Review: Bitterleaf by Lisa Gregory

Format: Paperbackbitterleaf
Read with: Paperback
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Jove
Hero: Jeremy Delvin
Heroine: Meredith Whitney
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 01, 1983
Started On: March 15, 2019
Finished On: March 18, 2019

Bitterleaf by Lisa Gregory aka Candace Camp was first published when I was just barely one year old. Since this book has never been released in the eBook format, I purchased a used paperback copy of the novel sometime back. This book was listed in one of the recommendation threads I had been searching through way back, in my attempt to find novels where plenty of angst is to be had in a story that brings together two strong willed characters in a marriage of convenience.

When Bitterleaf begins, 21 year old Meredith Whitney, considered plain and gawky because she is taller than average and is not considered a beauty that would turn a man’s head, goes to Charleston with her stepfather Daniel Hurley. Meredith’s mother had died sometime back, leaving her with her stepfather, whom she had grown to love and respect in time. Under Daniel’s hands, Bitterleaf, the homestead where Meredith had grown up, had flourished and prospered, making Meredith a wealthy woman in her own right.

It is when Meredith, in her bid to escape the companionship of her vapid cousin Phoebe steps out into the market with her stepfather that she faces the man who would change her life in ways she would never have thought possible. Jeremy Devlin, a member of the aristocracy, whose uncle finally has enough of him and sends him on his way to the colonies as an indentured servant, finds himself purchased by none other than the man accompanied by the haughty woman whom he promises to teach a thing or two, if he ever has the chance.

Even though Jeremy finds Meredith to be plain and lacking in terms of beauty, there is something about her that draws him to the “Amazon” that she is in his mind. Jeremy prefers women who are more comely, but it is Meredith and the way she looks at him, with innocent wonder in her eyes that makes him burn.

For Meredith, laying eyes on the tall and sapphire-eyed Jeremy is the end to life as she has known it. Meredith, who had considered herself above those ruled by their want for pleasures of the flesh, finds herself wanting something that she herself does not even understand. It is perhaps owing to this and Jeremy’s frustration with Meredith that culminates in the resulting events, causing a rift that practically defines the whole story from that point onward, casting a dark shadow on every interaction that takes place between Meredith and Jeremy, especially when they are “forced” into a marriage of convenience.

I wanted to like the story, I really did. After all, this had all the ingredients that should rightfully satisfy my appetite for the less than conventional/accepted romances by readers today. To a certain point in the story, everything did work for me. But from the point where Meredith couldn’t seem to come clean about what was bothering her, how she started to continually grate on my nerves (now imagine poor Jeremy who actually had to put up with her?) was the point of no return for me when it came to my dislike for Meredith as a character.

Meredith turned out to be a tiresome, hateful in some ways, unable to look beyond her own insecurities that are of course ingrained deeply in her psych. However, for me, just like a man’s inexcusable behavior towards the heroine is not forgiven all because of what he may have faced during his childhood, I hold the heroine too to the same standard. I found Meredith wearisome especially when it came to not being able to see Jeremy’s desire for her for what it truly was – desire for the woman he wants above anything and anyone else.

Meredith never gives Jeremy the chance to explain things, which once again puts a black mark against her already laborious character. I dislike couples who detract from the enjoyment of the angst that should rightfully be present in a book such as Bitterleaf, but Meredith’s way of being unable to open her mouth without something scathing coming out of it, her self righteousness above everything else was certainly the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to Meredith and the story itself.

I felt that the story would have been better had Jeremy left and Meredith finally had to face the erroneous assumptions she had made about a man who would would have given her everything. She should have learnt the hard way that Bitterleaf alone wouldn’t give her lifelong happiness. The way one of the secondary characters left the story was also a bit of a sore point. While I understood Meredith’s jealousy, I found her inability to forgive and move on a sore point, especially when nothing had actually happened. For me whatever good that was Meredith was overshadowed in a large way by her critical nature. Her inability to look beyond and see the larger picture.

In the end, I skipped through huge chunks of the story just so I could reach the ending because I had invested a lot of time in reading Bitterleaf, not to to mention the first half of the story that was enjoyable.

Final Verdict: Bitterleaf’s name is synonymous with a character trait that defines the heroine. I expected more from the story than a woman who could not look past her own insecurities.

Favorite Quotes

“Jeremy, what are you doing? Stop this at once.”
He chuckled. “Your voice lacks conviction.”
“You startled me, that’s all.”
An eyebrow quirked in disbelief. He dropped her glove on the ground and placed his hands on either side of her face, imprisoning her head and forcing her to look at him. For a long moment, he stared into her green-brown eyes, and then his face lowered. Meredith closed her eyes and sought to pull away, but his grip held her firm. Jeremy’s lips took hers gently, moving upon them in exploration as if he had all the time in the world before him.

At first his kiss was harsh and angry, more a demand than an expression of feeling, but at the touch of her soft lips it didi not remain so for long. His lops gentled as he tasted the sweetness of her mouth. He worked at her with tongue and lips and teeth, exploring, hungry, until she responded with a whimper and her arms came up to curve around his neck. Her tongue met and matched his, easing tentatively into his mouth.
Jeremy shudderedm hurled violently into a relam beyond reason, aware of nothing but the supreme pleasyre he held in his arms. He rained wild kisses across her face and neck, mouthing the soft flesh of her throat, nibbling her sensitive earlobes. Meredith moved in his arms, unable to absorb the multitude of delights he showered upon her.

Suddenly his lips dug into her fierecely. He wrapped his arms around Meredith, pulling her down with him until they both knelt on the floor. Jeremy pressed her torso against his firm body, savoring the thrust of her breasts against his chest. “Meredith,” he breathed. Holding her, he lay back on the floor, pulling her on top of him. It seemed to Meredith a surprisingly natural place to be.
With one hand he shoved down the bodice of her dress, and his mouth trailed down her neck and chest to explore her breasts. He made asoft, wordless noise as he took her nipple into his mouth and felt it harden at the touch. The sound stirred Meredith almost as much as his caressing tongue. She felt strangely weak and melting, itching, yearning.

Jeremy drew back, panting. “God, you tempt me. But I won’t take you like this, on the floor of the study. Not the first time. We shall splendidly be married and marvelously naked in our own bed. I wanted to give you a taste of what you’re ‘buying.’ Perhaps there will be women who snicker, but you can bet there isn’t one who wouldn’t trade places with you, because you’ll wake up smiling. They’ll pretend to pity you, but in reality it’s envy they’ll feel, thinking about the nights you spend tumbling in my bed, well-serviced, while their own husbands are out wenching at the tavern or sporting with a slave girl or too tired or lazy or old to give their wives pleasure. They yearn, my love, they hunger for a young, healthy male like a mare in heat. Believe me, they’d grab at what you have. They’d pay any price to have the sleepy, well-loved look your face will wear. Maybe you bought me on the auction block, but I’ll give you more than you could ever pay.”

“Jeremy,” she sighed when his mouth released hers.
He nibbled at her earlobe, sending bright shivers all through her. “Say it again.”
“Jeremy?”
“Yes.” His breath came hard, in short gasps, his skin as burning and damp as that of a man in the throes of a swamp fever. “My name. You’ve never said it. Jeremy.”
“Jeremy,” she repeated in wonder that he should want her to say his name.
“Oh, Meredith, Meredith.” His mouth was running wild over her neck and shoulders.

“Oh, Jeremy, you won!” Meredith’s eyes sparkled.
The hand that had lifted her up fastened behind her neck and turned her to him, his mouth sinking into the softness of hers. The warmth that had mushroomed in her belly now shot through her enture body. Meredith didn’t give a thought to the other spectators. Instead, she wrapped an arm around Jeremy’s neck and pressed her lips against his. He was hot, his shirt damp beneath her hands. Her nostrils were filled with the pungent odor of horse and sweat. Boldly, instinctively, her tongue flicked out to scoop up the tiny droplets beading his upper lip. Her movement interruped their kiss, but Jeremy didn’t seem to mind. He made a startled, almost animal growl deep in his throat. His free hand slipped beneath her volumnious cloak, straining her against his body, and he kissed her with even more passion, his tongue raking her mouth.

His hands went to the sash of her wedding gown, untying the knot and letting the belt fall. Slowly, savoring the moment, he shoved back the heavy velvet robe, exposing her body clad only in the almost transparent nightgown. She heared him catch his breath and glanced up. His face was flushed, the eyelids heavy, shuttering the intense blue gaze. The dressing gown crumpled silently to the floow as he studied her. All mockery fled from his face as he looked at the swelling mounds of her breasts, nipples dark against the thin material. His eyes moved downward, taking in the smooyth line of her legs, hazily revealed beneath the cloth, all the more tantalizing for their faint concealment. Meredith watched him, braced for a jest or offensive mark, but none came. She sucked in her lower lip, Jeremy’s eyes darkened to a deep midnight blue. “Meredith.”

He began to move within her, but unlike their earlier lovemaking, he thrust again and again. Instead of satisfying her ache, it seemed to make it grow until Meredith involuntarily rolled her head from side to side. Jeremy pounded into her, and she arched up to take him in more fully. She wanted all of him. And something more. She didn’t know what, but the urge was deep and driving.
But Jeremy knew. At her whimper of frustration, he began to move faster, his hips churning, carrying her with him to a new universe of blinding pleasure. He hurled her higher and higher, until she was gasping for breath and clutching at his back, her nails digging unthinkingly into his skin.

Purchase Links: Amazon | AbeBooks

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Review: Bad Princess by Julianna Keyes

Format: E-bookbadprincess.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Finian Bellamy
Heroine: Brinley Cantrella
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 27, 2017
Started On: June 20, 2018
Finished On: June 22, 2018

Bad Princess by Julianna Keyes is a novella that I enjoyed immensely. One reason being that it was different and lighthearted for the most part, while giving readers two characters that you could root and fall for. Julianna Keyes is an author who is immensely talented in the way she invokes so much emotion with every book she has written to-date. I know what I am talking about because except for her latest book in the Burnham College series, I have read everything that she has written and published in the genre.

Bad Princess as the title alludes to, is the story of the younger princess of the Kingdom of Estau, born three years after the birth of the most precious and beloved daughter of the Kingdom, Princess Elle Vida. Princess Elle had been the perfect princess; nothing in her life had been out of sync, never had she misbehaved. She had always done what had been expected of her, that is until she had abdicated the throne and eloped with a commoner when her marriage had already been arranged with a Prince from the neighboring Kingdom of Lenora.

Meanwhile, Princess Brinley Cantrella, with her penchant for mischief and “misbehavior”, is considered lacking the proper decorum that is required of a princess. Knowing that she would never be able to live up to the image of perfection that is her sister, Brinley perhaps had gone out of her way to live her life exactly as she had wanted. Causing scandals is her nature, and getting the opportunity to go to university, away from the prying eyes and ears of the Kingdom had been a godsend for her, that is until duty once again calls her back home.

With Elle having eloped and left the duty of marriage to Prince Finian Bellamy hanging in the balance, it is Brinley who eventually has to step in to fill the role, especially being caught in her most clandestine position yet, with none other than Prince Finian, her sister’s ex-fiance’. For Brinley, this marriage of convenience would be the ultimate punishment; getting married to the man she has loved since she was five years old, but knowing he would never love her in return.

So starts a marriage that is borne out of duty on both parts, or so Brinley believes, until her husband proves her otherwise, in each delicious and wanton encounter in bed and out of it, that leaves Brinley begging for more. However, Brinley’s legendary past is something that is determined to keep up, until she is forced to face her inner demons and accept her own self as being capable and able to course her own chart in traversing through life as an equal partner to her wedded husband.

I believe Julianna did a marvelous job of bringing the touch of modern to a fairy tale romance, the kind of romance we all fall in love with during our childhoods and carry them with us, even till today. I loved every single aspect of this book from the very unusual Princess Brinley who had her work cut out for her when it came to standing her ground and being true to her own self.

I absolutely adored Finnian. He is the kind of Prince I wouldn’t mind being shackled with. In all honesty, Finn and Brinley were made for each other. I fell in love with Finn because he sees right through Brinley, and accepts and loves her for all that she is. Her exploratory nature, her need for messing things up a little, and the way she always gives herself wholeheartedly to each and every adventure that life throws their way are reasons to love her all the more.

I cannot help but be curious to read about Elle’s story, the perfect sister and princess who “lost” her way to the “wicked” lumberjack who had led her “astray”. I hope Julianna intends to write her story one day.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: In Bad Princess, Julianna Keyes delivers a fairytale romance with a twist of modern and leaves the reader wanting more!

Favorite Quotes

She clutched his shoulder and raised onto her toes, kissing him again, breath hitching when he pressed a finger inside. He touched her sweetly at first, then with more confidence, more purpose. A second finger joined in, the heel of his hand glancing her clit, and Brinley couldn’t help but grind against him, even though she wanted this to last much, much longer. He was so good, so—
The library doors banged open and Brinley froze.
Everything froze.
Finn.
His fingers.
The air.
The planet turning on its axis.
The only things that moved were the tourist cameras, clicking frantically as they caught the bad princess in her most compromising position yet.

Finn made the first move.
He put down the tablet and leaned in, closing the scant inches between them, and paused with his mouth a hairsbreadth away. When Brinley didn’t move he closed the remaining space and touched his lips softly to hers.
She tried not to whimper foolishly.
Tried foolishly not to want this.
Want him.
Her husband.
He tilted his head slightly and hers moved as well, improving the fit. They fit together so well. Unfairly well. So temptingly, appallingly well. He nudged her bottom lip and she opened for him, felt his tongue on hers, every bit as skilled as it had been the first time. His hand slipped into her hair and cupped the back of her head, and Brinley let out the whimper she wanted to hide, let him slide a hand over her hip and draw her in so she straddled his lap.

His head fell forward like his neck had grown too weary to hold it up, and she heard him pull in a shaky, steadying breath. She lifted a hand to stroke his back, feeling the ridges of his spine beneath her fingers, the sweat that beaded on his skin. He was waiting for something, composure perhaps, or even more permission, and Brinley opened her legs wider and pressed her heels into the cushion to spur him on.
He started to move, deep, languorous thrusts that reignited nerve endings she would have sworn had been extinguished, and slowly their hips found a compatible rhythm, the slap of their skin growing louder as the intensity increased, as the thrusts lengthened and deepened, as Finn fucked her.
It was that idea, that word, that had Brinley coming undone a second time, something that had never happened before, never even been close to happening. Now it felt like it was totally out of her control, her body responding to stimuli it had been trying for years to tell her it needed.

Brinley writhed in her seat, acutely aware of the weight of his fingers inside her, the reward that waited if she could just behave long enough. Her tutors had tried to teach her the virtues of patience so many times, then given up when their own patience expired.
“I need to come,” she said, her voice hitching. “Please move your hand again. Please touch me.”
He held her gaze, then slowly lowered his head so his mouth covered her nipple, lips fastening around the sensitive skin and sucking hard. Brinley’s back arched and her legs fell apart, and all pretense of not moving fell by the wayside. She felt herself sliding down the smooth leather until her back was on the seat and her husband loomed over her, his fingers thrusting hard inside, finding just the right spot to have her fumbling for her satin clutch, biting into the shiny fabric as she came.

She groaned loud and long into the pillow as he slipped two fingers inside her pussy, her inner muscles clinging to him greedily, thrilling to the rough handling. “Lose the pillow,” he grunted, reaching up to pull it away from her face.
“I can’t,” she replied, fumbling to take it back, barely able to breathe. “Someone will hear.”
“Let them hear. They will stop this talk of divorce.” He punctuated each sentence with a rough lick across her too-sensitive skin, and Brinley trembled all over.
“They will start a new conversation, of an even more embarrassing nature.”
“What’s embarrassing about having your pussy eaten?” Finn asked mildly.

“Fuck,” he growled above her. “Brinley.”
She sucked him harder, hollowing her cheeks, rubbing her tongue on the underside of his cock and tasting the wetness at his tip.
He jerked away and caught her under the arm, pulling her to her feet. “Bend over,” he ordered roughly.
She did as instructed, bracing her elbows on the bed, ass in the air, exposed and anticipating. There was the sharp rip of the condom package and a pause as Finn rolled it on, then he was gripping her hips and working himself into her welcoming body, grinding himself against her as though erasing any doubts between them. Brinley dropped her head to the soft blankets and gave herself over to sensations she could not control. She moaned and writhed as Finn fucked her, his hips driving in so deeply from this angle, so completely. He shattered her and she came apart in his hands, her body conceding, obeying when she never obeyed. And above her he groaned, a long, heartfelt sound as he came, showing her all the things he could not say.

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Review: The Samurai’s Garden by Patricia Kiyono

Format: E-bookthesamuraisgarden.jpeg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Astraea Press
Hero: Hiromasa Tanaka
Heroine: Hanako Shimizu
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 06, 2012
Started On: October 15, 2017
Finished On: December 19, 2017

The Samurai’s Garden by Patricia Kinoyo is a book that I purchased on a whim when I came across the title on Amazon. The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise, set in Japan is one of my favorite movies of all time. Plus, Japan as a country holds a wealth of fascination for me, not the least to do with their discipline, moral code, their love for nature, and their general kindness towards humanity. To read a romance set in Japan, infused deeply with Imperial Japanese culture was something too good for me to pass up.

The Samurai’s Garden is set in the 17th century, a time during when the Samurai were stripped of their powers, leaving a lot of of men lost amidst the changes taking place. In Hokkaido, Hanako Shimizu is a widow struggling to survive the harsh realities of life without her father and her husband. Not that the latter had been of much help when it came to the practicalities of life. But for a woman without the protection of a male in the household, life was a perilous journey, especially considering the unwanted advances of men she would rather not associate with.

When a stranger with two swords hanging at his side comes to her rescue at the market and offers to work at her homestead for a place to stay and warm meals, Hanako wants to refuse. But something about the way Hiromasa Tanaka holds himself makes her trust him enough to invite him into her life.

Justice, Bravery, Benevolence, Politeness, Veracity, Honor, and Loyalty were the seven codes of the Bushido, or “Way of the Warrior”; the code by which Hiro has lived his life up till the point until the new laws had come into place. Rather than head back to Tokyo to be with his family as he should have done, Hiro had gone even further north until he had come to the island of Hokkaido where he meets Hanako, invariably changing both their lives forever.

Working together to make Hanako’s home self sufficient, Hiro proposes marriage to Hanako, an offer that she is reluctant to accept for many reasons. Hanako has always more or less being viewed as a nobody with no special skills to speak of, no family of worth to back her, which means that understanding her own worth is a monumental task for her. Hiro aims to change all that for his Little Flower, as soon as she would agree to do the honors of being his wife.

The Samurai’s Garden was so lovely in so many ways. There is Hiro of course, a man who is as gentle and kind as they come, with a core of steel running through him that makes him oh so very desirable. His dedication towards making their shared home a prosperous and happy one is evident throughout and for those reasons and more I loved him wholeheartedly. There was also the fact that Hiro wanting to allay Hanako’s fears about being done wrong by a worthless husband yet again, does something very uncommon, especially during the time period in which the story is set. That was the icing on the cake for me when it came to Hiro’s character.

Hanako, while she resists Hiro on many levels at first, starts seeing the man of worth Hiro is from day one. However, that does not make it easy for her to trust him with her heart, and the way Hiro wins her over, inch by inch, and how Hanako blooms under his care, love, and attention was so worth it.

In the midst of it all, Hiro prepares the village to face off rogue Samurai, and the final test of their relationship comes when Hiro is called back home to face unfinished business that he had left behind. What the whole story brings together, apart from the way Hideyori Kato’s story ended, a bit anticlimactically if you ask me, everything else was pretty wonderful.

I just adored how Hiro calls Hanako his Little Flower. Made me go awn every single time. The garden Hiro plants and tends to around their property, even with Hanako’s misgivings about its practicality, the flowers that bloom, the beauty, peace, and tranquility of it all which Ms. Kinoyo brings to life so effortlessly with her words was why I adored this book.

Recommended for those who would love to read a romance in a Japanese historical setting.

Final Verdict: The Samurai’s Garden is aptly named in a way that brings a smile to my heart. It reminds me of Hiro and Hanaka, and Hiro’s undying love for a woman who is his equal in every way. Beautifully written!

Favorite Quotes

Hiro stood at the edge of the clearing, swinging an ancient axe in a deadly arc at the trunk of a thick tree. A loud crack preceded the thunderous boom as it crumpled to the earth. The axe continued its work as limbs and branches were separated from the trunk.
Hanako’s mouth went dry at the sight of her handsome guest. He was stripped to the waist, his tanned and muscled arms glistening as they swung rhythmically. She couldn’t resist leaning out of the doorway to get a closer look. Mesmerized, she stared at the rippling muscles on his back. Kenji had never stirred such feelings in her. Of course, Kenji had never subjected himself to hard physical labor. He was an artist and an intellectual.

“Are you certain you are all right?” Hanako asked again.
“I’m fine,” he insisted. “I’m just hungry.”
“Yes, of course. I will prepare your meal,” she said as she scurried toward the cook stove. He noticed her hands shook as she measured the rice, poured water into the pot, and attempted to light the fire. The flame would not start for her, and as she tried again and again, she got more agitated. Finally he got up and stood behind her. He reached around her and put his hand on hers.
“You are too distressed from today’s events. I can do this.”
She dropped the flint and covered her eyes. Great sobs racked her body, and she tried to step away from him, but he gathered her in his arms and rocked her gently.
“You are safe, my little flower. I would not let anyone harm you.”

She let herself dream as his arms and body cradled her. They went through the motions, his right hand and arm directing the improvised weapon, his left hand moving her body. It was amazing how their bodies fit together, how their limbs moved in perfect synchronization. His hands switched as he moved the improvised weapon to her other hand and turned her body so her left side faced the imaginary opponent. Hanako knew the movements had been designed for fighting, but the two of them were engaged in a much different, though equally intense, reality.

He had often imagined her like this, late at night, as he tried to sleep knowing she was only a short walk away. His mind’s eye had constructed the creaminess of her skin, the smooth curve of her body, the warmth of her smile. But the vision before him surpassed all of his dreams. This woman had been created especially for him, and he alone would have the right to cherish her from now to eternity. He would not ever take this right for granted.

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookDepository

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Review: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookdukeofdesire.png
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #12
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Raphael de Chartres
Heroine: Iris Daniels
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 17, 2017
Started On: December 11, 2017
Finished On: December 16, 2017

Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt is the much awaited final installment in the Maiden Lane series, books that have consistently managed to captivate, woo, and stupendously deliver on all fronts where the romance genre is concerned. Hoyt writes with a flair that is rarely found in the genre; with heart, wit, and a sensuality that takes your breathe away. Why I fell in love with her books is owing to all that and more, and though I was sad to be saying goodbye to the series, I knew in my heart that it was time.

Duke of Desire brings to readers the story of Iris Daniels, Lady Jordan whom we encounter in the previous book in the series, alongside with Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore. Raphael is a man on a mission to hunt down the members of the Lords of Chaos, a despicable secret society whose members consisted of aristocrats who enjoyed preying on the most vulnerable – on the rape and destruction of women and children.

When Iris finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the diabolical intentions of the members of the Lords of Chaos, it is Raphael who steps into rescue her, though it does not seem like that at first from where she is standing. However, as circumstances push them together, Raphael finds himself at odds with his lifelong mission that had set him on the course of pursuing the members of the group. In Iris, he finds a a flicker of light at the end of that long and dark tunnel that glows brighter every passing minute he spends in her company, enticing him to cast the demons that hounds him aside and be free to love her as he yearns to.

Iris having being married before, wants more from marriage the second time around. Being “forced” into “wedded bliss” with Raphael hardly seems like the road to achieving that particular dream she has for her future. But bit by bit, Iris comes to the realization that with Raphael, she just might find everything her heart yearns and desires for, if only she is willing to peel back the layers that makes the complex man that Raphael is, and help him confront his painful past.

For me, Duke of Desire was a story that didn’t quite reach its potential. I felt that there was so much more that Hoyt could have done with the storyline, but missed out on, which made the story a bit lackluster in certain areas.

Raphael however, was a gem of a hero who I wanted to hold close and even cry about at times. His past is one that proved to be graphically all too real at certain points (which was necessary in my opinion), and horrifyingly so close to the truth if you look at the depravity that is human nature all too often. To have suffered what Raphael did, at such a tender age, alongside with the conflicting array of emotions he has for his abuser (which was all too understandable), I found that Raphael’s character was one I fell for without a shred of doubt.

For me, it was Iris’s character that I found lacking. While I loved her for her gentle and giving nature, there was something missing in her, a characteristic that is strongly inherent in almost all of Hoyt’s heroines. I also found the ending of the Lords of Chaos to be a bit anticlimactic after the continued theme in a couple of books towards the end of the series. However, even with all the tidbits that did not work for me, I did enjoy the story and ended it with the hope that Hoyt would continue to write amazing stories that readers like us covet so much.

Final Verdict: Hoyt bids adios to her Maiden Lane series by bringing forth one of the most broken and yet formidable heroes in the series, the Duke of Dyemore. Loved him to bits and then some.

Favorite Quotes

She took his hand in hers and ran the cloth over the veins that roped the back. His fingers were long and strong, and they dwarfed hers, the nails square and pale. She carefully washed each one and then cupped his hand in hers to wash his palm. It was an intimate act. A … caring act. One a mother might perform for a child.
Or a woman might perform for her lover.
Iris caught her breath and straightened to rinse the cloth.
When she turned back her gaze caught his.
He was watching her, his crystal eyes half-lidded, his twisted lips parted.
She felt something inside her clench.

Iris cleared her throat and rubbed in small circles on his upper chest, moving downward, toward one of those nipples. They were just little bits of flesh, weren’t they? A deeper color, certainly, than the surrounding skin, and creped, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Her breath caught as she swept over his nipple with the cloth. Did he feel that? Did it feel any different from the rest of his skin? Did he feel as she did when cloth brushed over her bare nipples?
She dared to peek from under her lowered eyelashes.
His nostrils were flared, his eyes mere slits.

She stretched on tiptoe and pressed the sketchbook to his chest, holding it there with the flat of her palm. “Tell me the truth, Raphael. Now. Tonight. No more evasions and lies. What is it you feel for me? Is it affection—or merely indifference?”
He finally moved then, snatching the sketchbook from her hand and tossing it to a chair.
He wrapped one arm around her waist and fisted her hair with the other hand, bending over her until she had to grasp those broad shoulders or fall. “Believe me, Wife, the last thing I feel for you is indifference.”
Then his mouth was on hers, devouring her, his hot tongue demanding that she part her lips and let him into her depths.

His hips began to move, thrusting gently, shoving his cock in and out of her mouth.
She glanced up and saw his head tilted back, the tendons of his neck drawn taut, and suddenly his hand was in her hair, pulling, trying to make her move away.
But she didn’t want to. She had such power now and she was drunk on his taste and scent. She sucked strongly, moving her hands up and down that gorgeous shaft, feeling as he thrust his cock against her tongue.
He groaned as if he were in pain and his hips shuddered.
And she tasted hot, bitter liquid in her mouth.
Semen. His semen.

He guided her down so that she was pressed against him, his knee right in her softness, her lips spread on him.
Her eyes widened.
“Rock,” he said, watching her.
She grasped his thigh and slowly rubbed against him, her breasts trembling.
“Do you like it?” he asked, looking quite sinister.
“Yes.” She licked her lips. “Yes, I do.”
“You look like you like it,” he murmured low.

“Have you ever pleasured yourself?” he asked.
And she opened her eyes wide in shock. She never … To discuss aloud such things!
His eyes were knowing, as if he’d seen her, lying in her virginal bed long ago, fingering herself.
“Show me,” he growled. “Show me what you do.”
She swallowed and trailed her right hand down, burrowing her middle finger into where she was hot and wet.
Oh! She couldn’t catch her breath. Doing this in front of him as he eyed her dispassionately. As he ordered her to display herself for him. She was on the point, so close, so close, her finger working faster and faster as her scent rose in the air between them.
Her mouth opened wide and her hips stuttered against him, sweet heat flowing through her, infusing her limbs, making her light-headed.
He caught her and drew her against him, pressing kisses into her mouth as he murmured, “So beautiful. So beautiful.”

He licked, flicking her nipple with his tongue on one side and his fingers on the other, and at the same time he ground down on her, shoving her chemise into her pussy, rubbing against her clitoris, until the silk was sodden with her wetness. Until she could hear the soft, slick sounds he made, his body on hers, him pleasuring her, while he would not let her move.
He wasn’t gentle. But then perhaps he didn’t know how to be gentle, and the thought made something inside her weep, even as he drove her up that peak. Maybe this was all he knew: flesh and liquid heat.
Maybe that was all she would ever have from him.
She wasn’t certain it was enough.

She arched beneath him, her hips shoving up, trying to get more of that hand, more of that gaze. He lowered his head and covered her mouth, thrusting between her lips as he slid a finger into her softness.
She trembled beneath him, moaning as he kissed her so deeply she thought she might lose her senses.
He was rubbing his thumb over her clitoris now, fast and hard, and he broke the kiss to murmur in a voice dark as hellfire, “Wet my hand. Show me your desire. Show me all that you are. Let me look at your sweet cunt, swollen and rosy for me. I want to make you weep. I want all your pleasure, Iris, all your pain, everything you are. You are the light in my black night. Come for me.”

Oh God, she wanted him to fill her.
She pressed her palm to the side of his face.
He turned his head and kissed her palm … and at the same time thrust inside her.
She gasped at the sudden invasion. At feeling his cock inside her at long last. At the stretch and the fullness and the glory.
He thrust again and was fully seated, as far inside her as it was possible to be. Her legs were stretched open to accommodate his hips, and he was pressed deeply, intimately into her.
He pushed up on his arms and held himself there as he pulled his cock nearly all the way from her body and then drove back in again.
She opened her mouth, panting, holding his crystal-gray gaze. His hips were working now, driving into her at a hard pace, filling her again and again.
She’d never …
It had never been like this before.
So intense. So intimate. So devastating.

She moaned, long and low, wanting to arch, to thrash, to scream. Instead she opened her mouth and bit his shoulder, tasting salt.
Tasting want.
Then she gasped. “Please.”
“What do you want?” he whispered in her ear, an incubus, dark and alive and in her. “Tell me. What do you need?”
“I …” Her mouth opened, wordless.
“Tell me,” his smoky voice curled around her.
“You.”
He chuckled, dark and low.
“This?” He thrust short and hard into her, the impact sending jolts of pleasure through her body. “Yes, that,” he murmured to himself as if pleased, and did it again.
And again.

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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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Requested Review: Petals and Thorns by Jeffe Kennedy

Format: E-bookpetalsandthorns.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Erotic Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Roland
Heroine: Amarantha
Sensuality: 5
Date of Publication: July 13, 2010
Started On: May 20, 2015
Finished On: May 20, 2015

Petals and Thorns is a novella based on the Beauty and Beast theme interwoven with strong elements of BDSM. Amarantha the heroine finds herself married off to someone known as the Beast, a man too hideous to be seen out in public, who shrouds himself under a cloak, whose voice from the get go has a hypnotic effect on the reluctant Amarantha. All that Amarantha has to do is “suffer” through seven days with the Beast, her husband, and leave with her virginity intact in order for their family to be saved. And while the Beast had agreed to not force her to give up her maidenhood, everything else remains fair game.

Beauty & the Beast is one of my favorite cartoons of all time, the Disney version of course. There is a timeless love story if ever there was one and my interest was piqued enough to give this a go because I wanted to see how the author would interweave BDSM elements into the story.

While the flow of the story was pretty much okay, I found that the Amarantha didn’t pretty much have a choice when it came to the Beast and his command over her body. A virgin without any experience whatsoever to guide her, Amarantha was at a disadvantage from the beginning of their marriage and I found the Beast to be a bit cruel at times in his attempts to make her bow to his will.

While I have read novels whose main theme has been BDSM, I have never remained emotionally hollowed out by any of it and yet I guess Petals and Thorns is going to be the first of its kind for me. One thing I think that led to the fact was that the story while its quite short with just 80+ pages to it, didn’t contain any elements from the Beast’s point of view. I guess that in itself leads the reader to draw the conclusion that the Beast’s ministrations on his wife was a tad cruel. Towards the latter part of the story, that tension eased a bit as readers are able to see that the Beast isn’t as much in control of his emotions & reaction towards Amarantha as he’d like her to believe.

I felt that the Beast and Amarantha, though seemed to be well matched in their desire for one another towards the end, seemed mismatched in other ways. While the Beast appeared to be well read with varied interests in other aspects of life as well, Amarantha didn’t seem as in tune with him in this aspect. I guess it was the lack of her exposure to much in life that made her the innocent she was.

Recommended for those that love hardcore BDSM themed romances.

Final Verdict: Jeffe Kennedy brings to readers the beauty and the beast, BDSM style!

Favorite Quotes

She forced herself to look at him. “I must tell you, I don‘t see how I can ever be your wife in truth. I cannot imagine asking you to—“
“To take your maidenhead? To rend you with my cock so that you scream in agonized pleasure?”
The shock drained Amarantha‘s cheeks of color. Even as the image somehow stirred her.
“Sir Beast, you cannot say such things to me.”
“It seems, my bride, that we must stretch your imagination as well. The only thing I may not do is take you by force. Everything else is open to me.”

“Amarantha…”
She heard the warning in his voice and inched up her skirts, just high enough to slip her hand under. He knew she wore no underthings, and she blushed at it. Amarantha dipped a hesitant finger into her private area, finding it slick and swollen. She nearly hummed at the sensation.
“Now show me.”
If possible, she flushed more deeply, that he might have thought she lingered. She held out a trembling hand for him. It gleamed slick in the sun. The Beast bent over. She felt his hot breath whuffing over her hand.
“You move me, Amarantha,” he finally murmured, his voice rough.

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

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Review: Warrior by Kristina Douglas

Format: E-bookwarrrior
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Series: The Fallen, #3
Publisher: Pocket Books
Hero: Michael Angelo
Heroine: Victoria Bellona
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: April 24, 2012
Started On: January 24, 2015
Finished On: February 8, 2015

He wanted her. Needed her.
He wouldn’t take her.

Warrior by Kristina Douglas is the third book in the Fallen series. Warrior tells the story of Michael Angelo, the angel that has honed himself into a lethal fighting machine. It has been two centuries since Michael had last taken a mate and Michael has no intention of taking one until fate brings to his life Victoria Bellona, the Roman Goddess of War.

Victoria doesn’t believe in the fact that she is a goddess of anything, much less a Goddess of War. However, it is undeniable that her childhood up till now had prepared her in the art of fighting and she aims to fight dirty to gain her freedom from the life she has been subjected to, until she finds herself married off to Michael, a man whose very presence makes Victoria forget herself, until she learns that Michael is one of the Fallen and has no intention of ever truly making her his.

Michael fights a losing battle when it comes to Victoria. Michael’s honorable intentions take a hard hit when it comes to her. When Michael is forced to go after Victoria, all bets are off when both Victoria and Michael finally give in to the hunger that courses through them every second that they are together.

With every searing kiss and scorching touch, Michael knows that there would be no turning back for him when it comes to Victoria. But the Fallen’s number one enemy is still eager as ever to break them up, make them all bow down to him and in the process, destroy what they’ve built millenniums ago. Will Victoria make a difference or will she be the one that helps their enemy finally and once and for all bring them down?

Though not as good as the first two books in the series, it is hard to remain detached from a tale spun by Anne Stuart. She brings the variety of wicked humor and nerve tingling passion alive in her books that are hard to forget. Michael and Victoria, though at the surface might seem like they don’t want anything to do with each other, fights an attraction that burns through their blood, a calling that runs through their soul for each to claim the other. Half the fun lay in Michael trying to resist Victoria and the passion that ignited when he finally succumbed to the inevitability of it all.

Recommended.

Final Verdict: A grumpy & reluctant angel finds his match in the brave goddess of war that entices him unlike any other.

Favorite Quotes

He stood at one end, his face cool and impassive. Such an arresting face on the man. Angel. Whatever he was. Exquisitely beautiful. Exquisitely cold.
In the bright sunlight I could see him clearly for the first time. He was wearing white as all the others were, a loose open shirt, though he’d rolled up the sleeves, as if even a so-called wedding required hard work. I looked at his strong forearms, and for the first time I noticed tattoos snaking their way up beneath the white cloth. The shirt was loose at the neck as well, and there were more markings on his chest, his throat, twining around to the back of his head, markings I hadn’t seen before. I halted, momentarily fascinated, and then Allie caught my arm and gently urged me forward.

She must have heard him come in. She rose on one elbow, looking at him, and the sheet fell away, exposing one small, perfect breast. And he needed to suck at it, to slide his hand between her legs and feel the wetness of her desire. He’d tried everything he could to fight this.
For the first time in his limitless existence, he had lost a battle.

“You’re not paying a debt,” he said. “Are you?”
She hesitated. “No,” she said, and leaned back against the pillow. “And you aren’t doing your duty, are you?”
“No.” He knelt on the bed, straddling her carefully. There was barely enough room for the two of them. It didn’t matter. They were going to be so close they wouldn’t need extra space. “No,” he said again, moving between her legs, lifting them. He took her mouth, her sweet, inexperienced mouth, with his, and then simply pushed inside her, hard, knowing she’d be wet and ready for him.

He pulled out almost completely, and she let out a cry of loss. He slid his hand down her stomach to her clitoris, touching her as he suddenly slammed into her, and she shattered, her body clamping around him. She shrieked against his shoulder, in shock, in pleasure, her fingers digging into him so tightly he would have thought she’d draw blood. That was another arousal, and he thrust, again and again, hard, riding her orgasm, prolonging it, and when she finally fell back, limp, he let himself go, releasing his seed into her, filling her, his head dropping to the pillow beside her as his wings unfurled to lock around them, cradling them in softness.

Darkness. Thick, enveloping darkness, with his strong body surrounding me, his hot, wet mouth on mine. All arguments fled. I wanted this. Needed this. Ever since I’d left his bed, a part of me had been missing, and now it was found again. He had come for me. And I was his.
His tongue slid into my mouth, and I felt unaccountably shy even after last night, but it didn’t seem to matter. When I tentatively moved my tongue against his, he let out a low growl of unmistakable approval, and I wanted to get closer. I wanted him inside me again, I wanted to take his cock into my mouth the way they did in the books I’d read. I wanted everything.

So many contrasting emotions were flooding me that I felt dizzy. Lust and irritation went without saying. But . . . he’d come for me. He’d died for me. He had my blood inside him, making him strong. He had me inside him.
And in willingly giving him my blood, my life force, I was afraid I’d given him more than that. I had given him love.

He shook me again, gripping my wrists so tightly that my hands were growing numb. “Had enough?” he demanded furiously.
“Not even close,” I snapped back.
And then we both froze. He looked down at me, bafflement and rage fading from his face. His mouth was bleeding. “Oh, shit,” he said.
He released my wrists. I didn’t know if he was going to try to pull away, but I wasn’t going to give him that chance.
“Oh, shit, indeed,” I said, my eyes daring him.
His mouth on mine was hard and angry, and I could taste his blood. It should have horrified me. It didn’t.

I shattered, letting out a low, keening wail, and he caught the cry from my mouth, drinking it in. Distantly I heard the clang of his belt buckle and the rasp of his zipper, and then he was inside me, sliding deep, pulling my legs around his narrow hips. I was already wet, aroused, my body accepting, and I clung to him, shocked. I felt like a boat on a stormy ocean, adrift in a tempest of sensation so powerful I could focus only on his body and what it was doing to mine.

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