Review: Without Words by Ellen O’Connell

Format: E-bookwithoutwords
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Breton J. Sterling
Heroine: Hassie Ahearne Petty
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 30, 2014
Started On: November 6, 2014
Finished On: November 7, 2014

The very first note that I made as soon as I started reading Without Words by Ellen O’Connell was, “Reading an Ellen O’Connell after so long. I’m so excited.” That excitement pretty much started as soon as I stumbled upon Ellen’s newest release and held all throughout, since then up till I turned the very last page. Ellen O’Connell is a master unto herself. A force to be reckoned with when it comes to self-published and otherwise authors out there. Her writing style rivals that of one my favorite authors of Western themed romances, i.e. Maggie Osborne. Her heroes never fall short of making you fall head over heels in love with them and her heroines are just the same. And Without Words is definitely not an exception to the said rule.

Breton J. Sterling (Bret) is a bounty hunter, who after confronting his latest convict finds himself saddled with Hassie Ahearne Petty; it was either take her or leave her to fend off for herself which would have ultimately meant that she would starve to death or worse. Hassie has no choice but to do as the icy-eyed bounty hunter orders her to. A childhood accident had rendered Hassie without the ability to speak loudly and coherently enough for people to understand. That had pretty much defined Hassie’s life since then and she had been resigned to living the life that had been hers until Bret storms into her life and her heart, making her a changed woman forever.

Without Words is not just a story. It is a journey of two people who at first seems to have nothing in common, a man and a woman joined together by circumstances. Bret is man who is paying his self imposed dues to his family, and Hassie has no family to speak of. While Bret has no need for a woman, he can’t help but be protective of Hassie, a woman who defies every single hardship that had befallen her and still manages to see the beauty the world has to offer. And before long, Bret finds himself yearning for more of his violet-eyed Hassie, something he had never thought would happen in his lifetime.

Hassie’s awakening towards Bret as a man is one that progresses slowly. She has no experience to put her trust in when it comes to anything good happening between a woman and a man, but Bret makes her want to trust and put her belief in the honor that is practically stamped all over the man himself. The trust that unfurls in Hassie towards Bret grows in leaps and bounds until of course Bret becomes the only man she has ever loved, even though his past warns her of the consequences that this love would wreak on her heart.

Without Words is a story in which practically everything worked and meshed well together to give the sort of read that is so hard to come by in the modern world of romance today. There is a reason why I still yearn for the “classics” that started me on my journey of reading romances. And Without Words brought that back with an effortless ease that made me want to cry because there aren’t enough authors who write today like Ellen O’Connell does.

Like I mentioned earlier in my review, Ellen creates some of very the best heroes and heroines I’ve encountered in romance novels. There’s a voice to Ellen’s work that speaks to you on a level beyond just words strung together that give meaning. These words, they speak to your soul. It invokes emotions in you that you don’t think possible and yet if you are a romance reader like myself, yearn for with every fiber for your being. I cried during moments of sweet angst and smiled so much at times that my face hurt. There’s nothing more beautiful to a reader than a well spun story that they can lose themselves in and Ellen has provided just that with every full length novel that she has published to date.

Bret; I swear I just trembled from want, every single time that icy control of his that shattered under the strength of his passions, be it anger against the wrongs in this world or his desire for the woman who consumes him. Bret is a hero who is uber masculine, one who is unabashedly manly and yet has a core of strength and honor in him that makes a woman fall like a ton of bricks. And fall hard, I did. There is no other way to say this; Bret, you own my heart.

With Hassie, Ellen has once again created her trademark variety of heroine. The fact that Hassie can’t speak was a novelty in itself, her outlook towards life, that sheer joy deep inside of her that reaches out from the pages and practically engulfs you in its hold is a powerful one. Without Words is an apt title for a book that speaks to the reader on so many levels and that too with a heroine who is unable to use her voice to communicate. I loved Hassie for everything she stood for. Her love for Bret hadn’t happened overnight, neither had she thrown herself at him just because she was dependent on her. Their love had been a slow and a fiery one, one that consumes you and leaves you with that wholesome glow of having been loved and loved well.

Ellen explores with her stories the hardship that life was during those times. The imminent threat of starvation, the price women had to pay to make a livelihood for themselves and the harsh reality of women without a man by their side, the rough and at times unforgiving land that could make or break a person; all that is vividly brought to life in every single novel that I have read from her. I’m so glad that I happened across the release of this one and Ellen, you’ve made my whole month by this beautiful story, which if you are a lover of romance novels definitely ought not miss!

The problem with finding a book that moves you enough to render you unable to do anything afterwards is the fact that you never want the story to end, you want the pages to go on, the magic to continue, the feelings that courses through you to never cease. And once you turn that last page, you feel like mourning, you feel like no other book would ever have that impact on you ever again and mostly it turns out to be true, because it is so rare these days to find new books that has everything going for them. So I treasure this diamond in the rough that shines vividly through and hope that someday soon I find yet again the magic that I discovered while reading Without Words, that undeniable magic that makes being a romance reader worthwhile.

Final Verdict: Without Words is a beautifully crafted masterpiece that touched every single piece of my soul. Definitely recommended!

Favorite Quotes

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ve done this too often to count, and I’ll be back before you know it, but you need to be ready to move out fast then.”
Her hand rested on his cheek, fingers soft by his temple, palm warm even through the growth of several days’ beard. Her body pressed close. She hugged him and was gone.
The cool wind blew in vain as he rode toward the town. The memory of her touch warmed him every step of the way.

She anticipated the kiss, expected hard pressure on her mouth and an invading tongue. Instead his lips brushed hers as lightly as butterfly wings before settling more firmly. Her arms tightened. So did his.
Her body molded to his, chest to chest, belly to belly. Her quickened breath matched the rhythm of his. His mouth caressed hers, played against hers. His teeth tugged gently on her bottom lip, and she opened for him, not invaded at all but joined. His tongue teased until she tried to imitate. From the sound he made deep in his throat, she succeeded.

The mattress moved under his weight. His lips feathered across hers. Her breath caught. A small moan escaped, and she tried to stifle it.
“Don’t,” he whispered against her lips, “Don’t keep anything inside. If you feel like talking that Greek at me, do it.”
She laughed, felt him inhale her laughter.
“You have the most beautiful laugh. It runs up and down my spine, shivers over my skin, and makes me want to grab hold of you like a mad man. You have no idea….” His mouth closed over hers again, his tongue tracing her upper lip, lower, along the seam.

The fever rose again, and soft sounds of desire escaped with each breath. She pulled at his shoulders again to bring him over her, and this time he gave what she wanted, settled between her thighs, slid into her hot, wet core, stretching her past what she had known. Her muscles spasmed, and he groaned.
She did it again, deliberately this time.
“Hassie.” Her plain name sounded like it belonged to someone else, someone beautiful and desirable and loved.

His heat enveloped her or maybe only merged with hers until the room lost its chill. Sweat prickled along her spine, and the tiny knot of reservation inside her dissolved in the flood of pleasure. She moaned softly, her teeth in her lower lip. Mine, she thought. Her hands fisted in his hair. Mine.

“Is that how you think of it?” she signed.
“I was being poetic, but yes, it got harder every year. I’m glad to be done with it. My only regret is I’ll never again see the look of wonder on your face when you see something like the Missouri River for the first time.”
“There will be other things to wonder at.”
“Without mountains and rivers what will there be?”
She fought the temptation to tell him of the greatest thing they would wonder over.
“There will be Christmas trees.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Lions And Lace by Meagan McKinney

Format: E-booklionsandlace
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Van Alen Sisters, #1
Publisher: Island Books
Hero: Trevor Byrne Sheridan
Heroine: Alice Diana Van Alen
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 1, 1992
Started On: October 5, 2014
Finished On: October 12, 2014

My search for romances that feature ruthless heroes is an endless one. A time consuming one at that too. Some might call these heroes the uber alpha heroes. Or some just call them anti-heroes; you love them and hate them in equal doses. And some call them gamma heroes too because they go beyond the boundaries that define who an alpha hero is.

Authors of today who write such heroes have become far and few in between. Anne Stuart is my go to author for such heroes. Sandra Brown and Linda Howard are authors who have pushed that boundary time and yet again in some of their novels. For  the most part, these type of heroes aren’t well received by almost half of the romance reading population today. With the change of times, with the feminist movement rising above, readers no longer like the heroes who are tad on the wild side, those who don’t conform to their definition of what a hero should constitute of and if you ask me, its such a damn shame.

So a whole lot of boredom and a whole lot of internet searches later, I came across a website that had a list of books that features ruthless heroes. Now mind you, some readers define a hero as ruthless a tad differently to how I tend to define them. Luckily, this reader tended to veer towards my tastes and alas, I found myself with a couple of books I haven’t already read, that feature the heroes of the variety that I deem as ruthless but those with just that hint of redeemable quality that makes me fall like a ton of bricks for them every single time.

Lions and Lace features such a hero. Trevor Byrne Sheridan, the Wall Street wonder who rose to the top with basically nothing to his name, is Irish, and persona non grata where society is concerned. A chip on his shoulder a mountain wide, Trevor remembers the slights, the mockery and the laughter behind his back though he is equally revered by the men for the power and wealth he amasses day in and day out. The tipping point comes when society refuses to turn up at his younger sister Mara’s debut. People say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, well let me tell you, they haven’t had their dose of Trevor just yet.

Alice Diana Van Alen lives under the thumb of her uncle, her finances tied up under his name after the tragic death of her parents. Alice holds the secret of her younger sister close to her heart, a secret she is determined to carry to her grave. Alice lands under Trevor’s radar as one from the society who slighted his sister. His vengeance on her is swift, the revenge he takes on her forcing her hand into marrying him one that should have brought satisfaction to his heart. However, Trevor becomes a victim to his own plan, falling for a woman of the society, something he scorns with his very being.

Lions and Lace is a novel that provides a ton of angst. Trevor is ruthless in his revenge and seemingly doesn’t care much about the pain he causes along the way. I think the fact that the author didn’t provide much in the story from Trevor’s point of view seemed to double the angst factor which I absolutely loved. Instead, the reader has to look for clues of his torment from his actions, the way his facial expressions tended to change and of course the volatile desire that courses through Trevor whenever his wife comes into the picture. He hates the very thing that his wife represents, his bitterness about his past refusing to let him move beyond that and see his wife for who she really is, and yet he can’t help but want to possess her for himself in every single way.

Alice turned out to be a heroine who got on my nerves in the first half of the story and later on redeemed herself through her actions. From the firm grip Alice seemed to have on her emotions and what she wanted for her life, I thought that Alice would prove to be a worthy opponent where Trevor was concerned. But every time Trevor said something cruel, all Alice could seem to do was wring her hands in despair and run off crying. I wanted her to buck up and deal, to make Trevor realize the error of his ways and practically storm through his heart leaving nothing to chance. And eventually, Alice does get there and that is where I decided to forgive her and consider her worthy of the fall that Trevor would take from his pedestal.

There was a thread of a secondary romance inserted in the story, in the middle of nowhere I would have to say, and I didn’t overly care much for it. I wanted Trevor and Alice’s relationship to be the core aspect of the story. Trevor’s control was one I wanted to be shattered so badly that when it did come, it did deliver on the fronts that I wanted it to. And ladies, prepare yourselves for one of the best declarations of love by a hero of this type; it did make tears spring to my eyes and that rarely happens.

If you like your heroes ruthless and I mean really ruthless, Lions and Lace is a story worth digging into. I would recommend it if you can get past the first couple of chapters where the heroine could get on your nerves, but in the end gives in beautifully.

Final Verdict: Trevor Byrne Sheridan; slow down my galloping heart.

Favorite Quotes

In the years to come she would always remember her first sight of Trevor Byrne Sheridan. He stood in silhouette. She was not privy to the details of his face, but he left a deep and lasting impression on her. He held a walking stick, an unusual accoutrement for such a tall, muscular form. His straight, formal figure was pleasing, yet his stance left her feeling as if a frigid wind had just passed through her heart. He crossed his arms and tipped his head back to look down at her as she almost knelt on the wet marble stairway, and in the shadows he looked every bit as cold, dark, and forbidding as the night that mercilessly pelted her with rain. And she knew then, with a truth that pierced her very soul, that the devil before her now was sure to be worse than the one who had just left her behind.

“I am human,” she whispered. “If you just looked close enough.”
“I want to.” His breath feathered against her forehead. “I swear I want to.”
His mouth found hers in the moment she realized she’d yet to let go of his arm. He kissed her, offering damnation and salvation in one eloquent motion. She wanted to pull back, but something stronger—his arm, she thought— pushed her farther into his embrace until she was wrapped in his warmth and strength.

He lifted his head, and his mouth again captured hers, creating more heat between her thighs. The pleasure he gave her was like a band of rubber being pulled until it snapped and she fell, twisting in the air until he caught her, his hand beneath her hips to hold her closer, to make her pleasure complete.
“Trevor,” she moaned, chanting his name in surrender.
It drove him over the edge. He seized her and bit out the word, “Jeysus,” then fell against her, sated.

His tongue, hot and strong, thrust again and again into her needful mouth, a wild accompaniment to the thrum of the shower. Demandingly, he cupped her breast, his palm brushing the steam droplets that clung to her nipples like diamonds. He flicked open the buttons to his trousers.
She was hardly aware of what he did next. Her only sensation seemed to be his mouth on hers and the overriding instinct that he wanted her, ferociously.

She shook her head and said again to that unyielding back, “Do you love me?”
“I’ve never been in love before. I don’t know what being in love is like.”
“I’m asking you. Do you love me?” Her voice caught with unshed tears.
He paused as if thinking through each word. “I’ve nothing to compare it to, but if love is obsession, if love can be so powerful it overtakes a man’s reason and his will, if love is the feeling that one would rather die than live only to grieve its loss—” He turned, and she could see the desolation on his face. In one sweet rough whisper, he said, “Then yes, I love you, Alana. I’m doomed to love you. I’ll always love you.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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ARC Review: Should’ve Been Home Yesterday by Inez Kelley

Format: E-bookshouldvebeenhomeyesterday
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Country Roads, #3
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Webb Hawkins
Heroine: Molly McCreedy
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: July 21, 2014
Started On: July 18, 2014
Finished On: July 30, 2014

Ever since I started reading Inez Kelley’s Country Roads series, I’ve been hankering to read the story of the enigmatic Webb Hawkins, CEO of Hawkins Hardwood. The hint of a past entanglement between himself and Molly McCreedy, the owner of McCreedy’s Diner suggested a story that could prove to be explosive at best. And though Should’ve Been Home Yesterday didn’t live up to all my expectations, it nevertheless managed to give me a story well worth my while.

Should’ve Been Home Yesterday starts twenty years prior to the present day and highlights the relationship that exists between Webb and Molly. Webb and Molly’s older brother Clay had been inseparable during their childhood. Webb being ten years older than Molly never sees her as anything more than a sister even though Molly considers Webb hers even at the tender age of ten. People might call her love for Webb a childhood crush or a fascination that would fade away as she would grow older, but for Molly, in the depths of her heart she had known even then that there would none but Webb for her.

Present day finds Molly pregnant with Webb’s baby and Webb wanting to do the right thing by marrying her. Webb might want to keep his distance where Molly is concerned, and he had been doing a swell job out of it until imbibing in too much alcohol had shattered his ironclad control and the inevitable had happened. Though Molly has her misgivings, she is the optimistic sort who would like to believe that Webb feels something more for her than he lets on and that it could grow into something wonderful and beautiful, like the love that blooms in her heart for him. And that is why, Molly finds herself entering into a marriage with the love of her life by shoving aside any apprehension about the union that she might have.

Webb has always found his solace in his work. Building up his business had taken his mind off of the terrible mistake he had made in his past, thinking that he could have a chance with Molly when she’d suddenly surprised him by growing up. The Molly that he is married to stirs up feelings that he would like to turn his back on. With the Eco-terrorist who had managed to make his life a living hell the past couple of months still continuing to haunt and taunt him, Webb believes that his attention needs to be focused on where it is important; on his business and the people who work for him rather than his newly wedded wife who moves him to distraction.

Molly understands only a trifle bit too late that Webb had never intended for their marriage to get real. But she certainly doesn’t make it easy on Webb to just ignore her and be, but rather Molly’s understanding of who Webb is thaws that control of his that Webb clings onto and makes him realize that with Molly, there is no detachment to be had when it comes to him. And what Webb doesn’t realize is that unbeknown to him or Molly, the danger that surrounds him has been closing in on the most important person in his life and that he might lose her before he can even declare just how much of a fool he has been trying to keep her at arms length all this while.

Should’ve Been Home Yesterday follows the pattern that has been set for the previous books in this series. Every chapter begins with an interesting fact or tidbit that is related to the setting and the story which I have absolutely enjoyed in each of these books. Molly and Webb’s relationship certainly had its moments. Webb’s deep reluctance to open himself up emotionally lent the story the right amount of angst, and of course the groveling that he had to do to win back the affections of his wife later on served to be the healing balm that their relationship required. Inez makes the story doubly interesting by working in tidbits of Molly and Webb’s shared past into the unfolding events which gives the reader just enough of a background to connect with Molly and Webb.

As I finished reading Should’ve Been Home Yesterday, I couldn’t help but want to read the stories of Finn, Bob and Zane Miner. They all show promise as characters well worth being given their own stories and I would definitely love it if at all there is a possibility of that happening. Dear Inez, please take that as a hint and write them happily ever afters? The one thing that continues to draw me when it comes to Inez is that her stories always provide beautiful quotes for my collection and Should’ve Been Home Yesterday was no exception to the rule. And though my favorite in the series by far has been Jonah and Zury’s story, Should’ve Been Home Yesterday is full of the good bits that makes it a great read! Recommended.

Final Verdict: Inez’s Country Roads series continues to deliver beautiful stories, well worth your reading time!

Favorite Quotes

“Molly.”
The hesitation in his tone speared through her and she spun, rising to her knees to face him. His hands stayed still, sliding in the soap film around her waist. Bared to the navel, with nothing hiding the rest of her but a thin layer of floating bubbles, she locked eyes with his. One wide black pupil nearly obliterated the brown iris, his real eye reacting to the desire he held back. His glass eye stared at her with sightless fixation. Beneath the collar of his shirt, thick cords stood out in his neck.

Molly reached up and circled his neck, stepping closer than she had when they danced, and brushed her lips against the corner of his mouth. The touch of lips on lips was like a summer lightning strike, all-powerful and shocking. His hands rose, settling on her hips, the sun-warmed skin smooth beneath his calluses. He forgot everything except Molly. He dipped his head and kissed her.
She melted. There was no other word he could think of.

Molly bucked as the crest of his cock’s head grazed her clit. “Holy shit.”
She added a wiggle to her swing and his control slipped. Holy shit was right. He’d never been so turned on and he wasn’t even inside her. Tongues swirling, lips sealed, their hips moved together. Friction had never been so intense, so hot and drugging. The muscles in groin grew tight as climax approached but he gripped her ass and rocked harder, driving against her clit faster, needing her to go with him. She whimpered as a quake bloomed. She drove down hard, grinding on his cock as she exploded.

A low groan rumbled in his chest, taking their kiss to high heat. He delved his tongue deep, sweeping along her lips, then plunging inside. He tasted of mint, a cool underlying accent to the intensity of his kiss. Beneath her knees, the plush couch was soft but her focus was on the firm thighs between hers. His hands slid up her legs, hooked around her ass and tugged her forward.
It was every Christmas, every birthday, every Valentine’s gift wrapped into one when he wrapped his arms around her, holding her close. This was her dream, Webb sober, loving her openly, their lives entwined.

Molly had no breath to answer. She was trapped in a cycle of pleasure, of taking him over and over, wanting him deeper and never wanting to let him go. The rhythmic squeeze she kept around him drove her closer but she needed him to peak with her, to trip over that edge. She didn’t want to go alone. Together. She needed them to go together.
Yanking one hand from the cushion, she raked his back with her nails. Webb arched hard, driving so deep into her she shattered with a cry.

Her fingers tightened, pulling his hair but he ignored the pain, needing to taste her climax. Lightly, quickly, he fluttered his tongue across the hood then curled low and speared the pulse beneath. Easing his hands under her ass, he kneaded each globe and urged her knees further apart with his shoulders. Spread beneath his mouth, Molly was his for the taking and he took, without mercy, hungrily, and without relenting. He wished he could claim her heart as easily, was worthy enough to claim it.

Her hand turned, skating up his chest, delving through his chest hair. Every instinct he had begged him to drive home hard, to take her fast and deep, but he swallowed them. He needed this, this slow connection, this reconnection. He wanted to draw it out, gorge on it, grow drunk on nothing more than his wife. Teeth gritted for restraint, he pressed into her slow and steady until he could go no farther. A twitch bloomed along his cheek as he soaked in her velvet grip.
Molly’s fingers bit into his chest as her mouth fell open with a low exhale. “Oh God, I love how you feel inside me.”

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

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ARC Review: Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom by Vanessa Kelly

Format: E-bookconfessionsofaroyalbridegroom
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Renegade Royals, #2
Publisher: Zebra Books
Hero: Griffin Steele
Heroine: Justine Brightmore
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 1, 2014
Started On: July 2, 2014
Finished On: July 3, 2014

If you have read the first book in The Renegade Royals series, you’d have met the utterly mysterious and alluring Griffin Steele whom your heart would have clamored for even then. Good thing that Vanessa Kelly delivered on his story with the second installment in the series because Griffin is a hero definitely worth drooling over and then some.

Griffin Steele is a man who made a name for himself practically out of nothing. The bastard son of a Prince who till today remains unacknowledged by his father, Griffin bears the emotional scars of being abandoned as a child, though he would rather carve out a piece of himself than admit to the fact. Griffin is in the midst of tying up all loose ends that ties him down, planning on leaving England in search of what his soul craves, a sense of completion that he desires but is unable to voice out for. And then turns up a baby accompanied with a mysterious note and a signet ring on his doorstep which throws all his best laid plans awry, leaving Griffin scrambling to make sense of the total chaos that his life becomes from that point onwards.

24 year old Justine Brightmore craves peace and solitude above everything else. Having had enough dramatics in her life to last her a lifetime. The only thing that propels Justine to leave the comfort of the life that she has carved out for herself is being summoned by her godfather Dominic Hunter. Dominic thrusts Justine into the house of one of the most notorious men in London, a man equally loathed and revered amongst society though anyone would hardly go on to acknowledge the likes of someone like Griffin.

From the moment Griffin and Justine lay eyes on each other, it is dislike at first sight with a healthy dose of awareness for everything to do with each other. Griffin though he loathes the position of playing guardian to Justine is helpless in his need to know everything about the woman who drives him crazy with her stubbornness and attitude. Justine might want to bury her head in the sand where Griffin and the feelings that he rouses in her are concerned, but even her stoic determination is no match for the gravitational pull that Griffin has on her senses.

When a turn of events puts Justine’s honor in a precarious position, there is nothing left to do but tie the knot, something Justine views akin to a noose around her neck. However, as both Justine and Griffin learn more about one another, Griffin providing details of his past with sheer reluctance, both of them find that where their emotions are concerned, the aloofness that each had strived for at the begining is no longer even a possibility.

Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom started on a high note with the delicious Griffin taking your very breathe away. The fascinating tattoo that coils over the left side of his upper torso alone was enough to increase the hyperventilating factor when it came to him. His sardonic wit was another reason to go crazy over his character, not to mention the deep well of tenderness that lives inside of a man rumored to be one of the most ruthless and notorious in the city.

Though I liked Justine just fine, I couldn’t find it in myself to fall for her the way I did with Griffin. For one thing, I found her focus on the mysterious baby to be a tad too much, or perhaps the focus of the story as it progressed was on the baby more than the burgeoning relationship between Griffin and Justine. Perhaps it was the balance between the mystery, romance and sensuality that I craved which somehow seemed to be at odds with one another which brought down the rating where I was concerned.

However, that doesn’t mean that this story isn’t an enjoyable one, far from that. Even with that misgiving inside of me, the fact that I was drawn into the tale and enjoyed the back and forth between Griffin and Justine and of course their happily ever after tells the tale of romance that was enjoyed from start to finish. Worthy of a mention are the two scenes of passion in the story, highly sensual that took my breathe away.

Recommended for fans of the series and fans of alluring heroes who seduce you rather effortlessly from page 1!

Final Verdict: Sizzle, mystery and a bit of mayhem gives an enjoyable read!

Favorite Quotes

“You couldn’t possibly want to marry me,” she whispered, even as something overpowering, something more real than anything she had ever felt in her life, stretched up and loomed over her, blotting out the light from the lamps and the roaring fire in the grate. She could see nothing but Griffin.
To her astonishment, a gleam of amusement sparked to life in his gaze.
“Oh, I don’t know,” he said in a musing tone. “Any woman who, by her own admission, is capable of shooting a man in cold blood is likely the perfect wife for me.”

Never had she felt such delicious warmth, or imagined that a kiss could cast such a transfixing spell over her body. Though her mind reeled in astonishment, she wanted to stand there forever, greedily drawing in his heat and strength. Drawing in the heady taste of him—something wild and masculine and utterly tempting.

“Why do you even care?” she whispered.
His eyes half closed and he leaned toward her, as if trying to capture some elusive scent. “For some reason I’m unable to fathom, I want to know everything about you. I want to know what your favorite toy was when you were a child, what was your most treasured possession. Who comforted you when you cried, or if you ever climbed a tree. I want to know what you like to eat and what makes you curl up your sweet little nose. I want to know when you first wished to kiss a boy. I especially want to know about that,” he finished with a wicked purr.

Unable to stop herself, Justine moved against him, spreading her legs even wider and rubbing against his thick erection. Sensation rose up through her in a heady spiral, every rational thought in her head blasted away by the sensual storm he evoked in her as he suckled and played with her breasts. They felt full and aching. Indeed, her entire body ached with a need only he could fulfill.

He groaned and dipped his head, his long hair coming loose from its leather tie, his chest rising and falling with quick breaths. She pulled the strip of material from his hair and flung it away, then tunneled her fingers through his thick, long locks, smoothing them down over his back. Justine felt like she was drowning in a world of sensation and emotion, and she willingly went under.
“My God, Justine,” he gasped before planting a searing kiss on her mouth.

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

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ARC Review: His Convict Wife by Lena Dowling

Format: E-bookhisconvictwife
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Hero: Samuel Biggs
Heroine: Colleen Mary Malone
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 1, 2013
Started On: January 13, 2014
Finished On: January 13, 2014

His Convict Wife by Lena Dowling is loosely tied to The Convict’s Bounty Bride published in March of 2013. His Convict Wife tells the story of quite the unusual couple, a recently widowed Samuel Biggs who makes his way to Australia to make a new life for himself and a convict bride.

It is during a moment of desperation that Colleen makes an attempt to impress upon Samuel to take her away from the hell she has to live in, not because she is looking out for herself but rather for the baby that she carries in her womb, whom she would not be able to keep if she were to live out the rest of her sentence in prison.

Samuel wants to stay true to the memory of his beloved wife but Colleen proves to be someone who is much more than the person she seems to be, something that makes it tough for Samuel to ignore her and designate her to the safe role of the companion that he wants her to be. Colleen sets out with one goal in her mind when she starts to seduce her husband with every trick she had learnt at the whore house, that is to secure a father’s love for her child. But what Colleen in the end gets is more than what she bargains for as feelings she had never encountered before makes themselves known, something that becomes harder to ignore as the days pass on.

Although I believe that the premise of the story and the characters were quite adequate for the story, I just felt that there were loose ends that needed to be tied up to make the story more wholesome than it ended up being. I liked Colleen’s character, her gumption and her attitude even under the most trying of circumstances. The life that she had been subjected to would have made a bitter woman out of someone with lesser character and I would say the woman she turned out to be earned her my admiration in spades.

Samuel was a bit tough for me to fall for. I felt that he was a bit too rigid at times, too judgmental of everyone and everything. The conflict that pushes Samuel and Colleen apart was one that was understandable at first but I felt that everyone involved didn’t truly get the closure they deserved. Perhaps it was the author’s way of keeping the story realistic because it is seldom in life that anyone gets the proper sense of closure from events that take place. However, I believe that perhaps an epilogue or a chapter that shows the couple somewhere down the line in the future would have appeased readers like myself, knowing that all that the couple had gone through had not been in vain.

One thing that I did like was the subtle heat that existed between Samuel and Colleen. The aspect of Colleen being way more experienced in carnal pleasures was a bit of a novelty when most novels that we come across tends to tell stories where the hero is the one who has a mountain of experience when it comes to women.

Though The Convict Wife could’ve been much better, I still managed to enjoy what the story had to offer. Recommended for those who love romance novels in an Australian setting.

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

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Review: Bound by Marriage by Nalini Singh

Format: E-bookboundbymarriage
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Silhouette Desire
Hero: Gabriel Dumont
Heroine: Jess Randall
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 1, 2005
Started On: August 7, 2013
Finished On: August 9, 2013

I have been so engrossed with reading the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh that I have never even wondered whether Nalini has strayed into writing any other genres in the world of romance. So while I was doing some random searching on the Internet, imagine my surprise when this little number came up, and that too with the uber interesting marriage of convenience trope that can really make for superb reads!

Bound by Marriage takes place in New Zealand and is told from both the hero and heroine’s point of views in the third person. While wealthy rancher Gabriel Dumont and Jess Randall enter into a marriage of convenience knowing fully well what they both are getting into, neither of them factors in the searing passion that lights up the sheets between them and of course plays havoc with the general order of things or how they both perceive their joint lives would turn out to be.

Jess never thought that her heart would be capable of loving anyone else, much less a man like Gabriel who is so withdrawn that he opens up to her only when they are in bed together, him drawing out responses from her that she would never have thought possible. But even then the times that Gabriel does let her see that tender side of his, although it is very rarely with the situations that continue to develop and put further strains on their already fragile bond, Jess finds herself inexorably drawn towards the man she calls as her husband.

I seriously thought that I would have a hard time liking Gabriel by the time the book was half way through. Yes, he is that stubborn and set in his ways that if it weren’t for his emotions that are as much in turmoil as that of Jess’s I wouldn’t have thought that he felt anything for the woman he had married. But lo and behold, I should have trusted Nalini a bit more and waited for the bombshell when it hit and yes, I was blown away with the compassion and love that filled my heart for the little boy Gabriel had been when he had lost vital pieces of his heart in a way that they would never be regained.

For some readers, Jess might seem to be putting up with much more than they would have liked. But I think Gabriel needed someone just as equally stubborn as him, willing to give until those impenetrable shields of his that he wears around himself like an armor were all but shattered around him. I loved the ending, the glimpse into the man Gabriel later turns into, not completely tamed, no never that, but a man who is at least a little bit at peace with his past and smiling in the arms of the woman who loves him like there is no tomorrow.

Final Verdict: Sensual & heart wrenching; Silhouette Desire at its best!

Favorite Quotes

Gabriel’s hand was rough against her skin, the hand of a man who worked the land. But on her neck, his lips were almost velvet soft—a seductive contrast. She lost her breath as he closed his teeth over a pulse point, then released with exquisite deliberation, scraping those same strong teeth along the sensitive flesh.

“I’m damn glad you’re a rider, Jess,” he almost growled as he filled her, going so deep that she could feel his heartbeat in her body.
Not aware enough to understand what he was referring to, she squeezed intimate muscles around him in a reaction as old as time itself. Throwing back his head, he tightened his hold on her and began to move. His rhythm was fast, his strokes deep. She screamed and screamed as he pushed her over the edge in a tempest of hot breaths and powerful thrusts.
And when she fell, it was as a marked woman. Gabriel Dumont’s woman.

And then she heard the zipper being lowered.
Even that warning wasn’t enough. She screamed as he pushed into her. Hard. Fast. Deep. Her body accepted him, welcomed his driving thrusts, but he was merciless in the intensity of what he asked of her, pushing her so far that she lost all traces of civilization and surrendered to her most primal heart.

“So I did,” he murmured, reclaiming her lips even as his hand pushed aside the gusset of her panties to thrust two fingers deep into a body more than primed by the slow seduction. Pleasure erupted inside her almost instantaneously. Pulling away from the ravaging fury of his mouth, she threw back her head and rode his fingers, feeling herself clench and unclench with vicious strength.

Gabe’s arm came around her waist and his teeth scraped lightly over the sensitive skin of her neck. “Now, Jess. Now!”
She fractured under the command, everything female in her glorying in the wildness of that harsh masculine voice. At the last second, their eyes met in the mirror and Jess knew they’d crossed a line. The question was, what lay on the other side?

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

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Review: The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain by Lucy Monroe

Format: E-bookthescorsolinimarriage
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Royal Brides, #5
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Principe Claudio Scorsolini
Heroine: Therese Scorsolini
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 1, 2006
Started On: July 9, 2013
Finished On: July 10, 2013

Principe Claudio Scorsolini is the crown prince of Isole dei Re and for him his duty to the country and its people comes first. Therese Scorsolini is the wife of Claudio who marries him under the terms of a marriage of convenience.

Though Therese gets married to Claudio out of love, for Claudio it is an arrangement that guarantees that he can focus on the more important issues of his country rather than undergo the emotional upheavals that are bound to follow once love enters the equation. However, Claudio is not as aloof as he would like to think he is and not at all ready to let Therese walk away from him when it becomes evident that that is exactly what she wants after three years of being together.

The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain is the 5th book in the Royal Brides series and has a contemporary setting which is told from both Claudio and Therese’s points of view in third person.

The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain deals with a very real issue that is faced by a lot of women of today. Therese is faced with the hardest decision of her life when she finds out that she might never be able to provide Claudio with a heir to the throne and for that reason alone, Therese is willing to be the better person and walk away. I could feel Therese’s conflicted emotions as though they were mine and understood her reasons for being unable to come outright and tell Claudio the reason behind her need to walk away.

I loved Claudio, one reason being, he stays true to his character throughout the story. He is committed, loyal and actually enthralled by the woman Therese is. Just how enamored he is by her is revealed slowly as the story progresses. But the angst that was a palpable part of the story was mainly due to Claudio being unaware of the shift in his emotional response to his wife and also due to the lack of proper communication between Therese and himself. Claudio remains clueless about a lot of aspects of their relationship and it was endearing to learn of all his efforts to actually show Therese how much he cares about her. Loved the way he stepped up and took care of Therese when the time called for it. If there is a reason to love Claudio, for me, that alone suffices.

I loved the fact that what Lucy actually portrays in the story, i.e. the issues that Therese and Claudio face in their marriage are the same as any other couple who might undergo such a difficult phase in their marriage; and especially if the communication barriers get broken down. There are underlying messages that Lucy conveys through the story that I received loud and clear.

For one thing assumptions is the mother of all evil where relationships are concerned. Its always healthier to ask and be certain rather than assume the best or the worst about your partner. But then again, relationships are never that simple are they.

Secondly, communication is an integral part of any relationship. If the proper channels of communication does not exist or get broken down along the way, even the smallest of things can get blown out of proportion and in the end might even be the leading cause of a breakup of a relationship. If Claudio and Therese had talked to each other and I mean really talked to each other more often, half of all the agony that both of them went through would have been avoided. But then, it wouldn’t have given me, the reader, all that angst that I absolutely reveled in throughout the story!

Thirdly, yes, there is such a thing as being far too independent. Being independent and getting things done on your own is all well and good, but then there are times that you have to lean on your partner and let him or her take care of you. If Therese had in fact let Claudio know what she was going through and let him help her along the way, they both could have discovered that there is much much more to their relationship than just a convenient arrangement on Claudio’s end.

The one thing that irked me a bit was the fact that Therese went so long without telling Claudio the actual reason behind her wanting to leave. I felt that she dragged it on for a bit too longer than necessary which actually made Claudio draw his own conclusions which certainly didn’t help matters along. And then there were areas in the story that just seemed to rehash the same stuff over and over again which became a bit tiresome to read, but overall, the story managed to captivate me enough to lose a bit of my sleep over it in order to see how Claudio and Therese would fare in the end.

Recommended for fans of Lucy Monroe and fans of angst-ridden romances. This one’s filled with just that!

Final Verdict: The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain should come with the warning; “Emotional roller-coaster ride guaranteed!”.

Favorite Quotes

She opened her eyes to look at him and saw that his head was thrown back in abandon like hers had been, his face etched with sexual pleasure. She leaned forward and bit his chest in an act so primitive, even in her advanced state of passion…it shocked her.
He was not shocked, though, but merely growled and increased the rhythm, slamming into her with pounding force with every thrust. It was so intense, she felt like she was on the verge of shattering into a million over-pleasured bits.

He gripped her tighter and she wrapped her arms around him, pressing to his body, the only sense of reality in a universe exploding from pleasure. He was silent when he climaxed, his teeth bared in a feral grimace that said more eloquently than any words could have how intensely he was feeling.

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

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Review: Unforgivable by Joanna Chambers

Format: E-bookunforgivable
Read with: Kindle for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Hero: Gilbert Truman, Viscount Waite
Heroine: Rose Davenport
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 15, 2013
Started On: January 23, 2013
Finished On: January 24, 2013

Unforgivable by Joanna Chambers is my first experience reading something by the author. Though I shy away from reading too many historical romances, there are certain themes that call out to the romantic hidden inside of me and one of them happens to be the marriage of convenience theme. Coupled together with a heroine who is not the type of beauty that men would happily go to war for (though I would never understand the concept behind the notion) I thought that this would be the perfect read to curl up with.

Unforgivable starts out with a sickly looking Rose Davenport who just survived a vicious bout of the chickenpox being offered to Viscount Waite for marriage. Rose has no clue as to how the arrangement to marry the very handsome and appealing Viscount Waite comes about. And since Rose is pleasantly taken aback with surprise because Viscount Waite makes her open up and feel alive for the brief moment in time they meet before their nuptials, she is more than bewildered to say when the man who turns up at the church to marry her remains cold and aloof at best.

Gilbert Truman’s intention to marry the beautiful Tilly who captured his heart flies out of the window when he is forced to marry a woman not of his choosing. Bitter about being cornered into a place he doesn’t want to be in, Gilbert does what he must in order to survive being married to Rose. He keeps her away at one of his country estates and ignores her completely.

Years pass on by and Rose grows up, loses the awkward edge about her and becomes determined that she would confront her husband and force him to acknowledge her existence one way or the other, and thus Rose makes her way to London and ends up getting embroiled in a scheme of deception that doesn’t end up all that well. Now Gilbert and Rose are at odds, both fighting their true emotions, each too proud to let go of the hurt and misunderstandings that grows and fosters between them to really see through all that and grab the chance at happiness that awaits them.

I didn’t end up enjoying Unforgivable as much as I thought I would. I didn’t overly like the hero much and believe me I am someone who practically likes every hero in a romance novel – even the ones that most feminist readers do not like. But somehow I didn’t relate that much to Gilbert and thus the enjoyable factor in the novel sizzled down a bit for me. And then there is the heroine Rose. I loved her at the beginning of the novel, rooted for her and ached to see her become all that she could be and more given half the chance. But then things went a bit downhill for me towards the latter part of the book. Nevertheless I’d still say that Unforgivable is a good read worth your time if you like a bit of angst in your romances.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Samhain | BoB | Kobo

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Review: Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-booktemptingthebride
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Fitzhugh Trilogy #3
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: David Hillsborough, Viscount Hastings
Heroine: Helena Fitzhugh
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: October 2, 2012
Started On: December 14, 2012
Finished On: December 18, 2012

For someone who doesn’t read much of historical romances, Sherry Thomas is one author I’d always continue to make an exception for. Its because of the way she brings her characters to life and makes me fall irrevocably in love with the way she spins a web that continues to enchant me until I turn the very last page, all the while mourning the fact that the story couldn’t have gone on for just a little bit longer that will always have me going back for more.

The third and final book in the Fitzhugh trilogy is the story of Helena Fitzhugh, the youngest of the trio and the one who is considered to be the most ‘unconventional’ and ‘wild’ from the siblings. Viscount Hastings is the thorn in Helena’s side so to say from the tender young age in which they come across each other. Hastings who had fallen head over heels in love with Helena had always hidden behind a wall of obnoxious behavior, just so that Helena would never ever find out the depth of his feelings towards the only woman he has ever loved.

When Helena finds herself in a bit of a situation, which would be putting it mildly, it is Hastings that strides to her rescue which in turn forces her to accept his hand in marriage; not to save herself, but rather to save the shame that it would bring to her brother and sister if she were to do otherwise. Angered and frustrated beyond belief at the turn of events, not to mention the fact that a staggering kiss between her and Hastings that had shaken her to the depths of her very soul continues to taunt her, it would be an understatement to say that Helena does everything she can to show that she would not accept being married to Hastings that easily.

But as fate would have it, through a twisted turn of events, Hastings finds himself with a once in a lifetime opportunity to show Helena the side of him that he has kept hidden from her for far too long, the side of him that yearns to love Helena like there is no tomorrow and make up for his despicable behavior of the past. Though Hastings knows that his past could catch up with him at any moment, the answering glow in Helena’s eyes makes the temptation to carry on an irresistible one. And when the inevitable truth comes knocking on their door, it is only the memories of the new side of Hastings that Helena gets to see and remembers that saves the day for both of them in the end.

Its a thing of impossibility to read a novel by Sherry Thomas and not be invested in the outcome of the story and its characters. Likewise, Tempting the Bride had me salivating over Hastings and the effortless ease with which he seduces the very headstrong Helena. And the plus side was that unlike the previous story, the tables were turned in this one such that it is the hero that has been in love with the heroine for far too long, and it was the vulnerable side of Hastings that I fell in love with, time and yet again as I read along.

Helena is a heroine of one of a kind. She is the type of heroine who dares to cross the boundaries and tests society’s patience during an era when females who were anything less than demure were barely tolerated. And because she stays true to her character, I loved her and the layers of her character that continued to unfold throughout the story.

Though I felt again that the ending was a tad rushed in this story as well, I would still recommend Tempting the Bride for historical romance lovers because missing out on Sherry Thomas’ incredible writing is not something I would ever recommend. 

Favorite Quotes

Not all opportunities are created equal. Some are nothing but steps leading down toward catastrophe.

Their eyes met. Without hesitation he kissed her. His weight was solid. His hair—she didn’t know when her fingers had plunged into his hair—was cool and soft. And the hunger in his kiss…contrary to everything she knew, he made her feel as if he’d never kissed anyone before and never wanted to kiss anyone else.

This time he could no longer hold back his tears. And with them came words that he’d never been able to say to her his entire life. “I love you, Helena. I have always loved you. Wake up and let me prove it to you.”

He meant to do it properly, start slow and soft, and only gradually build toward the wildness that had always characterized their kisses. But the moment he touched his lips to hers, she locked one arm behind his neck, and all thoughts of leisure and gentleness leaped out the window.
He devoured her. And she, her tongue mobile and eager, devoured him in return. He pulled her out of her chair and pushed her against the edge of the vanity. She grabbed his hair and moaned, a sound of stark hunger—and it was all he could do not to push up her nightgown and sink into her then and there.

At her incendiary words, he drove deeper—far deeper—into her, unable to help himself.
“So,” she said, her fingers on his cheek, “now I’ve made you mine.”
He took her fingers in hand and kissed them one by one. “You made me yours long ago, but now you finally claimed me.”

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

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Requested Review: Beautiful Bad Man by Ellen O’Connell

Format: E-bookbeautifulbadman
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: American Western Historical
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Caleb Sutton
Heroine: Norah Gifford Hawkins
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 29, 2012
Started On: November 18, 2012
Finished On: November 25, 2012

From one of the best American Western Historical romance authors comes another fantastic installment, this time a book entitled Beautiful Bad Man, a most appropriate title for a book that delivered a story that was beautiful and fascinating as the hero in the story truly was, a book that made me sigh and yearn in all the right places as Ellen once again wove her special brand of magic on me.

Ellen O’Connell writes stories that are gritty and realistic. She is not an author who pulls any punches when she delivers novels that depict the harshness of life as it was back then. But amidst all the violence and chaos, Ellen still manages to give the reader something that turns out to be that much more precious and beautiful because of the fact and Beautiful Bad Man is no exception to this rule.

Norah Hawkins and Caleb Sutton meet under the most unusual and trying circumstances just for a brief moment in time as young adults. Years later, these two happen to meet again by a quirky twist of fate. Though both Norah and Caleb had never actively sought to think about each other as the years had passed on by, both had in fact wished the best for each other, and had somehow envisioned the other living the sort of life that would bring peace to the other’s mind. However, reality couldn’t be further from those dreams as Caleb finds himself facing a disillusioned woman who is ready to collapse from the lack of will to fight for what she wants. For Norah the jolt is a stronger one. Norah being someone who always has a clear cut vision on what is right and wrong finds herself confronting a man whose eyes show nothing but coldness, in it lying the truth of how survival of the fittest always means that you lose something precious and vital inside of you to come out as the winner in the game of survival.

A partnership forged between two people who couldn’t be more different from each other even if they tried would seem to be a venture doomed for failure right from the very start. But that is exactly the opposite of what happens as Norah starts to discover those startling qualities about the man she married, the man that she slowly starts to fall in love with as Caleb unknowingly shows her just what it is like to be married to someone who truly appreciates Norah and all that she can offer in the truest fashion.

Caleb is someone who believes himself not worthy of beauty or kindness that life has to offer, no wonder owing to the harsh brutality that he had suffered during his childhood. But Norah awakens in him something that runs sure and deep into his soul, a yearning to reach out for the impossible and hold on for as long as possible. 

The constant danger that both Norah and Caleb fight together to safeguard what is theirs brings these two closer and seals a relationship that already takes them to new heights in the physical sense. Norah is the type of heroine that I love to read about. The type of heroine that Ellen is so good at creating. And thus its no wonder that I fell in love with Norah right from the very start.

Caleb is a hero that is truly beautiful and bad, both at the same time, somehow making those two words strung together just that much more meaningful. Caleb is a hero in every sense. A bit alpha, a bit headstrong, just a tad stubborn and a total softie when it comes to his wife and their dog Early without even realizing the fact himself. 

If you haven’t read an Ellen O’Connell, its high time you did. She writes characters and stories that you would not forget anytime soon. A must read if you are a fan of American Western historical romances. Highly recommended!

Favorite Quotes

“The times they’d coupled by early morning light or with a lamp still burning, his face stayed a handsome shadow. In bright sunshine she saw every detail — the way the water had made dark spikes of his lashes, the way those lashes were half-lowered over eyes turning liquid with passion. She had not drowned in the shallow creek. She would lose herself forever in his eyes.”

“She expected his weight, the familiar. He turned her on her side to face him, draped her leg over his, and entered her, his eyes locked on hers. She shut her eyes, invaded in some impossible way beyond the physical.
He moved inside her slowly. She moved with him, giving herself to the pleasure. One arm held her close, one hand rubbed a nipple.
“Norah.” His voice was hoarse and deep, his words in the rhythm of their movement. “Look at me. Let me know you know it’s me. You want it to be me.”
“I know. You’re the only one I ever wanted.” She opened her eyes and let him see the truth.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Smashwords

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