Review: A Figure of Love by Minerva Spencer

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Academy of Love, #2
Publisher: Crooked Sixpence Press
Hero: Gareth Lockheart
Heroine: Serena Lombard
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: March 03, 2020
Started On: February 20, 2021
Finished On: March 13, 2021

The Academy of Love series by Minerva Spencer tells the stories of seven Regency Era teachers who while in pursuit of ork, find themselves immersed in lessons in love of the kind to last a lifetime. A Figure of Love is the second installment in the series, bringing to readers the tale of widower Serena Lombard and 35 year old Gareth Lockheart, a self-made aristocrat in England.

Gareth is a man of few words and controlled emotions. Having grown up at an orphanage and having been at the receiving end of the worst that humanity has to offer, Gareth has the emotional scars to prove it. One of the richest men in England, Gareth knows that taking his businesses to the next level requires that something elusive which would need him to make his entrance into the genteel world of society’s accepted breed of aristocrats.

Designing his country house to standards befitting that of the world he plans to inhabits is how Serena comes into his life. A French emigrant who is the widow of the youngest son of a Duke and Duchess, Serena is someone who defies the conventions and has been working towards making a name for herself as a respected sculptor and landscape gardener.

Neither of them are what they expect each other to be, and for Serena, Gareth is the man who unlocks her passions and makes her want a significant other after years of living through excruciating loneliness. In her heart, Serena is the woman who thaws the heart of the enigmatic man that is Gareth, but in reality, she knows that the secrets that she hides would never let it be so.

I loved this story on so many levels, Gareth being the first and foremost reason. He is the kind of hero that speaks to you in every single way that matters without him having to utter a single word. Ms. Spencer has done a remarkable job in bringing him to life, his sheer presence enough to make you feel as if he is your whole world. His fascination with numbers, his faithful nature even if it may seem unwarranted at that point, all that and more tells you the kind of man he is deep inside.

His passions lie dormant, not because he does not feel them, but because he reserves them for those whom he feels it to be worthy of. In Serena, he finds the woman who shakes him up in a way no other woman has, and he knows that it is futile to deny his burgeoning feelings of desire and need for her, which is when Ms. Spencer with her remarkable flair ushers in the kind of love scenes that leaves the reader in a state of stunned anticipation for more.

Serena was a swell heroine, just the right touch of everything that is needed for Gareth. With a young son in tow, it is the secrets that she carries which puts her and those she cares about in danger. And it is her need to protect Gareth from that ugly reality which lands her in an untenable situation which drives the story to its climax and beyond.

In my opinion, Gareth was the star of this story – there is something about a strong and silent hero that just speaks to me on a level that is indescribable. I loved Serena too, she loves Gareth and all that he is just as fiercely as he does her, and is protective of him in a way that no one has ever been all through his life. I also loved the character of her son – his character meshes well with that of Gareth, which made for enjoyable reading.

Recommended for fans of Ms. Spencer, fans of the series, and fans of Regency Era romances! Romance, suspense, and toe-curling sex – this one has got it all!

Final Verdict: Featuring exquisitely crafted scenes of scrumptious passion that is trademark Ms. Spencer, A Figure in Love is a notable addition to this beautifully crafted series!

Favorite Quotes

He walked her slowly toward the wall, rubbing the stiff length of his erection against her as he pushed, until her shoulders hit the wall, but he kept coming.
Stroke.
Stroke.
Stroke.
His stiff length drew an answering pulse from her sex and she imagined his strong, insistent body entering hers, plunging into her with all the strength she knew he possessed. She could feel the struggle of will and desire that raged inside him. The slightest sign from her and he would take her right here, against the wall.

Serena had never been so cold in her life, but when his eyes swept over her, she burst into flames. And when he lowered his mouth to hers, she forgot all about the cold and slid her arms around his taut waist, this time resting both palms on his bottom. He made a muffled sound of approval and pushed closer, the soft leather of his breeches cool and smooth against her belly.
He kissed as if he wanted to devour her, his lips demanding, his tongue invading, his teeth grazing and nipping as long, powerful fingers massaged their way down her neck, until they rested on her shoulders.

Serena cried out when he flicked a cold, hard nipple with the hot tip of his tongue, and then was gone. She pushed herself against him. More.
He took her in his mouth and suckled her until warmth radiated out from her breast.
“So beautiful,” he whispered into the hollow between her breasts, and then moved to her other nipple and tormented her until she had to bite her lip to keep from screaming.

“Unbutton me.”
A rush of pleasure shot through her at the sound of his command, spoken in such hushed passion. She pushed a hand between their bodies, tracing the hard length of him thrusting against the soft leather.
He groaned and tightened his hold, his fingers sinking into her soft flesh. She stroked him again and again and again, until his powerful body vibrated with need, and then, with a few deft flicks, she opened the flap of his breeches and released him.

They gasped as he sheathed himself fully, the echoes of her climax contracting around his thick shaft. His body jerked and arched, the muscles of his stomach, chest, and shoulders so defined they looked as if they’d been carved from the finest alabaster.
Serena leaned forward until her breasts grazed his chest, her hands fisting the blanket on each side of his shoulders as she tilted to take him even deeper. Barely an inch separated their faces and this close to him she saw the fine, icy gray shards that made up his irises. She tightened her inner muscles and his eyes widened, his hands like butterflies on her waist.

“Are you angry with me?”
The question stopped him like a stone wall. Before he could think of an answer, she touched him, her hand on his chest as light as a soft breeze.
Gareth’s control snapped and he crushed her mouth with a ferocity that left the metallic taste of blood flooding his mouth. His blood, her blood, both, he didn’t know or care. Her fingers plunged into his hair and she yanked him down, meeting his violently ravaging tongue with her own.

“I want to bury myself deep inside you.” He ground his length against her, making her gasp while he whispered in her ear, “But I think you know that, don’t you?” He stepped away, until their bodies were no longer touching and raised his hands, palm out, barely grazing the erect tips of her breasts, caressing them with light, circular motions.
She jerked and bucked against him, her back arching, the impressive muscles of her arms like the taut strings of a bow as she clutched the wooden door frame above her head and strained toward him.

“You can release the door frame now.”
Triumph and amusement echoed in his words but she didn’t care. She’d do whatever he asked of her to feel that way again.
“Touch me.”
She fell on his mouth like a starving person, consuming him as he’d just done her, tasting herself on his tongue. He lifted her higher while they kissed, until she felt his hot, insistent crown nudging against her sex.
He leaned away from her, just far enough that she could see between their bodies. His stomach, lean, ridged, and sweaty, hers flushed, soft, and trembling.
He lifted her higher, until she could see his erection. “Guide me inside you.”

He turned his head and gently bit the side of her breast.
She laughed. “Are you going to eat me?”
His hot mouth roamed her body above the thin gauze of her gown, nipping and sucking her until the fabric was damp.
“When we return to Rushton I am going to tie your arms and legs to the four posts of my bed—tightly, so you cannot move or squirm away. And when you are bound and spread for me, I will take my pleasure. And I will lick and suck and bite every part of you.”
The words and the raw, confident desire with which he spoke them sent a crippling w
ave of lust straight to her core.

He scooped her up in his arms and strode into the adjacent room. She watched him slit-eyed through a haze of pure contentment, laughing when he tossed her onto the bed and positioned himself at the edge. His face was hard and his eyes burning into her as he ripped open the fall on his breeches and freed himself. Serena was already inching toward him when he slid his hands beneath her thighs, jerked her toward him and lifted her hips off the bed, entering her with a savage thrust.

He lifted her skirt and petticoats to her hips, his cock pulsing at the unbearably erotic sight of her serviceable stockings and the plain garters that held them just above her knees, nothing but smooth, naked thigh above them until . . . His mouth flooded with moisture at the sight of her curls.
She lifted her eyebrows high. “Novice?” Her thumb swirled his hard, slick head and she grazed him lightly with her nails.
Gareth jolted under the intoxicating combination of pleasure and pain. “Dammit, Serena!”
“Language, Gareth.”
He pushed away her hand and positioned himself at the hot, wet entrance to her body, bringing her down hard. They both gasped and then froze, reveling in their joining.

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Review: His Valet by S.M. LaViolette

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Decadence, #2
Publisher: Crooked Sixpence Press
Hero: Stephen Chatham
Heroine: Joseph Edward Leather
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: May 19, 2020
Started On: January 23, 2021
Finished On: January 28, 2021

His Valet is the second installment in the Victorian Decadence series by S.M. LaViolette. The story brings together 27 year old Joseph Edward Leather (Jo), who has been employed as a valet to 42 year old Stephen Chatham for quite sometime, and falls in love with her employer along the way, a man who wouldn’t look twice at her for all intents and purposes.

Jo is someone who has been working since the tender age of seven years. Her father had taught her to be nothing but exemplary in her servitude. Devotion is all that has been ingrained into her, not to mention the fact that she has spent her entire life pretending to be a man, the only way of life she has ever known. Even if it meant foregoing own sense of self-dignity, that is what Jo’s father drilled into her and her brother, and that is the code of ethics by which she lives.

Jo does not ever dream of a conventional happily ever after nor marriage for her. The only thing that she yearns for with every fiber of her being is to be with Stephen and when the opportunity presents itself, indulge she does for the five nights she pretends to be someone else.

When the truth comes out, Jo knows that the price she would have to pay would be immense, and even then, she is ill-prepared for the white hot anger that rules every decision Stephen makes thereon. Stephen, who has been burnt once and is twice shy, loathes deception of any kind. In Jo, Stephen sees only what he wants to see, and therein lies the battle which he must wage and win over himself, if Stephen and Jo were to have any chance in having a future together.

I loved the story line and the main protagonists better than I did those in the debut book of the series. Stephen is a compelling character and with Jo, he finds the answer to his every desire, the whys of which he doesn’t want to look into too closely lest it takes him in a direction that is far too uncomfortable for him to ponder on.

Jo’s character is the one that shines bright in the story, and I believe it is as Ms. LaViolette intended it to be. Her character makes one question their conceptions about the gender which they identify with, and it is something that I have never really thought much about. But Jo’s predicament is all too well understood, given how she was brought up and the fact that she has never had the freedom to understand enough to choose who she wanted to be.

It is with the enigmatic Mr. Smith that Jo truly finds the freedom to explore her mind and conscience, and to understand herself enough to be comfortable in her own skin and most of all, to love her own self. And it is those terms upon which Stephen must try to reconcile his own feelings with, if ever these two were to have their own version of a happily ever after.

The second lead game was strong in this novel; which is often felt when you are watching Korean dramas that strongly rely on love triangles to bring the angst factor forward. For me, the fact that I fell hard for Mr. Smith and my heart wept for him spells trouble with a capital T. It means that I am in a shit load of trouble even before Ms. LaViolette has released Smith’s own story, which I do not think I would ever be ready for. The fact that most fans of this series would want to get their hands on his novel is a foregone conclusion, and a Goodreads discussion on the author’s page proved me right.

Ms. LaViolette mentions that she is actually 3/4 through with his story and had to stop, because she too is learning that Smith is a difficult character who views sex and love to be completely separate and views love to be rarer than the practice of fidelity to someone. He is neither an easy person to love nor a nice person and his past even shocked Ms. LaViolette as she wrote the book.

So here I am hoping that one day soon, Ms. LaViolette gets the courage to start where she left it off and give us the story of the character that all our hearts collectively yearn for. I know it wouldn’t be an easy read by any means, but it would totally be worth it.

When all was said and done, Jo and Stephen did leave me with one burning question at the end – how would they fare as they go through the different phases of life together in their relationship; would either of them want more than the other can give? Would it always be enough, for her to be his valet and he her master in a way? I don’t think there are any easy answers to any of these questions.

Recommended for fans of Ms. LaViolette and fans of dark erotic romances in a historical setting.

Final Verdict: Thought provoking is not a phrase you would usually apply to an erotic romance, but in His Valet, Ms. LaViolette has outdone herself in giving readers characters that leaves the strongest impression on you!

Favorite Quotes

His lips curved into a smile she never thought she’d see directed toward her. “Lift your skirts higher for me.”
Her hands responded to his order just as they always did, and his gaze dropped to her thighs. He’d somehow managed to take off her other slipper without her being aware of it.
“I want to leave your stockings on,” he told her as she lifted her hem, exposing her shaved sex.
Heat flared in his eyes, dark, smoky and explosive—just like the savage, uncontrollable peat fires Jo had once seen when she’d been a girl. “God, yes. You are exactly the way I like,” he murmured. “So smooth, soft, sleek.”

“Should I ease in slowly, or do you want me to get it over with?” “Get it—” The marble phallus had not prepared her for the sensation of his thick, hot, and remarkably long organ sliding into her body. “My God you’re tight,” he whispered against her ear when he paused. “Is it terribly painful? Should I give you more? Or wait?” More?! She’d thought he was already all the way in. He was bloody huge and Jo was afraid she might scream if she opened her mouth so she clenched her jaws tight and whispered, “More.”

“Not yet,” he hissed between clenched teeth, his hips pounding without mercy. “Not yet, not yet, not—fuck!” He threw back his head and roared, driving into Gillian so hard that her head bumped Jo’s belly.
“Now,” he ordered, hilted in the other woman. “Come now.”
Jo’s back spasmed and arched, until it felt like it would snap, and she hurtled over the edge into oblivion.

“Hello, Stephen.”
Stephen slammed the armoire door and strode toward her without speaking, pulled off her hat, tossing it aside, and crushed her mouth with his, as if he’d not seen her in a year, instead of only a night.
She gave as hard as she got and they were both breathless when he finally pulled away.
“Hello, Josephine.”

“Do you like it, Josephine?” he asked in a voice that was rough with restraint.
Jo pressed herself against him, the action pushing him deeper, causing a dull pain to radiate from where they were joined. She felt the change in his body, the subtle loosening of control, like a rope that had been cut and was beginning to fray faster and faster.
“Fuck,” he said, groaning. His arm slid around her waist and his fingers fanned over her belly, holding her body against his while he invaded her inch by inch by inch. Just the thought of what they were doing—so filthy and primitive and wrong—made every muscle clench.
“Josephine,” he whispered, shuddering.

Stephen whispered in her ear, his voice harsh. “I can’t restrain myself much longer, Josephine. Do you want it?”
“Yes, Stephen. . . please.”
Stephen must have made some sign because Julian left her body and stepped back, his cock jutting heavy and slick in front of him, his expression tense with the effort of holding back his orgasm. It was Jo’s turn to smile and then she closed her eyes and opened her body to the man she loved, heart and soul.
Stephen’s pounding became savage, his hips pumping mercilessly now. “I’m going to come in you, Josephine. I’m going to—” he gave loud, guttural cry as he thrust deep and froze, holding her in an unbreakable embrace while his cock spasmed and flooded her with his seed.

When his mouth slanted over hers, her hands did what they’d been wanting to do for weeks and slid around his smooth, muscular torso. He groaned and pulled her against him, his arm like an iron strap around her waist.
His mouth was silken and tasted like liquor and smoke from his strangely fragrant cigars. His kisses were as firm and hot and powerful as he was.

He grazed her breast with his teeth and she whimpered as he slid a hand down the front of her trousers, beneath the waistband, and then stopped on her mound, groaning. “Oh, God, I love a shaved cunt,” he whispered into her breast before dropping into a crouch and grabbing both sides of her placket and then ripping her trousers right down the middle.
Jo gasped. “Oh, no, but—”
“Hush,” he muttered, yanking the string that held up her drawers. “I’ll buy you another dozen pairs. Good Lord your body is beautiful.” He dropped to his haunches and spread her lower lips with his thumbs and plunged his tongue into her, his moan vibrating through her body.

“Stockings stay on while I fuck you, I think,” he said, panting as he knelt between her spread thighs, staring down at her with black eyes that were heavy with need. “This is an emergency, darling, and I’m going to ejaculate with shocking haste. But the next time will be up to my usual standards.”
Jo laughed breathlessly and spread wide for him as he placed his beautiful cock at her soaking entrance and slammed into her, pulling her tight to his body as he entered. He held her full for a moment, his eyes locked with hers, his chest rising and falling as if he were being chased.
“How do you want it? Hard, hard, or hard?” he asked.
Jo couldn’t help laughing. “What was that third one agai—”
He began to fuck her with furious, violent thrusts, his teeth gritted and his jaw clenched as he pounded into her, angling his hips for the deepest penetration. He worked her so savagely she knew there would be bruises.

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Review: Till Dawn Tames the Night by Meagan McKinney

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Dell
Hero: Vashon Blackwell
Heroine: Aurora Dayne
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 1991
Started On: January 20, 2021
Finished On: January 22, 2021

Till Dawn Tames the Night by Meagan McKinney brings to readers the story of 19 year old Aurora Dayne who is set to travel to Jamaica with her modest belongings in tow, which includes a unique bejeweled locket, the sole legacy from her dead father. Little does she know that the journey she embarks upon puts her at the mercy of none other than 34 year old Vashon, a ruthless privateer with an agenda for vengeance that has carried him thus far, who is in pursuit of the very locket that she holds.

When these two opposites meet, sparks of course, fly. When a series of events ensures that Aurora is Vashon’s prisoner, the clash of wills begins in earnest, Aurora on her mission to reform a man who is driven by hatred and consumed by the memories of his past riddled with darkness.

I really wanted to love the two main protagonists of the story. Vashon was something fierce and determined, with a ruthless edge to him that I crave in my heroes. While Aurora, though innocent and sheltered for the most part, had the sort of fire in within her that refused to take everything he dished lying down. I was set to enjoy them both, but alas.

What annoyed me to no end was how Aurora wanted to reform Vashon. She continuously bickered about his actions, is always shocked by the violence that surrounds him, even when he does what he must to protect what is his. In my opinion, any redeeming qualities that comes forth should come of one’s own volition – it should never be forced upon the character at any point in time. Aurora nagging about Vashon continuing on his path of vengeance wasn’t how I wanted the changes to come about.

Or here is a wild thought; how about just accepting someone for who they are? Vashon does not try to change Aurora, maybe because she is so perfect? I hardly think so. There are plenty of romances that work with heroes who embrace their darkness and whatever redeeming qualities they have, whatever softness they show, are partial to the heroine for whom they would risk everything and lay down their very life for. And that is enough, if you want your characters to stay true to who they are, because some characters have reached a tipping point that makes it difficult for them to become mushy cuddle bears.

The saddest part is that this story had so much potential and could have ended up being so much more. As things stood, I skipped chunks of paragraphs and went for the end. An epilogue would also have been much appreciated.

Recommended for fans of Meagan McKinney.

Final Verdict: In Till Dawn Tames the Night, Ms. McKinney brings to life a heroine who would stop at nothing to reform the hero, be it nag her way towards the redemption of his character.

Favorite Quotes

He was so close she could feel his breath warm and enticing on her cheek. As her fingers uncurled against his chest, she rediscovered the pleasure of caressing him. She explored his front, textured with hair and rigid with muscle, and she never imagined mere flesh could be so hard and implacable. Beneath her hand she felt his heart drumming against his ribs, and she was amazed to find it quicken as he drew her to him. Her own heart beat wildly as his arm encircled her waist. At last the moment seemed to come when they would meet, and even the ship seemed to steady for their encounter.

She looked up at him. She didn’t really want to know his despicable rules, but since she was under his domination until they arrived in Grand Talimen, it was inevitable she would learn them. Resentfully she nodded her head.
“Rule number one,” he said in a husky voice, “is all ship’s spoils belong to me . . . and to me alone.”
He lifted her hair and as if his lips were a brand, she felt him place one fiery kiss upon her nape. Her hair was still damp from its washing, and he seemed particularly entranced by the way the delicate curls clung to her hairline. She closed her eyes, unable to bear what he was doing. His kiss only reminded her again of that wretched dream, and she trembled just from the thought of the power he had over her.

He moved to leave the bed, but before he went, he woodenly placed a kiss upon her tear-stained cheek. Desperate to make him stay, she summoned a womanly guile she never knew she possessed. She waited for his lips to leave her cheek and just when they did, she turned her head and her lips met with his.
Their kiss was sublime. Never in her most wishful dreams did she believe a kiss could be like this: a man’s heart and soul distilled into one soft motion of his lips. He made her want him with a desire that surpassed the physical, that grew and grew until she was almost made wild by it. Losing her self-consciousness, she slid her hand between them and let her palm mold to the grid of warm muscle over his torso. Her other hand reached up and caressed his beard-roughened cheek. Their kiss deepened.

She put her hand in the water. Another fish, a brilliant cobalt-colored one, flitted up and bumped her palm. Frightened, she snatched it back, then giggled at her folly. She turned to Vashon, but she wasn’t prepared for the expression on his face. He was staring at her so intensely, he fairly took her breath away.
“Vashon—” she began, but he didn’t let her finish. He lowered her legs until her feet touched the sandy bottom and her dress clung wetly to her hips. Then he pulled her to him and kissed her like a sinner seeking salvation, the doomed begging for redemption. In her mind she thought about fighting, but it would be useless. The way he so violently held her to him, he’d refuse to let her go.

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Review: His Harlot by S.M. LaViolette

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Victorian Decadence, #1
Publisher: Crooked Sixpence Press
Hero: Edward Fanshawe
Heroine: Nora
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: May 05, 2020
Started On: January 02, 2021
Finished On: January 09, 2021

S.M. LaViolette’s foray into erotic romance comes in the form of the Victorian Decadence series, the debut book of which is entitled His Harlot. These books are unlike any erotic romance books I have read (not that my experience is that vast), but I like character driven erotic romance just as much as anyone who loves the sub-genre. Ms. LaViolette certainly pulls no punches when it comes to writing these stories, and irrespective of those things that I did not understand (perhaps due to my conservative nature that is inherent in me), I did enjoy the major arcs as the story unfolded for the most part.

41 year old Edward Fanshawe is a regular customer at the Madame Tosca’s exclusive establishment for gentlemen where Nora works. Though not exclusively, Edward had been visiting Nora for the last eight months, during three months of which he had seen her and no other. During the period their sexual games had intensified with every encounter. Nora is an odd creature, someone whose body is as lithe as a young boy’s and yet feminine in a way that drives Edward just a little crazy.

Edward is horrified at the mere thought of being too dependent and obsessed with Nora, something which he seeks to avoid at all costs. His need to see those rare moments during which Nora lets him see into her emotions, by driving her hard sexually is the one aspect of their sexual escapades that leaves Edward more scared than he lets on. Having grown up at an orphanage, steeped in poverty, Edward has worked hard to get where he is, and he has plans that points him in the direction of finding him a respectable wife and getting himself an heir.

Nora makes him want the impossible, and unlike in “normal” romance novels where the hero would reluctantly offer for the heroine’s hand in marriage, what Edward offers her is to become his mistress. For Nora who has been in love with Edward, it is not an offer that she has to think much about it. Accept it she does, and then she finds out that that Edward plans on achieving his life goals with her by his side.

Nora is someone who likes sexual depravity. Since she had been fourteen years old, Nora had known that she was differently wired. Wanting freedom from the shackles of marriage, she had left life as she had known it and made it on her own – working at the whorehouse had been a means to an end of sorts, where she knew her sinful nature served her well. Meeting Edward and falling in love had been the one thing that had made her question her life choices, but Nora knows that marriage and respectability are two words that would never be applied to her.

His Harlot is a novel that depicts how two people so lost in their depraved games to heighten sexual intimacy, each equally afraid of giving away the fragility of their feelings for one another, hurt other people in their lives to the extent that one might perceive it to be unforgivable. There is a lot of pain that both Nora and Edward undergo before things get better, a lot of growing up that each does as individuals to understand the ramifications of their decisions when it came to each other.

Being an erotic romance, there were plentiful scenes of sex involved of course, but Ms. LaViolette has achieved what few authors perhaps can in such a setting – given emotional wholesomeness alongside with development of secondary characters to a point that makes you want to learn more about them. But funnily enough, me being the book quote lover that I am, did not really find much affinity with the scenes of passion in the story as it unfolded, perhaps because most of it were to do with Nora and Edward finding sexual pleasure at the cost of someone else’s emotions.

Furthermore, I had a hard time understanding Nora’s life choices – I just could not perceive how a woman brought up in a loving household (there were no indications of it being anything but) could just be okay with servicing men for sexual pleasure. I know that we are all wired differently, but that was just something I could not wrap my head around. We all pursue the fulfillment of our baser desires to different extents; our life choices often get messed up along the way as a resultant effect of those desires as well. But I guess regardless of my personal opinion, everything did work out for Nora and Edward in the end. I even rooted for them from a certain point onward, the painful period of separation giving that right touch of penance perhaps for their earlier behavior.

One key takeaway from the series – was everyone sex crazed in the Victorian era? Or is that just me? I certainly did not understand the need to have sex with everything that moves, but that is how most of the characters came off in the story. But enticing they are, and I am definitely going to read more of where this came from.

Recommended for erotic romance lovers; Ms. LaViolette is certainly talented in writing plentiful when it comes to inventive sex scenes and delivering wholesome goodness while at it.

Final Verdict: His Harlot is unlike any erotic romance I have read, taking the reader on a journey of sensual depravity that meets a lot of hurdles on the road to the happily ever after.

Favorite Quotes

“Look at us,” he ordered, their eyes meeting in the glass. He pumped his hips, relishing the sight of his powerful body covering hers. “We look like two animals in rut,” he said, demonstrating again but harder, devouring the pain and lust and—yes, if he wasn’t mistaken—jealousy on her face. “We’re two of a kind,” he whispered in her ear. “Two mutts who like to fuck like the animals we are.” He thrust again, very close to his climax now. “But my wife, Nora, she will be a purebred.” His dark eyes held her pale ones in thrall: black and white just like this room—their room.
“And I’ll pump my seed into her purebred cunt and breed my mutts inside her gold-plated womb.” He leaned close enough to kiss her ear. “And you’ll have to watch and suffer and want.”
He gave one last vicious thrust and they came at the same moment, Nora climaxing as he spent deep inside her, tears streaming from her eyes.

There was no finesse, no gentleness. He sucked her into his mouth and ravaged her, the thick middle finger of his hand slamming into her hard, his thrusts deep and remorseless.
Nora plunged her fingers into his thick white hair, holding him firm while she ground herself against him, spreading wider and fucking his tongue, his lips, even his rough chin, which scratched skin that was almost virginal it had been so long since it had last had contact with anything but her hand.
Not like Edward, who’d been fucking and whipping women other than her all along. The familiar swirl of lust and jealousy filled her belly and overflowed into her womb, her body pounding with a primitive throbbing for hi
m.

“My poor Nora,” he whispered, his hips resuming their pumping, his hand briefly grazing her wet cheek. “You’ve missed this just as much as I have.” This, being a thrust so brutal it almost choked her. He chuckled at the sound. “I can see you’re out of practice and in need of my firm hand and hard cock.” He held her head in an unbreakable grip while he drove into her with increasingly savagery, plunging cruelly, with no care but for his own pleasure, pushing her dangerously close to the edge.
“No,” he ordered harshly.
His selfish command was more powerful than the most exotic aphrodisiac and almost sent her over the edge. But her body, if not her mind, responded without question to his mastery.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Review: All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Devil You Know, #2
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Hero: Cassius Gerard Ramsay
Heroine: Cecelia Teague
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 29, 2020
Started On: December 11, 2020
Finished On: December 26, 2020

The second installment in the Devil You Know series; All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne turned out to be anticlimactic in many ways. This series which focuses on three women who meet and forge an unlikely friendship and bond at boarding school, which continues to be a huge part of their lives even after, often reads like a cliched manuscript for a women’s rights advocacy group.

Cecelia Teague spends her most formative years undergoing emotional and at times physical abuse at the hands of her father until she is rescued and given all of those things which she never would have thought possible. However, the one constant in her life remains – loneliness, which has never truly left since those dark days long in her past.

Cecelia’s path crosses that of Cassius Gerard Ramsay, when one of her friends gets married to Ramsay’s half brother. Ramsay is a stickler for due process, understandable given his profession as the Lord Chief Justice of the High Court. Furthermore, Ramsay is a man who believes abstinence is key to a life that is not ruled by vices. However, in Cecelia he finds a woman who tests his resolve for the first time in seven long years.

Even so, fate does not treat these two ever so kindly at first, with Cecelia forced to assume responsibility for something that Ramsay loathes with his very existence. When danger comes calling and in pursuit of Cecelia and those whom she holds dearest, Ramsay does not waste any time in taking her to safety until they are able to get to the bottom of it.

As these two battle out their mutual attraction to one another, the truth that emerges from the past maybe a much heavier price to pay than either of them bargained for. But reconcile they must, and acceptance is key to a shared future, if Ramsay and Cecelia are ever so inclined.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my review, this book turned out to be such a let-down in many ways. I found the story bogged down with tedious detail and cliched in many ways that I often left comments expressing my dissatisfaction with the undertones in the story. I am all for strong heroines who go out of their way to fight for and carve out their rightful place in society. But I do dislike stories that rather than impart important messaging along those lines with subtlety, goes to include preachy dialogue that just falls flat, given the time period, circumstances, and characters in question.

My biggest disappointment was how Ramsay turned out to be. He was such a formidable character from the very first installment in the series. His presence alone had a vibe that I liked, something that sent delicious shivers running up and down my spine. But alas, his character seemed to deflate like a balloon that loses air in small degrees, as Ms. Byrne attempted to make Cecelia stand strong and true to her values.

I agree that Ramsay was an ass ofttimes and held such strong opinions of his own regarding women’s place in society and how his life should be. In a way I don’t blame him given the job title which he holds, which comes with a lot of moral and ethical responsibilities attached to it. It is not just his own self and actions that would be under scrutiny but those whom he considers his family and friends as well.

So Cecelia in her high handedness refusing to see that was part of the problem for me, while Ramsay’s stubbornness also was unacceptable. But then in truth, that is what humans are like, and I would have expected them to find a way to be together because their love was worth it. As women, we don’t have to push feminism and women’s right to the extent that we are unwilling to bend and compromise for what is important in life. Love requires compromise, a future built on mutual trust and other values requires compromise – show me a successful marriage and/or relationship that does not include compromise as the number one keyword for their success and I will reconsider my opinion.

So Ramsay’s character, needless to say, was butchered in a way that was unacceptable in my opinion. He was initially the very definition of compelling. I keep wondering as to whatever happened to Ms. Byrne’s will to write ruthless heroes that made my senses go haywire. I wonder what happened to the writer who was willing to go where her characters took her, even when they were often difficult roads to travel on. But we as readers appreciated that darkness to her characters which few authors tend to risk writing. I wanted so much more for Ramsay and Cecelia – a plot that just sank in the middle was not it.

Recommended for die-hard fans of Kerrigan Byrne and fans of the series! I am not entirely certain that I would be reading the next installment, given the reviews that show that readers were more or less let down once again!

Final Verdict: What a sore disappointment this turned out to be, me with my high hopes smashed to smithereens by the overly preachy and cliched overtones on feminism & women’s rights interwoven into the story.

Favorite Quotes

“I like your names,” she whispered, swaying forward. “Ramsay. And Cassius.”
He hated his name. He hated it every day. “I like yers.”
She blinked. “Would you say it?”
“Miss Teague?”
“No, might you call me Cecelia?”
“Cecelia.” He drew out the syllables, letting his tongue linger over them. Learn them.
She closed her eyes, seeming to savor the word with the same vigor as the truffles. “Again?”
An invisible restraint shackled his bones, this one not of cold hard iron, but of velvet. It tugged him toward her. Drew her name out of his chest like a poem, and then a prayer.
“Cecelia.”
Her lips parted.
And he was l
ost.

She didn’t reach for him, nor did she do anything else wanton or wicked. She just accepted his mouth with a sweet sigh, tilting her head to receive more of him.
He lifted his hands to her face, intent upon gently holding her still so he could extricate himself from a kiss that shouldn’t be.
His thumbs drew up the line of her jaw and over her cheek, finding no angles, no hard lines. Somehow, he was cupping her face. Tilting it back. Drawing her in rather than pushing her away.
The roaring of his blood in his ears became a growl and then a purr.

He skimmed the seam of her lips with his tongue in a warm caress as his hand covered hers on his jaw. He laced their fingers in a motion that sent shivers rocketing through her entire frame like the waves of a sea gale. One crashing over the other with no sign of a break.

Her greedy hands danced over him, taking advantage of their position. She raked her fingers through a soft wealth of golden hair over his chest, finding the flat, masculine nipples that pebbled beneath her touch.
He made a noise that wasn’t entirely human and allowed her to slide down his body until she stood again so he could gather her hands in his own.
No, she thought, pulling her hands from his grasp. No, you don’t get to control this.
She wanted him like he was now. Free and wild, uninhibited and mindless. She wanted the man to give way to the animal beneath. If almost every one of their interactions had been a battle, this one would be different in a very unmistakable way.
This was a battle she’d win.

She gazed up over the cords of his stomach and the mounds of his chest into gilded lightning glinting down at her from eyes that no longer held a hint of winter. His skin was flushed with arousal. His lids at half-mast.
He bared his teeth in a show of dominance, though his hand was gentle as it urged her mouth toward the column of his sex.
He thought he was still in control.
How adorable.

She employed the strength of her jaw, sucking him in, taking him as deep against her throat as she could. Her tongue flattened to make room for him, rubbing at the underside of his rod as she pumped faster.
“Nay,” he gritted out. “Ye canna.”
Yes, she thought. I can. You’re mine. This is mine. This wicked intimacy they would always share regardless of the outcome of their current nightmare. At least she’d owned him with her mouth. And he was the man whose lips she would never forget.

Cecelia finally opened her eyes, glorying in the sight of him locked within his own skin and strength. Helpless and vulnerable inside her mouth. Arching with a pleasure that looked very much like pain.
This was the beast. This untethered, unselfconscious thing.
This beast was hers. This beast wanted to lay claim to her, as well.

“How can I not look?” he asked her as though she’d gone mad. His growl had deepened another impossible degree, to that of a Gregorian monk at prayer. “I didna know such perfection existed.”
In that moment Cecelia didn’t care if anything subsequent proved to be folly, she merely realized she was falling for this strong giant brute, with all the subtle grace of a landslide. Plunging artlessly into love with him even though every logical thought told her she should not.
Logic didn’t belong in this mysterious Scottish forest.
Only this. Only them.

“Oh, don’t make me say it,” she pleaded.
A dark chuckle overtook him as he lowered his great body to nuzzle into her hair. “Ye confound me, woman,” he purred into her ear. “Tell me what ye want, and I’ll give it to ye.”
“I want you.” Cecelia turned her head, sifting her fingers through his hair as she returned her breath against his ear. “And you can have me, Ramsay,” she offered gently, reaching in between their bodies to stroke his hard length over his trousers. “In whatever way you want me. I can take it. I can take you. All of you.”

There was a moment of fright. A single, breathless knowledge that once he’d claimed her this night, neither of them be the same. His weight was both a comfort and a burden, and she did the only thing she could think of to release a sudden rush of anxiety.
She bit the muscle between his neck and his shoulder.
He snarled and drove forward, pressing inside.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple Books

Review: A Governess Should Never… Tempt a Prizefighter by Emily Windsor

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Governess Chronicles, #1
Publisher: Senara Press
Hero: Seth Hawkins
Heroine: Matilda Griffin
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 09, 2020
Started On: November 26, 2020
Finished On: December 04, 2020

“But had I known such a love as ours existed, I would have searched forever to find you..”

A Governess Should Never… Tempt a Prizefighter by Emily Windsor as the title indicates, brings two very unusual protagonists together; a retired pugilist and his governess, whose backgrounds are as different as night and day. When 31 year old Seth Hawkins seeks a governess for his 13 year old daughter, the last thing he expects is for a lady like Matilda Griffin to apply for the position and turn his entire life upside down.

Matilda is on the run from her guardian, until such time that she regains control of her own life. She seeks refuge in the unlikeliest of places and finds it, by convincing her employer that she is more than qualified in the tutoring that Seth requires for his daughter.

As the days pass, a friendship is forged to life between Seth and Matilda, which kindles the slow burn of desire between them. Seth may be a retired professional boxer, who used his brawn and body to make his way and get out of the poverty ridden life he would otherwise have had to endure throughout his life, but he is a man who is keenly intelligent, with a heart that yearns for love as much as Matilda’s does. Matilda may have grown up in a more affluent household in comparison, but loneliness had been her one constant companion, which she had kept at bay through the books that enriched her life.

Finding common ground between herself and Seth is surprising for Matilda, but it doesn’t stop her from seeking more, to understand the complexity of the man who holds her heart. Their deeply meaningful conversations are one of the reasons this book stands out, especially the frankness with which Seth claims her after all is said and done. He is a gentleman to his very core and the man who answers the need that flares to life in Matilda as a woman of her own right.

I enjoyed my first Emily Windsor, even though I was a bit hesitant at first to pick this up because of a number of reviews which weren’t all that positive. But then, I don’t usually rely on other reviews all that much and choose to make up my own mind about what works and what doesn’t for me, and it has served me right for the most part as it did with this one. Like most romance readers, unusual main leads intrigue me in stories, and I am delighted that I did give this a chance.

I loved the slow awakening of desire and the emotions of the more tender variety that burgeoned to life along with it. I loved how both Seth and Matilda were protective of each other, how they saw the best in one another, and how they both yearned to spend the rest of their lives with none other than the other.

Recommended for those who love beautifully spun historical romances featuring the not your usual variety of hero and heroine. You won’t be disappointed!

Final Verdict: There is just something beautiful about historical romances done right, a magic that lingers in the air when you are immersed in the story. That is what I found in A Governess Should Never… Tempt a Prizefighter.

Favorite Quotes

Miss Griffin moistened her lips, and his jaw twitched, an involuntary tremor coursing within.
“May I?” she asked.
At his nod, she took a run for the nearest shelf and brushed a finger reverently over the book spines.
Seth shuddered and watched as her lips unconsciously curved in utter delight.

All might have been fine; it may well have ended there; he would have drawn back.
But her hand clasped his shoulder and then climbed till her fingers twisted in the short hair at his nape, nails lightly scratching, yanking him close and crushing their lips together.
Ferocious need erupted, spiralling his control and grinding it to dust.
He hauled her tight, a hand to her curvaceous rump so that she half-straddled him, a scalding heat upon his thigh, and he kissed down her neck, nipped her throat, the shadows a colluding partner to his endeavour.

“Matilda, I warn you, if you strip to your chemise, I will kiss you.”
“And I shall want you to,” she whispered, knowing it to be the truth.
His jaw firmed. “And if we kiss on this occasion, Matilda, I will not cease.”
“And I shall not want you to.”
His breath hitched, rumbled. “And if I do not cease, then fair warning, I will never let you go.”
“And I shall not want you to,” she whispered once more, conscious of what she was saying, that she wished for a lifetime of adventures with this man.

“May I?” he growled, elegant diction beyond his capability.
She smiled her acquiescence and he tugged laces, then wrenched, kissed the skin above her chemise – smooth and with the scent of meadows.
The corset fell away, in harmony with his breath.
Crisp white linen hinted at curves, shadows beneath implying treasure beyond his most feral imagination.
And oh, how he had imagined. Night after anguished night.

“Seth,” she gasped.
“My beautiful, exquisite Matilda,” he whispered, and with those words – ones no one else had ever applied to her – that tightness released and the rosemary-scented room ceased to be as her eyelids closed, rapture flooding to every tip of limb, submerging her beneath warmth and light.
With a rip of cotton, a heady, muscled weight was upon her, powerful hips and thighs parting her legs further before a thrust against her core, raw and rude and resolute.

“My Matilda,” he bit out, low and agonised. And he dragged back, only to plunge anew, a guttural grunt locked in his throat.
The tightness caused a sharp inhale but the rapture of before still simmered, and as he rocked, gentle and short, that hurtling bliss returned – faster and tauter.
“More,” she gasped, aware he held back from whatever he wished to do, aware his strained arms and clenched teeth hid a sharp longing. So she caressed his back, scratched those magnificent buttocks.
His hips jerked, and a growling Seth began to pound. A broad hand claimed her thigh, hitching it aloft as she cried out, and he plunged deeper.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: The Absolutely Positively Worst Man in England, Scotland and Wales by Anne Stuart

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Impeccably Demure Press
Hero: Christopher St. James Constant
Heroine: Miss Bryony Marton
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: August 14, 2020
Started On: August 20, 2020
Finished On: September 04, 2020

If you are fan of Anne Stuart like myself, and have in all probability read most of her published books you can get your hands on, you would probably jump at the very possibility of a new book being published by a veritable master of the genre. There are very few books by Ms. Stuart that has not satisfied me on all counts, and even then, her stories tend to have that edge and quality to them that makes them memorable. Ms. Stuart is also the maestro when it comes to writing anti-heroes; her ICE series (contemporary) and The House of Rohan series (historical) are testament to this fact.

Published in August of last year, The Absolutely Positively Worst Man in England, Scotland and Wales (quite a mouthful, I know), was therefore much awaited to say the least. I had been regularly following up on Ms. Stuart’s blog to see when this baby would be published, and of course once it was, I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to dig in, even with work deadlines looming.

Christopher St. James Constant, third Earl of Adderley (Kit) is a man bored out of his mind, willing to be amused by pretty much anything. The news that his “friend” Sir George Latherby is about to get married rouses him of the boredom and lack of interest in life that plagues him, and so cooking up a nefarious plan to kidnap the betrothed to hasten the nuptials among other things, thus Adderly finds himself in the company of 25 year old Honorable Miss Bryony Marton.

Bryony wants nothing to do with her betrothed or any man for that matter. On the plain side, with scandal having eroded any means of making a good marriage match possible, Bryony has been biding her time until she could escape the confinement that is her every day life. When that “escape” comes in the form of kidnapping, while Bryony could have managed everything if it had been just herself, the fact that her cousin Cecelia is also taken alongside with her complicates matters.

Adderly, while he expects to be entertained to some extent by the events that unfold, he never would be thought it possible to be taken by surprise when it comes to Bryony. Her calm and unflappable demeanor, even under the most trying circumstances leaves him with an indescribable feeling coursing through him. Furthermore, when it would be far easier to have his way with the silly chit that is Bryony’s cousin, Adderly finds himself drawn to the plain looking thing that Bryony is, in a way that he is not at all comfortable with.

In the midst of it, Ms. Stuart also brings to life a secondary romance between Cecelia and Peter Barnes, member of the Bow Street Magistrate’s Court who is hired by Cecelia’s parents to bring her back home, leaving Bryony to her fate.

The Absolutely Positively Worst Man in England, Scotland and Wales is a story that brings an abundance of joy to to the expectant fans of Ms. Stuart. It has the hero whose reluctance to accept his feelings towards the heroine prevents him from giving in, and the heroine who at first, with her survival instincts kicking in, knows that the hero heralds the end of her life as she had known it.

While both Bryony and Adderly may not want to accept the heat that is very much alive between them, especially Adderly who knows better, there is no denying nor resisting what is inevitable. Their coming together is explosive in the way only Ms. Stuart can deliver scenes of passion, and the aftermath giving you that ton of angst to keep your adrenaline pumping. While Adderly tries (he truly does), to leave Bryony behind and get on with his life (though there is not much to it without her by his side), towards the end, it is Bryony who musters up the strength required to get them to their happily ever after.

I did love the story as it unfolded, with the main protagonists being endearing in their own unique ways. When it comes to the secondary romance, at first, I did not mind much for Cecelia’s character – I just found her to be a “convenient distraction” from what was springing to life between Adderly and Bryony. I felt quite annoyed by the time Ms. Stuart dedicated to Cecelia at that point in time. But once Peter Barnes came into the picture, I somehow found myself eagerly waiting for the bits and pieces to their story as well, finding Peter to be a hero I would have loved reading about more!

Adderly is an addictive hero – there is no doubt about that. He is lethal to your heart in a way that you foresee, but at the same time, you are unable to prevent him from piercing through and staking his claim on it. Bryony, with her calm and at times motherly nature, is exactly what Adderly needs but resists up till the very last minute. Adderly hides his scars behind the mask of indifference and boredom that assails his life and there is a darkness to his past that he has never really recovered from. The tantalizing bits and pieces to his past that Ms. Stuart dangles is just enough to draw your own conclusions and that is somehow enough to understand where Adderly is coming from.

At the cost of repeating myself, I loved the scenes of passion; they were certainly decadent. Though there was an epilogue to the story (readers deserved one after all the upheavals that we went through), it was a strange one to say the least. But nevertheless, it did serve its purpose, leaving the reader wanting more, and at the same time wondering whether Ms. Stuart would write a story about finding the modern day equivalent of Adderly. As an avid fan of Ms. Stuart, I can only hope!

Definitely recommended for fans of anti heroes, fans of Ms. Stuart, and those who love historical romances!

Final Verdict: Ms. Stuart does it yet again, delivering a delectably phenomenal read, with characters who tug at your heart and incite every sort of emotion conceivable.

Favorite Quotes

He lifted his mouth from hers. “Open up, poppet,” he said, devilment in his eyes. “It’s time you learned to kiss properly.”
“I know about proper kisses,” she said somewhat breathlessly.
“I stand corrected—let me show you about improper kisses.” He dropped his mouth to hers once more, and his tongue touched hers with a slow, languorous stroke.

“Never let it be said I disappointed a lady,” he muttered, and before she realized it, he’d crossed the safe distance that had remained between them, slid his hands through the loose curls on the back of her head and crushed his mouth down on hers.
Cecilia Elliston had kissed seventeen men and boys, and she considered herself a reasonable expert in the matter, but she’d never, ever been kissed like Peter Barnes kissed her. He’d turned her around, pressing her up against the wall, and his mouth slanted across hers, hot and hard and wet.

“I’m not a termagant.”
“Perhaps not. In fact, I’m not entirely sure how sweet you are beneath your calm exterior. I have every intention of finding out.” Before she could sense what he was doing, he’d slid one hand behind her neck and drawn her face to his, his open mouth covering hers.
She’d thought he was calm, poised, playing games with her, but his kiss wiped out any pretense of self-control. With a low growl, he turned her in his arms, so that she was straddling him on the wooden chair, and she could feel him between her legs, that hard part of him that fascinated and frightened her. He used his tongue, kissing her with such a ferocity that she could do nothing but let herself be kissed, as slowly he moved her, back and forth over that solid ridge of flesh beneath his breeches.

He took her hand away from her body and placed it between his legs. “There’s your proof. If you want to swear this night never happened, then be my guest. Most men wouldn’t notice whether you were a virgin or not.”
She tried to pull her hand back, but he held it there. “Night?” she echoed doubtfully.
“All night long,” he confirmed. “Now come here.”
“I am here,” she said stubbornly, trying to ignore the fear and desire that were building anew within her.
“Closer.” Obediently, she crossed the tiny distance so that she knelt between his long legs. “Now kiss me. Kiss me the way I kissed you.”
This was the point of no return, her last chance to say no. She leaned forward and put her mouth against his, and her uncovered breasts pressed against his chest. She tried to retreat, but he put his arm around her, pulling her closer, and he deepened the kiss, his tongue meeting her shy one, coaxing it, teasing it, so that she forgot to think, so lost in sensation that she felt drugged with it. With lust, he said.

The first, tiny wash of pleasure was a shock, and she let out a little gasp as it hit her. He lifted his head, breathing on her tender parts. “You liked that, didn’t you? Stop fighting me and you’ll like it a lot more.” He licked again, and then slid two long fingers inside her.
The sudden invasion shocked her, and she squirmed, but it only seemed to bring her closer to his mouth, as he explored, licked, and sucked with seemingly all the time in the world, and his fingers pumped into her slowly, readying her, and this was all too much…
The sudden convulsion hit her, so fast and so hard that she cried out, but instead of drawing back, he redoubled his efforts, and she felt the nip of his teeth. It was the last thing she remembered, as darkness shut around her, her entire body seemed to explode in tiny pinpricks of reaction, and no sooner had one wave crashed them another rose, and she was crying, thrashing, caught in the maelstrom.

He didn’t move, holding himself just slightly above her so that his full weight wasn’t crushing her, and his eyes were closed, his face cold and hard in the moonlight. Slowly, her body relaxed, beginning to accept his presence so deep inside her, and she wanted what she’d felt before, that glorious, unsettling crash of feelings that had now left her completely. She tried to shift, but his voice came, hard and strained.
“Don’t move.”
She stayed still, wondering when this would be over. Though admittedly, there was a certain…pleasure in being covered by him, surrounded and invaded by all that strength.
“Are we done?” she whispered, uncertain.
His laugh was the last thing she expected, and she could feel it all through her body, everywhere his skin touched her. “We’ve only begun.”

He bit her breast, and reaction slammed down on her, that mindless, blinding delight, multiplied by a thousand candle flames, and he was moving fast now, deep, powerful thrusts that only made her needier. She wanted to tell him, but she’d lost the power of speech, and he was moving so fast, slamming into her, and their bodies were slick with sweat, and she needed…
And she was gone, lost in a storm of sensation that she simply shattered in his arms, holding tightly, as if she were drowning, and he was the only port in the storm. She was vaguely aware that he suddenly pulled out of her, and she felt the heat and wetness on her stomach, and she wanted to cry out. She needed him inside her, she needed everything….

“More,” he whispered hoarsely, and before she realized what he was doing he’d pulled her down onto him, still hard, and she let out a little cry of distress and satisfaction, as she felt him grow within her. “Your turn,” he said in a rough voice, hard hands at her hips, moving her.
She pushed against his shoulders, straightening up, and the sensation was strange, different, wonderful, and he was moving her, in small increments, up and down his shaft, rubbing inside her. Fresh need filled her, and she was the one who needed more, needed more of him, all of him. She didn’t need his hands guiding the rhythm, she’d caught it on her own, and she moved, sure and certain, pulling up high and then sinking down again with a cry of pure satisfaction
.

She came again, harder this time, and the little shriek was music to his ears, but when he went back for more, she pushed him away. “Wait,” she said in a hoarse voice. “Wait.”
“I don’t feel like waiting,” he growled, so close to the taste of her that it was driving him mad.
“Get over it,” she said, and he fell back with a laugh. She was standing up to him. No one ever stood up to him, particularly in bed, and his cock grew unimaginably harder.
She got to her knees on the mattress, looking down at him, and she looked like a hoyden, an angel, and something in between. She looked like a woman without fear, and he wanted to celebrate it, but instead, she pushed him down on the bed and followed with her kiss.

He pulled out, and she let out of cry of desolation. “No!” she moaned, but he simply flipped her over beneath him, so that her face was in the disordered sheets.
“Yes,” he said, pulling her hips up. “This way.” And he pushed inside her from the back, feeling her quim tighten around him once more, rippling in reaction, and finally he was released, let go. He thrust into her like a madman, over and over, until she suddenly shrieked, clamping down around him, and he exploded inside her, filling her with his seed, collapsing over her, holding her beneath him as he spurted, and at the last minute, he latched his teeth onto her neck and bit her like a big cat marking his mate.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo

Review: How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Devil You Know, #1
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Hero: Piers Gedrick Atherton
Heroine: Lady Alexandra Lane
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 27, 2019
Started On: June 23, 2020
Finished On: June 28, 2020

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days is the debut book in the Devil You Know series by Kerrigan Byrne. Ms. Byrne came to my notice through her Victorian Rebels series, with her penchant for writing dark heroes, unacceptable in the modern times we live, where everything is dissected to the point where the enjoyment factor is taken away in order to publish books that seeks to placate all the notions and theories of those who shape the discourse of the current times.

Either way, Ms. Byrne is an author I choose to come back to because she delivers heroes of the kind I mentioned, with strong heroines who aren’t afraid of accepting the love of their lives for who they are. Of course love in its truest form, tends to change everyone for the better. How love influences the life of even the coldest of us is a marvelous thing, and that is what I have come to expect in her books, though her most recent works haven’t been hitting that spot exactly.

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days is quite a lengthy read – one more reason to love her work; she does not shy away from giving us stories that prolong the delicious goodness that is usually delivered. The series introduces to readers the lives of the Red Rogues, three women who come across one another at L’Ecole de Chardonne Mont Pèlerin in Switzerland. The three redheads being Lady Alexandra Lane and her dearest friends Francesca Cavendish and Cecelia Teague.

The three of them had gotten away with a lot of things then, pursued the sort of activities that were considered to be out of bounds for ladies. They read books that they were not allowed or supposed to read, they go on adventures of their own making, each on the verge of charting their own course in life when tragedy strikes and Alexandra faces the most heinous of crimes that can be committed against a woman on the cusp of adulthood, changing the course of the lives of the trio in a way they never saw coming.

What happens that night servers as a secret that ties them together through the years that leads up to the current events, where the three who have vowed they would not be taking husbands, finds themselves attending the betrothal of Francesca. However, things take a surprising turn when Alexandra offers to take the place of Francesca instead in marriage, something about Piers Gedrick Atherton, the scarred Duke of Redmayne calling to her.

Alexandra being who she is, wants to face her fears of intimacy head on, but matters of the heart aren’t as simple as she thinks them to be and it is a wild and turbulent ride for both Piers and Alexandra before things take a turn for the right for these two. In the midst of it all, with someone going to extraordinary lengths to target the Red Rogues, the secret that they had sworn to keep all those years back coming to haunt them now, there are no easy answers to be had for everything that unfolds along the way.

I enjoyed How to Love a Duke in Ten Days for the most part. I felt that the story was slow going in some places, especially at the beginning, while juggling the characterisation of multiple characters that Ms. Byrne introduces to readers. It is sometimes the norm for the debut book in the series to take that tangent because this is often where the author has to lay the groundwork for the books that would be published down the line in the series.

I enjoyed Alexandra and Piers, and fell in love with both of them at crucial junctures in the story. Piers, even though he remains clueless about his wife’s past, believing that her fear of intimacy comes from being with a brutish looking man such as himself; he is tender and looks out for her pleasure in every sense. But at the same time, the man who he is deep inside, an alpha who is dominant in nature does show up every once in a while, not to mention his childhood and the trauma associated with it affecting his perception of the fairer sex in a large way.

I fell in love with Alexandra the moment that she cast aside her stoic mannerism in the face of an attack that leaves her with the possibility that Piers might be no more. That was the moment that all her walls came crumbling down, that she showed the depth of her feelings towards her husband, the man who wanted to lay the world at her feet for her enjoyment.

Ms. Byrne does a pretty good job of working through Alexandra’s trauma and there are no miracles which suddenly propels her recovery. It is time as well as the man she calls her husband who helps her, once Piers comes to know of what had actually taken place, lending him that insight to take care of Alexandra’s needs in a way that would allow her to test her boundaries and find her comfort zone and be open to the idea of exploring beyond that. I think that, for the most part was why I enjoyed the story that unfolded. The mystery surrounding the events that takes place as attempts to take the lives of the Red Rogues was just a side story for me, which surprisingly I enjoyed towards its culmination.

While I enjoy the concept of strong and independent heroines, I like the concept of strong and alpha heroes just as much, who do not turn putty in the hands of their beloved from the onset. While Piers was alpha in his way, I am of the opinion that his character was tamped down in a huge way to suit Alexandra’s needs for the most part, and as a result he never really did get to revel in the true joy of being who he is; free to unleash the man within, who has a hunger so deep that it would have been breathtaking to watch unfold. That is the tragedy of this book in my opinion, which could have delivered so much more if not.

Recommended for fans of historical romances that offers rich detail and in-depth characterisation that suits modern tastes of readers today.

Final Verdict: How to Love a Duke in Ten Days delivers a splendid story for the most part, delving into the lives of three rebellious women who defy the norms and conventions to chart their own course in life.

Favorite Quotes

Only when she allowed herself to exhale did he press his mouth fully to hers, coaxing it to soften in sweet, aching drags. She felt the impression of his scar. Sensed his hesitation as it caught against her lower lip. And in that moment, she felt the need to encourage him more urgently than she required reassurance.
She lifted her hand from his shoulder to shape it over his jaw. The hair there was wondrously soft, and she tested it with questing fingers as she turned her mouth to press against the tight stratum where his scar interrupted his lip.
At this, he went impossibly still. His own breath catching as he awaited her next move.

Beneath the clever ministrations of his fingers, something inside her core melted, twisted with exquisite, rapturous heat. His fingers were so incredibly wet, gliding over every tender recess, leaving sweet trails of pleasure in their wake. Teasing her, driving her to the brink of. Of …
Something.
Alexandra’s hips lifted from the bed, as a visceral jolt seized her. “Piers?” she gasped.
“Let it come, darling,” he breathed. “Don’t fight it. Embrace it.” All his movement centered on the throbbing peak then, awakening from her body an unholy delight.

“It wouldn’t do to spend our honeymoon apart,” she said, turning from him. “But if that is your wish—”
He seized her arm, pulling her back into their intimate posture, his breath hot against her ear as his body melded to hers. “Do you have any idea, wife, what ten minutes in your company does to me?” His whisper was almost like a snarl in its animalistic intensity. “Do you really think I can smell your scent, that I can watch you knowing what lies beneath your shapeless dresses, and keep myself from tasting what is mine?”

“I don’t see why … we couldn’t make some sort of arrangement,” she offered breathlessly.
“Arrangement?” The word sounded indecent from his voice.
“We could … trade favors. Without intercourse. It could … help us to further our acquaintanceship.”
And, if they were lucky, they could teach each other a little about trust.
“I have one condition,” he murmured into her ear.
“What’s that?”
“You let me use my tongue.”

“Where did you go?” she whispered gently. “You’re miles away.”
“I was visiting the future,” he said casually.
“Oh?” Her brows rose. “And what did you see there, pray?”
“You,” he murmured, inhaling her vaguely tropical scent. Sweet and citrus. Intoxicating.
“And what was I doing?” she inquired.
He leaned in as low as he could while maintaining their waltz. “You were screaming my name.”
She blanched and would have stumbled had he not such a solid hold upon her. “W-what?”
“You were crying out blasphemies to every god you don’t believe in while you came apart in my arms.”

“Piers!” she gasped against his mouth.
“I like it when you say my name,” he growled. “I’ll like it even better when you moan it.”
“What—what are you doing?”
“I’m going to make you come.”
“Come.” She whispered the word as though testing it, and the husky, illicit sound of it almost broke his last vestige of restraint. “Like—like you did last night? With your fingers?”
Christ, was she trying to kill him? “Is that what you want?”
She paused, her short, hard breaths breaking against his. In that moment, he would have given his left eye to see her expression. “I would,” she said breathlessly. “I want…”

He gripped her hips. Ruthlessly pinning her still as he focused wet, rhythmic darts of his tongue across the trembling peak of her clitoris. The sensation of it seized every one of her muscles with such arching force, she’d not realized what his other hand was about to do.
Until his finger sank inside her.
She clamped her other hand over the first, unable to contain her scream. The pleasure locked her muscles. Held her captive in a dizzying, almost terrifying summit.

Tonight in the dark, a part of him had entered her, if only for the briefest of blissful moments … and she’d drenched him with her sweetest release.
At once, his cock was no longer in his trousers. He dipped the finger into his mouth, then another, searching for the trace of her flavor. Leaving moisture on his fingers, he brought them down to his pulsing sex, spreading what he could over the steely length of him.
He wanted this to be her hand. Soft and small where his was large and rough.
Or her mouth. Hot and wet and welcoming.

The climax began as a burn in his spine, spilling down his entire frame like an avalanche. Inevitable. Unstoppable. Overpowering.
As the shocks of release became surges, he made a sound only an animal could have. Bringing her drawers down to his hips, he spilled liquid heat on the snowy-white linen. The sight of it inflamed him further as pulse after pulse was pulled from his very core for such a length of time, he wondered if it would ever cease.

He was like a human incinerator, immolating her with his carnal heat.
Alexandra felt light-headed, not only disoriented by the swiftness of his kiss, but by the change in him. This was no patient, roguish seduction. This man grinding her against his very powerful, very naked body heeded no rules and brokered no patience.
He’d become a creature of raw, animalian need.

Alexandra looked down to where she straddled his thighs, where the formidable shape of his sex tented the sheet.
“I—I don’t know how to please you,” she confessed, suddenly daunted.
He gazed up at her with a patience so tender, so genuine, it released a swell of emotion inside her. “Don’t you know by now, Alexandra, that everything you do pleases me? To look at you pleases me. To touch and kiss you pleases me. The scent and taste and shape of you is the greatest pleasure I’ve ever known. Anything you do beyond that…”
His words died on an indrawn hiss as she reached between them and uncovered him, curling her fingers around the jutting base of his erection. It was warmer than she imagined. Hotter, even, than his fevered body.

He dipped his finger lower, wickedly testing where their bodies were joined, gathering the abundant moisture there and swirling it around her throbbing hood.
Her lips tore from his as her spine arched and flexed, her head dropping back on her shoulders as a hoarse, guttural cry broke from her.
She convulsed around him, over him, her sex milking at him in voluptuous, rhythmic waves. Her unbound hair brushed the small of her back, and her clasping fingers tore at his own locks as she shivered and shuddered in a long, extravagant release.

He slid into her with one fluid, beautifully deep motion, settling into another deliberate, controlled rhythm. His alert eyes searched her face, gauged her expressions.
She felt his hesitancy. His lingering restraint, and she brought her hands around his waist and lower, pressing him deeper.
“More,” she whispered, feeling him tense, seeing the question in his eyes. “More,” she repeated, lifting her hips to meet his.
His thrusts quickened, driving deeper, pressing her higher.
She loved this, the softness of the mattress at her back, the hardness of him on top of her. She felt safe. She felt … glorious.

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Review: The Duke’s Treasure by Minerva Spencer

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Arrangement, Anthology
Publisher: Kensington
Hero: Beaumont Halliwell
Heroine: Josephine Loman
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 28, 2020
Started On: June 22, 2020
Finished On: June 22, 2020

The Duke’s Treasure by Minerva Spencer delves into a marriage of convenience between 35 year old Beaumont Halliwell, Sixth Duke of Wroxton and 23 year old Josephine Loman. Beau having returned from war to find his family impoverished and in need of finances of the kind that Josephine’s father has to offer in return for his hand in marriage. These two are opposites in every way, with Beau being sinfully good looking from the ton while Josephine is plain and has no beauty to offer.

As she enters the marriage, Josephine carries a secret close to her heart that she vows never to let be known. That she has fancied Beau from way back when they had first met, the incident which had not even registered for Beau. With the marriage having taken place, Beau expects nothing more from his wife than bed-sport and companionship, having no expectations beyond that when it comes to a union that he had been forced into.

However, from the very first night of their marriage, Beau is taken by surprise when it comes to the chemistry that sizzles between them, and how different his marriage turns out to be from the get go. However, trouble is not afar, as his past comes calling, trying to win his affections over once again, creating friction in the fragile ties being forged between him and his spouse.

This was a very sensible marriage of convenience story for the most part, with communication between the Beau and Josephine doing away with the misunderstandings that would otherwise have been plentiful in a marriage such as theirs. For the most part, Beau is the one who gets ahead of the misunderstandings that may arise, because he chooses to explain to Josephine where he is coming from and comes clean on whatever secrets that maybe buried in the half truths that comes to light during the course of their marriage.

The story did actually have the fundamentals in place to deliver a good and healthy dose of angst, but in the end, even without it, I enjoyed the story that Ms. Spencer delivered via this novella. The heady sensuality that was interwoven into the story made it so, the connection between Beau and Josephine an undeniable one that made for scrumptious reading. The only thing I could have wished for was for this to be a full length novel, which could have been ideal for bringing a healthy dose of conflict and angst to the story.

Recommended for fans of historical romances with that bite of sensuality that takes you by surprise, all in a good way!

Final Verdict: The Duke’s Treasure is a surprisingly delicious morsel of a story, recommended for those who love a healthy dose of sensuality in their stories!

Favorite Quotes

“Yes, Josephine, take what you want—use me,” he whispered as a second finger joined the first, the uncomfortable burn only momentary before the friction was pleasurable, the motion hypnotic.
Jo hadn’t even noticed he’d lowered his body over hers until she felt the puff of hot air on her sex. Before she could move or close her legs or do anything, his tongue pushed between her folds and his lips closed around her throbbing peak. Jo sobbed as he sucked, his hand still moving in controlled thrusts, until her hips began to buck wildly.
He gave a breathless laugh and pulled away just as a wave of pleasure slammed into her. And then again and again.

“You’re small—so tight,” he purred, his hips beginning to pulse, only lightly at first. “I want to fill every part of you,” he hissed, his thrusts smooth and strong. “Tilt your hips, Josephine—take me deeper, as deep as you can.”
Jo did as he bade and he groaned, his hips beginning to drum.
Jo clenched her teeth but reveled in the signs he was losing control—his movements less precise, his breath coming in harsh gasps, and the part of him that was inside her was so very hard. This was all her doing; she was the reason he looked less and less like a cool aristocrat and more like a feral, earthy, primitive savage.

“Did you wear this hideous nightgown to express your displeasure?”
She gave an adorable gurgle of laughter. “Yes, is it terribly obvious? I just thought—”
“I want it off. Now,” he said, standing and lifting her to her feet along with him. “Do you want to dress in a way that pleases me, Josephine?” he murmured as his fingers made quick work of the few buttons.
“Yes, of course.” Her voice was flatteringly breathy.
“Then you will wear this for me in the future.” He lifted her gown over her head and flung it aside.
“I want you waiting for me in nothing from now on.”

“Watch me as I take you,” he ordered her, his heavy-lidded eyes dropping to where he was pressed against her opening. And then he entered her in one smooth thrust.
Unable to look away from the place where they were joined, Jo cried out as her body struggled to accustom itself to his thick length.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” he gritted, holding her impaled for a long moment before pulsing his hips in sharp thrusts. “I’ve thought about being inside you all day long,” he said while they stared at the mesmerizing sight of his slick shaft sliding in and out of her body. “Did you think of me today, Josephine? Did you want this?” He lifted her hips up until only his crown was inside and then brought her down hard.
“Yes,” Jo gasped, shuddering at his powerful assault.

“You are so wet for me,” he murmured into her neck, biting and kissing and licking while he pulled her tightly against his chest and drove her ruthlessly toward her climax.
When she began to shake and cry out he kneed her thighs apart and entered her with a punishing thrust, riding her hard while teasing another orgasm from her just before burying himself to the hilt and emptying deep inside her.

“Have you pictured yourself spread out on a bed like that ever since, Josephine? Naked, exposed . . . vulnerable,” he whispered, his hand never stopping. “Am I the man in your fantasy? I hope so. Am I cruel? Wicked? Relentless?”
Jo bit her lip hard enough to taste metal. She would not—she would not—
“I would tie your wrists . . . restrain your ankles . . .” he murmured, his voice hypnotic, his breath coming in rapid, heated puffs on her throat. “If I had you bound that way . . . what do you think I would do . . . Josephine? Do you think I’d make you . . . come?”

“Shhhh, I’m not going anywhere, my lovely, needy darling,” he whispered, positioning something bigger and hotter against her entrance. “This is what you want,” he told her.
“Yes.”
“Yes,” he agreed, “and I’m going to give it to you. Hard.”
He took her with agonizing slowness, making her feel each and every inch, his body sinuous and undulating, his thrusting slow, lazy, deep.
“Tell me the way you want it,” he said, his voice strained, his body slick with the effort of resisting his own need, but his motions smooth, thorough, controlled.
“Please,” she whispered.
“Tell me,” he ordered through gritted teeth.
“I want you . . . hard, Beau.”

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Review: Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Turner, #2
Publisher: HQN Books
Hero: Mark Turner
Heroine: Jessica Farleigh
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 27, 2011
Started On: April 06, 2020
Finished On: April 09, 2020

Unclaimed by Courtney Milan is book 2 in the Turner series, the debut book of which I skipped and jumped straight to this one. Unclaimed can definitely be read as a standalone, as I could follow the unravelling story just fine.

It has been a while since I have read a Courtney Milan. Though her books receive rave reviews from readers now and again, I have found her books a bit bland for my tastes at times, steeped in too much bantering back and forth between the main protagonists, perhaps in a bid to show the intelligence behind her characters. But seeing a glowing review of Unclaimed on Instagram made me want to see what the fuss was about; after all, who doesn’t love a hero who is a stickler for principles and presents a cold-hearted front to the rest of the world, while inside he is teeming and burning with fire and desire to be unleashed on the right woman? I have read a couple of books of the type, the last one I read being Laura Lee Gurhke’s Secret Desires of a Gentleman which I absolutely adored. So of course, I had to see what the fuss was about.

28 year old Sir Mark Turner finds himself in the intriguing company of Mrs. Jessica Farleigh, who presents herself as a widower. While Jessica is a courtesan who wants out of the business, having grown wary of the life of servitude that she had been forced into, seducing Mark is her way out.

Mark, being the author of A Gentleman’s Practical Guide to Chastity has a reputation that precedes him, where people put him on a pedestal and likens him to a saint who is exempt from desire and sins altogether. However, Mark is the farthest thing from that, and it is one of the aspects of his life that troubles him, which is the reason why he retires to the country for a while, trying to regain his balance from all that is required of him.

When Jessica turns up in his life, Mark finds himself sorely tempted by the woman who is an enigma on many levels. While her intentions are obvious enough, her body language tells a tale of its own, which makes Mark wonder and dig deeper where she is concerned.

While the romance between Mark and Jessica turned out okay for me, the most intriguing aspect of the novel for me were the brothers themselves; the Duke, Mark, and then Smite if I am recalling his name correctly. The bond between the brothers and the premise upon which Courtney has created their characters was fascinating. I found each of them unique in their own way, with a bond that holds strong – that was how I felt during the sneak peeks into their characters, seen through the eyes of Mark.

I found the heroine to be just okay. Apart from Jessica being a coutesean who had been forced into the situation by an act of youthful indiscretion on her part, the rest of her was just average in my opinion. What she went through with her last paramour and how she had come to detest the touch of a man on her body, how she awakens to the touch of true desire; all of that failed to move me in a way that was significant.

Mark’s character was also pretty much the same – he is a beta hero which was rightfully pointed out in a review I came across. While the entire populace tries to label him as a saint, untouched by worldly desires, Mark reiterates over and over that he in fact he is not one. And he proves the same, even though he sticks to his principles and stays true to the course of not hurting a woman and leaving her in the lurch.

I found his thoughts on marriage profound – chastity and fidelty in a marriage depending on being married to a person who is worthy of it perhaps? Or moreover, someone who is your everything, someone who desires you, wants you, is captivated by you, and you return those feelings just the same. Having common interests and values is important, and at the same time, Mark’s views on settling for someone just because, struck a chord deep inside of me. I am guessing it would for anyone who has been in a long-term relationship and have had those questions of what-if once in a while.

While I enjoyed those thought provoking bits and pieces in the novel, I skipped some huge chunks of the story towards the end, just because I wanted to find out how it all ended. Recommended for those who love Courtney Milan’s voice in the genre.

Final Verdict: Unclaimed is a story that seeks to see the world through the eyes of a male protagonist who holds virtue to a higher degree than most, and the woman who is made for him who has defied all those conventions.

Favorite Quotes

“Mrs. Farleigh.” His words were choked. “You have no idea how long I have waited for someone to recognize that. I’m not an innocent. I’ve never been innocent. And yet I’m treated as if I were some sort of divine being, untouched by lust.”
She swallowed.
“It cheapens what I’ve accomplished,” Mark said, “to imagine me a saint. To believe I am untempted, that I pass through this life without feeling lust or want or desire. I said it in the first chapter of my book, and yet nobody seems to believe me. Chastity is hard.”
“I hadn’t thought—”
“I want. I lust. I desire.” He scrubbed his hand through sandy blond hair at that, shaking his head. “No. You’re right. You don’t deserve euphemisms. I want you. I lust after you. I desire you.”

She reached down to touch his erection. It was heavy in her hand, the head wet already. He hissed, his hands clutching her arms, as she stroked down his length.
She slid up onto her knees. One of his hands clasped her waist. He was the one to adjust his member into place, the one to set his hands on her hips. He was the one to apply just the slightest pressure. This wasn’t possible.
It was possible.
And then, it simply was.
His hands clenched around her arms. His breath came in explosive little gasps. His body entered hers—not in possession, but in desire.

It felt fragile, that kiss. As if this, too, would break. As if the future could rise up and choke the life from even this mutual desire. But he pressed her against the wall, and there was nothing delicate about his want. She couldn’t envision the future, but she comprehended this now—the hard ridge of his lust against her belly, the demands of his mouth, her own lust rising, hard and fast. She brought one leg up to draw him in. “Hold me,” she explained, guiding his hands to her hips. It took a few moments for him to get the idea—a few seconds until he slid inside her once more.
Each thrust speared through her uncertainty, each kiss grounded her. His hands held her up. When she came, it shattered her anxiety, splintering dark fears away.
His orgasm followed, fierce and relentless.

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