Review: The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin

Format: E-bookthejadetemptress
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Pingkang Li Mysteries, #2
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Wu Kaifeng
Heroine: Sun Mingyu
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 18, 2014
Started On: September 26, 2016
Finished On: October 02, 2016

The Jade Temptress is the second book in The Pingkang Li Mysteries, and tells the story of Mingyu, the most celebrated courtesan at The Lotus Palace. Even though this book can be read as a standalone, to experience the wide range of emotions the unfolding story exposes the reader to, I would recommend reading the series in order.

Wu Kaifeng, known as Constable Wu is a man of serious demeanor, having never shown an interest in her, unlike men of the caliber that Mingyu usually spends her time with. But the murder of Mingyu’s long term patron General Deng Zhi brings Wu and Mingyu together in a way that deepens the awareness that had sizzled to life between them from almost the beginning. of their acquaintance, though neither had acknowledged the fact at first.

While Mingyu is beauty personified with every man who comes to The Lotus Palace enamored by her presence, Wu is the opposite of what one would call “handsome” in the classical sense. But his strong presence, his demeanor, the way he holds himself, his strong sense of seeing justice through, and the way he is helplessly ensnared by the strength of character that Mingyu hides from most; all that and more makes Wu a formidable character, one that I fell head over heels in love with from the minute I came across him in the first book.

Mingyu’s past, the way she had become the most sought after courtesan at The Lotus Palace is one that grabs the emotions of the reader. Similar is how Wu grew up, his character even then one that was different from most children. How Jeannie Lin creates such beauty in a world where murder, jealousy, and traversing the treacherous waters of Chinese imperial politics is one that continues to amaze me. I would always come back for more because similar to authors like Sherry Thomas, Jeannie Lin is one of a kind and there is no giving up on that.

I absolutely loved the story that unfolded in The Jade Temptress, more so than the first book in the series. I have a thing for strong and silent heroes, and Constable Wu personifies all that and more. Mingyu is not the average heroine material that you encounter in most romance books, but she is endearing in so many ways that I fell for her just as hard when it came right down to it.

As the story reached its ultimate conclusion, I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty and utter perfection that Jeannie Lin created with the characters, the story, and the ending. I loved the way Kaifeng bought the one thing that mattered most to Mingyu, and yet, waited patiently, biding his time until Mingyu came to him on her own volition. That was profound in a way I cannot describe, because for a woman such as Mingyu, that was a gift that was priceless. I loved the tidbits that showed the struggles both of them go through to make a different life for themselves together – and that in essence clinched the deal for me.

This is one of Jeannie Lin’s best works, and comes highly recommended for fans of beautifully crafted romance novels.

Final Verdict: Magical in a way that only Jeannie Lin can pull off, The Jade Temptress is worth a sleepless night or two!

Favorite Quotes

“I’m ill-mannered,” he continued. “Unsightly. Nothing to anyone that matters.”
Her breathing quickened as he bent to her and he could see her pupils growing wide and dark. The effect was strikingly sensual. Mingyu raised her hand to his face. Her fingers trembled as she touched the hard line of his jaw.
“It’s not true,” she murmured. “You’re not really like that.”
He smiled crookedly at her. “Not ugly?”
“Not…nothing.”
Her face was tilted toward him. She regarded him from beneath her lashes, her cheeks flushed, and there was nothing he could do but kiss her.

“Are we truly supposed to forget?” he asked quietly.
There was no need to mention what he spoke of.
“I haven’t forgotten.”
“Then it did happen.”
He reached for her, but went no farther than the edge of her sleeve. He let the silk slip along his fingertips before releasing it. Mingyu followed his every movement with her eyes.

“Say something to me that isn’t about the investigation,” she implored.
She could see the thoughts flickering in his eyes as he searched for something suitable. It was endearing, if anything about Wu Kaifeng could ever be considered endearing.
“I knew ahead of time,” he began reluctantly. “That this was the day you usually go to see your sister.”
Mingyu’s grin spread so wide she had to place a hand over her mouth to hide it. Warmth bloomed in her chest, spreading out to every part of her until even her fingertips tingled.
“Farewell, Constable,” she said, still smiling.
Wu breathed deep, as if to regain himself. “Farewell, Mingyu.”

“I want you to remember this,” he said as he slid a finger deep within her. Her damp flesh closed around him and a shudder racked her body.
“I will,” she gasped.
Her eyes were black with desire, caught between pleasure and agony, as she struggled to catch her breath. He was going to make love to her as many times that night as he could manage, if only to see that look.
There was no elegance to her now as her hips rose to demand more of his touch. She was talented and treasured and sought after and she was writhing beneath him on the wooden slats of his bed.

Reaching between the crush of their bodies, he strained to find the center of her sex once more. His fingers rasped over the tiny bud as he moved inside her. All at once, Mingyu tightened around him. With a strangled cry, she pressed her face against the crook of his neck as her body shuddered, lost. He followed her, thrusting without grace or skill until sensation overwhelmed him. His very essence poured out of him and into her.
With that rush of sensation, the fog of emotion drained away and his mind cleared. He wasn’t blind. Mingyu was using him, and using him well indeed. Yet every instinct in him wanted to sink his head onto Mingyu’s shoulder, to taste the salt on her skin and to stay for as long as she let him.

He found her sash and looped the length of silk around her wrists to secure her arms overhead, but the gesture was only symbolic. Almost poetic, for someone untrained in poetry. He couldn’t tie her there, he couldn’t keep her.
Unable to reach for him, all Mingyu could do was receive and accept. As Kaifeng lowered himself between her knees, as she felt his long fingers parting her, she stopped thinking of what would come in the next days, or even in the next hours.
Sometimes the answers were simple.
Mingyu held her breath and it seemed like forever before the tip of his tongue touched her, swirling gently and sending her to heaven.

Kaifeng crushed his mouth over hers to claim everything. She wrapped her legs around him, her thighs clasping his hips while the throb of pleasure built until she was floating, surrounded by the scent of sweat and skin and by the unending rhythm of Kaifeng over her, inside her.
Suddenly he took hold of the back of her neck and his rhythm changed, his hips grinding against her to sharpen the sensation. Demanding her release. Mingyu gasped as his organ filled her the same moment his teeth bit into her neck. She cried out incoherently as her release took her. It might have been his name she cried at the height of her climax.

He was the one claiming her this time. There was no doubt of it as his hands gripped her hips, lifting her and then pulling her onto him, driving her closer to climax. Watching her the entire time.
She tried to hold on to his gaze for as long as she could, but the sensations overwhelmed her. She had to close her eyes to block out everything but the feel of him taking her.
“Give in.” His voice was rough and thick with desire as he spoke against her ear, filling her with the sound of him as well as with his flesh. “Just this once, surrender.”
And she did surrender. Her knees weakened as she shuddered uncontrollably around him. Kaifeng held her throughout, kissing her mouth, taking every last breath and gasp that came from her as his own release came upon him.

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

fantasticread

Review: The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

Format: E-bookthelotuspalace
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Pingkang Li Mysteries, #1
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Bai Huang
Heroine: Yue-ying
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 27, 2013
Started On: February 07, 2016
Finished On: September 25, 2016

As is the norm with historical romances written by Jeannie Lin, the series entitled The Pingkang Li Mysteries is also set in Tang Dynasty, China in 847 AD.

The story is centered around a pleasure house known as The Lotus Palace, an elite house of courtesans in the pleasure quarter of the North Hamlet, also known as Pingkang li. Yue-ying, the heroine of the story, is a personal assistant going on four years to Mingyu, an elite courtesan at The Lotus Palace. Having been deemed not proper courtesan material Yue-ying had been relegated to the status as such.

Bai Huang on the other hand, is a well-known figure in the entertainment district. A notorious flirt, who is loose with his money, and considered to be openly courting Mingyu.

When the youngest of four beauties at The Lotus Palace gets murdered, that is when the story actually begins, with Bai Huang coming under suspicion from the investigating head constable and the magistrate of the district.

Though it took me a couple of tries to get through the first few chapters of the story which was a bit slow for my liking, I am glad that I persevered and kept going because the larger part of the story was one that I enjoyed in every way possible. I would go as far as to say that what unfolded then was classic Jeannie Lin in every way and that I had missed indulging myself in the beauty that she creates in her stories.

The Lotus Palace is a story that has a lot going for it. Multi-faceted characters, be it the lead or secondary characters, with the story being rich in detail when it comes to Chinese culture, history, and the hierarchical differences that existed between the different members of an establishment, even one such as a pleasure house as The Lotus Palace. Furthermore, the murder mystery proved to be an intriguing aspect to the story that kept me turning the pages as I got deeper into the story.

Bai Huang is one of those lighthearted heroes that has an abundance of charm to their character at first glance. But it is Yue-ying that sees through the facade that he puts up, the man beneath all the pretense and frivolities that he presents to the larger society. Even though Yue-ying promises herself that the likes of Bai Huang are not for women like her, it proves to be harder than she thinks when it comes to defying the tidal wave of desire that Bai Huang’s kisses and caresses unleash in her.

Bai Huang’s courtship of Yue-ying was a beautiful one for me. His gentle wooing and firm stand when it actually came down to it proves to be too much for even Yue-ying to walk away from. Yue-ying’s past is one that is dark, one that rightfully should have made mincemeat out of a lesser woman. But Yue-ying proves time and yet again that she is made of sterner stuff than what people usually judge her to be. As she helps Bai Huang to uncover the truth behind the murder that has shaken the entertainment district to its core, Yue-ying discovers that a future with a man like Bai Huang might be possible, if she would be willing to put herself on the line and put her trust in him.

Recommended, for fans of richly crafted historical romance novels!

Final Verdict: Beautifully told in a way that is uniquely Jeannie Lin, The Lotus Palace is a book not to be missed.

Favorite Quotes

She had never done this before, she realized a moment before she pressed her lips onto his.
His mouth was warm and yielded only a little as she moved closer. She parted her lips to test the texture of his lips and, with the smallest touch of her tongue, the taste of the kiss. She could sense the shudder that traveled through him. It made her breath catch and her stomach flutter with excitement.
This was a gift indeed, but not one that he gave to her. It was a gift that she took for herself.

She could feel his presence over her and hear the deepening of his breath. Her fingers curled reflexively over the pallet as she waited. His first touch upon her could be anywhere and her skin tingled with anticipation.
He laid the flat of his palm between her shoulder blades, pressing lightly. The weight was possessive, but reassuring. He slid it along her spine in one broad stroke.
“You can breathe, love.”
There was amusement in his tone. It was the second time he’d used such an endearment with her. It was presumptuous, but the words still made her quiver.

“This, you like,” he murmured before bending to kiss her.
She sighed against him, accepting the kiss, returning it. The soft caress of his lips quickly grew hard and urgent. Though he tried to hold his weight off her, his hips moved restlessly and she could feel how aroused he was. Yet he did nothing more than kiss her. Yue-ying circled her arms around Bai Huang’s shoulders and arched into him, losing herself in the simple pleasure of touch and warmth and closeness. And of him.

Her hand paused on his abdomen, her little finger just brushing the scar beneath his ribs, before dipping lower.
He shuddered as her hand closed around him. He had been aroused for days, living so close to her, hearing her dressing and washing from the other side of the wall. Her fingers circled him and her hand ran along his entire length, stroking him until he was so hard it bordered on pain. Her grip was knowing, teasing, merciless.

She rested her palms flat against his chest once she was fully seated onto him and the moment of stillness drove him mad. He wanted to thrust up into her, to seek more of that heat and the unbearable pressure of her surrounding him, but if he did it would be over quicker than it began.
Her weight shifted in his lap. She bent to kiss him on the chin. The gesture was sweet, almost innocent, but the change in position caused her muscles to tighten intimately around him.
“Yue-ying.” He gritted out her name.
She had begun to move over him and he was enslaved inside her. Her voice was a seductive whisper against his throat.
“Lord Bai.”

The last of his control was gone. He couldn’t think to pull out of her. He couldn’t stop the flood of his seed into her and the dark wave of pleasure came with such force that he was blinded. He held on to Yue-ying and distantly heard her cries through his own release as he continued to stroke her. Then she was shuddering against him and clinging to him, her nails digging into his shoulder.
It was beautiful. He had no other words for it.

“Last night,” he began.
She stopped him. “Lord Bai.”
“You’re blushing.”
“The day is uncustomarily warm,” she returned without pause.
“Is this love?” he asked simply. His voice was low and sensual.
“Scholars and their romantic notions,” she chided, though her heart was hammering inside her.

There were no preliminaries, no soft caresses or whispered words. Though sensation built within her, the act wasn’t as much about pleasure as it was about possession. Even when he took her breast into his mouth as her pleasure rose, it was an attempt to claim her further. His tongue rasped against her nipple until she wept and moaned. With each thrust of his hips, he was willing her climax, her surrender to him. And she did surrender, her muscles taut and straining until she thought she would break.

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

greatread

Review: Phantom Lover by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookphantomlover_susannapier
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Adam Blake
Heroine: Honor Sheldon
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 01, 1994
Started On: September 19, 2016
Finished On: September 20, 2016

25 year old Honor Sheldon finds herself in a bit of a pickle when she is picked up by a police car for skulking around Adam Blake’s house. Being the plain sister, the one that every guy considers as their buddy without their girlfriends or wives getting jealous over her, Honor is intrigued and ultimately seduced by the letters she exchanges with a mysterious man. To find out later that the letters had in fact being written for her beautiful sister Helen is the “icing” on the cake which the rather aggravating Adam delivers altogether too scornfully.

A turn of events however finds Honor as the house guest of a very reluctant Adam, battling with feelings of fierce longing that he rouses in her, even when he is being rather obvious about his despise for everything that she is. Adam finds himself at loose ends when it comes to Honor, the way she knows things about him that he would rather not have anyone know – his very intimate thoughts that Honor was privy to which makes him itch on the inside.

Adam and Honor’s journey to their happily ever after is one fraught with several bouts of arguments with one another, which means engaging in clever dialogue, and one where secondary characters seemed to get more than their share of the story. Although overall I did like the story, this is definitely not one of the best by Napier. However, when it comes to great authors like herself, they make even their “not so best” books somehow work for the readers. This was one of them for me.

The ending was one that I loved. Especially the pictures that Adam sent to Honor towards the end, plus the letter.

Final Verdict: Though not Napier’s best, delivers an altogether funny & charming read!

Favorite Quotes

His hand moved down and suddenly he was weighing her in his large palm, his fingers curving under her breast to her ribs while his thumb rode the upper swell. ‘Look how perfectly you fill my hand…’
Honor bit her lip to stop herself moaning at his throaty murmur of gratified discovery of her size. His thumb moved experimentally against the thinly sheathed peak and this time the sound escaped her control, along with an explicit shiver that arced along her nerves, transmitting an unmistakable message to the man who held her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

favorableread

 

Review: Price of Passion by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookpriceofpassion
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Drake Daniels
Heroine: Katherine Crawford
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January, 2008
Started On: September 18, 2016
Finished On: September 18, 2016

Katherine Crawford learnt earlier on what loving Drake Daniels meant. It meant being happy with the status quo, even as she fell deeper in love with him as their affair went on. Drake being the reclusive kind, is a man who likes his affairs to be short. Very short in fact. However, fact that Katherine had been willing to learn from the cues, Drake’s past affairs, and the vibes that he gives off meant that theirs is an affair that lasts longer than the usual.

Drake as a writer is given to long bouts of disappearances, and it is when Katherine turns up at his private bolt-hole which even his publisher and agent had claimed not to be privy to that the story begins. At first, it is as if Drake and Katherine are complete strangers, however, as the story proceeds, one finds out that that is the farthest thing from the truth.

Katherine comes seeking the real Drake, the one that hides behind the mask of indifference, to understand who he truly is. In the end, Katherine and Drake’s story proved to be one that had me hooked from page one. Susan Napier has always had that ability when it comes to her stories. Which is why, I always give her books the benefit of the doubt even when some of them receive low ratings on reviews. Because Napier writes books that deviate from the expected norm – they do not fit into that neat little box where everything goes as expected. She writes a story that you can sink your teeth into.

I loved both Katherine and Drake. I ached for Drake when his past came to light – a past shrouded in damaging betrayal from those that should have protected the child he had been. A childhood that had been seeped in misery with no one to depend on but himself. Though I felt that Drake and Katherine spent too much time apart for my liking in the story, I enjoyed the escape this read provided when I needed one.

Final Verdict: Delivers an emotionally riveting read.

Favorite Quotes

She thought he was angry, impatient with her nervousness. ‘Uh, no, I—’ The pins fell from her fingers, spearing silently into the grass around her feet as she realised he wasn’t angry at all…far from it! If it was possible, he appeared to be even more aroused than before, prowling towards her stiff-legged, his eyes gleaming black in the muted light, the tension in his voice purely sexual.
‘You playing the tease, Katherine?’
‘No, of course not!’ she denied breathlessly, hypnotised by the fluid play of light and shadow across the shifting planes of his hard body as he continued his hunting prowl across the grass, masculinity personified.

She dug her nails into his arms impatiently. ‘Yes, I’m sure…Drake, I want you—I want you to make love to me here, now!’
He didn’t need a third invitation. Nor was there any long-drawn-out foreplay. He tossed off the covers and swivelled them sideways on the bed, tugging her hips to the edge of the mattress, sliding backwards until his feet struck the floor. Propping himself over her on one braced arm, he opened the fastening of his jeans and pushed himself deeply inside her, uttering a thick, guttural sound of satisfaction as she lifted her hips to guide him home. With a twisting jerk of his hips he seated himself even more tightly between her spread legs, the muscles in his thighs rippling under the denim as he braced his feet against the floor, bent his hungry mouth to her breasts, and began the deep, hard, thrusting rhythm that they both urgently needed, bringing them quickly to a mutual, violent convulsion of groaning ecstasy.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Great Read!(1)

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

greatread

Review: A Dance with Danger by Jeannie Lin

Format: E-bookadancewithdanger
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Tang Dynasty, #5
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Bao Yang
Heroine: Jin-mei
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 01, 2015
Started On: February 01, 2016
Finished On: February 04, 2016

First of all, let me just appreciate the beauty that is the cover of this book. I have not come across a prettier cover in recent times and I spent quite a bit of time on gazing at the cover before and even while I was reading the story as it unfolded. Jeannie Lin is an author who has a unique voice amongst the numerous authors who write historical romances. Her books take place in China, in the Tang Dynasty period and I have loved each and every single book of hers that I have read in the series to-date.

A Dance with Danger is the fifth book in the Tang Dynasty series and the second book in the Rebels and Lovers series. Bao Yang, the hero is a wanted man, hunted by the powerful General Wang Shizhen. A thwarted attempt on the General’s life is the reason behind Bao Yang’s visit to the Fujian Province where he goes wanting to meet one of his “associates”, Tan Li Kuo, a magistrate of the province.

Things don’t go exactly according to plan when Bao Yang finds himself discovered by Tan Li Kuo himself while in a compromising position with none other than his daughter Jin-mei. As circumstances would demand it, Bao Yang agrees to marry Jin-mei, only to find the tables reversed on him when he is betrayed in the midst of it all. Bao Yang would have thought that whatever connection that he had momentarily felt with his wife Jin-mei would have no place in his future until Jin-mei surprises him with her courage in pursuing him under the most difficult of circumstances.

While Bao Yang cannot compromise on the quest for revenge that he has embarked upon, he finds himself wavering in his determination because Jin-mei teaches him that there could be a life lived outside of the self-imposed mission that he has set upon. A mission that has followers in large numbers, something that Bao Yang never foresaw or dreamed of in the beginning. Jin-mei’s insightful nature, together with her adventure seeking heart proves to be quite the temptation for someone like Bao Yang, who is every bit reckless and rakish as they come. However, for their love to triumph, Bao Yang has a tough decision to make, and for Jin-mei, it might mean choosing between the two people who matter the most in her life.

A Dance with Danger was a read that fell a tad flat of the expectations I had for it and of Jeannie Lin’s exquisite writing talent, which somehow failed to emerge fully in this story. Jeannie Lin is one of those authors who has the sort of voice that is poetic in its prose, one that makes you feel like you are floating on air, witnessing something that is surreal in its beauty. But somehow, A Dance with Danger, while it had all the elements that would make for a highly readable story, I am sorry to say this, but I just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm of the kind I felt while reading all her previous works.

Bao Yang is quite different from the variety of heroes that have featured in Lin’s books in the past. All other heroes that I have come across are reserved and controlled in a way that makes for delicious sexual tension where concerned. Bao Yang is a man who has led a life that is shrouded in shades of grey, and though he is honorable where it counts, Bao Yang doesn’t have a very favorable opinion of himself. The thing that I loved about him was his cheekiness at certain times. The way he would tease his wife, make her tumble into his arms and give her a world of wanton pleasure. Bao Yang stands apart from the rest of the heroes I have come across in Lin’s works because he comes with a ton of sexual experience when compared to the innocent his wife is.

Jin-mei, though no warrior as some heroines of Lin’s previous works, is just as fierce and protective of her man. A life that had been lived with a magistrate as a father had taught her to see everything in black and white. It had also equipped her with a quick wit and mind that can comprehend things quite rapidly. To see things the way her husband sees them is first a challenge for someone like Jin-mei. But I believe that whatever differences that they might have had, they managed to merge seamlessly where and when it mattered.

Though A Dance with Danger was disappointing, I still managed to enjoy the good bits where the remnants of the Jeannie Lin I know and love to bits echoed through the pages. The whole story, the way it was told; all of it just felt vastly different from the caliber that I have become used to when it comes to Lin’s writing.

Recommended for fans of the series and those that love books set in ancient China!

Final Verdict: Ancient China, politics, familial loyalty, treachery & a love that defies it all!

Favorite Quotes

As Jin-mei ducked through the curtain to her sleeping area, she heard her name spoken softly. So low that the sounds resonated against her spine.
‘My warrior woman.’
Yang came from the darkness and his arms circled around her. Suddenly she was pressed tight against him.
Their first embrace should have been awkward, all hands and limbs and not knowing how they should be with one another. But as Yang pulled her close, her body moulded to his. Her lips parted to say something. She didn’t know what, but it didn’t matter because she was caught in a kiss that was hard and urgent and made her knees go soft.

By the time their lips parted, her head was spinning.
‘Hold on to me,’ he said.
Her hands grasped the front of his robe while she stared at him, confused. Her heart was beating hard and every part of her felt flushed.
‘Hold on to me,’ he repeated in a low murmur against her earlobe. He bit into the soft flesh, and heat flooded her veins.
Jin-mei hooked her arms around his neck and held on tight. If she hadn’t, she would have crumbled to the floor.

Yang certainly didn’t believe in slow, gentle introductions. Not while sparring and not in this either. He pleasured her with his mouth, flicking her nipple mercilessly until she wanted to beg. As scandalous as the figures on the mirror were, this was so much worse. So much better. Yang teased her with lips, tongue, then the light scrape of teeth over her flesh that made her sob. She couldn’t stop the sound, even when she bit hard on her lower lip.
Suddenly the pleasure ceased.
‘Not here.’ His voice was rough. ‘Not like this.’

Then gradually, bit by bit, he began to ease himself inside of her. She could feel the resistance of her body, tight around him and giving only slightly with each thrust. Despite what he’d said about not being able to wait, Yang seemed to be endlessly patient, kissing her lips, her neck. Watching her as he finally pushed fully into her and then he had to close his eyes as well. The look in them bordered on pain before he laid his head into the crook of her neck. He murmured her name again, this time rough, guttural.
Her eyes widened as the mystery was finally resolved. This was how men and women came together, with pleasure, with pain.

It was impossible to hold back. He shut his eyes as well, trying to maintain control. But her hands dug into his back insistently. He could hear the pant of her breath and those lovely breasts were pressed against him, her legs lifting to curve about his hips. All the while, down below she was so tight. Wet. A fist around him.
Something tried to intrude at the edge of his awareness, but he pushed it away. Every sense he had was focused on the woman in his arms and the joining of their bodies. His arousal, her surrender.
His release came in a flood, blinding him. Deafening him as the blood rushed through his body like the surging of the tide.

Her eyes widened as he dipped within her womanly cleft, searching the small knot of flesh at her centre. There was pleasure to be found in the petals, but he knew he’d found the bud when her eyes squeezed shut and she shuddered, hips thrusting against his hand.
His next kiss was against her earlobe before he spoke to her. ‘Will you take me inside you? All of me. Here.’

He could have accomplished the deed without removing every bit of clothing, but they had the luxury of time, of seclusion. And he wanted to feed his senses with her. Yang laid himself over Jin-mei and, with the sway of the water beneath them and the bright sun above, pushed his body fully into hers.
Her head fell back and her lips parted in a silent cry. Yet he heard it deep in his bones and in the hard, responding throb of his body. Inside, she was dampness and heat, closing around him like a cruel fist. He tugged off the ribbon tying her braid and dug one hand harshly into her hair to drag her up to him for a kiss. There was no sense to his actions other than that he wanted more.

‘Jin-mei,’ he choked out. It was a plea.
His last control over his body was slipping, and her flesh was relentless, squeezing him tight, slaying him. His finger worked her pearl faster; no longer gentle, but in pure desperation. When he felt the first pulse of her body in response, elation swept through him. He watched her through her release, nothing more than one heartbeat in time, but a long one. Stretched out.
Then his body would not be held back any longer. He lifted his hips and thrust, once, twice, and in three short strokes he lost his essence inside her, releasing all that he was with no strength left within him to hold anything back.

Her body tightened with need as he circled his tongue over her nipple in a wet caress. With a cry of surrender, she bucked against him, riding him hard. Her sex flooded, and Yang must have sensed the increase in her arousal. With a groan, his thrusts became shorter. More forceful.
The sensation built in coils and spirals. Her toes curled tight, and her hands dug into Yang’s shoulders. Her climax came as a low throb this time; not as intense, but more prolonged. Yang joined her in bliss shortly after, every muscle in his body tensing as his hips jerked beneath her. She watched every emotion play over his face while he gave himself over to the pleasure.

Using touch alone to guide him, Yang ran his hands along her waist and worked her sash loose. ‘I’m going to seduce you, Wife.’
Her chest swelled with emotion. ‘You can’t seduce me any longer. We’re married.’
‘Wrong.’ He pressed a kiss to her throat. Another to her shoulder as he slipped her tunic away. ‘I’ll keep on seducing you for the rest of my life. And you’ll let me.’

Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | eBookMall | ARe | HQ | BD | iTunes

satisfactoryread.png

Review: Night of the Phantom by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookphantomofthenight
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Ethan Winslowe
Heroine: Megan Carey
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 01, 1991
Started On: January 25, 2016
Finished On: January 25, 2016

Be it a historical, paranormal or contemporary romance, Anne Stuart is a master at crafting tales so superbly that you enjoy every single minute of the ride. Night of the Phantom was a story that according to Anne Stuart, was inspired by Phantom of the Opera. I guess it shows in certain elements of the paranormal and mystical variety included in the story. Didn’t detract at all from the storyline, but rather added to its charm, making Night of the Phantom the winner it is.

Ethan Winslowe is a recluse who lives in a forgotten part of the country that people seldom talk about. However, as reclusive as he is, Ethan is a genius in the field of architecture, and it is his splendorous designs that Megan Carey’s father used to rise to the position of fame and glory that he enjoys. Things go awry however, when Megan’s father begs her to take his place to meet Ethan who has threatened to bring the whole Carey corporation down. Megan, having never been able to say no in the face of her father agrees, albeit reluctantly. A decision that she regrets from the moment she steps foot in the godforsaken town.

Megan’s entrance into Ethan’s carefully structured plans is hardly a welcome one – at first. However, when Ethan realizes the perks of having Megan at his mercy, Ethan changes his plans accordingly, all the while knowing that Megan might prove to be detrimental to the heart that he keeps closed off from the rest of the world. Ethan enjoys the darkness, revels in the darkness that is his life. Megan, whose heart had craved romance and adventure when she had made plans to go traveling prior to having had to come see Ethan, finds her soul reaching out to that of Ethan.

Night of the Phantom turned out to be such a good book, one that I just had to finish in one single sitting. Anne Stuart’s books have a way of making me lose out on precious sleep, not something I would ever regret, given how well written her books are. Ethan makes for a darkly alluring hero. Hidden in the shadows with the darkness of the night wrapped around him, Ethan beckons your soul in ways you would never think possible. 

There’s a surreal and ethereal edge to the story as it unfolds. Timeless in the way Ethan and Megan circle each other; Megan frightful of her wanton desire for a man who doesn’t trust her enough to show his face and Ethan, frightened by just how much he needs, wants and lusts after Megan, all of which hides the deeper emotions that he fights to keep at bay. The town’s reluctance to harbor an individual as Ethan in their midst, regardless of what his presence means to an already dwindling community was one that proved to be another facet of the novel that fascinated me.

The ending when it came, was perfectly fitting to the story and the characters. Megan being the one to finally go after Ethan didn’t detract from the fact that someone as reclusive as Ethan had made the decision to go after her as well. That in my opinion, was the most wonderful ending they could have been given.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Anne Stuart takes you away on a journey of darkness and splendor!

Favorite Quotes

She paused for a moment, stretching like a contented cat as she stepped out of her fallen dress. She felt sinful, sensual and deliciously evil as she stood there in her shocking underwear and her high, high heels. If he hadn’t needed life-support systems before this little act, he would now.
Leaning over so that her hair fell in her face, she slowly unhooked one sheer black stocking. Sliding it down her leg, she stepped out of her shoes with a trace of regret. Men were supposed to find high heels unbearably erotic. She wanted Ethan Winslowe to suffer.
The next stocking followed. She unfastened the garter belt and tossed it in the corner beneath the video camera with all the aplomb of an elegant stripper tossing her clothing to a hungry crowd.
For the first time in her life, she didn’t feel ten pounds overweight. She felt luscious.

“Stop fighting me, angel,” he whispered, and his hand brushed her skin, the soft, sensitized flesh of her stomach. The row of tiny buttons had disappeared and her nightgown was open to the night air. “Stop fighting yourself. Give yourself to me.” And his hand moved between her legs and touched her.
What strength she had in her legs vanished and she sagged against him. It happened with shocking speed, scarcely had his long, deft fingers found her than she dissolved, lost in a darkness of sensation and despair. She opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out but a strangled gasp of surprise, of release, of an astonished pleasure so intense that what little existed of reality vanished, and her last, amazed thought was that, for the first time in her life, she was going to faint.

“You’re lying,” he said bitterly. “I know revulsion when I see it.”
“Do you?” She stopped thinking. He was tall; she was barefoot and tiny. She reached up, cupping his face with her hands, both sides of his face, and pulled him down to her, kissing him full on the mouth.
For a moment, he froze, and she could feel the shock trembling through his body. Stillness washed over them, a silent eternity.
And then he pulled her against him, hard, slanting his mouth across hers, kissing her back with a passion that was devouring, frightening, filled with such longing that she felt as if she were going to be sucked up into a vortex of emotion.

“You could have gone with Palmer. If you’d asked again, Salvatore would have let you go.”
“I didn’t want to go.”
“I live in darkness,” he said, still not touching her, his voice low and urgent. “In the shadows, in the warmth and safety of the night. If you come to me, you’ll live in shadows, too.”
She lifted her head to look around, and her hair rippled down her bare back. “The moonlight is bright enough for me,” she said quietly.
He reached out then, his hands cupping her face, his thumbs caressing her cheeks. “I must be mad,” he whispered. “You’ll destroy me.”
“I’ll love you,” she said, but the words were silent.
“You’ll destroy me,” he said again, closing his eyes in sudden despair. And then he kissed her.

He knew how to judge her reactions perfectly, the shift, the restlessness, the ripple of reaction, the strangled breathing. He knew when she was just on the edge of explosion, and he knew how to expand that edge, to draw her over it, willingly, tumbling to her doom with no more than a strangled cry. He knew how to prolong it so that she was clawing at his shoulders, sobbing frantically, certain her body could take no more until he showed her, with inexorable determination, that it could.
And yet it wasn’t enough. She convulsed against his mouth, her body going rigid in reaction, and still she pulled at him, tugged at him, wanting more and more of him, wanting him, not his mouth, not his hands working their fiendish magic, she wanted all of him.

He had his face turned away from her so that all she could see was his unmarked profile, the sheath of long hair between them. His muscles were bunched, slippery with sweat beneath her hands, and she was loath to give up holding him, touching him, but she had to. Reaching up, she caught his face, turning him to look down at her, full face, his bisected beauty mesmerizing her. She kissed his mouth, his nose, she kissed the marked side of his face. Pushing his hair out of the way, she kissed the side of his neck where the mark continued down between their joined bodies.
For a moment, he stilled the hypnotic, powerful rhythm of his body and she was afraid she’d gone too far. She met his gaze fearlessly and she said the words she’d only thought, the words that would be her death knell. “I love you.”

She had no sense of where they were, and she didn’t care. Inside the door, he released her, ripping off her clothes with the same shaking passion that suffused her body. She was trembling so hard, she couldn’t help him, didn’t want to help him. All she wanted was to touch and kiss his body, to possess it, possess him, until there was nothing left between them, no secrets, nothing held back.
And then she was naked, wet with rain and sweat, shaking with fear and desire, and he was naked, wet with rain and sweat, and he lifted her up in his arms, pushing her back against an unseen wall and entered her, driving deep with a fierce thrust that made her cry out in instant, shuddering satisfaction. He wrapped her legs around him, holding on to her hips as he drove in and out, in and out, like someone possessed, and his mouth against hers, the words that tumbled forth, love words, sex words, angry and despairing and tender, simply fanned the flame higher and hotter until she thought she might explode from the power of his thrusts, the power of his love.

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

amazingread