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

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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

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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.’

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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Review: Best Man to Wed? by Penny Jordan

Format: E-bookbestmantowed
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Bride’s Bouquet, Book 2
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: James Carlton
Heroine: Poppy Carlton
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: May 1, 1997
Started On: June 13, 2011
Finished On: June 13, 2011

I can almost always count on a good old Harlequin novel to take me on an emotional roller coaster ride from which I wouldn’t want to get off. Penny Jordan is a favorite Harlequin author of mine and I am sure many fans of the Harlequin line are bound to feel the same. Though I have done most of my Harlequin crazed phase of reading prior to the start of my review site, this is one novel by Penny Jordan that I seemed to have missed, a fact I am glad that I have rectified when I started on this one on a whim today.

22 year old Poppy Carlton has had her dreams crushed when her cousin Chris Carlton who has been the man of her dreams since she had turned 12 years of age marries another. Forced to grow up and get her head out of the clouds, Poppy is horrified when her virginal body responds in an appalling manner to James Carlton’s caresses. James is her beloved Chris’s elder brother, the forbidding and formidable version to the sunny and easy going nature of Chris who occupies her thoughts night and day – or so Poppy tries telling herself.

8 years older than Poppy, James is a man who keeps his emotions close to himself apart from tearing into Poppy’s infatuation when it comes to his younger brother. When consequences of their nights of passion together forces Poppy to acknowledge her feelings towards the brother who is a match for her in every way, Poppy fears that she might be just a little bit too late in accepting that James is the one and only for her.

I love stories where the hero has always being in love with the heroine but somehow was overshadowed by the heroine’s infatuation with another man presumably a relative of the hero’s. James is a mouthwateringly alluring hero and Poppy though at first grated on my nerves with her self pitying nature made up for it beautifully when she freely expresses her need for James bringing the poor guy to his knees.

And this one certainly managed to be an emotion wrenching read and I loved the effect the story had on my emotions as I read along. Though this might not be a feminist’s idea of how a romance should be, this is romance in its most old-fashioned form, the reason why I fell in love with the world of romance in the first place. Recommended for fans of the Harlequin genre and fans of Penny Jordan.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Harlequin

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Review: Wildfire Encounter by Helen Bianchin

Format: E-bookFront
Read with: Microsoft Reader
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Presents, #527
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Rafael Savalje
Heroine: Sara Adams
Sensuality: 2.9
Date of Publication: September 1982
Started On: August 24, 2010
Finished On: August 25, 2010

This was a book I saved onto my Kindle long before I read my first Helen Bianchin novel. Ms. Bianchin started writing in the 1970’s, way long before I was even born. But even back then, her stories pack a punch with her larger than life heroes and willful to the point of being irritating heroines.

Blair Adams, Sara’s father, borrows money from richer than sin Rafael Savalje, makes a couple of bad investments and ends up debt ridden up to his neck. Next thing Sara knows, her father has committed suicide, leaving her and her mother at the mercy of the hateful Rafael for whom Sara feels  nothing but contempt, loathing and hatred blaming him unjustly for her father’s suicide.

With no way out of their debt-ridden situation, Sara has no choice but to agree to marrying Rafael. Rafael proposes marriage stating that he wanted a motherly influence for his young daughter Ana whose mother had died shortly after prematurely delivering Ana. Ana was already pretty taken with Sara who was a  teacher who actually cared about her students.

Within less than a week, Sara finds herself wedded to the man she despises more than anything on this Earth. Sara who is a pretty willful character, finds herself always at odds with the virile enigmatic man that she married. I found myself often irritated with Sara because no matter how well Rafael tried to treat Sara, she always ended up verbally or physically attacking Rafael which in the end left a bad taste in my mouth.

Though Sara finally does admit to herself that she loves Rafael and that she cannot live without him, I didn’t feel that Sara was really worthy of the kindness and love that Rafael continued to shower on her although Rafael tended to face life with cynicism that was apparent in his drawl and his mannerisms. I felt like shouting out at Sara “Are you fricking dumb or something?”. Anyhow, I made it through the novel, a novel filled with Sara’s childish tantrums and Rafael’s childlike treatment of his bride, which I say is what she deserves! Ugh!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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Review: Sweet Tempest by Helen Bianchin

Format: E-bookFront
Read with: Microsoft Reader
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Presents #744
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Jake Stanton
Heroine: Stephanie Matheson
Sensuality: 2.8
Date of Publication: November 1, 1984
Started On: August 24, 2010
Finished On: August 24, 2010

I always come across books by Helen Bianchin though I have never given them a try before today. Having some free time and coming across this quite old Harlequin Presents romance, I wanted to indulge in a book where I wouldn’t have to think much and invest myself in the book. Surprisingly I found myself turning the pages quickly, fascinated in spite of myself in the drama that you can always find in a Harlequin romance.

Stephanie Matheson works as a secretary with her father who holds his own veterinary practice in Bacchus Marsh, south-west Victoria. When the opportunity to attend a conference which is to take place in Los Angeles for a month comes knocking on James Matheson’s door, he is more than excited. And when through an unexpected turn of events, Jake Stanton the son of one his long term friends, who has returned from the states recently agreed to look after the practice for the month whilst he was gone, it was a too good an opportunity for him to turn down. Entrusting the care of Jake to his daughter and making arrangements so that their housekeeper would take residence at their home for the duration, James leaves her daughter Stephanie with a feeling of trepidation ever since the moment she lays eyes on Jake.

Jake with his sardonic drawl and a cynicism that never leaves his eyes invades the thoughts of Stephanie far more than she likes. And when the housekeeper that was supposed to live in with them breaks her leg and has to be hospitalized, Stephanie knows that she would have to bear with Jake and his irritable presence.

When her boyfriend Ian, who lives with his mother and who in turn despised any male or female that might threaten her relationship with her son finds out that Jake is living with Stephanie, all hell breaks loose in their relationship front. Before long, a lifelong friend who turned into something more turns into a stranger who can’t seem to get over his jealousy of Jake and his presence at Stephanie’s home.

Though Stephanie denies that she feels anything for the ruggedly handsome Jake, her body betrays her every time Jake takes her in his arms. When Jake’s beautiful ex-wife Alana comes calling, Jake resorts to using Stephanie as a shield to prevent Alana from getting her claws once again into Jake and his fortune.

Stephanie doesn’t know how she ended up playing the role of a doting fiance to a man she despised. There were times when I wanted to hit Jake on the head for the cruelty he showed to Stephanie. And there were times that I wanted to shake Stephanie so that she would grow a spine or two. But all in all, the book served its purpose and gave me a light and fast read which was what I wanted in the end.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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Review: The Promise of Happiness by Betty Neels

Format: E-bookprom
Read with: Microsoft Reader
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Jazmin
Hero: Baron Raukema van den Eck
Heroine: Rebecca Saunders
Sensuality: 1
Date of Publication:  December 1979
Started On: August 4, 2010
Finished On: August 4, 2010

Its been ages since I last read a novel by Betty Neels. Known for stories that bring a soothing warmth to the reader, I also read a couple of her books in the late 90’s when I first started my foray into romance reading. The one thing that I always found lacking in her books even then was the fact there is little or no sensuality at all to her books, but rather a descriptive narration of the heroine’s life with the hero coming in now and then and at the very end, the hero professes his love and its a happily ever after for the happy couple.

This story is no different from the above when Rebecca encounters Baron on her journey to escape her stepmother and stepbrother from a life of servitude they had set upon her. Accompanying her are her beloved pets Bertie and Pooch, who look as bedraggled as she is when Baron offers them a lift into town. On the journey towards the hotel Baron was residing at, he learns that Rebecca is actually a trained nurse, though she doesn’t have any references to back her claim. And though Baron is not one to feel for people, he finds himself surprised at the pity that he feels for the mousy looking little thing who has had it so bad till now.

It is by chance that Rebecca encounters the Baroness, who has recently had a knee surgery done in disagreement with her nurse and it is Rebecca who helps her and puts to right what has been causing her pain. Thus Rebecca finds herself offered the job of being the Baroness’s nurse during a trip she is to make to see her sister and then later onto Holland where Baron promises that he would help her find a job and settle her down.

Looking after the needs of the Baroness seems like a lifesaver to someone such as Rebecca who had had life so hard for her after the death of her beloved father. Though Baron at first refuses to see any beauty in the nondescript little woman who takes such good care of his mother so efficiently, little by little he comes to appreciate what Rebecca stands for and who she is.

Meanwhile Rebecca continues to be in agony over the fact that she has fallen head over heels in love with someone who had professed that he was not attracted to thin mice and the fact that the beautiful Nina seemed to occupy much of Baron’s time.

In the end, its all a bit sudden when Baron professes his desire to marry her and give her everything her heart desires. I feel the story would have been better if Rebecca had left as she planned and Baron had had to come after her, just to give him a taste of his arrogance I suppose?

Anyhow it was good reading something that didn’t cause me so many emotional upheavals. So until my next review!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard

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