far too long. Sarah had a way of running from everything that made things overwhelming for her and not without reason too, but at least she tried to do what no one else has had the courage to do; to heal the rift between the two families by finding out the actual truth about what had happened a long, long time ago.

All in all, I wouldn’t say that this is a bad read but rather a story that failed have that wow factor because I couldn’t really believe that in the end Elias would accept the truth and move on based on the history of the enmity between the families. Perhaps an epilogue would have done wonders to convince readers like myself who remains a wee bit skeptical even after the happily ever after.

Recommended for fans of Harlequin romances and fans of Ruth Wind.

Final Verdict: Ruth Wind is an author who takes you deep into the heart of any book she writes.

Favorite Quotes

It was Eli who stood there, his hair dripping, his face wet. The white cotton shirt stuck to his chest and arms, transparent against his dark skin, and his eyes burned as he stared at her.
A bolt of pure, undiluted hunger filled her, rushing through every cell, making her body ache. She might even have made a little sound, part fear, part need.
Without a word, he came in, put his cold hands on her face and kissed her.

“His clothes were wet, but they warmed as he pressed into her, warmed with the heat of his flesh and the heat of her own, and Sarah arched into him, put her arms around him, pulled him closer overwhelmed at her need to absorb the taste of Elias, remembered and not remembered, darker than it had been, seasoned with years and lost dreams and a thousand moments of yearning.

She held him fiercely as he met his release, and clasped his head between her hands and whispered his name, over and over.
Elias. Elias. Elias.
And then she was set free, her soul tangling with his, as she soared into the completeness that she had found only with him. She held him as tightly as she could, her arms and her legs wrapping him close, wanting to somehow make him part of her, so he could never be torn from her again.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Harlequin


Review: Escape from Desire by Penny Jordan

Format: E-bookescapefromdesire
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Zachary Fletcher
Heroine: Tamara Forbes
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 1, 1983
Started On: July 8, 2013
Finished On: July 8, 2013

Zachary Fletcher is a man of privileged upbringing who had found his calling in serving the army. Aloof, ruthless and cynical, Zach is a man not to be crossed.

Tamara Forbes is 26 years old and engaged to marry the man who she thinks would serve her interests the best, though misgivings and doubts continue to plague her about their suitability as the date draws nearer.

Tamara and Zach’s paths cross when both end up taking a vacation in the Caribbean at the same time. Zach is recuperating while for Tamara its a vacation long overdue. When both of them are held hostage by a terrorist organisation after a hiking trip that goes awry, Tamara must put her trust in a man who is far too masculine, appealing and ruthless on her senses and for her peace of mind. By the time they make it back to civilisation, nothing remains the same.

Escape from Desire has a contemporary setting and takes place in both the Caribbean and London. Story is narrated from only Tamara’s perspective in third person.

I admit I’m someone who likes a whole lot of conflict and angst in my romances, not the type that makes me want to pull my hair out mind you, but the kind that makes you want to swoon into a puddle of dreaminess when all’s said and done.

I like revisiting the Harlequin romances for a reason. They were practically my first  source of adult romances and some of the authors such as Penny Jordan shaped my love for ruthless heroes and the women who fall for them with no way of turning back. And thats exactly what I was looking for when I picked this up to read and exactly what it delivered as well.

Tamara is naive, inexperienced and a bit of a reserved character; not surprising given the way she was brought up. Tamara appears standoffish to a lot of people and that starts chipping away the minute she encounters the enigmatic Zach who makes her instinctively take a step back because even with all her inexperience, she knows that Zach would be dangerous a man to play with.

I sometimes think that perhaps the reason why I am drawn towards heroes who can practically be called assholes is because real life tends to deliver alpha heroes of that variety. But once they fall, and boy do they fall; they are smitten to the point of obsession and displays of possessiveness & jealousy that I absolutely love. And Zach certainly was no exception to the rule. There were moments I wanted to slap him, and then there were moments I wanted to say ‘A-ha’ and sit back and watch with glee as he tried to wrestle with his feelings for Tamara. Though I’d have loved a bit more of the story to have been set in the Caribbean, this still turned out to be a captivating read that I finished in one sitting!

Recommended for fans of older Harlequin romances, fans of ruthless, mean, jealous and possessive heroes and fans of Penny Jordan. Its a testament to her impressive talent that even her earliest novels still holds appeal today.

Final Verdict: Angst-ridden goodness!

Purchase Links: Amazon | AbeBooks


Review: Honeymoon Baby by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookhoneymoonbaby
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Do Not Disturb, #2
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Raphael Jordan
Heroine: Jennifer
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 1998
Started On: May 7, 2013
Finished On: May 8, 2013

For the lack of something to do to distract my mind on the long plane ride I found myself on, I started reading Honeymoon Baby by Susan Napier knowing that she would deliver a read worth delving into as the two previous books that I have read from her had proved to be stellar reads. True to my conviction, I found myself totally enamoured by the story that unfolded and for the first time in a long while, I found myself being seduced by a hero to such an extent that I found myself daydreaming about him!

Jennifer Jordan (Jenny) seems to be your average proverbial spinster who in your mind you label as someone who would end up old and whither away in the small town of New Zealand where she lives until the too sexy for words Raphael Jordan (Rafe) comes bulldozing his way into her life, wanting to claim the baby that Jenny is carrying, all righteous indignation and smouldering fury evident in every line of his body.

Jenny finds herself in a trap of her own making when Rafe is determined to stay and confirm for himself that Jenny is woman enough to take care of his son or daughter in a fashion that he would be satisfied with. The awareness that had always zinged to life when Jenny and Rafe had crossed paths in the past seems to blaze out of control as both of them discover the depth and reasons behind the frisson of awareness that had always existed between them.

Susan Napier is an author who writes and brings sensuality of the scorching hot kind so effortlessly into her stories. Its the way she creates her heroes and the heroines who are strong enough to love them that makes her books topnotch in that aspect. Rafe is such a delicious hero in every single way that I could wax lyrical poetry about him all day long. I wouldn’t mind it at all if he were to turn up on my doorstep and lure me onto the path of inevitable destruction itself; yep, he is that good.

Its not just Rafe’s good looks alone that appealed to me at a baser level. It is his character that came to life as Susan delved deeper into a story that rocked my world in every sense possible. Jenny might seem like a ‘nobody’ when you first encounter her in the story. But Susan has a few surprises in store for the reader regarding her ‘mousy’ heroine who is anything but that, who rocks Rafe’s world in a way that leaves them both reeling from the aftershocks of every explosion in the wake of their desire for each other. Rafe and Jenny are exactly two halves of one soul, each complementing the other on a scale that made me feel envious.

Its a testament to an author’s ability in writing a romance when the hero and heroine appear perfect for each other and even then makes a small part of you wish and dream for a man like Rafe to come sweep you off your feet; even to an ’embittered’ and ‘jaded’ soul like mine. Honeymoon Baby was just what I needed to kickstart the journey and I’m certainly going to go through Susan’s backlist to find what other delectable heroes that I have missed out on.

If you want to read a Harlequin romance with plenty of heat and a story that doesn’t offer you every single cliche you’ve heard of and manages to grab a laugh or two out of you while you are at it, find yourself a copy of Honeymoon Baby. I promise you, Rafe is a force to be reckoned with.

Favorite Quotes

She tipped up her face to protest and, shockingly, her mouth met his. His lips were firm and resilient, his tongue limber as it slipped moistly past the guard of her teeth and stroked her silky interior. Shock turned to violent craving and she moaned, her mouth opening to receive him. His head tilted, his mouth slanting to deepen the kiss, deepen the penetration of his tongue into her willing depths. He broke off and bit at her lips, licking and sucking at the juicy pink flesh, his hands twisting in the loops of her belt, dragging her closer into the hot, wet embrace of mouths.

She found she was trembling as he looked down over her shoulder at what he had uncovered. She heard him suck in his breath at the sight of her firm creamy breasts straining against the watery silk, their faint tracery of blue veins guiding the way down to her barely concealed nipples.
‘Sexy, he growled, fingering the pure silk hem where it lay against her hip “, but otherwise touching her with only his eyes as he lifted the robe from her shoulders and let it fall in a hush to the floor, leaving her exposed to his reflected view.

She glanced at Rafe, to find him locked in his own world, his head tipped back and his eyes closed, his chest rising and falling as if he’d been running, his arms hanging tense at his sides, the curled fingers of one hand glistening with a faint slick of moisture that it made her blush to see it. He looked as if he was praying to some pagan god, and out in the darkness a molten fire burst accompanied by another crackle of silver brilliance seemed to be his answer.

But no sooner had the pleasure begun to slam into her than he was rising to his feet again, pulling her hips further forward onto the very edge of the desk, ripping open her blouse to expose her transparent bra and tipping her flat on her back as he hooked his arms under her bent knees and mounted her in a single thrust.

We can’t…’ she moaned as he tugged at the back of her jeans and her bare bottom scraped against the matted fibres of bark. She arched against him, and with a grunt of satisfaction Rafe wrenched open the fly of his jeans and guided his thick shaft into the narrow gap between her constricted thighs, pushing himself up inside her until he felt her shudder and accept his full length in a slippery rush.
‘God, I needed this…I can’t ever get enough of you,’ he gritted […]

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo


Review: Smoke in the Wind by Robyn Donald

Format: E-booksmokeinthewind
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Presents, #1104
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ryan Fraine
Heroine: Venetia Gamble
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 1988
Started On: June 29, 2011
Finished On: June 30, 2011

My God! Whoever says that Harlequin stories are only fluff would definitely have a tough time categorizing this title as such. Smoke in the Wind by Robyn Donald is a title that ended up in my TBR pile via a recommendation received from Amazon. I finally gave into my curiosity and sampled my first Robyn Donald last night and boy did I have a hard time letting the story go to catch some much needed shut eye last night because yes once you start reading, this is the sort of book that refuses to let go!

Television reporter Venetia Gamble meets the engimatic and handsome Ryan Fraine whose reputation precedes him as one of the best in her field during a function held to inaugurate the set up of the first private television station in New Zealand. Even though the cynicsm that lurkes close to the surface in Ryan’s eyes tells Venetia that he is a man best left alone, the explosive reaction that he seems to trigger with her baser emotions and seems to return in full makes her a slave to the fulfillment that he alone can give her.

23 year old Venetia has already learnt the bitter lesson of letting passion rule her life when she had been just 18 years old. Fiercely independent and not as sophisticated as she lets on, Venetia plays a dangerous game in perfecting the image that she thinks is what Ryan looks for in a woman though her ploy fails miserably when she falls in love with him only to have him fall for Venetia’s innocent and serene cousin Elizabeth.

Six year later, Venetia has made a life for herself and her five year old son John at her grandmother’s place in Austalia. And it is here that Ryan comes to seek her out, having bought the rights for her book which is to be made into a movie by the man himself. Elizabeth having passed away a year back, Ryan once again starts the dangerous cat and mouse game that they had played before with the passion that swirls between them stronger than ever, refusing to be denied even if giving in is the furthest thing Venetia wants.

With their son to consider, Ryan proposes that she marry him and give him the opportunity to once and for all slake the uncontrollable hunger that rules them both given half the chance. But the hurt and betrayal from 6 years back when Ryan had shattered the very foundation of her being when he had cruelly ended things with her has left its mark on Venetia who is ever more cautious and fools herself into thinking that she would ever be able to say no where Ryan is concerned.

Smoke in the Wind is an intense read that requires a lot from the reader and I revelled in the heady sensations that coursed through me every single minute of the story. Ryan is a hero that is hard to get on board with, his cruel treatment of Venetia because he can’t accept the fact that he is vulnerable to her as she is to him hard to accept. Still I found myself fascinated with his character and came to understand what it is that drives him to be his meanest when he is around Venetia.

Venetia on the other hand is strong, fiesty and independent and vulnerable to the very core where Ryan is concerned. Though she gives as good as she gets, she is no match for the strong connection that is between her and Ryan and has withstood the test of time, distance and immense betrayal and once again it is Venetia that opens up herself to the possibility that this time around with maturity and past mistakes to guide her, she would be able to reap the benefits of Ryan’s affections even if he might never come to love her as he did for his first wife.

If Robyn Donald writes all her stories with unapologetic honesty as this one, I am already a fan as Smoke in the Wind is a romance that fans of ruthless alpha heroes and fans of Harlequin romances ought not to miss. I would have loved to see Ryan brought to his knees and maybe see him grovel a little, hell a lot more but I suppose a gal can’t have everything she wants.

Favorite Quotes

He smelled so good, of warm, aroused male. And taste. On his probing tongue, in his mouth, lingered the faint essence of the wine they had had for dinner, but mostly her mouth accepted his own special flavour, potent, exciting, more precious than the best vintage champagne. And the feel of him, the hard, powerful muscles so pleasurably contrasted with the smooth, flowing silk of the skin over them, a magnificent masculine dichotomy which conquered all that was feminine in her.

‘You,’ he repeated, his voice heavy and hard, shaking with emotion he no longer troubled to hide, ‘I took one look at you and knew that that was it, I’d spent the last six years with hunger for you eating at my heart.’

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