Review: Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-Bookguiltypleasures
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Guilty, #1
Publisher: Harper Collins
Hero: Anthony Courtland
Heroine: Daphne Wade
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 27, 2004
Started On: June 26, 2019
Finished On: July 06, 2019

Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Gurhke is testament enough as to why I adore her books. In the debut book to her Guilty series, Ms. Gurhke certainly does not disappoint readers with her take on a plain Jane heroine with a hero who is a self-assured duke, oblivious to the upheavals that is forthcoming, all to reach that sweet and soul satisfying destination called the happily ever after.

24 year old Daphne Wade has been in the employment of Anthony Courtland, Duke of Tremore for five months and counting. The 29 year old Duke had been Daphne’s saviour even had he not realized it at that point in time when he had taken her under his employment. Left bereft in the wake of the death of her father, Daphne had nowhere to go but turn up on the Duke’s doorstep, hoping against hope that Anthony would not mind hiring her services as an artifact restorer instead of her father.

Daphne’s secret vice since then, has become observing Anthony in every setting she could find him, engrossed in the work that is more than just a hobby for the Duke. Little does Anthony know that the timid and unassuming woman under his employment as he sees her, has fallen for him, and fallen hard.

Things change abruptly on the night that Daphne overhears how Anthony views her as a woman, something that hurts her significantly enough to make her give a month’s notice to quit and leave. Anthony has absolutely no idea as to why Daphne does something that is so out of character for her. However, Anthony is determined that he would persuade Daphne to stay with him and see it through to the end of the one year project, just as much as Daphne is determined to leave when the time is up.

So begins a clash of wills and a time during which Anthony begins to discover a woman who makes his head spin with desire and his heart do the unwanted. Anthony is a man deeply scarred from his childhood, not in the usual fashion, but something that readers would have to discover for themselves to understand where he is coming from.

There is such heady desire in the sense of discovery that unfolds between Daphne and Anthony, and to see Daphne emerge from her shell through Anthony’s eyes was one of the best aspects of the story. When a hero realizes that he had been underestimating the heroine all the while, and finds that he is head over heels in lust at the very sight of her; there is nothing more enjoyable to a romance reader than that. I absolutely reveled in the feels of the story, of that whole journey of especially Anthony coming to terms with how he feels about Daphne.

There is a sweet ache in the agony of wanting someone and pushing them away at the same time. Because humans by design are programmed for self preservation, and we at times tend to do that at any cost, sometimes at the cost of losing our chance at happiness with someone who is deserving of us. Anthony’s tale is as such, he could have easily taken the easy way out, but then the heart wants what it wants, even if Anthony takes a while to accept that truth.

The ending to this story was such a beautiful one. I believe that was what did it for me in this novel. The beguiling courtship of Daphne by Anthony towards the end, and how everything just came together was devastating to the heart, all in a good way.

Definitely recommended for all romantics out there, especially the ones who root for the heroines who are usually overlooked; beauty even though it lies in the eye of the beholder, sometimes takes a while to get there.

Final Verdict: Laura Lee Guhrke is an author who knows how to deliver a romance that packs a punch; a hero who makes you swoon, a heroine that makes your heart ache, and a love that is all encompassing.

Favorite Quotes

“It is so hot in summer that the air shimmers over the horizon in waves, so hot it’s hard to breathe. The heat makes your skin feel stretched so tight over your bones that it hurts.” She closed her eyes and rubbed her wet cheeks with the tips of her fingers as if in remembrance of the hot desert sun. “And all you feel is your own sweat turning the dust on your face to caked mud. Your mouth is dry, and you keep licking your lips over and over, but it doesn’t help. They are so chapped and dry.”
Anthony lowered his gaze to her mouth, watching as she ran the tips of her fingers back and forth over her moist, parted lips. Though they may have been chapped in the desert, there was nothing but softness to them now. Lust hit him with such unexpected force that he could not move.

The skin of her cheek felt warm and satiny beneath his fingers. How? he wondered. How did a woman who had lived in deserts all her life have skin as soft and fine as this? He touched his fingers to her lips as she had done. How could her lips be so velvety as this?
She was looking at him, her eyes wide with shock, but in their depths, there was also something else, something that reflected what he was feeling. Yes, desire was in her eyes and in the rapid wisp of her breath against his fingers. It was in the way she stood so still, tense and poised like a deer about to flee. If he slid his hand down, he would feel her heart pounding as hard as his own.

His hand touched her cheek, he brought his mouth closer to hers, and she felt a queer, weightless sensation in her stomach as if she had just dived off a cliff. His lips pressed to hers.
Pleasure unfolded inside her like a butterfly opening its wings to fly. Never in her imagination had she experienced anything so piercing and sweet as this.

He tore his lips from hers and trailed kisses along her jaw as his hand shaped and caressed her breast. Her soft curves burned him wherever her body was pressed against his. Her hips moved, arching against his weight, and shudders of pleasure fissured through his body.
All he wanted was to pull her down onto this hard, dusty floor and feel her hips move like that beneath him, feel those long legs wrap around his body. He wanted her to say his name, over and over while he made love to her.

“I tried to stay away,” he said, pressing quick kisses to her lips, her cheek, her forehead, her chin. “Because if I came back to say good-bye, I would not be able to stop myself from doing this. Daphne, you have been like a shadow beside me for six long weeks, and everywhere I went, I could see you. I am not made of stone. I am just a man, and God help me, I cannot stop wanting you. Do not torture me anymore.” His tongue ran across the crease of her lips. “Kiss me back.”
Her lips parted beneath his, and she closed her eyes, groaning into his mouth. So long. He had been away so long, and she had forgotten how it felt to have his mouth on hers.

“Say my name,” he breathed against her skin. “Say it, Daphne. Say it.”
He touched her with his thumb, and that tiny movement unlocked something inside her, released all the repressions and restraints she had imposed on herself ever since she had first met him. With the force of a river breaking through a dam, pure, indescribable pleasure rushed through her, and she could no longer stop herself from giving him what he wanted. “Anthony,” she cried, “oh, please, oh, yes, yes.”

“Daphne,” he said, sliding his hands behind her shoulders, pulling her to a sitting position. She slid to the edge of the table, and the feel of her, moist and inviting against the tip of his penis drove away any thought but the need to possess her. With one hard thrust, he entered her.
She cried out, and he knew he had hurt her. He stilled, but she wrapped her arms around his neck and tightened her legs around his hips, pulling him deeper into her, and he lost any semblance of sanity.

Final Verdict: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | eBooks

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Review: And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke

Format: E-bookandthenhekissedher
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Girl Bachelors, #1
Publisher: HarperCollins
Hero: Harrison Robert Marlowe
Heroine: Emmaline Dove
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 13, 2009
Started On: December 10, 2018
Finished On: December 12, 2018

Laura Lee Gurhke is a name that you come across many times over if you read historical romances. In my bid to read a good historical romance (because there are times when you just want more of the magic that comes from only the said genre), I decided to take the plunge and read the first book in the Girl Bachelors series entitled And Then He Kissed Her by the author.

The heroine Emmaline Dove (Emma), who turns thirty years old, has been working for Harrison Robert Marlowe (Viscount Marlowe) for five years when the story begins. Harry is a publisher, and Emma is determined to get her book on the correct conduct for girl-bachelors like herself published through her employer. If only he would give her book the time of day and consider it worthy of publication.

When Harry turns her down for the umpteenth time, and Emma discovers that Harry has never in fact read one of her manuscripts on the many occasions that he had turned them down, it is the last straw. She quits, believing that if she wanted to make things happen, it is she who should get to it. So she goes forth in the world to become a success in her own right, proving to Harry many times over that determination would get one to places.

There is nothing more tedious to Harry than sifting through a book on correct decorum and behavior. So Harry finds himself without Emma’s quiet efficiency to run pretty much everything in his life. Harry finds himself in a bit of a pickle when he realizes that for some reason, Emma’s writings are making waves in society as he never thought possible. After many a hurdle, forges a new relationship between the two, where Emma and Harry meets as equals, where he considers her opinions and thoughts, where she gets to be heard. Through it all, Harry discovers to his utter fascination that he wants Emma unlike he has wanted any woman in a long time.

Harry, who has sworn of marriage after the disaster of his first, is all sorts of improper for a woman like Emma, whose entire childhood and adult life has always been about doing what is proper. Her rigid upbringing plays its role, and Emma is afraid to look beyond and make reality of the woman she actually wants herself to be. Passionate, daring, and adventurous. In Marlowe, she finds that she can be all that and more with him, but years of indoctrination is hard to shake off. But shake it off she does, in the most spectacular fashion, leaving both Emma and Marlowe breathless with every encounter between them.

The best part of this story was the slow awakening of Emma, to realize who she truly is, and accept the parts of herself that contradicts all the proper behavior and decorum that had been drummed into her since childhood. Harry was a tad insensitive at times, but once you get the frustration on his part to get through to Emma, it becomes understandable as well. Harry is the catalyst that pushes Emma to see beyond who she believes she should be. He teaches her the pleasures of life, and Emma blossoms so beautifully beneath his tender ministrations, in bed and out of it.

While Harry took his own sweet time in coming to certain realizations, he did step up and do the “proper” thing by Emma when all was said and done. I loved Emma, because she is the sort of character whom you cannot resist. There is just something about heroines called Emma. They make for rather proper and at times the most fun heroines when everything unravels. Brings to mind Sandra Marton’s The Bedroom Business. Such a wickedly fun book such as this one.

Recommended for those that love a good historical romance. There is romance, there is angst – the best of both in my opinion.

Final Verdict: Delightfully sweet with scrumptious love scenes that brought my vivid imagination to life.

Favorite Quotes

Before she could descend on her own, he put his hands on her waist, thinking to be chivalrous and lift her down. But the moment he touched her, he forget that intent and his thoughts became much less noble. His forearms brushed the sides of her hips, and another wave of desire shimmered through his body. He’d been right. She was wearing a petticoat or two, maybe, and a corset, definitely, but no padding. He slid his hands down an inch or two, grasping her hips, and his thumbs brushed the base of her spine. There might not be much to Miss Dove, but what she had was genuine.
His hands tightened, and he leaned closer, breathing deeply of talcum powder and fresh cotton, pristine, maidenly scents he’d never dreamt could be erotic until now. If he moved one inch closer, he’d be kissing—
“My lord?”
Good God, what was he doing?

Before she could guess his intent and stop him with some ridiculous rule of etiquette, he grasped her wrist, lifted her hand, and opened his mouth. His lips closed around her fingers and the remaining half of the truffle.
She gasped, but though she tried to pull her hand away, he wouldn’t let her. She glanced at the door, then back at him as he slowly pulled the candy from her fingers with his mouth.
He saw her lips quiver and heard her breathing quicken. He perceived the change in her body, a purely feminine reaction of passion tempered by modesty. By innocence. Harry’s body began to burn.

He slid his hand to her cheek, and she gave a gasp of shock. “What are you doing?” she whispered.
He bent his head and paused with his lips an inch from hers. “Committing a serious breach of etiquette,” he murmured.
And then he kissed her.
The moment his mouth touched her own, Emma forgot where they were, forgot what was proper, forgot everything she had ever been taught about right and wrong. There, in the half-light and shadows of a dusty bookshop, she forgot that kissing was only for married people and that she was a spinster of thirty. With this man’s warm palm cupping her face and his lips pressed to hers, joy unfurled inside her, beautiful, painful joy. It was like nothing she had ever felt before. It was like nothing she could ever have imagined.
It was like springtime.

She brought her hands between them to touch his chest. His silk waistcoat felt smooth against her palms. Beneath it, his muscles were hard and warm. Emma slid her palms across his chest beneath his jacket to his shoulders, savoring the strength of a man’s body for the very first time, knowing somehow that for this moment, all that strength was hers to command. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed closer, wanting that strength to enfold her.
Her move seemed to ignite something inside him. He made a rough sound against her mouth, and his free arm wrapped around her waist. He lifted her onto her toes, pulled her fully against him. His free hand curled around the back of her neck. He deepened the kiss, and his tongue entered her mouth. Emma made a wordless sound of shock, but then she touched her tongue to his, and waves of pleasure shimmered through her. For the first time, she understood what carnality truly was.

He lifted his head and captured her mouth with his, smothering the echo of his name against her lips. His hand tightened at her breast, he groaned into her mouth, and he deepened the kiss. He touched her nipple again, sliding his fingers back and forth across it within the tight confines of her underclothes, and her body shuddered in response. She felt as if she had no ability to govern her own body, for his touch was causing her to move in the strangest way, arching into his hands in little twitches that she could not stop. She could hear herself making soft, queer noises against his mouth, smothered, primitive sounds, and she felt as if she were drowning in a sensuous haze. What he was doing was like nothing she’d ever felt before, and she wanted it to go on and on and on forever.

“Stop talking about my undergarments,” she whispered, the rosy blush in her face spreading down over her face and neck. “It isn’t…” She wet her lips. “It isn’t decorous.”
“Decorous?” He laughed softly. “Emma, when he’s taking off a woman’s clothes, a man doesn’t feel decorous. Neither does she if he’s doing it right. Besides, we’re just talking, making conversation.” He nuzzled her ear. “Having social intercourse, you might say.”
She made a choked sound.

She fingered the sash. “Don’t I get to undress you, too?” she whispered.
Do you want to?”
She nodded, staring at his chest. “Yes. Yes, I do.”
He spread his arms wide. “Go on, then. Tonight’s all about what you want.” He grinned. “I’ll teach you all the things I want some other time.”

Emma untied the sash, then grasped the facings of his dressing gown. She slid the heavy silk back from his shoulders and it fell behind him to the floor. She stepped back a little and stared at his chest, but after a few moments he couldn’t stand it. “Touch me, Emma,” he said hoarsely. “Touch me.”

Harry inhaled a sharp breath and tilted his head back as she began to explore him. She ran her hands over his chest and across his shoulders, down his arms and back up again, over his ribs and down his abdomen. Her fingertips caressed his ribs and she leaned in, pressing a kiss to his collarbone. She laughed softly, blowing warm breath against his skin. “You’re beautiful.”
Something hot and tight twisted in his chest, something that had nothing to do with the lust in his body. Something in the naive wonder of her voice that hit him deep down and lifted him way up and made him feel as if he were king of the earth.

“Emma, Emma, let it happen,” he coaxed, his lips brushing her curls. “Just feel it and let it happen.”
He kissed her and licked her, and after a moment or two, she gave a little sigh as something in her seemed to relax. She began to move her hips, and he took his cue from her, pleasuring her at the pace her body demanded, faster and faster, until she was trembling all over and arching into him, until she was moving with frantic little jerks and soft, primitive cries were coming from her throat. Until she made that sweet, long wail of feminine ecstasy and her body collapsed.

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

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ARC Review: Chasing Chris Campbell by Genevieve Gannon

Format: E-bookchasingchriscampbell
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher Australia
Hero: Harry Jay Potter
Heroine: Violet Mason
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 1, 2015
Started On: November 15, 2015
Finished On: November 18, 2015

Chasing Chris Campbell by Genevieve Gannon is a novel that completely surprised me and delivered such entertainment that it will be hard to forget the magic that Genevieve Gannon wove with this number. Genevieve is a completely new to me author whom I stumbled across only because of Netgalley. Chasing Chris Campbell is an apt title for this novel because the heroine Violet Mason chases the man of her dreams (or so she thinks), all over Asia and then some, until she realizes her worth and comes to accept the fact that the only one responsible for charting the course of her happiness is herself.

Violet is in a relationship with a man whose idea of a future together is to be frugal and save until there is no spontaneity in their shared lives. When Chris once again walks back into her life, Chris being the one that got away, Violet is determined that she would follow him, even if it means leaving everything that is dear and familiar to her behind. From the busy streets of Hong Kong to Goa of India and then to Nepal, Violet goes on an epic journey of a lifetime where she discovers the beauty of shared experiences as well as the life lessons that come associated with leaving behind one’s comfort zone.

Violet being a germophobe and a vegetarian makes things doubly difficult for her in certain aspects but it does bring out the sort of ambition in her that otherwise might not have materialized. I had such a good time reading and enjoying the antics of Violet’s life and her attempts to make Chris notice her. And just like anyone who is smitten with the person who is wrong for them in all the ways, Violet too doesn’t realize the worth of the man she meets along the way. But it all does work out well in the end.

The best part of the novel for me was the journey itself. Violet learning the ropes of letting go, of letting things work out for themselves and of her wising up enough to know what she wants and needs. This book had a little bit of everything going for it. A bad breakup, unrequited love, the one you meet in the midst of it with whom the timing was off but turns out to be the best thing that could have happened to you, which all made for wholesome reading.

I absolutely loved the author’s voice. It was refreshing, insightful and a bit quirky with big doses of humor of the kind that makes you laugh and snort your way through the story. Chasing Chris Campbell even suffices as a travelogue because it brought so many aspects of traveling alive. The descriptions through Violet’s eyes, tinged with the humor of the sort that is hard to pull off was just the icing on the cake for me. Not overly descriptive but somehow just the right touch to give the reader that sense of what it was like. Having being to India, I could just vividly recall back everything about it that makes it so alluring. The good and the bad. And sharing Violet’s journey with her as the reader who was cheering for her on the sidelines, I very much wanted to pack my bags and leave to India for a sojourn too.

One of the bits about the journey to India that just had me hooting with laughter because I have been there myself was this.

Despite my claim that I wasn’t afraid of flying, Air India seemed qualified to instil that fear in anyone. The engine whirred and the seats started to shake as we began our shunting journey down the runway. As we sped up, the engine noise grew louder and louder. I wasn’t sure if we were going to lift-off or explode. I felt like cheering when we left the ground and things seemed to smooth-out.

It is books like this that makes me want to travel, to explore and to store up the experiences in my heart so that I can revisit them later. But it is books like this that allows people like us who can only afford to dream about traveling to visit places. That alone in my opinion makes the book worth a read!

Recommended.

Final Verdict: Refreshing & insightful with just the right touch of humor. Loved!

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

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Review: Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale

Format: E-bookflowersfromthestorm
Read with: Scribd for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harper Collins
Hero: Christian Richard Nicholas Francis Langland
Heroine: Archimedea Timms
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 27, 2003
Started On: September 10, 2015
Finished On: September 14, 2015

Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale is a book I attempted to read in my quest to go through the books in one of the AAR Top 100 Romances lists I found way back, the year of the list which I have forgotten. While I went in expecting a novel that would of course sweep me off my feet, I didn’t bargain on a read that would send my emotions in all directions, making me wonder whether I should have at times thrown the book at the wall or hugged it close to my heart. Because I think that pretty much sums up my emotions when I was lost in the story that Flowers from the Storm delivered.

For those newbies like myself to the novel, Flowers from the Storm stars the rakish hero Christian Richard Nicholas Francis Langland, His Grace the Duke of Jervaulx, Earl of Langland and Viscount Glade. By rakish, I mean that Christian is the type of man who has no qualms about sleeping with a married woman, impregnating her, nor much care for what the society thinks of him. His one and only passion apart from being as notorious as they come with the ladies, lies in the field of Mathematics, an interest that he keeps close to his heart.

Archimedea Timms (Maddy) is a of the Quaker faith, something which I came to know of only when I encountered Maddy’s character and her “odd” ways in the novel. Conservative to the bone in the way she was brought up, Maddy’s faith dictates all the ways of her life. Companion to her father John Timms who himself is a Mathematics enthusiast, it is through this shared connection between Maddy’s father and Christian that Maddy crosses paths with Christian. However their “acquaintanceship” is a short lived one because an event of significant impact that occurs in Christian’s life sends him away, leaving everyone to think he had died, until Maddy encounters him months later, at the asylum that is run by her cousin Dr. Edward.

When Maddy’s paths crosses that with Christian’s, Maddy finds herself unable to walk away from the man that is chained to his current existence in more ways than one. Maddy answers to her God’s calling so to speak, when determinedly pursuing Christian’s path to recovery, hindered altogether too much by Christian’s wayward emotions together with that of the leave that Maddy’s senses take, every time she is in close quarters with Christian.

One thing leads to another & before she knows it, Maddy finds herself married to Christian, going against every major tenet of her belief system, against everything she has known and holds dear to her heart. Her existence with Christian is one fraught with desires of the kind that Maddy has been sheltered from all her life. The extravagance of Christian’s life, not to mention the treacherous game she has to play with Christian’s family that would rather see his determined spirit locked up is one that eats away at Maddy’s soul, day in and day out. Until it all comes to its explosive conclusion which left a thousand different feelings coursing right through me.

There were times that I wanted to shake Maddy, times that she made me grit my teeth and trudge on. All because her belief system, the very core of her existence which had been her life up till Christian entered into it was one that prevented her from going all in when it comes to him. I wanted Maddy to throw away everything she had known, abandon ship and jump right on board with Christian. But then again, I knew deep in my heart that that wouldn’t have delivered half the emotion and realism that Maddy’s character lent to the story. Once all was said and done, I was grateful for Laura Kinsale for penning Maddy, for giving readers a character that threw my emotions all over the place. Because that is in essence what great storytelling does to a reader.

Christian was of course, easy to fall in love with. Easy to relate to. And oh how my heart wept for what happened to him. But his sheer determination to do right by his wife is one that had me stand up and cheer him on. In a journey that was fraught with danger of the kind that actually had my skin crawling. Not because bad guys were out and about with their pistols blazing. But because the danger was too close to home in the case of Christian. And I for one hyperventilated at the thought of him going back into a life of captivity, the fire inside of him extinguished day by day until even the embers of his soul are too tired to put up a fight. There were so many times that I wanted to Google and find out what had happened to him, what had rendered him to become so. A thousand times I waited for a miracle to happen, for him to just get all better. But then Laura Kinsale proved me wrong and delivered something better. And that is the sense of realism that I am talking about when it comes to Flowers from the Storm.

Flowers from the Storm is for readers who want to go beyond your usual variety of romances where the rake reforms overnight and the heroine just goes along with it like it was meant to be. There is so much more happening in the story, all of it intricately woven to give readers something that they would carry with them for the rest of their lives. Kudos Laura Kinsale. For you certainly deserve it after delivering a read this explosive to the mind, heart and soul.

Utmostly recommended!

Final Verdict: Flowers from the Storm is a novel that changes you. Dare you to find out for yourself!

Favorite Quotes

His mouth hovered near hers. Even if she had tried to step back, she couldn’t have, without kittens toppling in all directions. She felt herself entrapped by it, frozen into place by him.
He brushed his mouth against hers, so lightly and briefly that it was a mere breath, a warmth, a touch and then gone before her lips parted to object. He was smiling at them, at her, holding kittens at her ears, caressing the protesting animals along her cheeks. She sucked in a quick breath as pins burrowed into her forehead and the kitten on top tried to scamper down her nose.

The whistle slipped from his fingers. She felt it bounce against her breasts as his mouth came to hers. He touched her as the silver had touched her, just a light graze, but warm.
He took modesty and virtue and salvation away from her so easily. She gave it up so easily.
She stood washed in the sensation of his featherlight contact against her lips, his breath mingling with hers. It seemed as if God’s light within her must be shining bright, filling her with wonder. This man, his eyes closed, dark lashes so frivolously long as they rested against his skin: even his eyelashes were unholy in their opulence.

She felt her own will leap up to meet his. Her mouth opened; he answered instantly with a deep and ardent union. His hands drew downward, closing as he leaned into her, bracing his forearms on the door.
He enveloped her. The feel of his kiss was strange and painful and electric. Her hands opened helplessly, trying to find something to touch that wasn’t him, but everything was him: all the solid reality within reach.
He opened his palms and smoothed her hair—sweetly, over and over like a parent would touch a child—at the same time that he kissed her, pressing hard against her, a forceful intercourse of their mouths and bodies.

The duke looked up at Maddy. He swept his hand over the formula her father had completed, where the value for the earth’s distance from the sun was multiplied by numbers half a million times greater than itself to reach the realms of their new geometry.
“Stars,” he said, his face alight with passion. “In… finity.”
And he smiled at her as if he owned it: distance and space and stars and infinity… as if he owned her, too.

A scarlet petal floated downward, avoided the brim of her bonnet and caught on her shoulder.
The scrap of crimson lay there, close to the pale curve of her throat, between the stark collar and the tight upward sweep of her hair. Christian reached out and caught the petal between his fingers. She held stiff, breathing like a frightened doe. He let the moment spin out, his hand suspended near her cheek, not quite touching—not quite, not quite—a whisper away, a restraint as intimate as a kiss.
Color flooded her cheeks. Expectation. Her eyes, those eyes that turned hazel to gold under wanton lashes; her eyes held terror and wonder.
He stepped back and set her free.

Her braid lay over her shoulder and their hands. He toyed with the tip of it. He held it in one fist and ran his thumb against it. The single strand of hair, the tiny thread that she’d looped tight to hold it—the strand broke, and the plait came free.
He made a sound, low and hot. And then he released her—before she could find herself in his embrace, before she could say what it felt like—only that he was solid and tall and heated and catastrophic, only that she felt bare and hollow when he let her go.

She lifted her chin and kissed him back.
He had been her teacher: she knew how to taste his mouth, search the corners while he grew still, his lips parting a little. His body seemed to respond with a slow tautness, a tightening over her; his hands pressed into her skin. Yet he lay motionless, suspended, his mouth acquiescent to hers, as if his whole concentration was on what it felt like. His lips opened more with each contact, allowing her to seek further—inviting it.
She touched him with her tongue. He was foreign and familiar, so close and yet so strange to her. A nobleman, with fairies and Welshmen and kings in his history, lord of this hall and castle, but most alien and potent of all: a man.

He locked his hands with hers and spread them out on the cold stone. His signet ring drove into her finger, caught between his hand and hers, painful pressure down to the bone, but she wanted it. She wanted it there, as she wanted him. Everything inside her arched upward to meet his kiss. It seemed that she had been bound up, held tight by threads that he had broken with a touch.
She heard herself, like a whimpering child, moaning with the terrible pleasure of it. She moved; she could not help it, taking the rhythm that he gave her with his tongue, arching to find more.

“Maddy,” he said, between hard breaths, “make you…glad. I swear.”
She smoothed her hand down his shoulder and his back. She could feel his heart beating. He shuddered again and pushed himself closer to her.
“I’ll make you glad,” he repeated.
She bit her lip, resting her head against his.
He turned his face deeper into her. “Black Guard won’t get you,” he said, muffled.
Stop. Oh, stop, say stop, but it’s too late.
Too late. Because God forgive me, I love thee more than my own life.

He lifted his head from the carpet to suckle her. She moved with awkward exquisite jerks, writhing, until he cupped his hands at her buttocks and taught her the rhythm, her hair sliding between his palms and her skin. With a lovely suddenness, she came— with little female cries, like an unquiet dreamer: he brought his arms up around her and held her close for an instant—then with one deep thrust, holding her hips down to take it, he let go of the lust he’d kept dammed inside him.
When it was finished he held her hard against his chest and never closed his eyes— to make it real, and banish nightmares in the firelight.

She sat looking down at her lap desk. She fiddled with the corner of the paper, rolling it up, and then unrolling it. “Christian,” she said, watching her fingers. “Wouldst thou please come tonight?”
For a moment he didn’t do anything. Then he steepled his hands and lifted his head from the back of the chair, resting his chin on the tips of his fingers, gazing at her.
“Why wait?” He smiled. “I’m here…now.”

She gave him a push. The book slid down; he held it out behind him and let it fall with a flutter and thump as he leaned forward to kiss her mouth. He caught her body in his hands, his thumbs passing provocatively over her breasts, caressing the tips, back and forth. The feel of it drew a liquid arching, a breath and a pressing flex of all her muscles toward him.
“Want me?” he whispered, licentious, the Devil at her ear in full daylight: a man’s firm elegant hands on her body, blue eyes and long dusky beautiful eyelashes.

He pulled her petticoat and dress higher, cupping her hips and her buttocks with his bare hands. He made a rough, ardent sound near her ear. He bit her, hurt her, kneading her body in his palms, but it was sweet pain and sinful ecstasy. She felt him release his own buttons; his hard male part pushed and pressed, and she began to pant in desperate guilty excitement.
Like stone melting, her body slackened, her legs allowed him between. The sound of his breath was caustic, an animal engine, brushing heat across her nakedness. He pressed her hips, a rash hard grip of his fingers, making her close her legs on his shaft.

“Want me?” His voice was grinding, insistent, taut with extremity. “Maddy… inside you.”
She bit her lip, her face turned aside to the wall. “I want thee,” she said, on a sob. “I want thee.”
And he showed her how, then. How to bend and submit for him, in bondage to him, in daylight, sinking together on their knees to the floor, with him deep inside her, over her and around her, his hands holding her breasts, his mouth against the nape of her neck—lost in him and in his coupling with her. She cried out with violent joy at the height, her voice mingling with his masculine groan: the two of them no more, and no less, than every wild creature that God had made of clay to walk the earth.

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

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Review: Jackson Rule by Dinah McCall

Format: E-bookjacksonrule
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harper Collins
Hero: Andrew Jackson Rule
Heroine: Rebecca Ruth Hill
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 13, 2009
Started On: April 1, 2013
Finished On: April 6, 2013

I’ve been meaning to read Jackson Rule by Dinah McCall for quite a while now; perhaps its being more than a year or so since it landed in my ever growing pile of books that I want to read and never find the time for. Finally, the urge to read a book that would captivate me, and also the fact that something kept nagging me to pick this up for my next read had me finally brushing away the e-dust and turning one page after the other until I was fully immersed in a book that contains a mix of some of my favorite tropes all in one.

Jackson Rule walks out of prison 15 years since he was convicted and sentenced for a crime deemed unforgivable by society at large. Now 31 years old and looking for a way to find a place for himself in the society, it is by a quirky sequence of events that Jackson finds himself at the doorstep of the shop owned by none other than Rebecca Ruth Hill in his attempt to find a job.

Rebecca hires Jackson against her better judgement and amidst the misgivings of her closest friend as well as her preacher father. But Rebecca who is willing to give Jackson the chance that no one is willing to offer somehow reaches into the tightly ensconced heart of Jackson, a heart that Jackson didn’t even know was up for grabs.

As the days go by, Rebecca finds in Jackson more and more reasons for her to abandon all caution aside and finally surrender to the wild desire that courses through her and is mirrored in Jackson’s eyes. But the past would have to be laid to rest if Jackson ever were to find happiness of the kind that he is more than deserving.

I loved Jackson Rule though there were bits that felt too drawn out at certain intervals. But overall I would say the story that unfolds is one that captivates and touches the heart at its very core. Jackson’s character reaches out to you, not because he is wickedly handsome, rides a Harley and has a body that would make a woman self-combust from all the heat that he generates just by walking into a room. Though that bit certainly helps things along, its got more to do with the fact that Jackson is a man who believes himself unworthy of a woman like Rebecca because of a childhood that had been more nightmarish than anything else.

If I were to talk about the reasons why Jackson is a character that invaded my heart right from the start, I’d most probably end up giving away spoilers which would ruin the story for someone who would love to read the book. All in all let me just say that both Rebecca and Jackson makes for two beautiful characters, who finds each other against all odds and finds in the other a love worth fighting every single obstacle that stands in their way from attaining ultimate happiness.

Recommended.

Favorite Quotes

As she took a step closer, her breasts brushed against his chest in a taunt he could not ignore.
“Be careful, lady.” His voice was harsh as his hands raked through her wet, tangled hair, bringing her face closer to his own.
“Of what?” She slid her arms around his waist, moving her body into perfect alignment with his.
Instinctively he braced himself and pulled her close, rocking gently against her in an age-old rhythm.
“Of this.” He cupped her hips with his hands and lifted her off of her feet. “Of that.” His groin had swelled in one huge ache and was pressing into her flesh. “Of me.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Nightfire by Lisa Marie Rice

Format: E-booknightfire
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Erotic Romantic Suspense
Series: Protectors, Book 3
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Hero: Michael Patrick Keillor
Heroine: Chloe Mason
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: February 7, 2012
Started On: February 11, 2012
Finished On: February 15, 2012

It seems like I have been waiting forever for the release of the 3rd book in the Protector series. If you like myself have read the 2nd book Hotter than Wildfire, you would know why. Hotter than Wildfire ended on a cliffhanger, leaving the reader in a serious state of anticipation for this book to come out. And though Nightfire didn’t live up to all my expectations, it still managed to deliver the sort of sensually charged read that only Lisa Marie Rice can deliver.

35 year old Michael Patrick Keillor (Mike) is one of the 3 partners of the RBK Security Inc., one of the most successful security companies in the country. While his two brothers and best friends Harry and Sam had found their happily ever afters with wonderful women, Mike remains single, wandering as the restless soul that hides a wealth of pain deep inside of him. His home while stark, antiseptic and empty are a contrast to Mike’s emotions remain chaotic though he manages to hide it well.

28 year old Chloe Mason makes her way towards the building that houses RBK Security not for the usual reasons women seek them out. She comes to find out whether Harry could be her long-lost brother, hopeful and a bit apprehensive at the same time. Chloe is beyond ecstatic when Harry welcomes her with open arms, his fragile younger sister who had suffered and gone through so much in her life already. 

The attraction between Mike and Chloe is an immediate and an all encompassing one that flares to life right from the very minute the two of them lay eyes on each other. Chloe though fragile and delicate with zero experience when it comes to the opposite sex knows instinctively that Mike would never hurt her. However, after one very explosive kiss that burns hotter and brighter than any usual kiss, Mike’s less than stellar activities the previous night proves to be the reason why Mike takes a step back, though he doesn’t completely step away from Chloe’s life.

Story continues six months later, at the point where Mike is ready to bring and end to a promise that has kept him from completely claiming Chloe as he would have liked to do from day one of their “relationship”. And when Chloe’s life is suddenly under threat from ex-Russian military personnel, nothing and absolutely no force on this Earth is going to prevent Mike from claiming Chloe as his, and protecting her from any sort of harm that may come to her.

Nightfire combines all the elements that makes a Lisa Marie Rice book so memorable. Mike is alpha hero personified and Chloe is the delicate, beautiful and serene heroine who just makes you think of flowers and sunshine right from the very minute that you meet her. And the fireworks that bursts forth right from the very start is trademark Lisa Marie Rice, the heat and the off the charts sensuality always a reason to keep coming back for more of her stories.

There is none who can make a reader sweat right along with the hero and heroine as they dance around the heat that is between them, succumbing to the deep pull that is a constant throughout the story. Every single sliver of desire between Mike and Chloe was one I felt to my very bones, the reason why I loved this story so much. There were certain aspects of the story I didn’t like overly much, like the constant re-telling of emotions that seems to grip both Chloe and Mike until towards the latter part of the story. Yes, Mike has a story to tell, an immensely sad one at that too, but I wanted more action on the suspense side as well as the relationship that was fostering between Mike and Chloe to be the center of the story.

Even with all those little things that didn’t work for me, I still enjoyed the story of how Chloe and Mike find that special something with each other, the epilogue at the end that put a smile on my face the reason why I would rate this as a great read, recommended for any fan of Lisa Marie Rice.

Favorite Quotes

Her hand lifted without any volition on her part, as if it were the hand itself that wanted to be held by his. He gently grasped it in both hands, instead of the impersonal handshake she’d been expecting. His hands were as hot as a furnace. Slowly, watching her every second, he brought her hand to his mouth and—oh my God—kissed it.
Something inside her, something she’d never even suspected existed, pinged to life. Heat, excitement . . . desire. 

She whimpered, the sound lost in Mike’s mouth. She was entirely his, completely without willpower or volition. His mouth ate at hers, his shoulders curved in to her like some powerful wall of flesh. He moved his hips against her in short, stabbing movements, hands lifting her hips against his.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BoB

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Review: Billy Bob Walker Got Married by Lisa G. Brown

Format: Paperback
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: HarperPrism
Hero: William Robert Walker
Heroine: Shiloh Pennington
Sensuality: 2.9
Date of Publication: April 28, 1993
Started On: January 4, 2011
Finished On: January 14, 2011

My first Lisa G. Brown was picked up because of the various recommendations of the title on the Amazon romance discussion forum. This title kept cropping up on various threads on the forum which led me to obtain a copy of this title, which I had a real hard time getting shipped to Maldives since its out-of-print now. It might be because I had such high expectations because of the rave reviews this story has received that I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I thought that I would. However that doesn’t mean that this is a bad read by any means but rather it didn’t live up to all my high expectations which I believe tends to happen to us readers now and again.

27 year old William Robert Walker aka Billy Bob Walker comes from the wrong side of the town of Sweetwater. The illegitimate son of the honorable Judge Robert Sewell who has ignored his very existence by forgetting his affair with the innocent country girl Ellen Walker, Billy’s mother, Billy has a chip a mile wild on his shoulders that lands him in spots of trouble now and then. With a reputation for being wild, no one really sees the ambitious heart that beats within Billy and his aspirations to become someone who would one day show his good for nothing father that the son he had ignored for all his life in favor of his legitimate son Michael could make something out of himself. 6 ft 3 inches tall, long-limbed and lanky with broad square shoulders, Billy sets many a heart aflutter with his easy charm and masculinity. Billy’s passion lies in becoming a veterinarian but life and its ultimate choices had inevitably ended him a little further away from attaining his dream.

22 year old Shiloh Pennington is the cossetted and protected daughter of Sam Pennington, the banker of the town of Sweetwater. A man who had risen from a low wage job at a tiny mill to become what he is today, Sam wants nothing but the best for his only daughter whom he had raised single-handedly ever since Shiloh’s mother Caroline had walked out on them when Shiloh had just been 5 years old. A woman known for her beauty and loose morales when it comes to men, Sam had always kept a tight leash on Shiloh wanting to protect her from every evil in the world and tries his damnedest to shape Shiloh to follow his dreams and ambitions for her rather than her own. Shiloh is a woman trapped in a world created for her by her father and she tries her hardest to please Sam in every way possible until she breaks off her engagement to Michael Sewell, an act that infuriates Sam to no end.

The overly protected Shiloh who had always stayed away from men had her world turned upside down the summer she had turned 18, when she had run into Billy Bob Walker when he had been sent by his grandfather to landscape Pennington’s yard. Their affair had started out innocently enough and had been brought to a cruel halt by Sam who had presumed to know that Billy Bob Walker wasn’t what his Shiloh deserved or needed in life. Now 4 years later, these two cross paths again when Billy who is in jail serving time for riling up his father in court finds himself in the company of Shiloh who is brought in for totaling her car by speeding, trying in reality to get away from the stifling presence of the Sewells who her father tries to force her to accept. And when Shiloh sees her way out of getting married to Michael and getting back at Sam for trying to force her affections on a man who frightens her to no end by proposing marriage to Billy in exchange for his freedom from jail, a shaky relationship of sorts develops between two people who are wary of trusting the other as past hurts and Shiloh’s father tries his best to drive these two apart.

I liked:

1- The premise of this story. I found myself intrigued with the concept of the heroine offering money to the hero to marry her just for convenience’s sake. And with such vast differences in their upbringings there was bound to be a lot of problems which Ms. Brown tackled with throughout the story.

2- The vivid descriptions of the small town life that brought this book to life and gave it an added lustre. It is always heartening to see a story bring to life what goes on in small towns such as the one in this story.

3- As I read through this story, I was at first really frustrated with Shiloh’s character as she kept swaying back and forth between her feelings for Billy, which always pisses me off when it comes to heroines. But in the end, Shiloh proves that she loves Billy for who he is and does some growing up of her own and stands up for herself in front of her controlling father which earned her my approval in the end.

I disliked:

1- The way Shiloh couldn’t make up her mind till around more than half way through the book. It kept my head spinning in circles whilst Shiloh tried to divide her loyalties between the father who had raised her with love although Sam controls her life and she lets it happen; and her husband whom she has a hard time accepting at first.

2- Billy’s doggone pride that kept interfering with what was taking place between Shiloh and himself. As feelings continued to intensify between the two, Billy has a hard time accepting the fact that Shiloh’s upbringing had provided her with the best of things in life which Billy is unable to provide her with. Sam’s interference certainly didn’t help matters but I wished at times I could slap Billy on the face to make him sit up and see what he was doing to their relationship with his beloved pride to keep him company by his side.

Favorite Quotes

He was paying no attention to the salesman either, except for thinking once or twice that if the man ran his hand much farther up Shiloh’s leg while he was taking off her sandals, Billy was going to break his fingers.
“Here,” he said brusquely, his voice thick with emotion, “you go get  the shoes. I’ll do this.”
He dropped to his haunches in front of Shiloh, shouldering the ambitious salesman out of the way. The man gaped indignantly, his eyes behind his wire-rimmed glasses angry.

“But this is my job!”
Billy never answered, just sliding the last sandal off Shiloh’s foot, looking up at her as she sat perched on the stool above him. The salesman opened his mouth to speak again, then eyed the long, square width of Billy’s shoulders and their determined set before he shut his mouth and headed off to get the shoes, without another word.
Billy pulled her feet up between his spread thighs, his hard palms wrapping the tops of her feet, his fingers reaching underneath to caress her soles.
“I like the clothes,” he whispered huskily, belatedly.
The light in his blue eyes nearly burned her alive, so she looked away from the hard angles of his upturned face to the sturdy brown throat to the width of his shoulders, the muscles between the blue shirt.
Passion – that was what she felt flowing from him.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Abe Books

[xrr rating=3.75/5]

Caliber Seal: GOOD READ!