Review: The Maid’s Spanish Secret by Dani Collins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Crazy Like a Fox by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookcrazylikeafoxas.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Peter Andrew Delacroix Jaffrey
Heroine: Margaret O’Rourke Jaffrey
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 01, 1997
Started On: March 09, 2019
Finished On: March 14, 2019

Crazy Like a Fox by Anne Stuart begins when Margaret O’Rourke Jaffrey, with her nine year old daughter Carrie in tow, finally makes her way to her deceased husband’s family in order to recoup and find her footing once again. Having had a less than stellar marriage with Carrie’s father Dexter, it was the last thing that Margaret wanted; to finally admit defeat and seek the help of the Delacroix family.

In the midst of the Delacroix family, Margaret finds the mysterious Peter Andrew Delacroix Jaffrey, the Delacroix who by all accounts is a lunatic, looking for a reason to go off the hinges at any moment’s notice. Margaret cannot explain why she is drawn to Peter, why she finds him fascinating when she rightfully shouldn’t, and at the same time has distrust for him running through her veins.

Peter has been in a jail of his family’s and his own making ever since the events surrounding the death of his former wife. A man who had everything he could have desired, Peter’s downfall had come from his marriage to a woman who had wanted more. Along with her death, the blame of which had fallen squarely on him, Peter had found himself biding his time, waiting for his cousin Wendell to prove his innocence, sort of lost in the midst of the sea upon which he had been tossed adrift. That is until Margaret walks into the family home and makes him want again.

Crazy Like a Fox sounds like a title that would deliver a humor-filled read. While the book has its witty moments (it is Anne Stuart after all with her acerbic wit), the book delves into two characters who have been lost for a long while. Margaret had made the mistake of marrying a man who had wanted the next high that gambling would bring his way, a wayward character if ever there was any, leaving both herself and Carrie destitute when he had left this world.

Peter is the character that is truly intriguing, Anne Stuart’s masterful creativity bringing forth a someone you cannot figure out at first. Peter is a character that is revealed to readers in layers, his story emerging in bits and pieces that makes the story that much more intriguing. I loved the unveiling of his character as much as I loved the connection forged between the two lost souls himself and Margaret are, and the resolution to a mystery that had been a miscarriage of justice right from the start.

Anne Stuart’s intelligent heroes & equally witty heroines always reel you into the story without fail. An innocent man doubts his own sanity while the madman responsible for it all lives among them, waiting and biding his time. The wildcard that changes it all proves to be Margaret and her daughter Carrie, infusing Peter’s life with the vitality and vigor it had been lacking since a long while back. Loved the awakening, the connection, and the happily ever after.

Definitely recommended.

Final Verdict: Anne Stuart’s books age so finely that you don’t even remember how long ago the book was written, because each word inexorably woven with the other presents readers with sheer magic.

Favorite Quotes

Taking her arm, he pulled her away from the tomb, away from an approaching group of tourists, back into one of the shadowy alleys. They were alone, sheltered from sight, separated in time and space from the crowds around them. “That’s Marie’s speciality,” he said, reaching his hands up to cup her face. “Trust her.” His mouth moved down to touch hers, softly. “Trust me.” And he kissed her again, just as lightly, his mouth teasing hers, drawing her into a response she couldn’t help but give.
He tasted of champagne and pancakes. He smelled of the night and smoke from the ceremonial flambeaux. He felt warm and solid and real, no phantom at all. Sliding her arms underneath his cloak, she made a small, whimpering sound of surrender, of a longing so deep she couldn’t begin to understand it. And her mouth opened beneath his.

“Thank you for everything,” she said, knowing she sounded stilted. “Goodbye.” She turned and opened the door.
She was unprepared for his reaction. Catching her arm, he whirled her around, enfolding them both in his voluminous cape, and this time when his mouth met hers it wasn’t gentle, or teasing, or quietly seductive. His kiss was harsh, full of demand and despair, and she wrapped herself around him and returned the kiss, lost in the same sense of desolation.
Then abruptly he released her and she sank back against the doorway of the old building, her breathing rapid, her eyes shut.
“Next time, Marguerite,” he whispered, “I want to see your red hair.”

His hands moved down to cover her breasts, and she made a tiny, almost indistinguishable sound of protest. That protest drifted into a sigh of pleasure, and she dropped her head back, her hair flowing over both of them as he caressed her breasts through the thin lacy barrier of her bra.
And then the barrier was gone. His hands were warm and rough skinned against her sensitive breasts, and his mouth was at her neck, drawing her, drawing her. She turned, opening her eyes for a moment, staring up at him with a dazed expression, and then his mouth caught hers.

Deliberately he pulled her toward him, his hands rough on her arms, not allowing her any escape.
She had no intention of escaping. She slid her arms around his waist, moving against him, and her mouth reached up for his.
He stumbled against her, pushing her up against the wall, his body covering hers, pressing against every square inch of her, and his hands cupped her face, holding her still for his devouring mouth. He kissed her lips, her eyelids, her cheeks, her nose, then returned to her mouth, slanting across her soft, giving lips and drinking deep. She gave a little cry deep in the back of throat, one of desire and acceptance. She didn’t care.

“Let go, Peter. Let me leave, drive away from here, out of your life. Please, Peter. Let me go.”
And they both knew she wasn’t talking about anything as simple as his hand on her arm.
“Marguerite,” he said, his voice low and sorrowful. “Chère. I’m not that crazy.” And he pulled her slowly, carefully, into his arms, giving her plenty of time to pull back, to fight, to resist.
“Oh, Peter,” she whispered. “I am.” And rising up on her toes, she kissed him, pressing her mouth against his, opening it slightly, touching her tongue against his lips.
His response was a muffled growl of longing as he threaded his long, beautiful fingers through her hair and kissed her back.

He yanked his clothes off, his eyes never leaving hers. He stripped off her jeans and threw them halfway across the room, and then he covered her body with his, with his long, lean, muscled beauty that was unlike anything she’d ever seen. She wanted to touch him, to treasure him, to delight in him, but his mouth was on her breasts again, suckling them deep, his hands were between her legs and she was damp and aching for more. She reached down to hold him, but he’d already moved on top of her, between her legs, hot and heavy and ready for her.
“I can’t wait,” he whispered, his voice harsh with desire and an impossible restraint. “Come to me, Marguerite.” And he sank into her, deep and hard and wonderful.

“Scream for me, Marguerite,” he whispered in her ear. “I want to hear you scream.” And he reached between their bodies and touched her, deftly, as he surged against her.
She did scream then, as he’d wanted, as she never had in her life. She felt her body dissolve, even as he surged and shuddered against her, and the flames engulfed them, destroying and devouring them, until there was nothing left but ashes.

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

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Review: Cinderman by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookcinderman_as
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: More Than Men, #4
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Daniel Crompton
Heroine: Suzanna Molloy
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 01, 1994
Started On: March 02, 2019
Finished On: March 07, 2019

Suzanna Molloy, an investigative journalist, breaks into Beebe Control Systems International to prove a hunch she has regarding the sort of experimentation that is being undertaken by the mega corporation. These are desperate times for a reporter like Suzanna, who has become persona non grata owing to her impertinence in asking too many probing questions about their corporate structure, for which she was being refused interviews. But a reporter like Suzanna is never deterred, which is how she finds herself on that fateful night, breaking into the laboratory of none other than Dr. Daniel Crompton himself.

Daniel is all about science and minimal distractions. Daniel likes living in his own mind, far too intelligent to be taken for a fool, deeming it a waste of his time to get into the politics of the organisation itself. However, when he finds Suzanna inside his lab, just minutes before everything literally blows up, Daniel has little inkling of how both their lives are going to change, so very drastically.

With Daniel and Suzanna on the run for their lives, Daniel harboring a secret which does not stay that way for too long, it is an interesting journey the two takes, where Daniel takes Suzanna to her dream home, nestled in the mountains, far away from prying eyes. Bit by bit, Suzanna discovers that she had been wrong about the man behind the scientist that is Dr. Crompton.

Daniel has never gone for intelligent women. He used to believe that he had no use for that in a woman. But in Suzanna he finds intelligence striking, his libido undergoing a drastic change, perhaps under the influence of the chemicals that had been absorbed into his body – or so he thinks. When Daniel finally gives in, and Suzanna understands that there is no going back, that was beautiful in itself, and the epilogue making me laugh out loud with sheer enjoyment.

I loved both Dr. Crompton and Suzanna. I love heroes or heroines for that matter, whose intelligence levels makes them different from most, and that is what I found most intriguing about Daniel. Daniel with his beautifully built home that seduced Suzanna. Daniel with his classic good looks that made him irresistible to Suzanna. Daniel with his ferocious need for all that is Suzanna that ultimately won her over.

In Suzanna, I found Daniel’s match in every way. A woman who could keep up with the way his brain works, a woman who would understand his wandering mind, a partner who would give him her all, in return for all the love he would shower upon her.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Send me a “pirate” like Dr. Crompton any day, everyday! Loved!

Favorite Quotes

For a moment Suzanna couldn’t move. He stood only a few feet away from her, in the middle of his soulless living room, dressed in a faded pair of jeans that clung to his narrow hips and long legs. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, despite the coolness of the morning air, and Suzanna decided then and there that a scientist shouldn’t have such a chest. He should have been pale and soft and flabby. Not toned and tanned and subtly well-muscled.
He hadn’t bothered to tie back his hair, and it hung around his strong-featured face, making him look like a pirate, not a biochemist with a Ph.D. in physics on the side.

He’d unbuttoned his shirt, and she could see his smooth, sleekly muscled chest beneath the denim shirt. She reached out a hand, to touch his forehead, to see if she could gauge his temperature, when his eyes flew open to meet hers.
“Look but don’t touch,” he said in an unbearably quiet voice.
She was mesmerized, by the darkness in his eyes, by the stillness in his face.
“Why?” she whispered.
“Because if you touch me, I’ll take you. And I don’t think you’re ready for that.”

Her body warmed, softened, flowed against his. She lay curled in his lap, her hands clutching his shoulders, as he kissed her, kissed her until he was ready to go up in smoke, breathless, mindless, crazy with the heat and the need. She was soft and sleepy against him, and her tongue met his, shyly, with a touch of eagerness that just about destroyed him. He broke away, trailing slow, hungry kisses down the slender column of her neck, and she arched against him as his hand closed down over one breast.
It fitted his hand perfectly. Cool through the silky material, it wanned, swelled against him, and he wanted to taste her there, too.

The silence, the heat in the room, was palpable. “I wouldn’t say that,” he said. “Come here, Suzanna.”
The wariness in her body flared into a moment of outright panic. It had been leading to this for a long time. Longer ago than the moment he’d come back to his lab and found her there. It had started with their very first confrontation, at one of Beebe’s unctuous public relations efforts. She’d clashed with him then, and she thought he’d dismissed her with his typical scientific arrogance. She knew otherwise now. He remembered that first clash. He was remembering it now.
“Don’t,” she said, trying to shut it off.
“Come here, Suzanna.”

He leaned down and kissed her then, very gently, a wordless reassurance that it was going to be all right. And she realized that, conscious decision or not, she trusted him. With her life. With her body. With her soul.
With her love.
She opened her mouth beneath his, deliberately inviting him. And then there was no gentle wooing.

His hands cupped her hips, pulling her more tightly against him. His mouth crushed hers, and she heard him, the words, sifting through his mind, love and lust and longing, striving for an end that was only a beginning. She clutched at him, shivering, building, shattering once more as she felt him explode in her arms, a white hot flame of passion that seemed to last an eternity.

He was huge, and hard, and damp for her. He didn’t need to say a word—she knew what he wanted, she could hear his desperate longing in his mind, and it matched her own. She leaned down and put her mouth on him, taking him deep inside, her hands clutching his hips.
He didn’t touch her, and she knew why. If he touched her, he’d take over, and he knew she needed to do this. Needed to take control, to learn him, without fear of the consequences. She needed to do just what she wanted, and she needed him to lie back and let her.

He waited until she’d taken him fully. Waited until she leaned forward, her breasts against his hot chest, her hands sliding up his outstretched arms to cover his hands as they clutched the iron railing. He waited while she moved, awkwardly at first, unsure, and then suddenly she was fluid, light and darkness, heat and desire, taking him, owning him, and he was trembling, shaking apart beneath her, and she was trembling, shaking apart, and then the world exploded. She screamed, unable to stop herself, and she was lost, as he finally began to move, thrusting up into her, taking her, filling her with his heat, his seed, his life.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: A Dark & Stormy Night by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookadarkandstormynight
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: More Than Men, #13
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Jamie O’Neal
Heroine: Kathleen Bridget Moira O’Monaghan Flynn
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 24, 1997
Started On: February 20, 2019
Finished On: March 01, 2019

28 year old Kathleen Bridget Moira O’Monaghan Flynn (Katie) is a weather junkie, who prefers singledom because she likes her freedom and solitude too much. Leaving everything familiar behind had been her way of facing an early onset of “mid-life crisis”, in the search for greener pastures to graze on. When she gets caught in a massive storm and nearly plunges to her death, it is the man that rescues her that changes the course of her life so drastically from that point on wards.

When Jamie O’Neal rescues Katie in the midst of a fierce storm, he has little inkling of the fact that Katie would end up turning his life upside down. Jamie is a man who has been denying himself happiness, the guilt that he has nursed all along since the tragic deaths of his family having kept him solidly within a prison of his own making. Jamie has a secret that he tells no one, a secret that he cannot trust anyone with, which ties in with that fateful night he lost his family to the churning waters of stormy seas.

Even though Jamie tries to send Katie on her way, to push her away, to deny himself, fate however has other plans in store, especially with Katie being helped along by forces unseen by Jamie. At the same time, Jamie does not see the threat that exists right under his nose, which made for pretty interesting reading.

I picked A Dark and Stormy Night needing to read a story that would awaken all my senses. I wanted a book that would sweep me off my feet, the reason why I keep Anne Stuart reads to pick up on those days that I need a booster in terms of my romance addiction. Anne Stuart is the perfect antidote to all my woes and this story just proved once again that the woman can basically do no wrong.

I loved A Dark and Stormy Night in so many ways. Jamie was such a wonderful hero, equal doses aloof and tragically beautiful, while at the same time with a vulnerability that spoke to me on so many levels. Katie was just perfect for him; brash and brave in a way that was needed to shake Jamie out of that decade long stupor he had gotten himself into.

Every time I pick up an Anne Stuart to read, it is as if I fall in love with her writing, head over heels, all over again. I found the prose of this book particularly beautiful, perhaps one reason being that my reader soul was starved for words that speaks to me on a whole different level. I actually cried over the beauty of the prose of the book, which made me fall in love, all that much more.

I so loved the epilogue. Couldn’t have asked for anything more!

Final Verdict: What a beautifully magical story Anne Stuart weaves, when she intends to make her fans weep! Loved, loved, loved!

Favorite Quotes

“We’re going to die,” she said, “No.” He was there, touching her, and she started to pull away, when something hit her directly between the shoulder blades, hit her hard, and sent her falling against him, so that he had no choice but to catch her, no choice but to put his arms around her. No choice but to put his mouth against hers.
And she was lost.

He moved his mouth away from hers, just for a moment, and her voice was small and pained.
“Please don’t,” she said. But her hands clung to his shoulders tightly, and she rose on tiptoes and pressed her mouth against his, ignoring her own plea for mercy.
He could have stopped. She wanted him to stop, he wanted to stop, and it would have taken so little to step back, set her away from him, retreat to a corner and await rescue or drowning, he didn’t give a damn which.

“Hold on to me,” he whispered against her ear.
“Hold on tight.”
She put her hands on his shoulders, and she could feel him against her, hot and heavy, pressing, filling her, sliding in a little at a time, and then withdrawing, only to push inside her again, deeper this time.
Her fingernails were digging into his shoulders now, but he didn’t seem to mind. He rocked against her, a slow, leisurely pace that was maddening when she needed more, she needed all of him, not this wicked tease, this promise of something shattering and unattainable.

“Look at me, Katie,” he said in a harsh voice.
She opened her eyes, staring up into his lost, beautiful ones. Her breath and her heart stopped as he thrust deep, breaking past the barrier of her virginity and filling her completely.
The pain was nothing, the joy powerful. She no longer clawed his skin, she slid her arms around his neck and kissed him with pure abandon and love.

She was crying, she realized belatedly. Sobbing, but O’Neal didn’t seem to mind. He rolled to his side, taking her with him, holding her with all the tenderness of a lover.
He was her lover, she thought in amazement, weeping her stupid tears against his chest while he stroked her hair and murmured soft, loving things that made no sense. He was her lover and her love.
And she fell asleep mid-sob.

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

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Review: Love in the Valley by Susan Napier

Format: E-bookloveinthevalley_susannapier
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Marlow Family, #1
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Hugh Walton
Heroine: Julia Fry
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1985
Started On: December 26, 2018
Finished On: December 27, 2018

Love in the Valley by Susan Napier, published in 1985 is a novel I picked up after encountering a list of lackluster reads and wanting something that would overtake all my emotions. Susan Napier is one of my favorite Harlequin authors that I love to read. Some of her titles have been absolutely riveting, while others have been tedious in a way that only authors who want to project “strong” heroines can make a book tiresome.

Love in the Valley is a book that fits neither category I suppose. It is a book that stands out in some ways and had me wishing that the author had explored the possibilities in her characters, especially the hero who was crafted so well in so many aspects.

Qualified Cordon Bleu chef Julia Fry meets top New Zealand lawyer Hugh Walton when she takes on the job of being the personal chef for the Marlows at their holiday home on the Coromandel Peninsula. Having never met Hugh before, Julia is stunned by the emotions that he invokes in her from the very first encounter itself, whereby she understands that when it comes to their temperaments, they are both different from each other as night and day.

Julia and Hugh’s “relationship” develops through a lot of mishaps that follows their encounters, with Hugh bringing the classic deflection tactic into play that serves as the much needed angst in the story. While Hugh turns out to be cold, distant, aloof, and controlled in the way he carries himself, the passion that I knew lurked beneath the surface remained untapped. But that aspect of his character remained largely unexplored. Of course, there was humor in the story, the kind of snarky-natured humor that Susan Napier is famous for in her stories.

Julia turned out to be an okay heroine for me. I didn’t hate nor did I love her. I guess partly because her character also seemed to lose focus along the way, to regain it towards the latter part of the story. Given Hugh’s past, I understood his nature, why he keeps to himself, and why he in most likelihood would never have gone after Julia in the end. But had the author taken on development of Hugh’s character differently, tapped into the deep hidden reservoir of passion in him, I bet this could have ended up being the kind of story that romance lovers like myself would have adored over and over.

Recommended for those who love Harlequin romances.

Final Verdict: Love in the Valley though enjoyable, is a story that had so much untapped potential.

Favorite Quotes

Julia put her hands on his shoulders, feeling the shifting strength, the smooth, slick wetness of curving muscle. His lips and teeth and tongue were excitingly active, tugging gently at the soft inner skin of her mouth, exciting her taste-buds, drawing her own small tongue into the depths of his dark mouth with gentle sucking motions that were incredibly erotic.  All sensation was centred on her face, but she was gradually becoming aware of his hand splayed on her spine, the hard stomach pressing against the ridge of her hip.

‘What are you going to do?’ she asked breathlessly, with conscious challenge, knowing already what he was going to do, and wanting him to do it.
‘Something I shouldn’t,’ he muttered, lowering her against his mouth, sending sparkling streaks of exhilaration through her body as his limber tongue invaded her mouth, punishing with pleasure. He held her easily, as if she weighed nothing, as he kissed her, tilting and turning her small body with his hands so that he could explore her mouth from different angles. Julia’s hands left the rigid tendons of his wrists and clutched at the solid warmth of his neck as she felt him move, carrying her backwards, hard thighs bumping between her dangling legs.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Glass Houses by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookglasshouses.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Michael Dubrovnika
Heroine: Laura de Kelsey Winston
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 25, 1989
Started On: November 07, 2018
Finished On: November 08, 2018

Glass Houses by Anne Stuart was picked as my next read to chase away the dissatisfaction that had been left behind by the last novel that I had read. Anne Stuart is an author who continuously delivers. After all, there is a reason why she is a queen of the genre itself, no matter in which sub-genre she chooses to write.

Glass House is referred to as a famous New York landmark built by the grandfather of the heroine, Laura de Kelsey Winston. Owner of Glass Faces, a small and exclusive up and coming modeling agency owned by Laura herself, she is determined that she would protect the building and preserve its authenticity at any cost, no matter how many vultures might circle her in their attempts to buy the land plot upon which Glass House stands.

However, in Michael Dubrovnik, known as Whirlwind to his competitors, Laura finds the most formidable buyer that yet, willing to fight dirty to get what he wants, with him explicitly stating so. Underneath all the back and forth that happens between Laura and Michael, starts an awakening of the senses, especially for Laura, whose young heart had been bruised by the fact that she was considered the “ugly swan” among the rest of the beauties in her family. Plus, the actions of her mother had left its mark on Laura, something which makes her believe that sex would never be enjoyable for someone like her, and she has so far succeeded in her attempts to steer clear from any amorous intentions of the opposite sex she comes across.

Michael manages to get under her skin in a way that leaves Laura vulnerable. It is not easy for someone who projects a cool front otherwise, to lose her temper and other senses so spectacularly around a man as experienced in his ways as is Michael. But Laura is not alone in feeling that sizzle of longing and awareness. Michael too is caught in its tendrils and before they know it, both Laura and Michael are tumbling into a world where only the headiness of sensual pleasure rules. But when tragedy comes calling, Laura must decide what it is that she would do; wave the white flag of surrender or carry on business as usual, if she wants to have it all.

I loved Glass Houses and the feels that this novel brought out in me in spades. I believe that the effect was magnified by a hundredfold because of the lackluster story I had read earlier as well. But then again, it IS Anne Stuart we are talking about here, the author who can do no wrong, 99 per cent of the time.

I loved Michael. He is arrogant in a way that comes from climbing his way to the top with sheer hard work and making a name for himself where many had failed. His arrogance itself served as a turn on at appropriate moments. That is the sheer brilliance behind a character well written.

But the most fascinating aspect to Michael was how well he saw into Laura, how insightful he was when it comes to the woman she is behind the facade she presents to the rest of the world. Of course, that is not surprising given he is ruthless in his business ventures, and for that, he needs to be able to read people. But for once, Michael is unable to exert his usual ruthlessness to full effect, because unknowingly, Laura also loosens something dangerous and possessive inside of him.

Laura was one of those spunky heroines that Anne Stuart is famous for. She is feisty, goes out of her way to thwart all and every attempt of Michael to win her over, goes as far as to thrust another woman towards him as she pursues her interests elsewhere; all the while kidding to herself on the extent to which she was already compromised. The period of separation between Michael and Laura was one that brought on the angst factor, which I of course loved. I believe that Laura needed that period of healing in order to start over from a clean slate where she and Michael were concerned.

Definitely adored the ending. It was just fitting!

The secondary romance tucked in between the high octane tale unfolding between Michael and Laura was equally enticing. Loved how Susan finally got what she deserved, in the arms of none other than the man she had been in love with, ever since she had come to know him.

Recommended for fans of sizzling hot romances featuring a tad of a ruthless hero and a heroine who will fight till the very end before giving in.

Final Verdict: What a good novel does for you is priceless, and that is what Anne Stuart undoubtedly delivers, every single time.

Favorite Quotes

She didn’t even have time to get self-conscious. “You have the most beautiful body,” he whispered, his mouth traveling down, brushing the tops of her full breasts as his fingers slid the narrow straps down over her arms, pushing the silk away from her body to land on the floor. She was standing naked in his arms, and shyness washed over her body in a dull pink haze. She tried to turn from him, but he wouldn’t let her, and the hands that ran up the length of her were gentle, almost worshipping. “I love your breasts,” he whispered, his hands brushing their softness, so that she wanted to cry with longing. “I love your hips brushing against me, I love your arms around me, I love your mouth under mine, I love your legs, I love…”

“If you think you’re all done for the night, babe,” he whispered, “you’re wrong.” And putting his hand between their bodies he touched her, deftly, deliberately, as he surged forward once, twice, three times.
She heard the muffled cry from a distance and knew it was her own. His mouth covered hers, drinking in her cry, as his body pushed her over the edge into places she’d never even dreamed existed. There was only rippling darkness, his body pulsing within hers, as every muscle, every cell in her body convulsed. It went on forever, a timeless, impossible eternity, and when she finally returned to the mattress beneath her and the man above her, the room and the noise and the New York City night, her face was wet with tears.

He was too fast for her. Before she had the faintest idea what he was going to do, he’d pulled her into his arms. Her laughter faded into silence as his mouth covered hers, wet from the rain, tasting faintly of whiskey.
She was too startled, too breathless, to react as she should have. Instinctively she put her arms around him, and suddenly he lifted her, swinging her around, away from the shelter of the building and out into the pouring rain again. She clung to him, half out of dizziness, half out of a sneaking, self-destructive streak she couldn’t fight anymore. Damn it, she wanted to kiss him. And kiss him she did, opening her mouth to his as the rain poured down around them.

Before she realized what he intended, he pulled her into his arms, tightly against his body. He was far more aroused than Carnaby had ever been, and the tension and strength vibrating through him effectively wiped out any other considerations. When his mouth met hers she was absurdly ready, hungry for him despite all her better judgment.
She moaned when his tongue touched hers, pushing him away with her freed hands as her mouth answered his. Ignoring her lands, he cupped her face, holding her still for the scorching power of his kiss, and her fists grew feebler, batting at him weakly.

He released her breast, and her skin felt damp and cool compared to the feverish flush that covered the rest of her body. “This is a game for two players, Laura,” he said, his voice rasping in the darkness. “Touch me.”
She released his arm, reaching up to tentatively caress his shoulder. He was covered with a fine sheen of sweat, and she could fee! the tension pulsing through him. “No,” he said, his voice hard. “Touch me.”

She couldn’t pretend not to know what he meant. And suddenly she wanted what he wanted. She wanted to feel that heavy male power in her hands, wanted to know what would soon be a part of her. Running one hand down his chest, she let it slide across his taut stomach, down the crisp curl of hair. And then she touched him, the silken length of him, the satiny-smooth flesh, the heat and desire and dampness and sheer size of him.

For a moment she panicked, trying to push him away from her, tightening up against an invasion she wasn’t sure she wanted. “Don’t fight me,” he murmured, but she couldn’t hear him, lost in her own unexpected alarm.
The sharp pain on her shoulder startled her into a shriek of dismay. Michael took advantage of his deliberate distraction, pushing in deep, filling her with his strength and masculine power. She shuddered, accepting him, and when she looked up, her eyes were glazed with tears.
“You bit me,” she whispered.
“Needs must when the devil drives,” he murmured, running his tongue over the teeth marks on her soft white shoulder. And he began to move.

“Don’t leave me,” she whispered.
She didn’t need his small smile to know that he’d won. It no longer mattered. He returned to her, thrusting deep and hard, and his voice in her ear was just a reminder of her weakness. “I told you you’d beg me not to leave you.”
Deep in her body he was holding still, and she had no choice but to respond. “You’re a manipulative bastard, Mischa.”
“Yes.” He reached down, took her legs and wrapped them around his waist. “But I’m honest about what I want. And I want you.”

Her fingernails raked across his back, but he ignored them, his hands bruised her wrists, but she ignored them, clinging to him with her arms, her legs, her body, holding tight and reaching… reaching…
“Look at me,” he said, his voice hoarse, his muscles standing out with exertion. “Open your eyes and look at me, Laura. I want to watch you when you come.”
She opened her eyes. “I’m not going to,” she said faintly. “I’m not…”
“Yes,” he said. “You are.”
And suddenly she did, convulsing around him, shock and surprise spinning into blind sensation as she was swept away, caught in a whirlwind of dark desire that was twisting and turning her, tossing her into a night where nothing existed but sheer sensation.

Her entire body began to quiver. She was covered with a fine film of sweat, her breathing was rapid and shallow, and the pleasure he was giving her was so exquisite, she thought she might die from it. “Stop,” she whispered hoarsely, unable to bear any more. “I can’t…”
“Yes, you can.” His voice was nothing more than a breath of sound on the still night air. And suddenly she did, biting her lower lip as her body convulsed in a reaction that was still too new. He held her tight, prolonging it, prolonging it so that she thought she might explode as tears poured down her face.

Purchase Links: Amazon | iTunes

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Review: True Enchanter by Susan Napier

Format: E-booktrueenchanter_susannapier
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Richard Marlow
Heroine: Joanna Carson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 10, 1987
Started On: October 26, 2018
Finished On: October 29, 2018

After the high of my previous read, The Sister Swap by Susan Napier, I decided that one more Susan Napier was in order to continue riding the high.

Story begins with Joanna Carson, aunt to one talented and quite young Rebecca, acting as a chaperone to her niece on a movie set, where Rebecca was as one of the lead roles. This is how Joanna starts to spend time, albeit reluctantly, with Richard Marlow, the director of the said movie, a man she believes to be too egoistic and arrogant for his own good. 

Richard had been a promising actor himself, who at the peak of his stardom, went out of the spotlight owing to a life changing accident, which saw him return as a movie director. 

True Enchanter, despite all elements that should have made it work, was a tough story to care about. I liked the hero a bit, and disliked the heroine intensely. In my opinion, she is one of those heroines whom you want to see as someone who was pushing the boundaries on the gender equality agenda, but somehow ends up being annoying about everything. But in all honesty, I just found her tiresome and thought to myself good riddance when I skipped bits and pieces to get to the ending. 

Susan Napier writes strong heroines, and pushes the accepted norms in her books. Feminism as an evolving concept has always been challenged by romance authors to different extents. But then there are the heroines who grate on your nerves because of their “strong ideals” and end up giving the story a bad vibe rather than being an empowering figure to the reader.

Recommended if you like heroines who come off too strong. 

Final Verdict: Tiresome in a way that had me skipping parts of the story to get to the ending. It is my faith in Napier’s abilities as a writer that made me even  try.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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