Review: A Daughter’s Dilemma by Miranda Lee

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Powers-Slater Studio, #1
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Vaughan Slater
Heroine: Carolyn McKensie
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 21, 1997
Started On: December 21, 2021
Finished On: December 30, 2021021

A Daughter’s Dilemma by Miranda Lee was my last read for the year 2021. It is February 2022, and it is only now I am able to get my last review for the year in place. I am a firm believer of the philosophy better late than never. Perhaps more applicable here than elsewhere in my life because I have a habit of always running behind on my review schedule.

My book list for 2021 veered in the direction of picking up older Harlequin romances to read because, at the cost of repeating myself, modern watered down versions of the heroes that I come across in books these days just makes me itch, and not in a good way at all. I feel bereft of the emotions that would otherwise run gamut through me when authors just get it all right, with a hero who is brusque, taciturn, and all those qualities that we hate to love and love to hate.

Miranda Lee in this way, is an author whose books teeter on 50-50 line; I either love them or am meh about them. Luckily, this one too passed muster, and I had an enjoyable time with the journey that was 34 year old Vaughan Slater and 24 year old Carolyn McKensie take to their happily ever after.

The story begins with Carolyn sending off her newly wedded mother on her honeymoon cruise, with a promise to her stepfather that she would do what was needed to ensure that their new home was ready to move into upon their return. However, Carolyn gets the shock of her life when she finds out that the architect hired by her stepfather is none other than Vaughan, who basically destroyed her mother all those years ago.

Carolyn’s mother raises her as a single parent, with her father having died even before she was born. All of that had caught up with her mother when Carolyn was fourteen years old, and since then, Carolyn had acted more as a mother than vice versa. Carolyn being fiercely protective of her mother is not ready to forgive and forget what Vaughan is responsible for; having seduced and discarded a woman who was much older than him.

Carolyn’s helpless reaction to the magnetism that Vaughan exudes is however the nail on the coffin so to speak, and even though she is determined not to give in, it proves too much of a challenge to turn away from the heat, especially with Vaughan feeling the same way. Consequently, the attraction between them gives way to passion of the kind that innocent Carolyn had never known, and before she knows it, her heart too is on the line.

But there looms dark clouds on the horizon, casting gloomy shadows on her newfound happiness that is all too fragile, especially when Carolyn has a hard time reconciling with the version of the events that Vaughan stands by and won’t let her shy away from. With Carolyn torn between the man who makes her senses reel and her heart soar, and her mother for whom she would practically do anything for, it is up to Carolyn to gather her courage and face the music, whatever tune it may be playing when all is said and done.

While I found Carolyn a bit tiresome at certain points, overall, I understood where she was coming from. I too would probably have been a bundle of nerves if I were in her place, believing that I have to choose between the love of my life and my own mother who sacrificed her youth to bring me up. That is a tough place to be in.

I loved Vaughan, for being as determined to make Carolyn stand up for what she wants, for giving her that needed push to step out of her comfort zone, without which she would probably have made the wrong choice and ended up being miserable, bitter, and lonely for the rest of her life.

Recommended for fans of Miranda Lee and fans of Harlequin romances.

Final Verdict: A Daughter’s Dilemma delves into what it is like to be caught between a rock and a hard place; it takes courage of the kind not many of us can muster to make that leap of faith.

Favorite Quotes

For a few seconds longer he stared down at her. ‘Let’s see if I can’t help you make up your mind…’ And his mouth slowly descended.
How long later did it lift again? A minute? Two?
Carolyn had no idea, for instantly those soft sensual lips claimed hers she was catapulted into a world so erotic and exciting that all coherent thought rocketed to a distant planet. She clung to him, her lips parting soundlessly beneath the increasing pressure of his, letting his tongue slide forward into her mouth, letting him arouse her with it to a pitch she would never have believed possible from a kiss. The blood began swimming in her head and wave upon wave of heat flooded up through her body. When her knees threatened to buckle from under her, she slid her arms up tightly around his neck, her small hard breasts pressed flat against his wet chest.

Carolyn bit her bottom lip against the tumultuous pleasure he immediately evoked, her knuckles whitening around the railing as she felt him gradually work his way back down her body. Surely he didn’t mean to…to…
When he passed her navel, every internal muscle she owned contracted and held tightly. Her lips parted, as though ready for protest. But no protest came from her lips when he finally reached his destination. No protest at all. Only a shuddering sigh of sheer ecstasy. ‘Oh, yes,’ she moaned. ‘Yes…’

For a split second Carolyn felt a thrilling moment of peaking, of being suspended. And then she was spun into a wild avalanche of sensation that shattered her completely, the experience impossible to fully capture in words or even memory. Its sharpness caught at her breath, then forced sounds from her lips, soft sensual cries somewhere between sighs and moans. Her head tipped back, her lips panting apart, her back bending like a bow from the bed as she felt her flesh convulsing around Vaughan’s, felt her woman’s pull on his body, urging him to a mutual release.
When it came Carolyn was stunned, thinking the pleasure she’d just experienced was impossible to surpass. But nothing could eclipse the emotional and physical satisfaction of holding Vaughan and feeling him climax deep within her.

‘Tell me you love me too,’ he urged. ‘I want to hear you say it.’
Her heart leapt, but instinct warned her not to admit to such a thing. ‘No,’ she panted. ‘No…’
He muttered something and resumed his slow, steady rhythm, taking her inexorably towards the moment when will-power would cease to exist, when there was nothing but her body and his, teetering on the brink of ecstasy.
At this most crucial moment, Vaughan stopped once again, bringing a cry of sharp need from her gasping lungs. Her nails dug deeply in his back and her body urged him desperately to continue.
‘Tell me you love me, dammit,’ he demanded, holding her still beneath him in an iron grip.
She whipped her head from side to side till he captured her mouth with his own, grinding her head back into the soft pillow with a savage kiss.
‘Say it!’ he gasped when his mouth finally burst from hers. ‘Dear God, just say it this once!’
She was moved, more by the desperate note in his voice than his violent kiss, or the sexual edge on which she was hanging.
‘I love you,’ she cried huskily. ‘I’ve loved you all along.’

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

Review: A Date with Destiny by Miranda Lee

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Michael Angellini
Heroine: Salome Twynan
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 25, 1994
Started On: December 13, 2021
Finished On: December 17, 2021

A Date with Destiny by Miranda Lee is a category romance that was first published in 1994. The story begins when 24 year old Salome Twynan discovers that her ex-husband had once again added another item to her divorce settlement; a penthouse unit at McMahon’s Point. Salome had married young, at the age of nineteen to a 49 year old man, who had warned her that people would talk, judge, and slander her reputation upon their marriage. Salome had gone into the marriage with her eyes wide open, let her husband mold her into what he wanted, and when the divorce had come out of nowhere, Salome is devastated, and having tried and failed to see her ex-husband to get answers to the questions she has being futile slides her further into a depressive state.

When Salome turns up at the penthouse, she discovers that her neighbor is none other than Michael Angellini (Mike), one of Sydney’s most eligible bachelors, the wealthy owner of an exclusive Italian restaurant that Ralph had taken Salome to on many occasions during the course of their marriage. From the onset of their introduction, Salome and Mike had rubbed each other the wrong way, and the hostility had often meant Mike ignoring her or giving her scathing glances while Salome tried her utmost to be more flirty and appreciative of her husband in his presence.

Needless to say, the knowledge that Mike is going to be right next door is not information that settles well with Salome, especially when she discovers that underneath all her hostility lies recognition of Mike’s vitality as a man and the need he rouses in her. Salome has her hangups about casual sex which drives her up the wall when it comes to admitting to the fact that she indeed finds Mike desirable to the point of distraction.

I found the love that unfolded between Mike and Salome to be an entertaining, sweet, and sexy journey with a bit of angst tossed into the mix. It is apparent from Mike’s behavior that he finds Salome just as desirable, and would like nothing better than for Salome to give in for them to reach the height of their mutual pleasure in each other. But Salome is a stubborn as well as a reluctant heroine (but not to the point where it becomes annoying), and Mike has his work cut out for him in trying to make her see that for him, there is no other.

Recommended for those who love books by Miranda Lee.

Final Verdict: Intense heat and good characterizations renders A Date with Destiny to be a wonderful read!

Favorite Quotes

‘You don’t want me to stop, do you?’ he said hoarsely.
‘No,’ she admitted, her voice shaking. ‘No…’
His raw groan stunned her. Clearly, he wanted her almost as much as she wanted him. Maybe he had always wanted her. No, no, a dim memory refuted. That’s not so. He said that wasn’t so.
His next kiss obliterated any further thought, and this time his mouth contained nothing but uncontrollable passion, a taking rather than a tempting. Salome met him halfway, their tongues joining together in a violently sensuous mating that could only be eclipsed in one way.

She could hear his breathing, as heavy and ragged as her own, hear his dark mutterings as he began working on the buttons of her jacket and blouse, then the tie at her neck. Cool air suddenly caressed bare breasts, a rash of goose-bumps temporarily sobering her. For a split second the appalling truth of what she was allowing came home to Salome but, before she could react, Mike’s mouth moved across her breasts and closed over one single, straining nipple.
A moan was torn from deep in her throat, the fingers of both her hands curling over to dig into her palms. ‘Oh, God!’ she whimpered. She jammed her fists down beside her on the case, but this only served to give her a lever with which to arch her back further upwards, pushing her flesh deeper and deeper into his mouth. Her head swam with dizzying pleasure, the blood in her veins surging hotly through her body.

‘What is it?’ Mike said sharply.
She expelled the breath she had been holding in a trembling gasp. ‘Nothing…nothing…’
‘Tell me,’ he urged, and drew her to him in a breathtakingly close embrace, his lips pressed feverishly to her forehead. ‘What is it that frightens you so about me? Why didn’t you want to let me finish making love to you earlier on? Why?‘
She shook her head frantically from side to side. ‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ she whispered hoarsely. ‘I can’t! It’s all too confusing.’
‘What’s confusing?’ he insisted, little knowing that the hot, stroking hands on her hair, her neck, her back, were the most confusing of all, because they kept bringing wave after wave of sensation that was slowly obliterating her capacity to reason. Surely she wouldn’t feel like this in any other man’s arms, would she? It didn’t seem possible. Yet…if it was only Michael Angellini who could do this to her, then what was it exactly she felt for him? Sexual infatuation? Obsession? Lust?
Salome refused to embrace the word ‘love’. Even if her feelings for Ralph had finally begun to die, her bruised, battered heart wasn’t ready, or capable, of loving another man yet, and certainly not a man who had nothing but contempt for her. Perhaps she was acting this way out of some sort of crazed revenge against the hurt perpetrated by her husband. Perhaps this was a rebound thing. She didn’t know any more.
‘Everything’s confusing,’ she groaned. ‘Me… this…you…’

She moaned her frustration and frantically pushed him away, ‘No, no!’ she cried.
He staggered back off the end of the bed, getting to his feet and staring down at her with eyes both wild and incredulous. ‘You must be mad! There’s no stopping now. No changing your mind. Look at me!’ And, with a single savage yank, he stripped off his pyjama-trousers, striking her speechless with the stark evidence of his desire.
Salome had never looked quite so blatantly at an aroused man before, certainly not one as well-endowed as Mike. Colour burnt in her cheeks, her heart thudding beneath her breasts. ‘I haven’t changed my mind,’ she burst forth, then hesitated, finding it hard to find the words. ‘I was wanting you. You!’ she cried. ‘Not…anything less…’

Finally he gasped away from her mouth and pressed hot lips to the smooth skin of her shoulder, the pulsating vein at the base of her throat, his hands running up and down the sides of her body. Her own hands were caressing the muscles in his back, but dug sharply inwards when he grabbed her hips, lifting them from the bed and thrusting even more deeply into her. Quite instinctively, her inner muscles squeezed tightly around his throbbing hardness, gripping and releasing him in a relentless rhythm. Any moment now…
There was a split second when she seemed to balance on a sharp edge, when her breathing stopped, and every muscle in her body strained to an aching stop. She heard him gasp for breath, felt his hands tightening around her. Then, with one final surge, he set them both free, and their mutual cries of release echoed in the night.

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

Review: Rocky Road by Anne Stuart

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Matthew Connelly
Heroine: Jeannie MacPherson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 1985
Started On: November 14, 2021
Finished On: November 20, 2021

Rocky Road by Anne Stuart is a novel that was first published in 1985 from Harlequin. Republished recently on major e-book platforms, from the queen of romance who can seldom do wrong, comes the story of 40 year old Matthew Connelly, head of the detective squad of the Chicago police force and 33 year old Jeannie MacPherson, who is running from her own demons of a totally different variety.

When Jeannie tries the neighborly tactic of trying to welcome Matthew to Muscatoon Island where she has been residing in for the past two years, Jeannie is met with resistance of the kind that speaks of a man wanting to be left alone. Posing as a painter, but recovering from both physical and emotional wounds from the last case that Matthew was working on, he is determined that he would keep to himself through his recovery, even if Jeannie tempts him otherwise.

How these two tangle is quite invigorating at times, but ultimately, the story turned out to be a frustrating one for me. I always felt as if Jeannie was the one who was doing all the chasing and wooing when it comes to Matthew. Matthew is one of the most reluctant heroes I have come across of late and he made me grit my teeth from frustration because of his obstinate nature and with his emotions under control at every turn.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a controlled hero – to a point. A controlled hero is no fun unless the heroine has the effect of unraveling him and smashing through that iron clad will. But Matthew seems to be made of sterner stuff than most, and while I am all for heroines who choose to assert themselves and go after what they want, I found her ploys to get noticed by Matthew, while hilarious, to be a tad desperate at times.

Perhaps I would have been more appeased, had she cut her losses and removed herself from the situation that she found herself in and let Matthew come to her, when all was said and done. If he felt so deeply about her, that is something he could do as well in my opinion. Even the last scene does not really give the reader any sense of happiness if you ask me, because even towards the very end, the push and pull factor is controlled by none other than Matthew. In my opinion, Jeannie just settled for what Matthew was willing throw her way, because she was lost from the minute he limped into her life.

I would also have loved to learn more about Matthew’s past – the last case he worked on seemed to have done a number on him in every sense. I always felt as if Ms. Stuart had a purpose behind including tantalizing bits and pieces of the case, which perhaps could have been part of the larger plot, giving the story an edgier ending.

Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart who are looking to read her older books as refurbished titles.

Final Verdict: Rocky is the road that Jeannie travels when it comes to winning the affections of Matthew; there is no stone that she would leave unturned to win over her beloved!

Favorite Quotes

He moved then, swiftly, gracefully, so fast that she couldn’t avoid him. “You forgot to kiss me good-bye,” he said, and pulled her into his arms, his mouth coming down on hers before she had a chance to duck.
One of his strong hands held the nape of her neck in a viselike grip, the other arm slid around her waist and pulled her up against him as he kissed her, a long, slow, erotic insult of a kiss. She’d opened her mouth to protest and he’d taken possession of it, with a deliberate, sexual kiss that brought her blood racing to her loins and flames of fury racing to her brain.

For a moment she forgot everything, forgot her doubts, her better judgment, her sense of self-preservation, and she twined her arms around his neck to kiss him back.
She was lost in the wonder of his mouth. In the dimness of the rocking cabin there was only the scent of his skin, the feel of his mouth, and the warm, wet, seeking pleasure of the mouth on hers. She wanted to get closer, closer to him; she wanted to climb inside his skin and kiss him from the inside out; she wanted to rip off her clothes and climb on top of him, to blot out the storm and her fears and her doubts and her loneliness that she never admitted existed. She wanted nothing but Matthew Connelly, and the demanding mouth on hers, the strong hands that were threading underneath her sweater to slide up her hot skin told her that he wanted her, too.

“Should I let you go?” His words came out on the breath of a sigh, and he was warm and strong and so very near.
“Yes,” she whispered, and raised her mouth to his, no longer able to fight it.
He wrapped her in his arms, pulling her into the haven of his body, and she went gladly, mindlessly, sinking against him with a sigh of pure delight. There was no question that this was dangerous and very wrong, no question that she was a fool. And no question that it no longer mattered. She kissed him, reaching up to him, and it was long and slow and deep, and finished the last shreds of common sense left to her. His tongue was hot and rough and wet in her mouth, bold and demanding, allowing her no pretensions. She couldn’t be kissed like that, return a kiss like that, and still pretend they weren’t headed directly for bed.

He was with her, the force of his thrusts pounding her into the bed, and the ancient springs creaked in protest, a protest they both ignored as she reached for him, with her arms, her hips, her heart and soul, dissolving against him in a damp tangle of arms and limbs and love.

“You aren’t going to get warm standing there glaring at me,” he observed.
Jeannie counted to ten mentally, then managed a smile as chilly as her icy flesh. “What do you suggest I do about it?” she demanded.
“You could come over here and get warm.”
She stared at him in amazement. “You think you could warm me Up?”
“Oh, I think between the two of us we could manage quite a conflagration,” he said, and the rough silk of his voice began to melt the ice around her heart. “Come here, Jeannie.”
Pride and common sense would have kept her rooted to her spot in the sand, but pride and common sense were at the bottom of the ocean.

She clung to him like a piece of rockweed clinging to a rocky shore, wrapping her arms and her body around him like tendril of kelp. Slowly the heat began to penetrate through her wet clothes, her salty skin, into her very bones, and then she was shivering with something other than cold, and he was shivering, too.
“I feel as if I’m kissing a mermaid,” he whispered against her ear.
She laughed against the solid warmth of his chest, a rusty, shaken sound. “You have been. Actually, I’m a siren, here to drown unsuspecting sailors.”

“But what if you can?” she said in a desperate whisper. “What if you can simply put it all behind you, forget about it?”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to do all summer, and so far I haven’t had much success.”
“But what if you could?” she persisted.
He looked down at her, lying against the pillows, her russet-colored hair black in the moonlight. “Then I’ll find you,” he said softly.
“And I’m expected to settle for that? A vague possibility?” Her voice wasn’t angry, only resigned and very, very sad.
“It’s all I can offer.”

She arched against him, the warmth in her turning into a fire. Her hands reached up to cradle his face, and she kissed him, long and deep, telling him without words how much she’d missed him, how much she loved him, how much she hated herself for hurting him. He answered her, his tongue a strong, driving force within the receptive warmth of her mouth, telling her he would never leave her again.
Slowly, carefully she let her hands slide down his arms, past his ribs, down the hard flatness of his stomach to touch him, hold him. His answering groan was reward enough, as he pressed himself into her willing hands, and she gentled and stroked him. His response was to delve deeper into her mysteries, the warm dampness of her telling him how much she needed him.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Review: A Ring to Secure His Heir by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Alexius Kolovos Stavroulakis
Heroine: Rosie Gray
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 18, 2012
Started On: November 04, 2021
Finished On: November 07, 2021

A Ring to Secure His Heir by Lynne Graham, released in 2012, is a story that many readers would find affinity with, especially those who have problems with older Harlequin romances that feature heroines who are a bit more submissive. The story begins when 31 year old Alexius Kolovos Stavroulakis (Alexius) is tasked to find out more about 75 year old Socrates Seferis’s grand daughter, Socrate being the only person whose orders that Alexius is willing to follow, even if this one fills him with misgivings.

23 year old Rosie Gray is a woman who is used to life’s hardships. Having grown up with a flighty mother who would not win any awards for being a good mother, with an absentee father in the mix, Rosie had grown in foster care upon the death of her mother. Rendered nearly homeless just a couple of months back, Rosie is biding her time with a company whose sole business is office cleaning, the job suiting her quite well, until she is able to get her degree in Business Management.

Even though Alexius is at first reluctant to go ahead with what Socrates wants, he is not one to deny what the old man wants, who had been more of a parent to him than anyone else. Believing Rosie to be someone colorless and shapeless, with zero attributes to attract him at any level, Alexius is taken aback when he actually meets her to find out that instead, Rosie has a way of drawing him to her.

Rosie does not know what hits her when she encounters the altogether too good looking for himself Alexius, who makes her senses all go on red alert. Having no prior experience with men when it comes to sex, needless to say, before Alexius is done with his “mission”, they end up doing the missionary themselves.

Alexius, having gone against his own code of ethics and morals when he does the one-night stand with Rosie, berates himself afterwards for giving in and taking advantage of the granddaughter of the one man who is most valuable to him. But then again, somethings are inevitable and thus begins the at times fraught journey that Alexius and Rosie must traverse through for their own happily ever after.

I loved this novel; both Alexius and Rosie are superb characters, not to mention Socrates who was adorable in his way. It was refreshing to see a hero who did not come out with guns blazing, offering marriage just because he ended up taking the heroine’s virginity. I also admired the fact that Rosie stood her ground, even when it came to her grandfather who wanted to see them married to deal with the consequences of their one night of passion, all because she did not want to settle for half measures.

Rosie with the ambition of making something out of herself is one aspect of her character that I fully supported and admired. Alexius meanwhile, has a hard time reconciling with the feelings that Rosie rouses in him; the lust, possessiveness, protectiveness, and a hint of what he does not want to name, and that for me was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the story! It is always hilarious to see the hero struggle so much with what he feels, and when they reluctantly give in, there is so much love that bursts from within the pages, the reason why I love romance novels so much.

While I admired Rosie for all the characteristics, I also loved Alexius because he did not do a 180 degree turn on his convictions, just because he had met a woman who changed him fundamentally. He took his time to come to terms with his burgeoning feelings, and that is what made this book stand out for me.

Loved the epilogue tucked at the end. It is rare for a Harlequin romance to have one, and I enjoyed this one to the hilt!

Recommended for fans of Harlequin romances, fans of Lynne Graham, and fans of romances that totally captivates you on every level.

Final Verdict: Chock-full of taut sexual tension and goodness at every page turn!

Favorite Quotes

She was unlocking the battered front door when, without even realising it, he put his hand on her arm to stay her. She turned back, colliding with those silvery-grey eyes of his, and her heartbeat hammered so fast she was afraid she might somehow choke on the tightness in her throat.
He wound his hand into her hair and bent his imperious dark head—it was a long way down to her level, he discovered as he captured her lush mouth with his. And that single sweet taste of her went straight to his head like the finest brandy and he kissed her with tortured, driving urgency, hauling her slight body up against him. He wanted her at that moment with a sexual ferocity he had never experienced in his life before.

‘I don’t bite unless you ask me to,’ Alexius quipped, enjoying his ability to read her thoughts from her ever-changing expressions while he wondered what might be responsible for her obvious tension at the prospect of sex.
‘I’m not very experienced,’ she warned him defensively. ‘So, don’t be expecting too much.’
‘I know it will be amazing,’ Alexius fielded with a level of assurance that shook her. ‘You’re a passionate woman.’
‘Did you work that out from one kiss?’ she teased, scanning the high cheekbones that lent his face such strong, sexy symmetry along with the deep-set mystery of his stunning silvery-grey eyes.
‘There were many,’ he reminded her. ‘No, I see your passion in the way you look at me.’

Rosie came up on her knees, no longer content to be passive, and removed his tie for him. Her hands lowered and slid beneath his suit jacket to his shoulders and the sheer heat of his hard muscular flesh burned through his shirt. She paused, gazing at him eye to eye for the first time, loving the blaze of intensity she saw there. There was nothing cool about Alex in this particular mood and he couldn’t hide the fact.
He captured her face between his big hands and claimed her mouth with hungry fervour, his innate need to dominate taking over while a low growl of satisfaction vibrated in his throat.

He kissed her, and she gripped his shoulders, needing him to hold on to as his tongue mated with hers and the wild fever kicked off inside her again. It was like nothing she had ever felt, an insane, intoxicating flood of need that left her dizzy and trembling. Her hands sank into the silky luxuriance of his black hair. He might wear his hair short but there was a lot of it.
Alexius was struggling to contain his hunger and slow down. She was tiny and fragile and he didn’t want to hurt her.

Alexius levelled forbidding icy-grey eyes on her flushed and anxious face. ‘You’re a virgin?’
‘Not any more,’ she pointed out helplessly. ‘My choice, my decision.’
Alexius gritted his teeth in annoyance. The deed was done. Her choice, not his and not a position he was used to finding himself in. But it was the work of a moment to let the dam of hunger he had rigorously restrained flow free and he buried himself deep in the silken welcome of her hot little body.
Her inner muscles clenched round him as tiny little tremors of pleasure began to course through Rosie. She had feared he might stop; she hadn’t wanted him to stop. Now he began to move, harder, faster, deeper and the excitement returned with an intensity that took her breath away.

He wrenched up the skirt and fought with her panties to access the warm, welcoming wetness of his fantasies, and he groaned with satisfaction against her swollen mouth as he got there and discovered that she was as ready as he was. His thumb circled her clitoris and set off a chain reaction through her pelvis that she could not control. She writhed, she moaned, made not the smallest attempt to escape, intoxicated as she was by the way he was teasing her overexcited body. She buried her mouth against his strong brown throat, kissing him, drinking in the glorious hot male scent of his flesh like an addict, all of her senses up and away on a magical tour of reacquaintance. With one finger, he slid inside and she ground down her bottom onto the thrust of his arousal, helpless in the grip of the most driving need she had ever experienced, feeling the gathering storm at the heart of her, rising up through her like an unstoppable force of nature.

As Alexius switched on the lights, Rosie whirled round in shock, pale blue silk clinging to her lithe body. ‘You couldn’t sleep either?’
‘No.’ Alexius studied her as she opened the doors of the giant double refrigerator to pull out cold meat, which she ate where she stood. ‘I gather you’re hungry.’
Rosie went red and nodded because her mouth was full. It gave her a most gratuitous opportunity to appraise the full impact of Alexius’s raw sexuality, his lean powerful physique sheathed in a pair of worn tight jeans and nothing else. Bare-chested, all that golden skin and rippling muscle on display, he took her breath away and desire swelled deep down inside her. He was badly in need of a shave, for dark stubble covered his lower jaw, framing his beautifully sensual mouth.

‘Thee mou…you’re so beautiful, moli mou.’
Rosie almost laughed out loud but then she saw his eyes and realised that he meant it, truly believed it at that moment and gratification blossomed inside her. For a long, timeless moment they exchanged a look and her heart began to thump really fast in her chest. A hand closed round her wrist and exerted a gentle tug to draw her closer. Brain, she shouted inside her head, heart rate rocketing like an express train, brain, get back here right this minute. His hands closed around her waist as he lifted her to him and their mouths clashed with the frantic, feverish longing that powered them both. She tasted him and she couldn’t get enough of that taste. You weren’t going to do this, her brain reminded her at that point. Shut up, she told it, fingers delving into luxuriant black hair as she strained against him, her body in an electrifying state of anticipation that she couldn’t quell.

‘I’ve waited a long time for this,’ he protested raggedly, running an admiring forefinger down between her breasts to the pale tangle of curls below, brushing her thighs apart while she held her breath, smoothing over the soft skin of her inner thigh to explore the warm wet invitation of her lush opening. ‘And you were definitely worth waiting for, moraki mou.’
Trembling, Rosie rested back, scarcely believing what she was allowing, finally acknowledging that she wanted to be with him so much that she didn’t care about the terms or the absence of promises. He circled the little pearl of nerve endings that controlled her response and reaction jackknifed through her in an unquenchable surge of charged pleasure.

‘You don’t get to come unless I’m inside you,’ Alexius spelt out roughly, eyes bright with intensity, already positioning her for his entrance. ‘And I’m on a knife edge trying to wait.’
The edge of his desperation racked up her arousal even more. He was almost vibrating with eagerness against her, the muscles in his powerful arms bunched with effort, his jaw line hard as a rock.
‘Don’t wait,’ she told him between gritted teeth, her head rolling restively across the pillow, her body keyed to a frustrating high of expectation.
He filled her to the hilt in one swift motion that stole the breath from her lungs in a gasp. Excitement assailed her as she felt herself stretch to accommodate his size.
‘Am I hurting you?’ he husked, throwing his handsome head back, black hair wildly tousled by her fingers as he hitched her legs round his waist.
‘No, that was a wince of pure pleasure,’ she gasped as he sank even deeper into her.

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Review: Crime of Passion by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Rafael Cristobal Rodriguez Berganza
Heroine: Georgie
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 01, 1996
Started On: October 18, 2021
Finished On: October 23, 2021

Crime of Passion by Lynne Graham is a novel that was originally published in 1996. The story begins with 23 year old Georgie finding herself in the most untenable of situations; locked up in a prison cell in Bolivia. Georgie travels to Bolivia in anticipation of meeting her best friend María Cristina Reveron, who is almost ready to give birth to her first child. Even though María had extended the invitation for her to visit many a time during the past four years, Georgie had resisted at every turn, mostly because the wounds inflicted by María’s brother, aka Georgie’s first love had been just too fresh to contend with.

28 year old Rafael Cristobal Rodriguez Berganza holds a very low opinion of the woman to whose rescue he is forced to come to. Similar to Georgie who hates Rafael for the way he had treated her all those years back, Rafael believes Georgie to be too loose with her affections, and Rafael had made it quite clear on the day that he had walked out, that she had failed to meet his standards in every single way possible.

With Georgie’s passport lost, Rafael makes the arbitrary decision to take her home with him until it can be replaced. There is no denying the undercurrents taut with sexual tension that is between the two from the get-go, even when Georgie is spitting mad at Rafael and he goading her at every turn. In the midst of it all, the old hurts and resentments come to the forefront, with each giving as good as they get, that is until Rafael encounters the undeniable proof that Georgie had stayed true to him, when he had erroneously being led to believe otherwise.

I thoroughly enjoyed the heady journey that Rafael and Georgie take towards their happily ever after. A lot of readers might dislike Rafael because he does not comply with modern reader tastes. But for me, he he is the kind of hero that I grew up falling in love with in romance books. Arrogant to a fault, that is until they meet their match in every sense. As a result, Rafael and Georgie’s journey is one fraught with misunderstandings, a whole lot of stubbornness on both ends, a dash of old fashioned patriarchal beliefs guiding Rafael (the moment Georgie threw that at his face was hysterical), and the undeniable sexual chemistry between the two which bursts forth at every turn.

Neither Rafael nor Georgie had stood a chance when they first encountered each other, but the period of separation was perhaps needed in order for them to understand what they have with each other, with maturity guiding them through the most turbulent moments of their reunion. Had they gotten married previously, both of them would have driven each other crazy and not in a good way, with Rafael becoming disillusioned with the image he had built of what his perfect bride would be like, and Georgie miserable, trying to live up to his grand expectations.

While Rafael needed to loosen up a bit, Georgie needed to become more grounded and that is what inevitably makes this second chance encounter worth it in every sense.

Recommended for those who love second chance romances, fans of Lynne Graham, and fans of the alpha heroes who stand true to who they are from the get-go!

Final Verdict: Tempestuous passion guaranteed in every sizzling line; there is none who can bring forth the kind of angst in romance as Lynne Graham!

Favorite Quotes

Many very good-looking men missed out on being sexy. But not Rafael. Rafael was a blatantly sexual male animal, flagrantly attuned to the physical. The air around him positively sizzled. So why the heck was this sophisticated, experienced Latin-American lover having so much difficulty buttoning up her coat? Unwarily she collided with glittering golden eyes, and it was like being struck by lightning.
He was so close she could smell a hint of citrusy aftershave, overlying clean, husky male. Her nostrils flared. Her nipples tightened into painful sensitivity, a spiralling ache twisting low in her stomach. Nearby, someone cleared their throat. She tore her gaze from Rafael’s and met the looks of visible fascination emanating from his bodyguards, standing several feet away. She realised that she and Rafael had simply been standing there staring at each other. Devastated by her overpowering physical awareness of him, Georgie turned away, her throat closing over.

‘Do all your lovers turn you on this hard and this fast?’ Rafael lowered his dark head and allowed the tip of his tongue to slide erotically between her lips, just once, in a darting foray that sent heat coursing through her in a debilitating wave.
‘Every one of them!’ she slammed back in a breathless rush.
‘But I’ll be the one you remember long after I’m gone,’ Rafael completed with predatory assurance, quite untouched by her attempt to repel him, a strong hand splaying across her hips to jerk her into even closer contact, and she stopped breathing altogether as he moved fluidly against her, bringing her into unashamed contact with the hard thrust of his arousal.

He lifted her with ease and one of her shoes fell off. She opened startled eyes a split-second before he brought his mouth crashing down on hers. She stopped thinking, she started simply feeling. The effect was that immediate. Her hands bit into his broad shoulders as she strained against the hard heat of his muscular length. Her fingers drifted into his hair and she was lost, controlled by an intolerable need that sent the blood pounding at an insane rate through her veins. Slowly, very slowly, he slid her down the length of his body on to her feet again and lifted his head.
‘You go to pieces when I touch you. I like that…I love that,’ Rafael muttered with a ragged groan of satisfaction. ‘It gives me an incredible sexual high no other woman has ever matched. I saw you lying asleep in that cell and every decent thought, every piece of self-restraint fled instantaneously. I’d have killed to get you out of there and into my bed.’

He stared down at her with a raw, sexual hunger that burned through clear to her bones. Heat flooded her in a blinding surge. A hard thigh sank between hers and she quivered violently, the fevered pulse-point of desire thrumming ever higher inside her.
‘You see…’ Rafael muttered thickly. ‘And I haven’t even begun yet.’
As he buried his mouth in a tiny hollow below her fragile collarbone, he let his thumbs rub expertly across her thrusting pink nipples. She jerked, an involuntary moan torn from her, and he lowered his head to employ his mouth and that wickedly knowing tongue on those unbearably sensitive buds. He drove her crazy. Sensation like white-hot lightning licked at every nerve-ending and she twisted and gasped in helpless excitement. She was in thrall to a dark enchantment of the senses and the most extraordinary pleasure.

Rafael groaned something in his own language and swept her right off her feet with bruisingly impatient hands. She captured his hard cheekbones between her palms and stared up at him with dazed eyes, out of focus with passion. He succumbed to the lure of her swollen mouth again somewhere halfway up the stairs and control seemed to go out of the window at that point, because he braced her against the wall and took her lips with a driving, demanding sexuality which reduced her to mental rubble.
‘Madre de Dios…’ he swore roughly against her throat, struggling for breath, and then he carried her up into the bedroom, tumbled her down on the bed and pinned her there with a wildly exciting lack of cool.

He seized on a taut rosy crest with his teeth and the explosion of sensation he released made her cry out, her teeth gritting, her throat extending.
‘Perdicion’ he groaned, lifting his arrogant dark head to look down at her as he dealt at speed with the remainder of his clothing. ‘So long…I have waited so long for this.’
So long, yes, she thought intensely, reaching back up for him with the single-minded motivation of a programmed doll. A relentless hunger seized her as he sealed his virile length to hers. Her whole body flushed with consuming heat and she turned to him, driven by something much more powerful than she was, and let her hands travel through the light mat of curling black hair across his muscular chest, glorying in the freedom to touch him at last.

He penetrated her anxiously parted lips with his tongue and she shuddered, electrified by the intense eroticism of his opening assault.
‘Closer,’ he urged, his breath fanning her cheek, smouldering golden eyes burning down into hers as his hands cupped the swell of her buttocks and lifted her into intimate connection with the hard thrust of his arousal. ‘Sí… like that…’
He crushed her mouth under his and she was electrified by the hunger which leapt into response inside her. Keen and fierce as a knife, that voracious hunger cleaved through her flesh. Her breasts swelled and ached and her nipples pinched into painfully sensitive points. She arched her back like a sensuous cat, desperate for more sensation, her head thrown back, her hands wound round his neck.

He coiled a booted foot round the back of her legs and tipped her down on the grass with such fluid ease and speed that she didn’t have a hope of evading the manoeuvre. A second later, he came down on top of her, one hand reaching instantly for the snap of her jeans. ‘We’ll save the Ferrari for some other time…but here, now, on Berganza soil… this is for me!’
Georgie was so shocked that he had her halfway out of her jeans before she made even a partial recovery. ‘Have you gone mad?’ she shrieked.
Her jeans were east aside. He knelt astride her and slid down the zip on his riding breeches. Georgie stared up at him with a dropped jaw. He shed his polo shirt, flexing powerful muscles that rippled smoothly across his hair-roughened chest. She shivered in the heat, her nostrils flaring at the musky male scent of him.
‘Rafael…?’
‘You are mine… like the land.’

‘Ahora… now.’
He lifted himself and plunged inside her in one devastating thrust of possession. Her every sense was screaming for the release that only he could give. Her nails dug into his back and then he was moving on her, inside her, with every powerful stroke of his hips reinforcing his dominance. As the heat of passion spiralled out of control, she cried out in ecstasy as he drove her to a shattering climax.
Still in a satiated daze, Georgie lifted her heavy eyelids. He reminded her of a primitive golden god, surveying a pagan sacrifice spread out before him. An aching vulnerability swept her as she collided with tawny tiger eyes that revealed nothing of his thoughts.
‘Rafael?’ Involuntarily her hand reached up to smooth one hard cheekbone.
‘Enamorada…’ With a curiously harsh laugh, he took her startled, reddened mouth with his own and it began all over again…

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Review: The Trophy Husband by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Alex Rossini
Heroine: Sara Dalton
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 06, 1996
Started On: October 09, 2021
Finished On: October 16, 2021

The Trophy Husband by Lynne Graham, originally published in 1996 is a story that delivered on the angst, heat, and love of the kind that is all consuming. The story begins with 23 year old Sara Dalton, having been anonymously tipped off to the fact, walks in on her fiance Brian and cousin Antonia in bed together.

Devastated beyond words, solace comes in the form of her boss, 34 year old Alex Rossini who miraculously makes an appearance at the right moment to help her pick up the pieces. One thing leads to another and before Sara knows it, she has lost her virginity to Alex in the most passionate encounter of her life.

What Alex wants out of her is more than a one night stand, and he pursues her relentlessly until Sara gives in. While Sara has many misgivings when it comes to a marriage of convenience, the need to escape from the stifling impact of Brian and Antonia’s presence that looms in front of her and is inescapable is one added incentive that pushes her to say yes.

Needless to say, Alex and Sara’s marriage turns out to be as tumultuous as it is passionate. I had such fun watching these two navigate their way to their happily ever after. Alex, who for all intents and purposes accelerated the process by which Sara tumbled into his arms, and battled with jealousy and possessiveness of the kind that drives him crazy was one of the highlights of the story as it developed.

It was quite entertaining to see Sara slowly wake up to the fact that she hit jackpot when it comes to Alex and the way he loves her – though at times Alex makes it really hard for anyone to reconcile with the fact. Sara has her work cut out for her in convincing her husband that the love she feels is all for him and no one else.

There was a lot of angst in this story. I could understand and empathize with both Alex and Sara and their inability at first to communicate freely with each other, especially when it comes to their feelings. Alex who did not have the most loving of childhoods, has a tough time talking about his emotions, and Sara who grew up with her aunt and uncle who gave her a home upon the untimely demise of her own mother, leaving her feeling like that she was always an intruder in their home.

I thoroughly enjoyed how Alex gave as good as he got at times, making Sara see the error of her ways, while at the same time, Sara certainly knows how to keep Alex on his toes, leading him to do things so out of character that one can only determine that it is the love bug that has bitten him so.

Recommended for those who love a story that is driven by a hero who is possessive and would go out of his way to ensure the heroine is only his for the taking!

Final Verdict: For the hilarity, the undeniable passion, and love that is of the soul-binding variety; The Trophy Husband is a story that stands the test of time!

Favorite Quotes

He wound his forefinger into a silky strand of her hair and slowly lowered his dark head, almost as if he expected her to shout, No! at the last possible moment, but Sara was wholly entranced. Bella… beautiful, she was savouring dreamily.
And then she found out what his mouth felt like on hers and she froze when his tongue probed between her parted lips. She had never liked that… but his sensual mouth became more insistent, more demanding and she trembled, pulses suddenly racing, heart accelerating madly, and she discovered that she had no resistance, no urge to pull back from that intoxicating pleasure.

She heard a voice moaning, didn’t recognise it as her own, her fingers tightly gripping the hot, sleek smoothness of his shoulders as her back arched. Pleasure she had never dreamt of was shooting through her in agonising waves and there was hardly a pause between one peak and the next. She twisted beneath him, couldn’t stay still, wanting, needing, her thighs trembling, tightening on the ache building inside her.
He said something caressing in Italian, and the last thought that she would afterwards recall was that Italian was definitely the language of love in that incredibly rich, deep voice of his, and then he skimmed a hand through the damp curls at the base of her taut stomach and the world became a delirious, multicoloured shower of lights behind her lowered eyelids as he discovered the moist heat at the very heart of her.

‘Alex…’ she gasped tautly, her entire quivering body reaching up to his in helpless need, reacting with liquidhoney-enticement to the tantalising, hot, hard probe of his flesh against hers.
The surge of pain caught her on the crest of tortured anticipation. She gasped in shock, eyes flying wide to meet similar shock in his startled gaze. ‘Cristo cara…’ he said in hoarse disbelief, but the momentary frown etched between his ebony brows was swiftly wiped away and the dark eyes glittered more golden than ever.
And then he moved again lithely, powerfully deepening his penetration, and a truly stunning wave of breathtaking sensation swept her back into that wild oblivion where only the demands of her own hungry body held sway.

Alex reached for her clenched fingers where they rested on the seat. Momentarily she attempted to draw back from the contact and then, for a reason she could not begin to comprehend, her fingers stayed where they were, curled within his larger hand. She trembled; she didn’t know what was happening to her. She had a sudden, terrifying urge to throw herself on Alex and sob her heart out. In all her life she had never felt more confused. He drew her relentlessly closer.
‘Alex…no…’ she whispered pleadingly.
But Alex didn’t listen. He twined lean fingers into her fall of hair, tugging her round to face him. Her eyes burned as she met his shimmering gold enquiry and every tiny muscle tensed. Her pulsebeat thumped at the foot of her throat, a terrible excitement rising inside her no matter how hard she fought to suppress it.

Alex lowered his dark head and took her mouth with hungry urgency. Fire in the hold, she thought wildly, madly, feeling the instantaneous charge of her own helpless response. She wanted to grip him, hold him, mesh with every hard, muscular angle of his lean, virile length. The scent of him, the touch of him inflamed her senses with a drowning passion that was utterly self-absorbed. Tiny little sounds escaped her throat. Hot, electrifying pleasure engulfed her with every thrust of his tongue.
Her fingers slid with shameless hunger beneath his silk shirt, skimming luxuriantly over skin as smooth as velvet, feeling the taut contraction of his sleek muscles as he jerked and groaned beneath her exploration. He swept her up and pulled her down on top of him, expert hands gliding up the quivering stretch of her thighs, hitching up her confining skirt and then bringing her down again, sealing her into raw contact with the hard, throbbing length straining against his zip.

He lowered his head and let the tip of his tongue graze a rose-pink bud, skimming a hand up over the tautness of her quivering ribcage, discovering the thunder of her racing heartbeat as her whole body leapt in response to that tiny caress.
‘Alex…’ she gasped.
‘Feeling like this is special, bella mia,’ he muttered raggedly. ‘Dio… you are so beautiful.’

Now…’ Alex groaned when she was on the brink of an intolerable excitement.
Her gaze collided blindly with his and then he pulled her up to receive him and drove into her hard and fast and her head fell back and she cried out with the hot, torturous pleasure of that penetration, her body yielding to the forceful possession of his. He moved again with sinuous eroticism and the pleasure increased to such unbearable limits that she lost herself entirely. With every tormenting stroke he took her higher and her nails raked down his smooth back as her spine arched and the sunburst heat in her loins suddenly expanded, every muscle clenching in response as she went flying over the edge into a release that convulsed her in violent waves.

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Review: The Guarded Heart by Robyn Donald

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Nicholas Challoner
Heroine: Alannah Finderne
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 25, 1983
Started On: August 22, 2021
Finished On: September 01, 2021

The Guarded Heart by Robyn Donald is certainly a fitting title for a book that features a widowed hero who is determined that he would exact his revenge by forcing the woman responsible for the untimely death of his wife and unborn child into a marriage with him.

Only in her wildest dreams or nightmares rather, would 19 year old Alannah Finderne have ever thought that she would end up tying the knot with Nicholas Challoner, the man whose mere gaze chills her to her very core. But forced into a marriage with him because of the circumstances, Alannah nevertheless has a stark choice before her; make herself miserable by denying what Nicholas invokes in her, or surrender.

Both Alannah and Nicholas are intensely proud characters, stubborn to a fault, and as a result drives each other crazy – mostly not in a good way. But I found the story as it developed to be an interesting one nevertheless, realistic too if you ask me. How would I react if I were forced to marry a man, the demise of the love of whose life I was responsible for? Not to mention the age gap, the fact that the man loathes my very existence and marries me just so that he could have children with me, and making suffer would be an added bonus while at it? I guess I too would come out with my guns blazing, if I were not a heroine of the doormat variety.

The Guarded Heart is the first novel that I can recall, where the hero actually slaps the heroine – usually it is the other way around because the hero is being an ass; and I guess if we apply the same principles here, the heroine was also being rather cruel at that point. Makes me question as to why I accept it at face value when the heroine slaps the hero but I have a tough time reconciling with the fact when the heroine is on the receiving end. Goes to show that we all carry our prejudices that spills over every now and then.

Nicholas proves to be an interesting character, whose emotions we have to gauge through the observations that the heroine makes along the way. I would have liked it a bit better if I saw a bit more of those tightly guarded emotions from Nicholas that would have made the story more heartwarming when all was said and done.

Given that this story was first published when I was just over a year old, reading this almost 38 years later did not detract from the enjoyment factor – I am after all a masochist in my reading preferences; the more pain a story makes me go through, the better I like it.

Recommended for fans of old Harlequin romances and fans of Robyn Donald.

Final Verdict: The Guarded Heart often makes you want to just shake the main protagonists, but underneath all that stubbornness lies hearts that are brimming with love, the unfolding of which I enjoyed!

Favorite Quotes

Shivers racked her. Blindly, sensually, she ran her hands from his waist to his shoulders, felt with bitter delight the sudden tensing of his muscles and explored further, the tips of her fingers delicately stroking the muscles on his arms, the smooth heated skin across his back.
He groaned her name, his mouth hot against the turgid peak of her breast, and she sighed raggedly and began to move beneath him, undulating in a way that instinct told her would further inflame him.

His hands slid to her hips; when they paused she opened tortured eyes and saw reflected in his face the agony and need that had her in its grip. And with the first hard thrust of his body the world exploded, sensation piled on sensation so that beneath her eyelids there was a sunburst of colour and she was falling, falling into its vortex, sobbing, gasping, her body racked by an ecstasy so far beyond her hidden fantasies that she thought she might die.

Very slowly she reached out a finger and touched the jewel, then pushed it to one side as she got up from the bed. When Andrew was tucked in beneath the mosquito netting she came back, and picked the beautiful thing up. Nicholas watched her through heavy-lidded eyes, his mouth compressed and grim.
‘Put it on me,’ she said huskily, and turned her back to him, brushing her curls forward to leave the vulnerable nape of her neck bare.
His fingers barely touched her skin, but she shivered as she faced him.
‘How does it look?’ she asked.
Anger glittered in his glance and there was a pallor around his mouth that warned her she was pushing him very close to the edge. He didn’t so much as glance at the necklace; from beneath a frown his gaze was fixed on her as though he would like to hurt her.
She knew a moment’s fear before he said slowly, thickly, ‘Like you. Beautiful, making no concessions, setting its own standards.’

‘Tell me you love me,’ he demanded, moving so that he loomed over her, his lips only a fraction away from hers.
‘I love you—I love you with everything I am. Nick—please—’
‘And that you want me.’ He was merciless, his expression so ferociously controlled that for a moment she was afraid.
‘You know—’
‘Tell me!’
‘Oh, God, I want you.’ Tears glazed her eyes. She was hypnotised by her own sensuality. Twisting, writhing beneath him, she slid her hands to his hips, pulling him down to her. ‘I love you so much I could die for you,’ she groaned.

Purchase Links: Amazon | AbeBooks

Review: A Daring Proposition by Miranda Lee

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Guy Haywood
Heroine: Samantha Peters
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 1992
Started On: July 26, 2021
Finished On: July 27, 2021

A Daring Proposition by Miranda Lee delves into the story of 25 year old Samantha Peters, who has been in love with her 36 year old boss Guy Haywood for the past five years. The unrequited love becomes too much for Samantha to handle, and the story begins when she informs Guy of her intention to quit which needless to say, is not well received at all.

Guy finds it hard to believe the reasons Samantha gives for wanting to quit and walk away, especially when he sees no problems with the working relationship that they have going. Unable to stop Samantha from leaving, things however change, when Guy’s father is hospitalized, and Samantha finds the solution to her problem; become the mother to the baby that Guy wants, without having to go through the conventional route of marriage to do so.

Samantha believes herself to be sophisticated enough to handle such a “relationship” with Guy, but reality of course, proves her wrong at every turn. Guy meanwhile, has to confront with the fact that Samantha is not what he has pegged her to be, and that she might just end up being the only woman to stake a claim on his heart before all is said and done.

I really wanted to enjoy this story because I am a glutton for punishment and adore stories focusing on the unrequited love theme. However, Samantha was such a problematic heroine for almost 3/4th of the book that I got quite fed up at certain points. Her inner monologue sounds unhinged through most places and her constant need to blame Guy for going along with what she wanted; i.e. become lovers and impregnate her was not something I liked overly much. Samantha is a grown up woman, who should own up to her decisions that she makes – which I failed to see in her.

Samantha is the one who decided to offer herself up to Guy because obviously her love for him makes it difficult for her to walk away as easily as she might have wanted to. Furthermore, Samantha seems to believe that Guy could love her just like that and talks about common sense which would direct him to love her; when has love ever been about common sense?

At most points, Guy seems to be the most sensible of the two and needless to say, the fact that Samantha annoyed me made the story lose its rating. Things only started looking up when Samantha finally got what she proposed to do, and stopped blaming Guy for the decision she took with her eyes wide open.

I also believe that the story would have been more satisfying had the reader been privy to the Guy’s feelings as they developed; I was not feeling the heat from the hero towards a large chunk of the story and the lack of any attraction that Guy was feeling towards Samantha really stumped me. It indeed would have been fun to see him brought to his knees with love and want for his Samantha. I also missed seeing the kind of sexy times that Ms. Lee’s books are famous for materialize in this story, which detracted from the enjoyment factor.

Recommended for fans of Miranda Lee.

Final Verdict: Samantha’s unrequited love for her boss results in the most daring proposition of all; make her the mother of his child, with no strings attached!

Favorite Quotes

Suddenly she couldn’t bear the uncertainty, the darkness. She had to know what he was doing, what was happening. Hands trembling uncontrollably, they lifted to the knot.
‘Don’t!’ he commanded instantly, his hands closing over hers, taking them down. ‘Don’t,’ he repeated in a raw whisper, and placed her hands on his bare chest.
They jerked away as though stung by an electric shock. ‘You’re naked!’ she accused, voice shaking.
‘No,’ he soothed, sliding his arms around her waist and drawing her to him. ‘I’ve still got my trousers on. See?’
‘I…I can’t see,’ she reminded him in a daze of erotic excitement.
‘Feel, then.’

‘Move with me, Sam,’ he urged.
She did, grasping him tight and close, searching to devour him with an all-consuming ardour.
‘Hell,’ he muttered once.
She felt the changes in her body, felt the gradual increasing of tension, the relentless tightening of her internal muscles, but had no idea where they were leading. Eventually her fingers began to dig deeply into Guy’s back and a tortured moan punched from her throat. Perhaps sensing her imminent release, Guy scooped his hands under her buttocks and lifted her into him, his penetration more devastatingly complete.
She climaxed immediately, her back arching from the bed as her body was gripped by contraction after contraction of sheer electric pleasure.

She felt mesmerised, like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car, standing there staring at him, unable to move or say anything. He came up to her and curled surprisingly gentle hands over her shoulders, easing her startled body over and back against the wall next to the door.
His first kisses were soft and patient, teasing her lips open, waiting for the groan that finally fluttered from her throat. Then his hands lifted to her face and he was holding her captive for the velvet heat of his tongue as it plundered her mouth, over and over. She was gasping by the time his lips slid across to an ear then down her throbbing throat, his impassioned words sending tremors of desire richocheting throughout her body.

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

Re-Read Review: The Unfaithful Wife by Lynne Graham

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequi
Hero: Nik Andreakis
Heroine: Leah Andreakis
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 1995
Started On: June 02, 2021
Finished On: June 07, 2021

When it comes to The Unfaithful Wife by Lynne Graham, the title itself indicates that this would be a stormy, angst-ridden read in every sense. That is exactly what Ms. Graham delivers, and I enjoyed every single heady sensation that this number brought to the forefront at every turn.

The story begins with Nik Andreakis and Leah’s marriage having reached its five year mark. Leah is the classic definition of the abandoned wife, the lonely years she has spent without any emotional support from her spouse or otherwise leaving its mark on her. Leah agreed to the marriage because of her father, who had basically emotionally blackmailed her into tying the knot with a man she had wanted from the start.

Leah knows that Nik despises her for reasons unknown. But when Leah is just about ready to move on with someone else and gather the courage to ask for separation from Nik, the inevitable happens – Nik comes for her, and states his intention to claim her as his.

I have no memory of having read this title before, but looking up my Goodreads reading history indicates that I have indeed read this in 2010. While my rating was considerably lower back then, reading this once again after 11 years proved to be more eye opening. I was better able to understand the undercurrents in the story and appreciate how Leah stood up for herself even though she had been brought up to be submissive all through her life.

While Nik’s cruelty did not win him points for him at the beginning (but then again where is the fun in the hero who is saccharine sweet), I could understand where he was coming from as well. For someone like Nik who had wanted the freedom to choose his bride, being forced and blackmailed into a marriage had been a pill bitter to swallow. When Leah learns of Nik’s side of the story, she finally understands how Nik could have misunderstood the machinations behind their union and despised her for what had taken place.

However, even though Leah and Nik may want to ignore each other, the passion that flares to life between them (which had in reality drawn them together when they had initially met, which kick-started the chain of events leading to their marriage), is hard to ignore, especially when Nik is determined to claim Leah as his, once and for all.

Insane jealousy, a whole host of arguments which clears up the misunderstandings, crazy heat and intense sex brings Leah and Nik together in a way that makes for combustible reading. Unlike most stories from Ms. Graham, I loved this more so because of Leah – how she basically lays it out for Nik to make him see the despicable manner in which he had destroyed her for the past five years. I felt like bringing out my nonexistent pompoms and doing a cheer dance for Leah, just because.

This novel has the hero groveling, with Leah having the courage to walk away from Nik and making it on her own. She would have been just fine even if Nik had not come after her, but then again, where is the fun in that? Nik had to eat humble pie, understand the worth of the woman that he loves more than life itself, and do a bit of groveling just to experience the bliss of their happily ever after.

Definitely recommended – don’t let the first couple of chapters fool you, this novel surprises you in a way that is heartwarming when all is said and done.

Final Verdict: The Unfaithful Wife is chock-full of goodness – heartbreak, heat, and intense emotions from all ends. If you love angst-ridden romances, this is a must read!

Favorite Quotes

‘Nik…’
His mouth came down on hers with mesmerising expertise and prised her soft lips apart. She stopped breathing. He gathered her closer, sealing her to every abrasively male angle of his taut body. Her back arched without her volition, increasing that contact. His tongue drove into the moist, tender interior she had yielded and explored. A river of fire flowed through her and she quivered, leaning against him, winding her arms sinuously round his neck. Darkness beckoned behind her lowered eyelids, the heat in the pit of her stomach twisting like a hot wire through her trembling length.

Before she could move, Nik caught her up in his powerful arms and dumped her down on the divan behind her. He came down on top of her so fast that she hadn’t a hope of evading him. Waves of shock coursed through her.
‘You’re my wife,’ Nik growled down at her, as if that were sufficient justification.
‘Let go of me…you’re flattening me!’ Leah slung back at him in fury.
‘Maybe you’ll get to like it.’ Nik shifted sinuously above her and meshed one hand into her tumbled hair. He stared down at her for a long, timeless moment. ‘Theos, I am so hungry for you, I ache,’ he muttered raggedly.

He rolled over, carrying her with him, and dispensed with her T-shirt by whipping it over her head. He uttered a savage groan as her unbound breasts rubbed against his hair-roughened chest and a split-second later she was lying flat again, his hands shaping the pouting mounds he had discovered.
She shut her eyes, gasping for breath, all reasoning power wrested from her. He found a distended pink nipple with his mouth and she dug her hips into the mattress, her back arching, a wildness she had never known tearing at her.

‘You are mine,’ Nik grated in a voice so tortured that she didn’t initially realise that he had spoken in English.
She wasn’t listening anyway. He was apart from her. She didn’t like it. She lifted her head and touched his sensual mouth with her lips and then, more daringly, with the tip of her tongue, unconsciously imitating what she had learnt from him. He shuddered and accepted the invitation with a raw passion that consumed her, his arms banding so tightly around her that she could barely breathe.

Wonderfully warm and relaxed, Leah gave a sinuous little wriggle and the hard heat of the body next to hers tautened. Her lashes lifted. She looked up into smouldering black eyes, fringed by ebony lashes. The impact of those eyes was mesmerising. Her blood leapt in her veins and her heat raced. She felt dizzy, breathless and utterly dispossessed of all rational thought.
A fingertip stroked along the lush ripeness of her lower lip. ‘Open your mouth for me. I want to taste you,’ Nik urged huskily.
Held fast by his searing gaze, she instinctively obeyed and with a stifled groan of satisfaction he crushed her slender form to him, his hands sweeping over her hips and her back as his hard, demanding mouth took hers with savage intensity.

Leah felt her body stretch to accommodate his raw invasion, the sensation still new enough to shock, and then he moved inside her, creating an insatiable need that burned through her entire body. Unconsciously her fingers dug into his smooth, muscular back, her breath sobbing in her throat with every urgent thrust. Ecstatic sensation took over as he possessed her so thoroughly that she was driven out of her mind with sheer, splintering pleasure. And when release came it consumed her utterly for long, timeless moments and then dropped her down gently into sweet, drowning languor.
‘Heaven is said to come to he who waits,’ Nik murmured silkily, curving her confidently into the damp, hot heat of him. ‘But I was always a speculator…and patience is not one of my virtues.’

And she did forget, the same instant that he brought his mouth swooping down into explosive connection with hers. The smooth control she was accustomed to was absent. Nik unleashed a passion that devastated her. It was no slow, gentle seduction of the senses but an erotic assault in which clothes were thrust aside rather than removed. Excitement took over, blanking out everything but her body’s insanely instinctive need for him.
She gasped and threw her head back as he drove into her, rejoiced in his answering groan of satisfaction and from that point on there was nothing but wild sensation, rising to ecstatic heights she had never touched before and finally throwing her over the edge into a shattering release.

‘Yes,’ she moaned, arching her back in sudden delicious torment as he skimmed his knuckles down over her taut stomach and then spread his hand, holding her where she most needed to be touched but denying what every skin cell longed for.
‘I don’t know where to begin,’ he muttered thickly against her swollen mouth, and she could feel him, hard and hotly aroused against her thigh. ‘I want…I want everything you have to give.’

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Review: Mistress for a Weekend by Susan Napier

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Blake MacLeod
Heroine: Eleanor Lang
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 29, 2006
Started On: May 19, 2021
Finished On: May 24, 2021

Mistress for a Weekend by Susan Napier is one of those few books that I have left over from the author’s backlist of books which I have not read previously. Ms. Napier is a dying breed when it comes to romance authors. Even with books that did not turn out to be high in terms of rating, I have enjoyed the journey the main protagonists take towards their happily ever after, and I feel sad knowing that Ms. Napier stopped writing a couple of years ago for whichever reasons.

25 year old Eleanor Lang (Nora) is on the hunt for the most dangerous man in the room that she can find. Betrayed by the man that she has been with for the past five years, having been labeled as a bore, someone who lacks initiative in the bed and out of it, Nora is determined to forget all of that and move on as she sets eyes on 33 year old Blake MacLeod.

Blake is a business tycoon, who normally prefers sophisticated women that might challenge him in bed, but never out of it. That is how he prefers it, and it shocks him when his body reacts in a most primitive fashion when it comes to the woman who makes eye contact with him in a way that speaks volumes.

Needless to say, the one night stand is more than either Nora or Blake bargained for, a night that ends in a misunderstanding which makes Blake weary of all that is Nora and what she presents. Keeping Nora at his side until she gives up the information that he cannot possibly risk being leaked out, tests his self-control to its very limits, given how much he desires to possess Nora at all levels.

Blake was a delicious hero who unleashes his sexual magnetism in a way that leaves, not just Nora, wanting. I loved Blake and all that he was in the story. One might think that he would be a typical brooding alpha, but he is charming and also ruthless on a level that just adds to his appeal. Finding out his roots and where he comes from just adds to his appeal.

With Ms. Napier’s books, you never know what you will get. That is one of the main reasons why I remain a steadfast fan of her books even now. What may start out as a conventional romance is never just that. Ms. Napier always manages to advocate for equal rights, shedding light on the sexism of the workplace and more, without sounding preachy about it. That is where a lot of authors fail today – as if the author is up on a podium preaching to the lesser intellects on what is right and wrong.

Recommended for those who love a good category romance. Ms. Napier’s books is a wonderful place to indulge in!

Final Verdict: Susan Napier always manages to surprise readers with delicious twists and turns in her stories and Mistress for a Weekend is no exception to that rule!

Favorite Quotes

Instead of impatiently snapping at her to pull herself together, as Ryan had done whenever she had revealed her weakness, he firmed his grip, his voice quiet, slow and forceful. ‘Yes, you can. Focus on me. Concentrate. Breathe deeply and think of something else, something you want more than anything—’
‘Like what?’ she choked despairingly, her slender body beginning to ripple with chills, the blood draining from her extremities to warm her icy core.
His eyes fell to her mouth and blazed with a fierce determination. ‘Like this…’
He bent his head, blotting out the world, his mouth crushing down on her cold lips, sealing in her ragged breath, invading her with his masculine heat and iron will sheathed in a wet velvet tongue.

She squirmed to get closer, her chills turned to a raging fever, burning away her inhibitions, her awareness of time and place. She groaned as she felt him subtly pull back from the kiss, but it was only to allow her to free her arms. Her evening bag plopped unnoticed on top of her umbrella as her hands slid eagerly up under the back of his jacket, fingers clawing at the soft cotton of his shirt, her short-trimmed nails biting into his hot skin through the thin fabric.
His muscles tensed and he growled a warning deep in his throat, the sound of a hungry male predator staking claim over his captive prey.

His expression was a dark mask of lustful intent, the skin drawn tight across his bones emphasising the intimidating harshness of his face. His eyes burned in their deep sockets, the coal-black shadow on his pugnacious jaw making him look uncompromisingly tough, his slashing widow’s peak adding a faintly satanic air to his smouldering regard. He looked primed and ready to take her, body and soul.
Nora took an uncertain step back. His nostrils flared as if he scented her sudden doubt, and then he was reaching for her, gathering her up and driving her back until her legs bumped against the side of the desk. In the same forceful motion his mouth was swooping down on hers, drinking in her shocked gasp as she threw up her hands and they came into contact with the hot skin of his chest, her fingers automatically curling into the soft thicket of dark hair, hanging on for dear life as he deepened his plundering kiss.

‘Wait—’ she panted, jerking violently as she felt the brush of his fingers against the thin fabric which hid the creamy heart of her desire, almost fainting at the gush of pleasure released by the brief contact.
‘I can’t—’ His prickly jaw rasped across her skin, creating a stinging trail of sweet pain as he ate his way down to her throbbing nipple. He suckled hotly, pushing up his knee until she was astride his leg. ‘I need this too much…and so do you,’ he growled roughly. She felt his arm tighten around her waist, dragging her weight down against his contracting muscles, setting up a friction that turned the delicious pressure between her legs into an electrifying thrill. ‘Come on, baby—ride me,’ he invited hoarsely, rocking her against his powerful thigh until she adopted his urgent rhythm.

She smiled weakly. Even if she had gained his sympathy, his trust was obviously not so easily obtained.
‘Not that I can think of. I just thought—well—you might feel that I’d insulted your manhood…uh, the frail male ego and all that—’
He stood, towering over her. ‘My ego is very healthy, thank you…particularly after last night. There’s nothing more flattering for a man than to watch a woman come helplessly apart in his arms,’ he mused in that dark and dangerous drawl. ‘So violently aroused that she melts all over his fingers like sweet hot honey, and moans his name like a sexy mantra as she shudders to her first climax….’
Nora’s lips parted, but not a breath of sound trickled out of her shocked mouth, a wave of heat chasing away her pallor.

‘Blake…’
‘Yes, Nora?’ He leaned over her again, his mouth hot on the straining cords of her neck, the sharp prickle of his dark-blooming beard an exciting contrast to his warm wet tongue, his playful humour evaporating as his blind touch worked up under the band of elastic at the top of her thigh to slide against her creamy velvet centre. ‘Oh, yes, you want me quite badly, don’t you, Sparrow?’
She gave an incoherent choked cry that mingled with his hoarse sound of pleasure as he felt the slickness of her desire coat his fingers and explored the hot swollen folds of her womanhood where they curled protectively over the hidden kernel that had ripened into secret prominence.

He gave a clotted moan of pleasure as her fingers fluttered curiously down to find the lightly lubricated tip, trapped against his thigh by the cut of his jeans, measuring his full length as more than the span of her hand. His grip on her wrist tightened involuntarily, his hips thrusting to increase the friction of her palm, and he groaned.
‘That’s right, Sparrow…Now take me out,’ he begged roughly, and it was Blake, the expert, who was fumbling as he guided her to free his swollen flesh from the prison of denim and sheath him in the snug new covering.

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