Review: Duncan’s Bride by Linda Howard

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
POV: Third Person, Dual
Series: Standalone
Publisher: MIRA
Hero: Gideon Reese Duncan
Heroine: Madelyn Sanger Patterson
Sensuality: 3.5
Published On: May 25, 1998
Started On: January 28, 2022
Finished On: January 28, 2022

WANTED: A WIFE for able-bodied rancher. Must be of steady character, want children, and be able to work on ranch. Age 25 to 35 preferable.

Duncan’s Bride by Linda Howard is a favorite of mine from long before. I don’t particularly remember why a review for this delightful book was never written by yours truly, but I aim to rectify it this time around having come upon that sad realization.

34 year old Gideon Reese Duncan (Duncan) is a rancher who lost everything to his ex-wife, having slowly built back his life from the ashes that were left behind in the wake of the departure of the woman who had felt entitled to take half of everything that he had owned. Having crawled his way back to a position from which he could start thinking about a future again, Duncan decides it is time to find himself a wife once again, but this time he is going to be smart about it. There would be no courting her, no seeking love – just a plain old arrangement of convenience where he would get what he wants out of the marriage without the emotional and financial entanglements.

28 year old Madelyn Sanger Patterson (Maddie) is restless with her lot in life and yearns for something that would take her out of the rut her life has become. When she stumbles across the ad placed for a wife, something in her urges her to act and respond to the call. Ultimately, even though Duncan believes that he might be making the wrong choice once again given how drawn to Maddie he is physically, there is no denying fate when something is written down to happen, and that is exactly how Duncan finds himself married to Maddie, a woman who is accustomed to all sorts of comforts in life, someone Duncan has misgivings about her suitability to the kind of life that is ranching.

However, Duncan soon finds out that his wife is not a shrinking violet he thought she would be and is more than capable of living up to the expectations of any rancher looking for a partner who is willing to give it their all. The sexual attraction between the two is something Duncan embraces wholeheartedly, a bonus under the circumstances when he had been resigned to a life of comfort and companionship when he had initially sought to get married.

For Maddie, Duncan is the man who makes everything within her come alive, the missing piece of her soul that perfectly aligns with her desires and needs. While Duncan is a hard man to reach emotionally, Maddie believes that she is making headway, slowly but surely, up till the point where Duncan’s stubborn pride gets in the way, putting her everything they have together on the line. But Maddie being who she is, is willing to give Duncan the kind of fight he would not win easily, and that is one of the many reasons why this book stands out in a big way.

Duncan’s Bride is a story that features a hero that can only be defined as alpha. Once bitten, twice as shy, Duncan guards his emotions closely and his checkbook even closer. Having learnt his lesson when it comes to preying women, Duncan is determined that no one else would get the best of him, not even the surprise that is his mail-ordered bride Maddie. Thwart her attempts he does, especially when it comes to considering her as an equal partner in their marriage, the fear of losing everything once again preying on his mind, when Duncan does not realize that going down that road he is sure to lose what is most precious to him above everything else.

While Duncan at times makes you want to give him a couple slaps (and hard) because of his stubborn nature and that formidable pride of his, that is also part of the reason why this story worms its way into your heart in a way that is undefinable. Maddie is the perfect antidote to the poison that Duncan has consumed even though he cannot see it for what it is, and when the inevitable happens, Duncan obviously thinks the worst, to be proven spectacularly wrong in a way that makes all the heartache worth it. The grovel game in this novel is strong, which gives it the perfect five stars the story so deserves.

Recommended for fans of marriage of convenience trope romances featuring strong, stubborn, and prideful alpha heroes and their equally stubborn and strong women who do not give up. Duncan and Maddie do not disappoint!

Final Verdict: Duncan’s Bride is a story that I will never tire of; the arrogant and virile hero being brought to his very knees makes the angst-ridden pages all worth it!

Favorite Quotes

Vaguely she heard other people around them. It didn’t matter. He was making love to her with his mouth, arousing her, satisfying her, consuming her. He increased the slant of his head, tucking her head more firmly into his shoulder, and kissed her with all the burning sensuality she had sensed in him on first sight.
Her heart lurched as pleasure overrode shock, swiftly escalating to an almost unbearable tension. She not only welcomed the intrusion of his tongue, she met it with her own, making love to him as surely as he was to her.

He tossed the washcloth into the basin and took his hat off, dropping it onto the floor. The arm behind her back tightened and drew her in to him as he bent his head, and his mouth closed over hers.
It was the same way he’d kissed her in the airport, the way he hadn’t kissed her since. His mouth was hard and hot, urgent in his demands. His tongue pushed into her mouth, and she met it with her own, welcoming, enticing, wanting more.

The sunlight sifted down through the leaves, dappling his gleaming skin, and his eyes were fiercely primitive as he kneed her thighs apart. He looked wild and magnificent, and she made a soft whimpering sound of need as she reached for him.
He tore her clothes, and she didn’t care. The seam of her chemise gave way beneath his twisting fingers, and the taut rise of her breasts thrust nakedly up at him. He sucked strongly at her while he shoved her skirt to her waist and hooked his fingers in the waistband of her underpants. She lifted her hips to aid him, but heard the rip of lace, and then he threw the shreds to one side.

He undid her skirt and stripped it down her legs; then she parted her thighs and reached for him again, and he couldn’t wait a minute longer. The sight of those sleek legs opening for him was an image that had haunted his dreams. He’d intended to be easier with her this time, but as soon as he penetrated she made a wild sound in her throat and her hips rolled, and he went mad again.

Green eyes locked with gray. He hooked his fingers in the hem of her skirt and jerked it upward, at the same time spreading her legs and moving forward between them. She sank her hands into his wet hair and held his head while her mouth attacked his with a fierce kiss that held mingled anger and desire. He said, “Maddie,” in a rough tone as he tore her underpants out of the way, then jerked at his belt and the fastening of his jeans.
It was just as it had been in the back of the truck. The rush of passion was hard and fast and overwhelming.

He unbuttoned her blouse while she performed the same service for his shirt. When he had undipped her bra he slowly brought their bare torsos together, turning her slightly from side to side so that her breasts rubbed his chest and his curly hair rasped against her nipples, making her arch in his arms.
“God, I can’t get enough of you,” he muttered.
“I don’t want you to.”

Release left her weak, pliable. She lay back across the hood of the car, breathing hard, her eyes closed. Reese gripped her hips and began thrusting hard and fast, wanting that sweet weakness for himself. Her eyes slowly opened as he drove into her, and she closed her hands around his wrists. “I love you,” she said again.
Until he heard the words once more he hadn’t realized how badly he’d needed them, wanted them. She was his, and had been from the moment she’d walked through the airport toward him. He groaned, and his hips jerked; then the pleasure hit him, and he couldn’t think for a long time. All he could do was feel, and sink forward onto her soft body and into her arms.

She felt drained, more exhausted than before. She lay limply as he knelt between her legs and tore at his clothes, throwing them aside. She could barely open her eyes as he positioned himself and then invaded her with a slow, heavy thrust that carried him into her to the hilt. As always, she was faintly startled by the overwhelming sense of fullness as she adjusted to him.
His full weight was on her, crushing her downward. There was nothing gentlemanly about him now, only the need to enter her as deeply as possible, to carry the embrace to the fullest so that there was no part of her that didn’t feel his possession.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | eBooks | Apple | BookDepo

ARC Review: Back To You Lauren Dane

Format: E-bookbacktoyou.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Hurley Boys, #3
Publisher: MIRA
Hero: Vaughan Michael Hurley
Heroine: Kelly Hurley
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 1, 2015
Started On: May 16, 2015
Finished On: May 18, 2015

The third book in The Hurley Boys series features the youngest of the boys, Vaughan Michael Hurley, whose divorce from the woman he loves and had done immense wrong to, has gone on for 8 long years. Vaughan thought it better to save his pride than admit to his wrongdoings and seek to reunite. But the news that Kelly is about to marry another and start over anew with Vaughan ‘s two daughters brings about the realization that he must act before its too late.

Kelly has, does and always would love Vaughan. But Kelly is done waiting for someone who refuses to grow up, someone who refuses to come back to her. But then Vaughan surprises her by turning up on her doorstep, wanting to be more of a part of their daughters lives. With little bits of arguments here and small bouts of misunderstandings there, Kelly and Vaughn work through the hurdles to give a story that was just okay.

Every author who has written multiple books tend to have certain “trademark” aspects to their writing. Lauren Dane is someone who I have identified as being able to deliver emotional and intensely sexy reads that has the ability to blow your socks off and then some. While the relationship between Vaughan and Kelly had so much potential, there was little angst, just a bit of acting out on Kelly’s part to show everyone that she was done being the doormat heroine who apologizes for every little thing, even when most of it hadn’t been her fault. While Vaughan is a pretty laid back sort of guy, I still expected him to ooze out the Hurley brand of charm and sexy which sort of failed to materialize.

To be honest, nothing stood out for me in this book. I know that authors and publishers, though they claim to want honest reviews from reviewers, tend to shy away from and can be quite antagonistic towards the “bad” reviews. But as someone who has promised an honest review at the end of the day, I have to say my two piece about what I’ve read.

Back to You was a book that just seemed to be filled with a ton of conversations that were repeated in different forms with different characters in the story. While Vaughn kept apologizing to death and atoning for his behavior, which I believe he did just the right amount of it, I can safely say that none of it put me through the emotional wrangling of the kind that I was expecting. And that proved to be a teensy bit of a disappointment. While most writers shy away from delivering too much angst for the fear of facing wrath from the feminist goddesses, I for one am a total and utter disappointment to the fairer sex because I thrive in it. So to see that there was none of it in a novel that could have had a bit of it to spice things up was disheartening.

The whole crazy bunch of characters in the series have all been nothing short of endearing. But I found myself left with just a general likeness for both Vaughan and Kelly while I expected their characters to invoke deeper emotions in me. It’s not easy writing about characters who are flawed and have made pretty screwed up judgment calls in the past owing to a lot of shared hurt and sense of betrayal and abandonment between them. I guess the problem lies with how much I actually expected the novel to move me, which it didn’t. After a while, you get tired of reading about the other characters, especially Ezra, whose addiction problems were mentioned all throughout the debut book and even this one. I wanted to read about Vaughan and Kelly, not the other Hurley brothers who have already got stories of their own.

Having read just the debut book in the series and skipping the second book to get to this one, I expected blistering and scorching heat of the kind that the Hurley brothers practically exude by their mere existence alone. But even that never truly did materialize with just small scenes of passion thrown in here and there that seemed to cement the deal and aid Kelly in getting over the hurt of a divorce that had left her in pieces. Perhaps the reason I felt such a lackluster reaction to the story was because the characters themselves didn’t seem to react all that passionately to the circumstances and the few curve balls thrown their way. So perhaps, in a way what I missed the most was feeling passionately about a story that seemed just a little short of bland.

Kelly and her struggles with the scars left behind by her mother who’d done a number on her self esteem issues was perhaps the only aspect of the story that truly stood out for me. It was evident that her struggle was real, that it was a continued struggle that she’d won inch by inch because of the person she is. Strong, determined and definitely not a pushover once the story began. Not many would have handled the whole Hurley situation with as much grace as Kelly and that was one plus point in all of the mundaneness of the rest of the novel.

Recommended for fans of Lauren Dane and fans of the Hurley Boys.

Final Verdict: A story that flows smoothly enough, yet doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Favorite Quotes

She’d ached for this. For years and years after she lost it. At times Kelly had wondered if that ability had died along with her marriage. And it was right here, all along.
Tipping her face up, she let herself be kissed.
She’d expected something slow and gentle. But what she got seared her. Stunned her as the raw, sexual heat of his mouth, his tongue and teeth destroyed every last bit of her remaining defenses against him.

He leaned his forehead to hers, breathing hard. “Give me a minute or two.” He took her hand and put it against his cock, through his jeans.
Kelly squeezed a few times. “You’re going to need a lot more than a minute so don’t get cocky.”
“Are you trying to kill me?”
“No. I plan to ride you until you sweat,” she whispered before she nipped his earlobe.

Her nails dug into his back after she’d yanked his shirt off.
He let out a string of curses as he shoved his pants down to free his cock and then yanked her shorts and panties to the side, sliding into her hard and fast.
And naked. She gasped at the feel of him and then at the expression he wore as he held her still, his hands at her hips squeezing just shy of pain.

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


Review: Silver Falls by Anne Stuart

Format: E-booksilverfalls
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: MIRA
Hero: Caleb Middleton
Heroine: Rachel Chapman Middleton
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 1, 2009
Started On: July 30, 2014
Finished On: July 31, 2014

Silver Falls by Anne Stuart is one of those novels by her that I have tried to steer clear of because of the bad reviews this one has received. Even fans of Anne Stuart seems to have one reason or the other for giving this a bad rating which made me reluctant to pick this up for a read because I didn’t want to ruin the fascination that I harbor for Anne Stuart as an author. Perhaps I should have trusted a bit more in an author, even whose novels that can be classified as “mediocre” have wooed me more than any other author in the romance genre. From the moment I picked this up to read till I was done and beyond, I couldn’t help but wonder why most readers found this read to be so lackluster.

Based in Silver Falls of Washington where its always gloomy and always rains, Silver Falls tells the story of a creepy serial killer and the heroine Rachel Chapman Middleton and her daughter who gets caught in the web of deceit that the killer weaves so thoroughly. Up till four months prior to the start of the story, Rachel had brought up her daughter Sophie all by herself, having led a nomadic existence, traveling all over the world which had seemed to suite them both. Tragedy sends Rachel into the arms of David Middleton, who materializes at just the right time and woos Rachel into believing that its time that she settle down somewhere in order to give Sophie a more stable home.

When the murder of a young girl sends fear rolling through Silver Falls, along with it comes home the black sheep of the Middleton family; Caleb Middleton. A war correspondent who has traveled extensively around the world, Caleb comes home to put the demons that have haunted him to rest once and for all. The truth that has been staring him in his face for more than half of his life, a truth that he had been unable to get on board with and come to terms with, Caleb realizes that he has already left it to chance for far too long.

The minute Caleb crosses paths with Rachel, his brother’s wife, sparks fly between the two. Rachel doesn’t want to care overly much about how Caleb makes every cell in her come alive with his presence, nor does she want to acknowledge the fiery attraction that simmers and makes her want Caleb and no one but him. Caleb’s intentions aren’t that clear to Rachel who suspects him of being the one behind that vague sense of discomfiture and feeling of being unknowingly hunted that had been the norm ever since Rachel had moved to Silver Falls. And when the inevitable happens, there is no going back for Rachel who would do anything to keep her daughter safe.

Silver Falls is a tad different from most of Anne Stuart’s romantic suspense novels. From the beginning of the story, readers know who the killer is. Didn’t make an iota of a difference where the creepy factor was concerned as Anne Stuart managed to reel the me in with that hypnotic talent of hers that only she is capable of weaving. The town itself and the killer whose seemingly normal facade that fools Rachel into believing otherwise sent chills up and down my spine and I enjoyed the thrill that aspect of the story gave me.

One factor that seems to have not worked for most readers turned out to be Rachel. She was too stubborn and TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) in a lot of readers’ opinions. But I think Rachel fit into the mould of a typical Anne Stuart heroine. They tend to be pretty stubborn, independent and refuse to give into the hero’s demands until there is no fight left in them. And I think Rachel being a wife together with the fact that she thought she was doing what was best for her daughter played a huge role in her reluctance to face the truth which was glaringly obvious to everyone but her.

I loved Sophie. It would be hard for anyone to find fault with someone who is as intelligent, sweet and the perfect daughter for someone like Rachel. Sophie is wise beyond her years; there is a grace and poise to her character that is charming in itself. Caleb of course turned out to be sexy and just the right amount of “bad boy” in my opinion. Caleb might think he is just using Rachel to further his agenda, but as it turns out he is way more smitten and drawn into Rachel than he would like to admit. Caleb is a bit more toned down than the usual variety of Anne Stuart heroes. Nevertheless he appealed to my senses just the same.

Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart.

Final Verdict: Creepily hypnotic! Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

“Kiss me back and I’ll let you go,” he said softly.
“Fuck off.”
He kissed her anyway, and she remained stonily still, as his other hand trailed up her back to the perfect, sensitive spot just beneath her shoulder blades, and she felt her treacherous body soften.
Oh, the hell with it. She kissed him back. She opened her mouth, slid her arms around his waist, pulling him closer still, and kissed him, with all the hunger and need that had been locked in her body for months, years. She kissed him because she couldn’t have him, kissed him because he showed up too late, kissed him until she felt his cock swell against her belly and the fierce need became his own as well.

“I tell you what. You can hate me. You can have me arrested. But you’ll be alive, and that’s all I care about.” And before she realized what he was doing he’d pulled the bedspread away from her, wrapping his body in it as well, and he was kissing his way down her body, his mouth latching on to her breast, sucking it into his mouth so hard she arched up off the bed. The pleasure was so fierce she couldn’t deny it anymore. She wanted, needed more, and when he moved to her other breast she almost came from the power of her response.

They moved without words, hands and mouths and bodies intertwining, stroking. She sank down on her knees in the narrow tub and took him in her mouth and he put his hands in her hair, holding her there for moments that she found unbearably arousing. He stopped her before she finished, pulling her up so that she straddled him, wrapping her legs around his waist, taking him deep inside, and it was slow and sweet and gentle, and when she came she cried.

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ARC Review: Something to Talk About by Dakota Cassidy

Format: E-booksomethingtotalkaboutdc.png
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Plum Orchard, #2
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Hero: Jackson Hawthorne
Heroine: Emmaline Amos
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: May 27, 2014
Started On: July 4, 2014
Finished On: July 8, 2014

Something to Talk About by Dakota Cassidy is my very first read from the author. Book number 2 in the Plum Orchards series invited me from the very first page to enter into the world of Emmaline Amos (Em) and make myself right at home. Dakota’s easy style of writing and the spark that practically set the pages afire made this a book worth sinking myself into.

36 year old single mother Em  is almost bursting at the seams to break out of the conservative shell that she has been placed in by everyone that knows her. Working as the manager of a phone sex company itself is a big achievement for someone whose ex-husband had called her prissy and boring, the emotional scars of which still taunts her even a year after the divorce. Her group of friends and her two young boys are what keeps her going. And even though Em craves for sultry nights with a man who can set her whole body on fire, the only thing that she has plans on setting fire to is just her imagination. That is until Jackson Hawthorne (Jax) walks into her life.

Em and Jax meet under interesting circumstances; when Jax’s sweet little daughter calls Call Girls Inc. looking for a girlfriend for her beloved daddy. Things take a mirthful turn when Jax misunderstands the situation and Em stares in the face of the man with whom she had shared an electrifying moment with a while back. Though Em might not like it or want it, Jax sets her engines revving unlike any man she has ever been with (not that she has been with anyone except for her ex-husband) and from the moment these two lip-lock, sparks that rivals that of the 4th of July lights up the story!

Jax and Em both have emotional scars that they would equally like to forget and move on from. And entanglement and putting their emotional lives in jeopardy is hardly what either of them wants. Thus Em proposes the easiest and least messy solution. They’d be sex partners, nothing more nothing less. No emotional entanglements for them. No sirree! But then we all know how life can throw the curveballs that shows you that all your grand planning is for naught. And love? Oh the sneaky emotion called love definitely loves to play when a man as sweet, manly and oh so sexy comes calling and can set your body humming like it has never ever before!

I loved Something to Talk About pretty much. There was so much goodness, emotional and otherwise in the story that you can’t help but fall a little bit more in love as you turn one page to the next. Jax Hawthorne, the man himself is reason enough for a girl to abandon everything and indulge in the story. From his name to his body to his personality, everything screams sexy and capable. And the way Jax takes care of his little girl? Well, that ought to charm you right out of your socks if nothing else.

Em herself turned out to be a pretty swell character. Her emotional scars are so real, the emotional punch that Dakota delivers along with it is enough to make you suck your breathe in and just ride out the roller coaster of a ride. I’d say that the insecurities that both Jax and Em have, individually and together is what touched me the most about the story. And Em coming out of her shell and facing her demons, well, that was just the icing on the cake that made this story a winner! Recommended.

Final Verdict: Hot, rugged and beautifully Southern. May Jax Hawthorne live hard & long!

Favorite Quotes

Fingers, long and thick, glided over her skin, teasing, pushing, easing away, kneading. Over and over until he skimmed the outline of her panties where her hip met thigh.
Em tensed, mewled a small sound she’d never heard come from her mouth before, but Jax muffled it with his lips.
Mercy, his mouth. Soft and hard in the same breath. Commanding, domineering, gentle with just a hint of the taste of the beer he’d had at dinner. More adjectives than her mind could parse—or even cared to.

Jax pulled her to him, wrapping a hand around her waist, and kissed her hard with delicious force.
He wasn’t asking permission, either. He was demanding she kiss him, angling his mouth over hers, coaxing her lips to his will with a tongue that tasted like peppermint and sex.

His kiss got hotter, more urgent, until her back was to his office wall, his rigid thighs straining against hers. Her nipples tightened, achy, needy, crushed against his broad chest, leaving an imprint of Jax all over her. One she wanted to roll around in, inhale, devour.

“Hold on to me,” was all he could manage from his tightly clenched jaw with the tip of his cock so close to all that heat.
Em did as instructed, putting her arms around his neck, still looking him square in the eye. But she wasn’t asking questions now. Now she had the same look in her eyes he imagined he had in his—like they were going into battle and the first one to come won.

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


Review: Shameless by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookShameless.jpeg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The House of Rohan, #4
Publisher: MIRA
Hero: Benedick Francis Alistair Rohan
Heroine: Melisande Carstairs
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 21, 2011
Started On: April 6, 2014
Finished On: April 10, 2014

I believe I am in quite the predicament. Anne Stuart has ruined me. Yes, you heard me right. She has ruined me for practically every other author out there. Two or three books from random authors and that feeling of restlessness stirs inside of me, that craving to read something from an author I firmly believe would never fail me. And every single time I start a new book from her, there is this feeling of anticipation that courses through me, that feeling of rightness and contentment in knowing that Anne Stuart would never do me wrong. And with every book that I finish reading, depression hits, because I know that I would end up devouring most of her published books pretty soon and then I start wondering, where on Earth am I going to get my fix from when that day comes?

Shameless is the 4th and last published book in the delectable The House of Rohan series by Anne Stuart. Depravity is the name of the game for the Rohans, but then the only truly “depraved” character I encountered from this series turns out to be the one hero that wasn’t a Rohan; Lucien from the 3rd book Breathless. Even though Shameless could be read as a standalone, I would advice you to read at least Breathless first. Because certain aspects of the story would only make sense and also give you that deep feeling of happiness if you’ve read Lucien’s story first.

Shameless tells the tale of the sixth Viscount Rohan who has gone through one tragedy after the other that leads him to believe that he would be better off marrying someone who would just bear him children and look for his fix for carnal pleasure elsewhere. That is the intention with which Benedick returns to London and in turn gets gobsmacked by his encounter with the reformist who makes his head spin; Melisande Castairs widow of Sir Thomas Castairs.

Melisande’s charitable activities leaves her on the fringes of society, but Melisande is a determined woman if ever there was one, taking in the “soiled doves” and teaching them the way to a better life. At first Benedick is annoyed by the woman who single-handedly thwarts his attempt to appease the hunger that has not been slated in a long while. But then his fascination with Melisande is one Benedick is willing to ignore at all cost, until she turns up on his doorstep, seeking his help to dig deeper into the activities taking place in the “Heavenly Host”, a secret society of sorts that gets together to seek and slake all types of sexual needs. Though Benedick might not want to believe what Melisande has to say, his own brother’s elusiveness raises red flags all over the place and Benedick has little choice left but to investigate with the annoying Melisande at his heels, and perhaps seduce the woman along the way and walk away once his hunger for all things that is Melisande has been appeased.

While some die-hard fans of Anne Stuart had found Benedick to be too “mild” compared to the likes of gamma heroes that Anne Stuart creates in most of her books, I found Benedick to be just the right sort of rake for Melisande. Lucien turned out to be the darkest of heroes in this series, so perhaps Anne Stuart’s mind was on toning things down a bit from all the intensity that had gone down in the previous book.

As always, Anne Stuart kept the story alive and kicking in so many ways. There are the characters, each and everyone of whom contributes in some way to make the story the well rounded one it turned out to be. And then there is the trademark caustic wit of Anne Stuart that shines through in each and every dialog that happens in the story. I loved the conversations that took place between Melisande and Benedick, not to mention the constant parrying back and forth between Benedick and Lucien; Benedick always having the urge to throttle the very life out of Lucien.

I just flat-out adored Melisande. She’s like this deep bundle of energy and spirit, determined to right the world, one wrong at a time. The fact that she doesn’t seem to mind what the society may think of her and goes on brazenly working to achieve the things she believes in earned her major points! I rooted for her every step of the way and couldn’t get enough of the way that she cannot help herself over her want for a man who is so deliciously wrong for her in numerous ways. Her take charge attitude is one that I loved to bits, the way she just slams her way through into Benedick’s seemingly well ordered life and turns it completely upside down a reason that kept a smile on my face in a way that signaled my unabashed enjoyment for the story.

Ah, and then there is Benedick. Just like 99.99% of the heroes that Anne Stuart creates, Benedick won my heart through and through – it was just as simple as that. I loved the conflict his waspish tongue brought to the story, the angst and the turmoil that kept the story alive, not to mention that deep sexual pulse which brings that electrical vibe to the story that makes it hard to put down. This is where once again, I have to wish and ask out aloud; why cannot more authors embrace writing stories and heroes like Anne Stuart does? Too much to ask in a world where even romance books have to be politically right huh?

While there seemed to be a thread of a secondary romance in the story, namely between Brandon Rohan and Emma Cadbury, it seemed to just stop when things seemed to get interesting between them. And I can’t help but want to read Emma and Brandon’s story with a need that is almost crippling in its intensity! An internet search into the matter revealed that MIRA had not wanted any more stories into the Rohan series even though Anne Stuart had been of the mind to write Emma and Brandon’s story next. Oh the soul crushing disappointment of it all!

If all this constant rambling has given you anything after reading this review, it should be the fact that this story is one that I loved to bits and pieces. The fact that Miranda and Lucien seems to be making so many babies and seeing a “softer” side of Lucien; well, softer in the context of Lucien, was one additional bit about Shameless that had me smiling from deep within my heart. And if you don’t understand where I am going with this review, I will just lay it out for you; I recommend this as one of the most entertaining reads I’ve had the good fortune of reading this year. Don’t miss out on the last installment in this wonderful series!

Final Verdict: Anne Stuart’s mastery continues to amaze & Shameless just sets the fact in stone.

Favorite Quotes

He moved closer, brushing his face against her arm, breathing in her scent. Sun-warmed skin married with the roses and something indefinably female that stirred his senses. Danger, he reminded himself, his instincts well-honed. This was a very dangerous woman.
And then he fell asleep.

His smile was fleeting. “I’m an eminently reasonable man.” And before she realized what he was doing she was back in his arms and he was kissing her, openmouthed and hot and wet, no teasing approach, just raw, sexual demand that should have filled her with disgust and dismay.
Instead her stomach tightened, her heart raced, and the place between her legs grew hot and tingling.

She turned her face away from him, staring at the wall, trying to control her wayward body, envisioning it packed in ice, frozen. But the ice melted against him, and her body was soft and welcoming.
“What do you want?” he persisted, his breath hot against her ear, and his teeth closed lightly over the lobe, and she wanted to moan in pleasure. “What…do…you…want?”

She gave in. She had reached the end of her ability to fight him. “More,” she whispered.
And then all conscious thought vanished in a white haze as her body arched, rigid, as thousands upon thousands of tiny pinpricks shot through her, and she lost herself, the pleasure-pain exploding into a rich darkness she never wanted to leave. It was glorious. It was heaven.
It was disaster.

There was no escape, she didn’t want to escape, but she kept fighting, pushing it away.
“Stop it, Melisande,” he growled in her ear. “Take it. Claim it.”
“No,” she sobbed.
“Take it,” he said again, hard inside her, slamming into her so that the bed shook and her body trembled and she knew she would break apart, and she couldn’t stop, couldn’t stop shaking, couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t stop…

There was no time, no need for preparation. She was wet, he was hard, and he simply released himself from the breeches, lifting her up and bracing her against the wall before he thrust into her with a grunt of satisfaction, feeling her tight around him.
He wanted to slow down, afraid he might hurt her, but she dug her fingers into his shoulders. “No,” she whispered in his ear. “Don’t stop. I need you. Hard. I need you to take me. Harder.”

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Review: Breathless by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookBreathless
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The House of Rohan, #3
Publisher: Mira
Hero: Lucien de Malheur
Heroine: Miranda Rohan
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 1, 2010
Started On: March 1, 2014
Finished On: March 2, 2014

Reading an Anne Stuart is like infusing an addictive drug into your system; one novel is never enough to satisfy your hunger for all those spots that Anne Stuart seems to hit with every single one of her books. After finishing Reckless, I found myself driven by the need to pick up the third book Breathless, the book which apparently sports the most villainous of hero in the House or Rohan series. 

Breathless is the story of Lady Miranda Rohan, daughter of Adrian and Charlotte from Reckless. Miranda is 21 and contemplating on resigning herself to the sort of life that is expected of a lady from society, but she is determined to have at least one night of fun and flirtation where no one would know any better. But what was supposed to be a night of harmless fun, the memories of which she would treasure for the rest of her life, turns out to be the stuff nightmares are made of as Miranda is ruined thoroughly and completely. Becoming an outcast of society gives Miranda the freedom to live a life of her choosing and even though being rebuffed in polite society day in and day out gets tiresome, Miranda is nothing else if not determined not to let that get her spirits down.

Lucien de Malheur, Earl of Rochdal, more famously knows as The Scorpion is a man whose need and hunger for revenge on the Rohan family knows no limits. With Miranda as the pawn of his revenge, Lucien is determined that he would enact the justice deserved, even if it means Lucien himself would have to carry out the deed. Patient planning for a period of two years brings him in touch with the lady in question and even then Lucien cannot help the flare of attraction and want that burgeons to life inside of him from the very first encounter.

But Lucien is not a man to forget the path he has set on, even if it means destroying the one thing in his life that brings lightness into his otherwise dark and tortured soul. Miranda knows better than to fight a losing game. However, that doesn’t mean that she would make the course of revenge any easier for Lucien to enact. Miranda is determined to make the best of whatever situation it is that Lucien throws her way, except when it comes to the dark, alluring and forbidden hunger that rages to life inside of her whenever Lucien puts his hands on her. The things he makes her want and feel should be outlawed and leaves Miranda reeling from the impact of it all, and little does she know that even The Scorpion himself is not immune to the blazing passion that rules their bodies whenever they touch each other with carnal intent.

While everyone made Lucien out to be the irredeemable villainous hero of the likes Anne Stuart hasn’t written before, I found him to be dark and a bit more ruthless and tortured than the ilk of heroes encountered in this series thus far. I believe the ICE series features heroes more ruthless than Lucien, but that doesn’t mean reading Lucien’s story is a walk in the park by any means. I stayed up till the wee hours of the night to get to the ending because Lucien’s notoriety demanded nothing less, the ice encasing his heart and soul not seeming to thaw even by the last couple of chapters of the book.

While Lucien doesn’t bare himself and his soul even towards the end, his intense possessiveness when it comes to Miranda is evident if you look at the subtle clues he leaves behind with every encounter that takes place between them. I guess my dissatisfaction arose from the fact that the cause for revenge seemed a baseless one at most, one that seemed to rule Lucien’s nonexistent emotions, something I somehow failed to understand given his character. Nevertheless, his back story and every little tidbit to do with him was riveting in a way that only Anne Stuart can make it so.

While I am still undecided about Lucien though of course I’m veering towards loving him wholeheartedly, I flat out adored Miranda. I think the story worked given the dark nature of the hero only because Miranda turned out to be someone whose nature didnt’t allow her to go into a pissing contest with the hero to see who could outwit whom. Rather, Miranda in her own way does try and outsmart Lucien but there never was the feeling of animosity on her part while she went about doing what she did, which practically made the story for me!

And like every book in the House of Rohan series, Breathless too came with a secondary romance in its midst, one that was charming in its own sense. Though I would have loved to see where their romance would lead them, I guess I would have to satisfy myself with letting my own imagination carry me away, which is mostly what happens with the lack of epilogues that is a characteristic common to most Anne Stuart novels.

If you don’t like dark heroes, you might not find Lucien worthy of love and redemption. But if you love your bad boys really bad, look no further. Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart.

Final Verdict: Lucien is every tortured and ruthless hero breathed to life!

Favorite Quotes

She froze, not certain what she should do. This was ridiculous, it was bizarre, it was shocking. She couldn’t scream, and she didn’t want to fight. He slowly seduced her with his tongue, sliding it against hers with a steady, sinuous rhythm that she felt in her breasts, the pit of her stomach, between her legs. It was a kiss that caught her soul, wrapped it up and stole it away from her, and when he finally lifted his head she was breathless. And so was he.

“Please,” she gasped out, and she heard his damnable chuckle. But then it didn’t matter, for his mouth latched onto her other breast, and her back arched as he drew her into his mouth, his tongue dancing across the pebbled nub, as he sucked at her, hard. His fingers slid lower, and she felt a tiny explosion rocket through her, making her jerk against his restraining hand.

He hoisted her higher, using both arms to support her under her thighs, bracing her against the wood paneling behind her bare back, and he began to move.
She let out a strangled cry, dropping her face onto his shoulder, letting her hands slide down his heavily scarred back, clinging tightly. He no longer seemed to mind, he was too intent on the sinuous movement of his hips, thrusting in, withdrawing as her body clung to him, then moving in deeper still, and each time she cried out, in blind, helpless pleasure.

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


Review: Reckless by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookReckless
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The House of Rohan, #2
Publisher: Mira
Hero: Adrian Alistair de Giverney Rohan
Heroine: Charlotte Spenser
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: September 1, 2010
Started On: February 26, 2014
Finished On: March 2, 2014

Reckless by Anne Stuart is book number two in the delectable House of Rohan series. Just like the ICE series that grabbed me hook, line and sinker, the House of Rohan series too has wormed its way into my heart and its characters practically embedded themselves deep into my soul. There is no escaping the mastery that Anne Stuart weaves with every single story she writes, and even her lackluster ones continue to enthrall me in a way few authors have the power to.

Reckless tells the story of the son of Francis and Elinor from the first book Ruthless. While Viscount Rohan i.e. Adrian is known for his indulging ways and debauchery, I would say he is not in the league of the likes of his father when all is said and done. Adrian is a rebel, one who refuses to do what is required of him and settle down like his mother wants him to. Adrian hardly believes that the sort of love that his father and mother share could be found for the likes of him. However, that doesn’t stop him from pursuing the delight Miss Charlotte Spenser, the 30 year old spinster presents to his senses, even when it makes him act in ways that is totally foreign to someone like him.

Charlotte knows what little she has to offer to any man, much less a man of Adrian’s caliber and pedigree. But that doesn’t stop her from wanting him, wanting his kisses on her mouth, his hands on her body and his reckless abandonment to match hers whenever they are together. Charlotte keeps telling herself that a man like Viscount Rohan could never find a plain thing like her interesting on any level, but his relentless pursuit of her to seek a pleasure too powerful to deny sends all her senses reeling and turns her safe and staid world upside down.

I would say Reckless features a story that could actually be interpreted as quite sweet compared to the rest of the novels in the series. More than the darkness that prevails the soul of Adrian, it is the evil that surrounds him that puts the edge of your seat factor to this novel, the fact that one of those closest to Adrian is actually the one who wants to take away his life and destroy the very things that he holds dear to his heart.

Accompanying the story of the fiery and sensual love affair that develops between the highly experienced Adrian and the virginal Charlotte, is the secondary romance of Evangelina, dowager countess of Whitmore, and the fascination that she develops for a Reverend Simon Pagett. Elinor’s character is one that proved to be completely riveting. Her ‘role’ in pushing Charlotte into Adrian’s arms when she had wanted just the exact opposite to happen, her past that mires her disdain towards the opposite sex and how hard she tries to prove to people otherwise, and the oh so delicious temptation to her heart, body and soul that Simon presents was an edge to Reckless that made it all that much more powerful to me. I was equally enamored by the two stories that unfolded, both entwining along the way, lending a deliciousness and depth to Reckless that makes it my favorite novel from the series up till now.

Reckless is a story that flows smoothly, the banter between both characters in the leading and secondary romances highlighting just how much the sarcastic wit that is included into Anne Stuart novels speaks to my heart. And in fact it does, sarcasm when rightly done, it speaks to my soul like poetry and at times reveals a lot more than the character thinks themselves to be revealing. And I couldn’t have asked for more in that regard in this novel. The only thing that disappointed me, just a teeny bit, was the culmination of Elinor and Simon’s love story; I would have loved to see just a tad more of their attainment of happily ever after towards the end.

I would say Reckless is a romance for everyone who loves historical romances. Even if you haven’t read book 1, there is no need to worry. This one would read like a charm as a standalone. But, the tidbits about Adrian’s parents that are intermingled into the story along the way certainly put a smile on my face and is one you would miss out on if you weren’t to read book 1. And yes, prepare yourselves for a deluge of quotes with this one. I just couldn’t help myself.

Delightfully recommended.

Final Verdict: Reckless and decadent abandonment guaranteed with at the turn of each page!

Favorite Quotes

He lifted his head again. “Open your mouth for me.”
Her eyes flew open again. “Why?”
It was the first word she’d spoken in quite a while, but her voice was husky and raw as if she’d been screaming.
“Because I want to kiss you that way.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. You need to let me—”
He covered her mouth again before she could say the fateful words, and he pushed his tongue into her mouth so he could taste her fully.

And he wanted more. He’d told himself that acceptance was enough, but he’d been wrong. He wanted, needed participation.
“Kiss me back,” he whispered, his own voice hoarse.
She started to shake her head, but he caught her chin in one strong hand, holding her still. “Kiss me back,” he repeated in a rough voice.
Her eyes were huge. In the darkness her rich red hair looked black, and she looked up at him beseechingly. Don’t ask me to let you go, he thought.
“I don’t…know how.”

He stretched, slowly, luxuriantly, like a sleepy cat. A tall, beautiful, elegant, sleepy cat. “You really have no idea what you’re turning down. I’m accounted to be one of the most accomplished lovers in society. No woman has ever left my bed unsatisfied, no woman has ever refused to return for more.”
“Then why don’t you get one of them in here?”
“Because I want you.”
That silenced her. The four simple words were devastating, both to body and soul.

No, she didn’t love him. She didn’t even know him, and his reputation was disreputable. But for some reason, sane, sensible, practical Charlotte Spenser had dreamed about the lost and beautiful viscount and his elegant hands, his bewitching mouth. And he was offering her all that beauty, and the lost soul that hid behind it.
Even in the darkness she could see his smile widen, the glitter of satisfaction in his bright, brilliant eyes. “Come to bed, Charlotte Spenser,” he said softly, his voice a soft, impossible invitation.
And she did.

Sanity was overrated, his cousin had said. She had to agree, because this was madness, and she wanted it. For a brief moment in time Adrian Rohan belonged to her, and nothing could ever take that away from her.
“Open your eyes, Charlotte.” His voice was rough, and she did so, expecting to see smug satisfaction on his face.
Instead he looked dark, tortured, his blue eyes black in the shadows.

“What are you doing?” she gasped as she clutched his shoulders, the white linen loose in her fingers.
“You want the pretty words, or the truth?” he whispered, leaning forward to brush his mouth against hers. “You’re being tupped, shagged, screwed—made love to.” Each phrase was punctuated with a thrust, and he was as breathless as she was. “In fact, Charlotte, you’re being fucked. It’s about this—” he thrust hard “—and this.” Another thrust and she could feel her nipples harden in the warm night air, feel the strange heat in the pit of her stomach begin to build and burn.

He reached down, caught his erect penis in his hand and guided it to her, then thrust, a little too hard, a little too fast, but she took it with only a faint cry. She was wet and sleek and welcoming, and he moved his head, dropping it down on her shoulder as he tried to control his breathing, his fierce need. He wanted to slam into her until he spewed, he was famished, greedy, ready to explode.

She was lost, defeated. Everything ached. Not that he’d been too rough. They’d made love gently, fiercely, with tenderness and with anger. She was bruised from his hard grip, he was raked by her nails, but the only thing he’d been brutal with was her heart.

It was astonishing. It was full-mouthed, seething with lust and abandon, and for a moment she froze. She’d been kissed like that before, and she knew all the tricks of a measured response. But those clever tricks evaporated, and she closed her eyes, sinking, sinking. He kissed her with a fierce hunger that shook her to her bones, a deep, carnal kiss that was more sexual than anything she’d done in her entire life.

He lifted his mouth for a brief moment, and in the darkness of the unlit carriage she could see the glitter of his eyes. “Open your mouth for me, Charlotte,” he whispered. “I’ve been waiting hours to kiss you and I’m running out of patience.”
Her shock was enough that she did as he told her, and his kiss was full and deep, a possessive hunger she felt vibrating through her body.

And she’d said yes. He didn’t bother to hide his astonishment. Though he could…ahem…rise to the occasion. “I beg your pardon? Was that agreement I hear? How delightfully refreshing. I thought you decided to regrow your hymen and be the same prissy, starched-up female you were before I put my wicked hands on you.”

“You’re quite surprisingly resilient, Miss Spenser. I would have expected you to go into a languishing decline after my rough treatment of you.”
“Was that rough?” she asked innocently. “It perhaps lacked a bit of finesse, but you managed well enough.”
He wanted to laugh, he wanted to kiss her. “I didn’t really consider you deserved my best effort, since you had absolutely no idea what you were doing.”
“Indeed. I would hope that wasn’t your best effort. I would be sadly disappointed if society considered that to be masterful.”

“Turn around, Charlotte.”
“Because I want to unlace your dress.”
“Is that strictly necessary?”
He laughed against her throat. “Yes, it’s strictly necessary. I want to see you naked. I want to lick every inch of your body. Turn around.”

He moved forward, took the hem of the chemise and whipped it over her head with one smooth movement. And a second later, the drawstring to her drawers was loosened, and they fell to her feet, and she was wearing nothing at all but her stockings.
“Oh, God,” he said, a curse, a supplication, a prayer. He pushed her up against the door, just behind her, lifted her by her legs and thrust inside her, hard.

It seemed to last forever, his rigid outpouring that seemed to scald her very heart, her shivering, clenching, mindless release, and all she could think was more, more, more, and then suddenly it was enough, and they collapsed together onto the narrow, dusty bed.

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Review: Hidden Honor by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookhiddenhonor
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: MIRA
Hero: Peter de Montselm
Heroine: Elizabeth of Bredon
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 2004
Started On: February 7, 2014
Finished On: February 11, 2014

“… he was a man who embraced pain as a means to salvation …”

Sometimes I wonder what it is that I am going to do when I run out of books by Anne Stuart to fall back on when I run into that “dry spot” in my reading where nothing seems to please me, except for the ruthless brand of heroes that only Anne Stuart seems to be able to get away with publishing.

Hidden Honor is going to be a difficult novel to review without giving away spoilers. As the title denotes, there are hidden elements to the story that makes it the enticing read it is. Hidden Honor tells the story of 17 year old Elizabeth who has made up her mind that her future lies at the Shrine of Saint Anne where she is going to devote her life to serving God. Life has taught Elizabeth to be totally unimpressed by what men and their kind have to offer and she can’t wait to leave home and embrace the future that awaits her.

Tall, skinny and red haired with pale skin to match, Elizabeth has lived her whole life believing herself to hold no qualities that would entice any man, much less the Prince of England to take notice of her. If only she didn’t have to travel with him to her destination, him seeking penance for all the vile acts some of which had ended in deaths if rumors about him were to be believed. But the minute Elizabeth meets the Prince, its as if a different woman buds to life inside of her, a woman who wants to touch, to seek, be held and do all those things with a man that Elizabeth had never dared to even dream of before.

Peter is a man who has a tormented soul that seeks penance and atonement for the sins that he has committed in the past. The temptation that someone like Elizabeth offers is something at first that he cannot accept and something he finds that he cannot resist either, no matter however much he tries. And when murder and mayhem comes seeking the small procession making its way towards the Shrine of Saint Anne, Peter finds himself in a position that makes it impossible for both him and Elizabeth to resist the fire that burns hotter and brighter with each passing moment in each others company.

Going hand in hand with Elizabeth and Peter’s story is a secondary romance that blooms into life that gives the story a sweet edge to it and a respite from the whirlwind of emotions that Elizabeth and Peter’s love gives the reader. Peter is the quintessential Anne Stuart hero, albeit a bit toned down from her most ruthless version of heroes to be found in her ICE series. I loved Peter; of course its hard not to fall in love with the lean, lethal and uber hot heroes that only Anne Stuart can create. A tad ruthless and a whole lot of reluctant to have anything to do with Elizabeth apart from protecting her is what Peter is all about and that made for a delicious combination.

Elizabeth made for a good match for Peter. A bit naive when it comes to the affairs between men and women, Elizabeth is worldly in almost every other aspect of life having had to look out for herself while growing up. Her desire to belong to the convent stems from her need to belong, something that had sorely lacked in her life up till that point. The minute that Peter comes into her life however, she begins to question her lifelong dream of joining the convent, a life that looks more and more unsuited for someone of her temperament.

The only thing more that I wished for when all was said and done was, you guessed right, an epilogue that would have let me sigh and moon over Peter and Elizabeth just a little while longer. Recommended!

Final Verdict: With sizzling sexual tension, Anne Stuart delivers a scrumptious read worthy of your time!

Favorite Quotes

She tried to buck, but his strong hands held her captive. She tried to push at his shoulders but she had no strength. She could only grip the blanket beneath her once more as her legs curled up and her head fell back and her body exploded.

She tried to kick him again, and he had no choice but to pin her against the tree with his entire body. Making her fully aware of the state of his arousal.
She looked up at him mid-spate, shocked and suddenly stopped fighting him. He leaned his forehead against hers. “Sweet scold,” he whispered. “My foul-tempered angel, I’ll never get my fill of you. But I have no choice—I have to take you back there. And the more I touch you, the harder it gets.”

He couldn’t help it. He shoved the robe she was wearing aside, pulled his up and lifted her, bracing her against the tree as he filled her with one deep thrust.
She came immediately, tightening around him with a hoarse cry, putting her mouth against his, kissing him as she rode him.

She surged up, then sank down on him, riding him, riding the wave of pleasure, and when the peak came she sank her teeth into his shoulder and bit him, hard, through the heavy fabric.
The sharp pain was the finishing touch, and he let go, pressing her against the rough bark of the tree, filling her with his seed, shocked at the way her body clung to his, drawing him in deeper, jealous of every bit of him.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BookDepo | Kobo | AReiTunes


Review: The Devil’s Waltz by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookthedevilswaltz
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: MIRA
Hero: Christian Richard Benedict de Crecy Montcalm
Heroine: Honorable Miss Annelise Kempton
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 1, 2006
Started On: February 5, 2014
Finished On: February 7, 2014

The Devil’s Waltz by Anne Stuart is a romance that offers a bit of a toned down version of the usual variety of heroes that Anne Stuart creates. For someone who pretty much adores the version of anti-heroes as some might label the heroes in Stuart’s books, the toned down version wasn’t any less appealing to me, perhaps because the story still carries the essential elements necessary to draw all sorts of emotions from the reader.

Honorable Miss Annelise Kempton is almost 30 years old and unmarried. Rendered penniless with the death of her father, Annelise moves from one household to another, offering her services for bed and board because to work for a living for someone of her standing was practically frowned upon. Her latest mission so to say lands her in the household of that of Josiah Chippah, a self-made man who wants the marriage of his beautiful daughter to achieve his goal of belonging to elite of the society.

Annelise’s charge is hellbent on marrying Christian Montcalm, the worst of rakes one could come across. Penniless to the point of being destitute, Christian has his sights set on the woman who would bring all the wealth that he requires to put his life back in order, not that he cares much about the sort of thing. The only obstacle in his path seems to be the infuriating woman that is Annelise, a woman who stirs his interest in a way it hasn’t been stirred in a long time, or ever.

Annelise takes her responsibility towards her charge seriously, but the things Christian makes her think of and want to do should not be the thoughts that should run through a woman who has accepted the fact that she would forever be a spinster and that no man, especially a man as beautiful as Christian would want her. With each drugging kiss that Christian lays on her, Annelise’s resolve to stay away from his charming self dissolves at her feet until she is practically laid bare with her naked longing for a man who would never be suitable for a woman like her.

Interwoven into the tale of heat, passion and love between Annelise and Christian lies the story of a nefarious villain who is willing to do everything in his power to get what he wants, even if it is by committing murder in cold blood. The Devil’s Waltz has one of the most beautiful epilogues that I have come across in an Anne Stuart novel. Like it always happens to me in epilogues in Stuart’s books, I had to read and re-read the epilogue until I was satisfied enough to close my eyes and go to sleep, even though it was the wee hours of the morning by then.

The Devil’s Waltz reaffirms my belief that reformed rakes make the best of husbands. And just like the heroes of the caliber that only Stuart can create, Christian had all those essential bits that makes a hero swoon worthy minus the dark edge that seems to be off putting to certain readers of romance. If you have never read an Anne Stuart and would love to read one, I suggest you go with this one. It definitely has the sort of hero that you can get down with, and a heroine you would equally adore. Not to mention the witty banter that is an integral part of the story which made me laugh at several places throughout the read. Recommended!

Final Verdict: Decadent and delicious!

Favorite Quotes

He was sound asleep, his long legs stretched out in front of him, the blessed fire blazing, an empty bottle of wine by his side. He hadn’t been shaved recently, and he looked rumpled, dissolute and beautiful. Like a fallen angel. She moved to stand in front of him and pointed the pistol directly at his heart.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” he murmured, and then he opened his extraordinary eyes. “It’s always unwise to shoot the man you’re in love with.”

She reached behind his head, caught his long hair in her hand, and offered her cheek to him, closing her eyes.
He laughed. “I don’t think so, my love.” And he swept her into his arms, pulling her tight against his strong body, and put his hungry mouth on hers.
He tasted like wine and hot sweet sin.

She wasn’t expecting it, wasn’t prepared for it. This was no lazy seduction, no charming flirtation. This was carnal, deep and shattering, and before she realized it he’d pushed her up against the wall, holding her there as he kissed her, and the feeling was so powerful she felt as if she might explode. His hand covered her breast, barely restrained by the antique chemise, and she could feel her nipples tighten against him, feel a wash of something totally foreign and good sweep over her body, until she was both hot and cold, trembling, wanting to weep, wanting to slap him, wanting to rip the white lace from her body and place his mouth where his hand was.

He put his mouth close to hers, just a moment away from kissing her, and her impossibly fast heartbeat raced ever stronger against his fingers.
“Shall I ruin you, dragon?” he whispered, aching for her. “Or shall I send you on your way?”

He tugged at his loosely tied cravat, sending it sailing. He ripped at his own buttons, opening his shirt and reaching for his breeches, when he stopped. “One last warning, love. This is no fairy-tale business, no pretty dream. It’s real. It’s dark and messy and for you, painful. In the beginning, at least. You’ll end up hating me.”
“Don’t worry about it, Christian,” she said. “I already hate you.”

“Chérie, I am going to die if I don’t finish,” he whispered in a hoarse groan. And the words, as if by instinct, were in French.
“Then finish me,” she whispered in the same language.

Her body convulsed and she tried to cry out, but nothing came from her throat but a strangled cry. She was out of control, lost, gone somewhere that she hadn’t known existed, and the only thing with her was Christian, his arms around her, shaking as hard as she was as he spilled himself deep inside her.

He was dressed, or at least halfway there. He had his breeches on, and his shirt was half-buttoned. He must have finally run out of things to do with her, she thought dazedly. So why, when she looked at him, did her body still shiver in longing?

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


Review: Ruthless by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookruthless
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The House of Rohan, #1
Publisher: Mira
Hero: Francis Alistair St. Claire Dominic Charles Edward Rohan
Heroine: Elinor Harriman
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 1, 2010
Started On: December 24, 2013
Finished On: December 26, 2013

I stayed up till the wee hours of last night to finish the 1st book in The House of Rohan series by Anne Stuart. Stuart is famous for her ruthless brand of heroes that no author ever dares to write and Ruthless too features one of those delectable heroes, but I would say comparably toned down from the caliber of the heroes gracing her ICE series which is an absolute favorite of mine.

The House of Rohan is based in Paris in the 1700’s where Edward Rohan more famously known as “The King of Hell” for the sort of depravity that he thrives on meets the destitute Elinor Harriman who comes to his lair looking for her mother. Rohan is a man who conducts orgies of all kinds at his residence, the thrills which he used to get from holding such lascivious affairs at his residences now bordering on almost nothingness. When Elinor arrives, she makes Rohan sit up and take notice, and for the first time in a long while Rohan feels as if life runs through his veins rather than the dissatisfaction which had almost been on its way to taking up permanent residency in his life.

Elinor though has lived through a lot of hard times in her life is not prepared for the effect of Rohan on herself. Elinor who thinks herself above feeling anything remotely sexual finds herself oddly mesmerized even though she tries to strive for repulsed when it comes to Rohan. Rohan has no qualms about making a niche for himself in Elinor’s life whether she wants him to or not. And because Elinor would do anything to protect those she considers as hers, even if it means getting mixed up with the devil himself, she has no choice but to “agree” to the terms and conditions that are set by Rohan in his attempts to maintain the euphoria that he feels because she is in his life.

The House of Rohan is a series that has continually come up in my quest for more books to read by Anne Stuart. And it was only quite recently that I took the plunge and read one of her historical romances which convinced me to give these a go as well. From the skim reading that I did on a couple of reviews on this series, everyone seems to talk about just how depraved a man Rohan is. But I found him to be nothing extraordinary in that sense, perhaps because I was expecting a lot more than what was actually in the book where he is featured. I found myself enchanted by the man Rohan is, a complex man if ever there was one. Exiled from his own country and going through life from one pleasure gathering to another, Rohan might appear frivolous when he is exactly the opposite.

The endearing bit about his character is the other side of him that he keeps hidden from the rest of the world, the side of his he takes comfort from when things get to be too much for him to take. Rohan convinces himself that he feels nothing but a passing interest for the woman Elinor is and that the novelty would pass over soon enough. But each encounter between them pulls Rohan deeper into a web of wanting that he hasn’t felt for anyone ever, but Rohan is intent on experiencing the thrill of the chase as much as he can drag it on.

Elinor on the other hand, I had a problem with. Somehow, I just didn’t feel that she cared overly much about Rohan. She just never seemed to see through mostly the elaborate show that Rohan puts up, even when he behaves in a manner that is the complete antithesis of his character. Somehow I think Elinor was too caught up in aspects of her own life to really take notice of Rohan or perhaps it was her defense mechanism against a man whose enigmatic way with her makes her forget that when it comes to engaging in carnal pleasures, she is to remain cold and aloof.

As which is common occurrence when it comes to Anne Stuart, there wasn’t an epilogue tucked into the story but I managed to find the epilogue up on Anne’s website which more than made up for the lack of one in the story. I ended up reading the epilogue more than once with this silly grin on my face which is the end result of having read a book that made you lose sleep over it.

Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart and fans of historical romances.

Final Verdict: When it comes to ruthless heroes and complex plots, Stuart is the master of the game.

Favorite Quotes

“Your hands,” he said, startling her. “You’re quite ridiculously easy to read. You were wondering what I was going to go on about next. I’m quite fascinated by your hands.”
She immediately tucked her hands into her shawl, but he wasn’t deterred. “They don’t look particularly soft. Not the plump, white, useless hands most women have. You have long, beautiful fingers, narrow palms, and yet there’s strength in those hands. I rather think I want to feel them on my body.”

“Don’t…stop…” he groaned.
“I want you inside me,” she whispered. “I want you to finish in my body.”
His groan was powerful, and his need was great. Without another word he rolled over on top of her, shoving her shift up to her waist and pulling her legs apart, and she was just about to brace herself for the pain when he pushed inside her, hard, sliding deep into her with a smoothness that left her breathless, hungry.

He lifted his head, and then blew softly on her wet nipple. “I want to put my mouth everywhere on your body, poppet. I want to taste you all over. And then I want my cock to follow. I want to do things to you no one has ever dreamed of doing. I want to have you so completely that no one else has ever existed, only you and me.”

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