Review: The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended, for fans of richly crafted historical romance novels!

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: This Side of Heaven by Karen Robards

Format: E-bookthissideofheaven
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Dell
Hero: Matt Mathieson
Heroine: Caroline Wetherby
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 1, 1991
Started On: September 21, 2016
Finished On: September 21, 2016

32 year old Matt Mathieson, is the widowed and single father of two boys, going two years since his wife had died. Determined never to marry again, Matt’s life and that of his small family changes drastically when his wife’s sister turns up on his doorstep, having traveled all the way from England.

22 year old Caroline Wetherby is the beautiful half sister of Matt’s deceased wife. Having being left destitute with the death of their father who had made his life in the gambling halls throughout the city, Caroline travels all the way to America to find refuge with her sister, someone she has not seen in 15 long years. Wary of what would happen, telling herself its a mistake, she nevertheless has no choice, only to turn up and realize that her sister is no more.

Though Matt does not want much to do with Caroline, a small part of him is unable to turn away from Caroline’s need for a place to stay. The practical side of his character tells him that they all need a female presence around them, that his boys need a motherly influence in their lives. Against the wishes of his boys, Matt offers her shelter in return for her services as a female of the household, never knowing truly, how Caroline would prove to him that she is unlike any woman he has known before and would ever come across again.

This Side of Heaven has a trope that I love reading about. The reluctant and widowed hero, who for whatever reason believes that he would never remarry and the woman who turns up and throws his life into complete disarray. That was one of the reasons why I picked up this title, plus the point that I am a fan of Karen Robards, mostly of her earlier works. Though some of her books have failed to deliver on a large scale, the ones that do, do so remarkably well, which is one reason why I keep revisiting her older titles every now and then.

Though I liked the story that unfolded, the slow sizzle of awareness between Matt and Caroline, the story that I envisioned for them failed to materialize in between. On the plus side, Matt was not a hero of the asshole variety, as most heroes tend to be in earlier historical novels. However, their coming together was not the joyous and fireworks filled affair I thought it would be – at first. Nevertheless, Matt & Caroline were characters that grew on me.

Though the ending where Caroline nearly meets her maker at the hand of the villagers who see her for something else other than what she is proved to be sort of anticlimactic, I would still recommend This Side of Heaven because I enjoyed reading this in one sitting.

Final Verdict: Though not Robards’ best, This Side of Heaven delivers a great read!

Favorite Quotes

Matt looked at her for a long moment without answering, his face dark and his eyes restless. Then he laughed, a short, harsh sound that had nothing of amusement in it. “What does that mean, my poppet? Are you sure you want to know? But I’m going to tell you, since you’ve asked, whether you want to hear it or not. It means that you’ve been a raging fever in my blood for months. I can’t think, I can’t work, I lie awake nights going mad with wanting you. Is that enough to send you flying back to the house, or do you want to hear more?”

He kissed her as if he was starving for the taste of her mouth, kissed her as if he’d been hungry for eternity and, now, having been offered the sustenance he sought, was determined to have his fill. This was no gentle wooing, but a hard, needy taking, and Caroline could do nothing but cling to his shoulders and open her mouth to his and yield.

“Trust me, poppet,” he whispered in her ear. Caroline was briefly reminded of Eve and the serpent, who must once have murmured something very similar. But then his long fingers were moving lower yet, sliding down between her legs to touch her there so gently that the fire that ignited inside her as a result was almost shameful, and she no longer entertained any rational thoughts at all. Because surely that undemanding pressure should not in itself be enough to create such an inner burning! It was like liquid fire, a most pleasurable liquid fire that made her breathing quicken until she was almost panting and her body writhe against the hand that caressed her and the hard male body pressed close against her back.

“God in heaven!” he muttered as her lips brushed the whitened ridge and were withdrawn. The grin disappeared entirely in favor of a grimace as his eyes flared and turned dark “Then he was pushing her back down and lowering himself atop her, kissing her as if he would steal her very soul, his hands everywhere, caressing and arousing and possessing, lifting her legs to encircle his waist even as his body staked the most primitive claim of all.

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

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Review: To Desire a Devil by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-booktodesireadevil
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Legend of the Four Soldiers, #4
Publisher: Vision
Hero: Reynaud St. Aubyn
Heroine: Beatrice Corning
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 1, 2009
Started On: August 25, 2016
Finished On: August 30, 2016

To Desire a Devil, the last book in the Legend of the Four Soldiers series by Elizabeth Hoyt is a hard book to rate. This book had so much potential; after all, all the preceding stories had pretty much delivered on all fronts. Yet, this book sort of fell flat where every other book shined, and I could not muster enough enthusiasm for the main protagonists in the story either.

Reynaud St. Aubyn, the Viscount of Hope, returns home to a shocked household, who had all presumed him dead for seven long years. Held captive by Indians, Reynaud had not survived the hand that he had been dealt with, to walk away now from the challenge of proving himself to be who he says he is. To complicate matters, his reaction towards Beatrice Corning, niece of the present Earl who resides at his home is one that he does not particularly need or want. However, life has a way throwing the unexpected along your way, and even though Reynaud might not want the added complication, it is one that tempts him on every level.

While the accounts of what Reynaud had gone through made for interesting reading, the rest of the story pretty much did fall flat. I keep trying to put my finger on exactly what went wrong, and yet I cannot. Perhaps it is a mix of factors that led to the whole thing. Either way, this would have to be my least favorite book by Hoyt.

Recommended for fans of the series.

Favorite Quotes

Then he leaned down and kissed her forehead. “Are you sure?”
And that small bit of tenderness decided her. “Yes.”
He wasn’t gentle. He didn’t try to go slowly. He thrust himself inside her, quickly and violently, and her entire body arched with the pain. Burning. Tearing. Something wasn’t right.
She pressed her palms against his chest. “No.”
He looked down at her, his face drawn, the tattooed birds flying about his eye, wild and savage, and he no longer looked tender. He looked like a conqueror. “Too late. You’re mine now.”

He pushed the odd thought aside as he shoved the rest of his length into her. He grasped the headboard on either side of her arms and enclosed her within his embrace. She shivered, and somehow that little movement was the final straw. He began thrusting, hard and fast, the feel of her slippery flesh around him, holding him so tightly, sending him completely out of control. She arched her hips, pushing back at him, and he leaned forward, biting her nape to keep her steady. She gave a cry, high and helpless, and then her cunny was flexing about him, milking his cock as she came.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo | eBookMall | iTunes

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Review: To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-booktobeguileabeast
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Legend of the Four Soldiers, #3
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Alistair Michael Munroe
Heroine: Helen Fitzwilliam
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: May 1, 2009
Started On: August 18, 2016
Finished On: August 20, 2016

To Beguile a Beast, the third book in the Legend of the Four Soldiers begins right where To Seduce a Sinner ends. The foundation for the story being laid out towards the end of book 2. This story brings together two unlikely protagonists, Helen Fitzwilliam, the mistress to the very powerful Duke of Lister who had borne him two children, and Sir Alistair Michael Munroe, who lives in Scotland, deep within the ruins of the glory that his home had once been. With his dog Lady Grey as his only companion, Alistair has made it a habit to stay away from limelight and seeking out company because his grotesque scars tended to scare people off or make him feel uncomfortable about it.

When Helen turns up with her two children on Alistair’s doorstep, the only thing that stops him from sending them right off is the letter that Helen carries with her which comes from Lady Vale herself. Helen is equally determined that her attempts to flee from the life that had bound her to the Duke as his personal property would not be in vain, for she knows what lies at stake if the Duke were to hunt her down. Back home, the man in question burns with anger, all because the mere daughter of a physician should try and escape him, and there was no way she would not pay for what she has done. And thus begins the hunt that would bring them back home to him, where they rightfully belong.

From being a mistress whose material comforts had always been seen to, Helen goes into uncharted waters for her, working and trying to restore Alistair’s home to some sort of normalcy so that she could make a home for her kids. All of that does not stop Helen from becoming interested in the man that Alistair is, a naturalist who spends his days locked up in the tower that makes up his office, working the daylight hours away, meticulously recording his findings for his second book. Though Alistair of late has not been having much success in the writing department, he holes himself up in the tower all because he wants to stay away from the temptation that Helen presents, a woman who looks at him and sees him for who he is rather than what the rest of the world sees when they gaze upon him.

None of that stops from the desire that unfurls between them from exploding until they both give in. Not even Alistair’s taciturn nature that does its earnest most to keep the family from invading his heart. Helen unsure of the way she makes Alistair feel is nevertheless enraptured by the way she feels about him, every kiss and caress taking them both into a place none has ever been before. While Alistair is careful that he keeps her at a certain emotional distance, it doesn’t stop him from wanting things that he knows someone like him shouldn’t. Scarred not only on the outside but on the inside as well, Alistair had been a casualty of an attack that had not spared the civilian he had been in the group, and he bears the scars of that encounter right in his very soul.

From start to finish, Alistair had my heart. His playful nature in bed just brought out a devilish side of him that I found irresistible. Helen’s gentle firmness when it came to Alistair proved to be his undoing, for which I was so very glad. The quest for the truth of who had betrayed the regiment with whom Alistair had been when the attack had occurred continues in this book as well, of course without reaching its ultimate conclusion.

Loved it all, the broken bits the most!

Final Verdict: Captivates you in a way that leaves you breathless with wanting!

Favorite Quotes

“I’m sorry,” Helen began.
But without saying a word—without any warning at all, in fact—he yanked her against his chest and captured her mouth with his. A great involuntary shudder shook her frame. She hadn’t realized how much she’d been waiting for this, unconsciously anticipating when he’d make his next move. Her breasts were mashed against the hard plane of his chest, and his hands grasped her arms as his mouth moved with fierce determination on hers. Oh, it was lovely.
So lovely.
She tilted her head, melting against him like warm custard over apple pie.

Then her stays were off, and he drew her shift down her shoulders until she was bared to the waist.
He simply stared.
She raised her hand without thought, instinctively moving to cover herself.
He caught her wrist and drew it to her lap. “Don’t,” he whispered. “Let me look at you.”
She closed her eyes then, because she could no longer bear the sight of his gaze taking her in.
“You’re beautiful,” he murmured. “Beautiful enough to drive a man insane.”

She broke the kiss and said breathlessly, “I don’t—”
“Shh,” he murmured. He nibbled at the corner of her mouth. “It’s simple biology, really. I am made for inserting myself in you. You are made for receiving me. Thusly.”
“But—”
He thrust, the crown of his penis parting her folds, opening and stretching her. Her eyes flew wide open.
He was watching her with a demonic gleam in his eye. He smiled slightly and thrust again. She felt him invading her, entering her.
“You see?” he purred. “So simple.”

And then another wave hit, catching her by complete surprise and tossing her high, sailing on a crest of pure, exquisite pleasure. And at its peak she looked down and saw him, thrusting still faster into her, his broad shoulders bunched and tensed, his hairline gleaming with exertion. He arched back his head and shouted. And then he went still, trembling and jerking within her, his face gone curiously smooth.
She didn’t recognize the expression on his face at first, and then she realized: it was peace.

For long, passionate minutes, he licked and sucked and bit at her nipples until they were swollen, red, and glistening with his saliva. She moved agitatedly beneath him, entirely aroused yet unable to fulfill quite yet.
He reared up over her and studied what he’d done to her. His high cheekbones had a flush across them, his eyelid drooped lazily, and his lips were reddened from his ministrations yet were held in an almost cruel line.
“You look like a pagan sacrifice,” he growled low. “Prepared and laid out for some god to”—he leaned close and whispered in her ear—“fuck.”

“You,” she panted half-hysterically, “are a devil.”
He grinned almost boyishly. “Am I?”
“Ye-sss.” Her assent ended in a moan because he’d shifted suddenly, bringing his penis in direct contact with her drenched folds. “Oh.”
“You like that?” he inquired solicitously.
She could only nod as he slowly drew himself through her. He thrust with a small, controlled movement, his cock tunneling against her. She swallowed, not even caring about the wet, squishing sounds they made.
“Then,” he purred, “perhaps you are ready. For this.”
And he reared back and shoved himself full-length inside her. She arched her neck at the shock, the thrill, of being filled so suddenly.

And somewhere—sometime—during all this, she heard him growl and opened her eyes. He was on straight arms, levered above her, watching her as he made love to her. But now there was no way to mistake his expression for disinterest. Now his upper lip curled back in an erotic sneer. Now his face shone with effort and sweat. Now his one eye gleamed with dark intent.
Masculine intent.
As she watched, he speeded his thrusts until the bed thumped against the wall. She spread her legs farther and wrapped them high over his hips, watching his struggle until his face twisted as if in agony. A cry ripped from his throat, and he jerked against her one last time.
And she felt his strength fill her with warmth.

And he slid the halved lemon slowly into her.
She gasped at the sensation. The cold citrus, his warm fingers. He twisted inside her, did something, and then withdrew his fingers, leaving the lemon inside.
“There are those who doubt that a woman feels any sensation at all when stimulated here.” He drew his finger up through her folds again until he tapped once more on her clitoris. “I think they are mad, of course, but a scientist always tests his theories. Shall we see?”
See what? Helen thought, but had no time to say, because before she could speak, his mouth had replaced his finger, and she had no way of speaking after that.
All she could do was feel.

She turned her head and licked at his jaw.
He froze. “Don’t—”
This time she carefully tested her teeth against his skin. No matter how casual his words, he was on a razor’s edge—she could tell by how stiffly he held his body—and a wicked part of her wanted to send him over that edge. Wanted to drive him to the brink of insanity.
She scratched her nails down his back.
“Helen,” he rasped, “that isn’t wise.”
“But I don’t want to be wise,” she whispered back.
That did it. Whatever thread that had held him snapped. He lunged, driving his length into her softness, pummeling her, thrusting into her, panting and uncivilized.

“Enough,” he snapped.
He tore at her laces, ripping her bodice from her and flinging it halfway across the room.
“Enough playing. Enough cock teasing. Enough drawing this out.”
He pulled her skirts from her and flipped her before she had time to react. He pushed and pulled her until she was on her knees, braced on her elbows, and threw up the skirt of her chemise. He entered her from behind without warning, and she gasped.
Hot and hard. Long and full.

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[xrr rating = 4/5]

Caliber SEAL: GREAT READ!

Review: To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-booktoseduceasinner
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Legend of the Four Soldiers, #2
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Jasper Renshaw
Heroine: Melisande Fleming
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 1, 2008
Started On: August 15, 2016
Finished On: August 18, 2016

It is quite the impossible feat to finish reading To Taste Temptation, the 1st book in the Legend of the Four Soldiers series and not be intrigued by Emeline’s best friend Melisande Fleming. It is also fair to say that pairing Emeline’s best friend with the man she had been engaged to marry before she had met her happily ever after, the man being Jasper Renshaw, Viscount Vale was another reason that I was so quick in picking this up to read. Melisande’s character intrigued me for the front she puts up, the stoic and reasonable woman behind which I knew lay a heart that wants what most of us do. Someone to love, someone who returns that love tenfold and make you glad and giddy that it is so.

Even though popular with the ladies all over the ton, Vale seems to have run into quite the fix when it comes to acquiring his own bride. After being jilted for the second time, it is Melisande who comes to his rescue and offers her hand in marriage to him, surprising and intriguing him at the same time. While Vale makes it quite clear to Melisande that he is looking for a proper marriage, one where he gets bedding rights with his wife, Melisande agrees to everything and more. After all, she has loved Vale from afar for six long years and he needs not know her reasons for wanting him as her own.

Melisande is described as a plain woman. Someone who pretty much no man, especially one like Vale would notice in his attempts to woo and seduce ladies. It is Vale’s coping mechanism. Being surrounded by people, parties, laughter and joviality while on the inside he is reeling from the effect the tragedy at Spinner’s Falls had left on him. Being responsible for the regiment that had been attacked by Indians, the nightmares never leave him, especially at night when they come home to roost in his subconscious. Vale keeps that fact close to his heart, until Melisande breaks down the barriers he has put up, both physical and mental, until she takes him for everything he is.

Vale’s intrigue when it comes to the woman he married increases by the day. The sharp contrast between the woman who does not show much emotion during the day and fulfills every dirty and wanton need of his at night is a woman that needed to be unraveled. Vale is relentless in his pursuit of the secrets that Melisande hides behind. To find out what makes her tick. To find out what she wants. And most of all, why she offered her hand in marriage to him. A secret that Melisande guards as selfishly as Vale does that of his nightmares.

Along with the seduction and wooing of his wife that he pursuits with a vengeance, Vale continues his quest for the truth behind what happened at Spinner’s Falls. To find out the man that had betrayed his regiment and left them all at the torturous mercy of Indians who had practically annihilated them. Vale’s character is one you grow to love as the story goes on. The man behind the mask that he puts on at social gatherings is a man worthy of everything Melisande has to give and more. The fact that he never acknowledged Melisande’s existence before she had come up to him with the proposition does not deter him from seeing her from then on. Really seeing through to her and finding a woman who completes him in every single way possible. A woman he needs in every single way there is.

The emotional wallop behind the story suckerpunches you square in the gut right after the marriage. The emotions that coursed through me as I witnessed both Melisande and Vale at once fight the losing battle between them towards claiming each other as their own was one that I absolutely loved! The scene where Vale draws out Melisande’s secrets, one kiss at a time, one heady caress at a time was purely hedonistic, and I could not have asked for more!

Beautifully crafted, as always! Kudos to Hoyt, the master of the genre!

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Sinfully hot and just as exquisite! Hoyt’s name resounds all over the genre for a reason!

Favorite Quotes

“Why are you doing this?”
“What?” he asked idly. He brushed the rose against her cheek, the softness of the petals sending a shudder down her spine.
She caught his hand, hard and warm beneath her fingertips. “This. You act as if you’re wooing me.”
“Do I?” He was very still, his lips only inches from hers.
“I’m already your wife. There’s no need to woo me,” she whispered, and couldn’t keep the plea from her voice.
He moved his hand easily, though she still had her fingers wrapped about his. The rose drifted across her parted lips.
“Oh, I think there’s every need,” he said.

“Do you mind?” she asked.
She was gratified that he had to clear his throat. “Not at all.”
She nodded and raised the hem of her chemise to her hips before climbing into the chair. She straddled his lap carefully and let the chemise fall. Then she sat. For a moment, all she could do was savor the heat of his thighs against her bottom. She could feel his body hair tickling her most intimate parts.
Then she smiled and wove her arms about his neck. “Will you kiss me?”
“God, yes,” he growled.

She raised up on her knees and pushed against his cock. She was panting now. He watched her and brought his thumbs and forefingers together, pinching her nipples. She gasped and arched her back, but his cock slid to one side. Frantically, she reached between them to hold his slippery length steady. She ground against him. She could feel her folds, swollen beneath her fingers. She imagined her sex, crimson and wet, flowering against his cock. She rubbed the head of his penis against her clitoris, biting her lips, striving, struggling toward that goal.
Then he leaned forward and sucked a nipple into his hot, humid mouth, and she went over the cliff. Rushing, panting, she shattered in space.

She grabbed his broad shoulders and hung on. Her legs were wide, her breasts jiggling, and her mouth was open against his face, kissing, licking, biting. And all the while, his cock plundered her. Leaping. Demanding. Plunging.
Until all his muscles tightened at once. He shook his head, his teeth clenched, his body rigid, and she felt the hot wash of his seed into her body. He jerked once. Again. Then exhaled as if all the air was leaving his body at once.

 He jackknifed up and flipped her beneath him. And then he was looming large and menacing over her, his face dark as he growled, “Do you think me a plaything, my lady?”
She opened her legs wide, planted her feet, and arched her hips off the bed. She rubbed her sex against his length, watching as his eyelids fell in reaction.
“Perhaps I do,” she whispered. “Perhaps your cock is my favorite toy. Perhaps I want my toy in my—”
But he thrust fast and hard, making her lose her words on a gasp of pleasure.
“Wanton,” he gritted. “My wanton.”

“I have watched you,” she panted, “for years. I’ve seen you look at women—vapid, pretty women. I’ve seen you choose which ones you wanted. I’ve seen you stalk them, woo them, and seduce them. And I’ve seen when you grew tired of them, when your eyes would start to wander again.”
He tore at the laces to her bodice, loosening and pulling aside the fabric of her dress and stays until he reached her bare nipple. He palmed one breast and drew the other into his mouth, sucking strongly.
She cried out.
He lifted his head. “Tell me.”

“I watched you for years,” she whispered. The tears were drying on her cheeks, and heat was building within her. If he would just touch her. Touch her there. “I watched you and you never saw me.”
“I see you now,” he said, licking around a nipple. He trailed his tongue across her breast and to the other breast, circling the nipple there. Delicately. Tenderly.
Damn him.
“You didn’t even know my name.”
“I know it now.” He tested her flesh with his teeth.
Pleasure mixed with pain shot through her, straight from her nipple to where his hand still played. She arched, silently begging, and he relented, sucking the nipple strongly into his mouth.
“You . . .” She swallowed, trying to focus her thoughts. “You didn’t know I existed.”
“I do now.”

He stopped suddenly, and she opened her eyes. His head was thrown back, his eyes blind, pleasure convulsing his face.
“Melisande!” he cried.
His head thumped to the pillow beside hers, his lungs sucking air. He was heavy and hard, and her arms were still drawn over her head. It didn’t matter. She’d gladly suffocate here underneath him. She turned her face toward him and licked the ear she’d earlier bloodied, and she finally said it. She gave him what he wanted.
“I love you. I’ve always loved you. That’s why I married you.”

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Great Read!(1)

Review: To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-booktotastetemptation
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Legend of the Four Soldiers, #1
Publisher: Forever
Hero: Samuel Hartley
Heroine: Emeline Gordon
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: May 1, 2008
Started On: July 23, 2016
Finished On: August 15, 2016

Though the cover on this book leaves much to be desired, the first book in the Legend of the Four Soldiers is one that delivers on all fronts. After a failed attempt at picking up a historical romance from another author, I just couldn’t wait to erase that memory from my mind, which had me returning to Hoyt, an author that has never failed me up till this point. A tall order, I know. She might even have replaced classical favorites like Judith McNaught and Julie Garwood themselves, all because of the way Hoyt crafts her stories that leaves me begging for more.

Legend of the Four Soldiers is centered around four soldiers who returns from war and a terrible incident that marks them forever. Battling with PTSD and worse, these are the stories of the happily ever afters these four soldiers find for themselves. In the midst of each story, true to Hoyt’s trademark, there is an element of mystery happening which makes the book that much more of a page-turner. Each soldier chooses a different path to travel to their ultimate destinations, and in doing so Hoyt once again finds a common theme between the enchanting fairy tale that she begins each chapter with and the actual story that unfolds. That is just one more reason why Hoyt has carved a notch for herself in a genre that is redundantly often overdone with stories that are taxing to read. 

Mr. Samuel Hartley the hero is not from London society, rather he is a businessman from Boston, one of the soldiers that comes seeking Lady Emeline Gordon on the pretense of hiring her services for his sister. But Samuel in reality is seeking the truth of what happened in Spinner’s Falls, to find out who it is that had betrayed their regiment in such an abominable manner. Emeline meanwhile comes off as snobbish and standoffish from the first moment Samuel seeks her out. Perhaps the reason being that Samuel triggers feelings inside of her that she had forcibly buried, never to resurrect, ever since the death of her husband. The scars that have been leftover from the death runs deep, something readers only come to know as the story progresses towards its pivotal moments.

Samuel comes off as someone rather average at first, a harmless soul if ever there was one. Hoyt created a mesmerizing character out of Samuel by revealing his true self as a man who is driven by desire of the kind he cannot control, an alpha man to boot, not willing to take no from the woman who holds his desires captive. Emeline would give just about anything to turn away from Samuel, but she finds herself in a vicious cycle of need that refuses to be denied, a need that sees her getting into one clandestine position after another with Samuel. 

Though the story was a tad slow at the beginning, once things started heating up, I could barely breathe from the anticipation that was coursing through me. I always love the fact that Hoyt never shortchanges readers on the scenes of passion that she so artfully crafts into her novels. They are gems to be treasured. Every single one of them. The way the passion between Samuel and Emeline exploded onto the pages was just as beautifully done. It was dirty, raw, explicit, momentous and beautifully wondrous at the same time. Every scene brings forth the tightly reined in passions of two people who are so well suited for each other, but one or the other is too blind to see it, or refuses to in this case. The number of quotes included in this review attests to what I am talking about.

Samuel’s stubbornly unyielding attempts at winning Emeline over mesmerized me just as much as the scenes of passion did, knowing that to win the heart of someone such as Emeline so well entrenched within the customs of the elite of society would find it hard to break out of the safe existence she had carved out for herself.

Absolutely breathtaking, the fairy tale as well as the story of the love that unfurls between Emeline and Samuel! No two ways about it. Recommended!

Final Verdict: A feast for all your senses; heart, mind, body & soul!

Favorite Quotes

She inhaled deeply and sat back, her face entirely hidden by shadows now. “What difference does it make to you if I do find your affairs to be of interest, Mr. Hartley?”
He smiled wryly. “Touché, my lady. I’m sure a sophisticated gentleman of your society would deny it to his death if he was moved by your interest, but I am made of simpler stuff.”
“Are you?” The words were whispered in the dark.
He nodded slowly. “So I tell you: I am moved by your interest. I am moved by you.”
“You are frank.”
“Can you admit the same?”

“Yes, that’s what I want. A civilized man. An Englishman who knows the rules of society, an aristocrat to help me with my son and my lands. We are perfectly suited, Jasper and I. We are as alike as two peas in a pod.”
She saw the hurt in his eyes. It was very subtle, few other people, perhaps no other person, would understand it, but she saw and comprehended. She was hurting him.
So she drove the knife home. “We will be married soon, and I will be very, very happy—”
“Goddamn you,” he growled, and then he kissed her.

She was panting, almost crying, her mouth working under his, their teeth scraping against each other inelegantly. There was no finesse, no pretty caress in their kiss. This was a display of lust and anger.
She could smell his skin. He wore no powder or pomades or perfume, it was purely him, and she was driven mad by his scent. She wanted to tear the coat from his shoulders, rip off his shirt and neckcloth and bury her nose in his naked neck.

“Samuel,” she moaned.
“Hush,” he muttered.
He was urging her legs apart, and one part of her mind was thinking that his position relative to hers did not put her in the most attractive angle. Then she forgot any doubts, for he was running his thumb along her crease.
“You’re wet,” he said, his voice deep and dark with male satisfaction.
She lifted her head from the wall and almost pulled away at that. How dare he take her for granted?
But he tilted her hips and then…
Oh, God! And then he licked her.

He swore suddenly, and then he caught her against himself, her bare back pressed to his waistcoat as his cock buried itself in her and began to spurt. It was an odd angle—and erotic—her feet on tiptoe, her legs wide apart, her breasts and belly bare and displayed, impaled on his cock. She heard him groan and reveled in his loss of control. He worked insistently at her bud, splaying his hand possessively over her cunny as he came inside her.
And then she did scream. Waves of almost painful pleasure coursed through her as she convulsed on his cock. He placed his hand over her mouth to muffle the sound, and she bit him, relishing the taste of his skin on her tongue.
Behind her, he caught his breath. “Little cat.”

“I may not be fully aware of all the niceties of your society, but I think that you won’t want that.”
Her mouth had fallen open during this arrogant speech, but now as he turned away, she found her voice. “How dare you presume—”
He caught her by the shoulders, making her indignant sentence end on a squeak. He bent his head and spoke fiercely into her ear. “I dare because you welcomed me into your body not a quarter of an hour ago. Your body rained your pleasure all over my cock, and I want that again.”
He covered her mouth. But this time his kiss wasn’t gentle or soft. It spoke of a man’s desire. He thrust his tongue into her mouth and angled his head so that his lips all but enveloped hers, and her silly body arched into him. She wanted this. She craved this. Intellect and reason fled her brain.

He lifted his head, but his gaze remained on her breasts. “I’ve been thinking of this all day—your nipples, bare to me and what I would do with them. I could hardly walk for the cockstand in my breeches.” His eyes flicked to hers, and she saw that his expression was almost angry. “That’s what you do to me—turn me into a mindless, hungering cock.”
She squirmed at the words, so crude and explicit.
His nostrils flared at her movement and she froze. “Hold them for me. Offer your breasts to me so I can suck them until you come.”

“Will this do?” he grunted.
She didn’t answer, lost in a sea of bliss.
He slammed into her and held still. “Will this do, my lady?”
Her eyes flew open and she glared at him. “Yes!” She clutched at his buttocks, trying to get him to move again. “Yes! Yes! Yes! Just move, damn you!”
And he complied, either chuckling or growling low in his throat; it was impossible to tell, because her eyes had fallen closed again.

She sobbed, helpless and angry, and more angry that she let her innermost feelings show. “Stop.”
He shook his head slowly, pressing into her again, his hard body causing hers to flower open, vulnerable to all the sensations he was making her feel. His eyelids dropped for a second as if he, too, were overwhelmed by what he did. Then he raised them and looked into her eyes. “No.”

He withdrew a fraction of his length, but she felt the friction as his cock pulled against her oversensitive flesh. Then he was bearing down again, grinding, grinding, grinding against her exposed clitoris, and she couldn’t stand it anymore.
She came apart, all the secrets, doubts, worries, and hopes that she had kept tightly bound to herself flying outward, free and unharnessed, exposed to the chill morning air and to him.
To him.
And she looked up in time to see him grit his teeth and tremble, undone as much as she, as he released his seed within her.

But he withdrew his hand from her suddenly, catching her about the waist and lifting and shoving so that her rump balanced precariously on a barrel. Then he was between her legs, and she opened her eyes to watch him frantically rip at his breeches.
“God!” It was a groan. He freed himself and thrust into her, huge and hot, in the same movement. “God!”
She sank her nails into the cloth covering his shoulders and hung on for dear life, wrapping her legs high over his hips. He jerked rapidly in her, thrusting again and again and again. Her orgasm had not fully crested and now it began anew on a higher, sweeter, almost painful note.

She tore at his coat, ripping it off his upper arm, and filled her mouth with clean linen and his shoulder. Her eyes closed in bliss as she bit him. She clung to him while his cock took his pleasure of her. He rode her hard, rode her until she wanted to scream, rode her until he grabbed the back of her head and kissed her, his mouth wide and gasping as he came, his great body shaking. She could feel the heat of his seed flooding within her. And she knew, even as she crested the wave herself, she knew.
This must be the last time.

He muttered something and released her nipple, catching her hips. He pumped into her in quick, powerful thrusts, grunting with each plunge, his cock hard and hot and long within her. His movements, his obvious desperation, prolonged her pleasure, and when she felt his warmth flood her, she was still in bliss. She fell against his heaving chest, his hand tangling in her hair, his breath rasping against her damp temple. She heard his whisper in her ear.”
“I love you.”

He wouldn’t forget her, his warm lady, even if he lived for six decades more. He knew that now, sitting by her cold fire. She would be with him all the days of his life. As he walked the streets of Boston, as he conducted his business or chatted with acquaintances, she would be the ghost beside him. She would sit with him as he ate, she would lie beside him as he slept. And he knew that when his time on this earth was at an end, his last thought as he entered the void would be of her.
The scent of lemon balm would haunt him forever.
So he sat a little longer, watching her sleep. All the days of the rest of his life stretched before him, and he needed to store up these few seconds with her.
They would have to last him a lifetime.

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