ARC Review: Hour of Need by Melinda Leigh

Format: E-bookhourofneed
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Scarlet Falls, #1
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Grant Barrett
Heroine: Ellie Ross
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: December 9, 2014
Started On: December 7, 2014
Finished On: December 9, 2014

Hour of Need by Melinda Leigh is her debut book in the Scarlet Falls series. Featuring a military hero and a heroine who finds herself in the midst of a mess because she’d just been in the opportune place, Hour of Need is a story that captivated me from start to end. Though I have a bit more time to spare than before these days, I seldom have the urge to stay up late up till dawn, just because I HAD to know how a story ended. Hour of Need did that to me. And that itself tells a story.

Major Grant Barrett is the oldest of the four Garrett siblings. Having spent more than half his life training to become a soldier and dedicating his life to moving up the ranks, Grant is in Afghanistan when he gets the news of the murders of his brother Lee and his wife Kate. Reeling from the impact, Grant makes it home to sort out Lee’s affairs, to determine what to do with their two kids and perhaps find out why Lee and Kate had been killed.

Set in the small town of Scarlet Falls, Melinda weaves a tale that is highly readable, that compels you to turn the pages. Ellie Ross lives next door to Kate and Lee with her daughter Julia and her grandmother. While Ellie and Grant’s paths had crossed before when he’d been on leave the last time, Ellie and Grant both ignore the flare of attraction that is between them, Ellie because she has been burnt before by living in the moment and has no intention of doing it ever again and Grant because he has nothing to offer towards a family life when he is all about the army and making General.

The various characters that you meet in the story just makes it more intriguing. The web of mystery in the story is finely wrought and it has been a while since the villain turned out to be a surprise for me and Hour of Need managed to do just that. There are multiple threads in the story that takes the story to its ultimate conclusion. There is the Barrett family reunion, the siblings having drifted apart as each had sought to live lives of their choosing. Then there is the aspect of the story that deals with looking after Lee’s children, not an easy job given that no one in the Barrett family has much experience in dealing with kids and babies. It was heartwarming to see how it all came together and I felt this warm glow inside of me because Hour of Need, though it deals with a disturbing subject, somehow managed to make me feel good too.

Like I said above, Hour of Need is a story that deals with a disturbing subject. Bullying and its effect on the young ones, how it can go so wrong that there is absolutely no going back. I liked the fact that Ms. Leigh portrayed the aspects related to bullying in a way that it drove home a message and also delivered that edge to the story which made the heart pound. It’s like you know that the only way down is by jumping and by jumping the only inevitability is a terrifying death that awaits you.

Now lets talk about Major Grant Barrett *rubs hands together in glee*. From the moment you meet Grant, he holds every cell of yours attentive to him and him alone. There are heroes who are sexy without making an effort; Grant is one of those. He walks in, the room feels charged and that is because Ms. Leigh does a fantastic job out of creating and keeping the sexual tension between Ellie and Grant in pace with the rest of the story. Ellie’s tendency to mistrust Grant at first was definitely in line with her character, and realistic if you ask me. All in all, I would have to say, both Ellie and Grant are characters that you’d love.

With a beautiful ending of the heartwarming variety, Hour of Need leaves me with just one question. Are Hannah and Detective McNamara going to get their own happily ever after? The evil person that I am, I would love to explore the tension that is between them.

Final Verdict: Disturbing, spine tingling & heartwarming! Definitely recommended.

Favorite Quotes

A small shudder passed through him, followed by a wave of need he couldn’t explain or deny, except that his soul was an empty shell. He pressed his lips to hers and let the taste of her fill the void inside him. Instead of resisting, she clutched his shirt and let him in. What started out tender and innocent shifted. desire warmed him and pooled low in his groin. A hungry groan eased out of her throat.

“We shouldn’t do this.” With an answering groan, he slid his hands under her shirt. his rough palms scraped up her rib cage.
But it wasn’t enough.
“Definitely not.” She pushed him away and ripped her shirt over her head, flinging it over her shoulder. her bra followed. Cool air rushed across hot skin. Her nipples budded as if he’d touched them. She’d been holding back on her impulses her entire life. Baring her body to him was liberating.

“You know I’m not staying in town. I have to go back. This isn’t a good idea.”
“I know.” But Ellie cupped her own breast and raised a playful eyebrow at him. She brushed a thumb across her nipple and reveled as grant’s mouth dropped open. She’d never been a bad girl, not even in high school. She’d simply made one mistake. But now she felt positively wicked.
It felt wonderful. Freeing. exhilarating.

Hands clutching the backs of her thighs, he lifted her and entered her with one steady, wet slide. The fit of their bodies was perfect, combining to make one whole being.
“Yes.” This was what she needed. him. She clutched his shoulders. “Grant.”
The heat of his skin fused with hers. His mouth was on the side of her neck, his lips near her ear. he retreated and surged into her again. Her body responded with an electric wave of pleasure that started in her center and spread outward through her limbs.
“Ellie.”

He nudged inside her, intending to be gentle. But pleasure flooded him, and his body surged into her without input from his brain. She bowed backward.
“I’m sorry.”
“Why did you stop?” She arched, her heels digging into his ass, pulling him even deeper.
“I thought I’d hurt you.” he panted, his muscles shaking with the effort of holding still.
“Obviously not.” her hips moved beneath him. “Now stop thinking. That’s an order.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

amazingread

ARC Review: Shattered Witness by Anna DeStefano

Format: E-bookshatteredwitness
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Cole Marinos
Heroine: Shaw Cassidy
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 11, 2014
Started On: November 5, 2014
Finished On: November 6, 2014

Previously published under the name of Her Forgotten Betrayal, Shattered Witness by Anna DeStefano is a standalone romantic suspense of the contemporary genre. Shaw Cassidy, CEO of Cassidy Global Research wakes up at the hospital, suffering from amnesia after a terrible assault on her at her office premises. Three weeks later, Shaw finds herself living atop High Lake Mountain, trying to summon her elusive memories through rest and recuperation.

FBI Special Agent Cole Marinos insinuates himself into the investigation surrounding Shaw Cassidy for one reason. Shaw had been the only woman he had ever loved, her betrayal being the reason that had sent him away from her life 15 years back. While the whole investigation centers around the fact that the agency thinks Shaw has been selling groundbreaking research to enemies of the US like Iran, Cole believes in Shaw’s innocence. With her memory in tatters and the whole investigation riding on the return of her memory, Cole finds himself going above and beyond the call of his duty when he finds himself protecting Shaw once again, a role he swore to himself that he would never again partake in.

From the moment the presence of Cole penetrates through the fog of sheer terror that surrounds Shaw, her trust in him is an inexplicable one. Her need to move close to him one that embarrasses her on so many levels, making her think that the lonely existence that she had lived up till then had made her that desperate for affection. However, when her memories start rolling back in, Shaw realizes that there is more to Cole than meets the eye, their shared past one which makes her realize just how much Cole had sacrificed for her years back. Racing against a ticking clock and a villain who knows far too well what Cole and Shaw are up to, Cole finds himself taking the risk of losing the woman he loves more than his own life all over again by trying to clear up Shaw’s name and getting to the bottom of who it is that is toying with the both of them.

Shattered Witness is a well written novel. Anne DeStefano has a writing style that draws you in. The one thing that really stood out for me was the villain in the story. Surprising? I know. Though the villain is pretty easy to figure out for the reader, the villain would have won if not for Cole’s intervention. The plan all along had been to discredit and let Shaw take the fall or perhaps even send her to the loony bin. With years of meticulous planning, it would have been achieved had not Cole come riding to Shaw’s rescue. I like a good villain in a suspense novel and I got that in Shattered Witness.

Though Shaw and Cole are well created characters, I found myself on the side of feeling an intense dislike for Shaw. Though it did mellow a bit towards the very end of the story, I found Shaw to be a bit too self-involved perhaps? I could relate to her not being able to be there for Cole the one time he had needed her, which had been the reason why he had walked away all those years back. But from the moment Cole enters her life once again, and though he lies to her about him being an agent of the government which is something he had to do given her fragile frame of mind, Cole is nothing but sensitive to her wants and need for protection. His actions spoke louder than words. But the minute Shaw found out, the only thing she could find to do was lay the blame of them not working out this time around because of Cole and his deception. Ah!

Cole is one of those sexy and protective heroes that ladies will definitely love. However, I wanted him to man up a bit and make Shaw see the error of her thinking. One minute she is scared out of her mind, the next minute she’s the one that initiates the physical intimacy between them and towards the third act, she is throwing all the blame his way. In my opinion, from the very beginning Cole had loved Shaw more than the other way around. Or perhaps it is the protective streak in Cole that is a mile wide that goes to work the minute he sees the woman he loves in danger. Either way, I thought Cole to be a bit of a pushover; sorry to say that, which is why the impact of his character wasn’t as powerful on my emotions as I wanted it to be.

Even with the elements of the story that didn’t quite work out for me, I managed to enjoy the what Shattered Witness has to offer. Judging from the reviews that this story has received up till now, I think I am in the minority of those who feel this way about both Cole and Shaw. Recommended for fans of romantic suspense novels featuring protective heroes. Cole is definitely someone you’d want by your side when there is a mean villain out to get the best of you and you have absolutely no idea as to why.

Final Verdict: A villain that brings the story to life; there’s always a first time for everything.

Favorite Quotes

Breaking her vow not to scare Cole away by doing what she’d longed to since first setting eyes on him, she kissed him. Those inviting lips, chiseled cheekbones, and the lids of his bad-boy eyes. She tasted him . . . and . . . she remembered.
It burst to life within her—a savory mixture of needing and wanting and having. It wasn’t a beginning, the molten desire that consumed her. It held the full-on rage of completion. It was a craving for something she’d denied herself for too long, something that could own her forever in ways that would refuse to let her go.

She brushed his lips with hers. His breath rushed in. Her fingers dug into his biceps, determined to keep him with her if he decided to move away. His body tensed beneath her touch. His mouth inched away, and she prepared to beg. But then his lips crashed back to hers, this man who’d become a bridge between her dreams and her reality. And she was lost, swept along by the need pouring into her from his kiss.

Purchase Links: Amazon

favorableread

Review: The Slow Burn of Silence by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-booktheslowburnofsilence
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Snowy Creek, #1
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Jebbediah Cullen
Heroine: Rachel Salonen
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: June 24, 2014
Started On: October 31, 2014
Finished On: October 31, 2014

I seem to be running through a streak of good luck where new to me authors are concerned. The Slow Burn of Silence was a novel recommendation I got off of Amazon that has been sitting tidily in my to-be-read pile for a while now. Recently, my interests have veered towards finding good romantic suspense novels and The Slow Burn of Silence coming with raving reviews turned out to be my next read of choice.

27 year old Rachel Salonen is enjoying her engagement celebrations in Bali when she gets the shocking news of the deaths of her sister and husband. Returning home to find that her sister had appointed her as the guardian of their eight year old daughter is the first wave of flooring news that Rachel receives followed by the name of the actual father of her niece. Life as Rachel knows it comes to a standstill and six months later Rachel finds herself without a fiance, fearing the return of Jebbediah Cullen (Jeb), father of her niece, her high school sweetheart and the man convicted for the rape and assault of two women, one of whom had never been found.

Jeb returns to Snowy Creek for one reason alone. For retribution. To clear his name of the wrongful charges upon which he had been convicted and thrown into jail for which he had lost nine years of his life. The betrayal of a town that had seen him as the man from the wrong side of the river, the easiest target to put all the blame on burns. But the need for justice outweighs the anger that simmers deep inside of him, partly due to his unwavering determination that his daughter would not grow up thinking herself to be the offspring of a rapist and murderer.

Jeb aims to rattle the cages of those that had made him the scapegoat of a crime that he didn’t commit. What Jeb doesn’t aim on happening is for his daughter and Rachel to rattle his emotions inside out, giving the men who wouldn’t want him making a ruckus in his crusade for the truth to come out fighting dirty. Anger, vile and filled with hatred consumes the small town grappling in the fear of secrets spilling forth that could mean grave consequences if Jeb isn’t stopped in time.

The Slow Burn of Silence is a novel filled with evocative writing. Rachel’s thoughts are written in the first person point of view, the reason for which I have no clue. I thought it quite odd that throughout the whole story, multiple character view points were included, but it was only Rachel’s that was told in the first person. Me being not such a fan of first person viewpoints just thought its worthy of a mention in the review.

The result of a heated lover’s spat that had gone wrong nine years back forms the basis of the story. For Jeb there had been none other than Rachel and vice versa. While I understood why Rachel had testified against Jeb and revealed his secrets to the jury that had been the foundation of his conviction, I found myself a little bit reluctant to forgive her for leaving Jeb in the lurch when he had needed her the most. They had had a strong bond between them, from childhood to adulthood. Theirs had not just been a love that had kindled at first sight in high school, rather a love that had been borne out of mutual like, respect and a lot of shared moments throughout their years of friendship. And for that I just found it a trifle bit hard to forgive Rachel even though she comes out with guns blazing to clear Jeb’s name later on.

Jeb was the character who made the novel in my opinion. Life had not been easy for Jeb even as a child and at the cusp of adulthood, he had been thrown into prison together with the most vicious of criminals. The way he turned himself into someone that could make a difference made me admire him, when he could have given into bitterness, hate and resentment and let his life while away. Rachel’s sister is worthy of a mention, as a crusader for justice without whom Jeb would never have made it out.

The Slow Burn of Silence is a story steeped deep into the small town life that is Snowy Creek. Multiple characters that stand out makes the story an unbeatable one. It is small town relationships beneath which secrets lurk and wounds fester that forms the basis of the suspense aspect of the novel and it is those same frissons and ripples that made everything come to its satisfying conclusion.

The one thing that would stand out for any reader of this book is the writing. It is almost as if you are right there, in the town of Snowy Creek watching everything unfold and unravel. With the simmering secrets threatening to swallow you a whole, your heart racing in the attempt to uncover the deadly lies and half truths that had put Jeb away before it is too late. The Slow Burn of Silence is a novel that will pull you in and submerge you with a tale that is riveting and suspenseful. Recommended!

Final Verdict: Deadly small town secrets, undying love and a quest for the truth. A definite must-read for fans of the genre.

Favorite Quotes

He comes out of the bathroom. Naked. His erection sheathed and gleaming in a condom. His thighs muscular. My throat goes bone-dry as he pulls the drapes shut over the windows facing the house. Somehow he seems even more powerful unclothed. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

He’s between my thighs, kneeing me open even wider . . . and he plunges into me. To the hilt. Hot, hard, quivering. I gasp, my fingers digging into his back as my body accommodates to the size of him. I can feel his balls, soft against my skin. Then he’s moving, sliding, driving into me. Hotter, harder, faster. I’m arching, sweating, shaking, desperate to have him even deeper yet, I’m aching for something even more than the sensation inside of me. More than sex. I’m aching to be whole. To be released.

She smiled at him, a slow, seductive smile that invited him in, that clawed back the years, made every terrible thing just melt away. She reached up, taking his waist and raising her knees, opening to him. Jeb’s vision swirled into shades of scarlet and red as he lowered himself and slowly thrust his cock back into her. She was hot, tight, her muscles humming. And as he sank into her, he felt as though he’d somehow come home. Like he fit, belonged.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

greatread

ARC Review: Never Marry a Viscount by Anne Stuart

Format: E-booknevermarryaviscount
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Scandal at the House of Russell, #3
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Alexander Montgomery Griffiths
Heroine: Sophia Eulalie Russell
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 23, 2014
Started On: September 23, 2014
Finished On: September 25, 2014

I’ve been an avid fan of the Scandal at the House of Russell series ever since the first book was published in 2013. Well, lets face it. I am an avid fan of Anne Stuart regardless. The House of Russell series follows in the wake of the three girls left orphaned by the death of their father, a death that the girls believe was murder. One by one, they set out on a quest to find the truth and end up finding the love of their lives and then some in each of these deliciously spun stories.

Never Marry a Viscount is the third and final book in the series, the story of the youngest of the three, Sophia Eulalie Russell. Left behind at home while the other two sisters had ventured out, Sophia is determined to have her own adventure and takes a bold step towards finding a place for herself in the home from which she and her sisters were removed upon the death of her father, a property now under the ownership of Viscount Griffiths; Alexander Montgomery Griffiths.

Sophia is determined to find out whether the man with the body of a semi-god that she had been spying on for weeks had anything to do with the death of her father and proceed on her way. Alexander is a man as bored and cynical with his life as most come. Guarded with his heart and emotions, Alexander believes Sophia to be the mistress that he ordered from London while Sophia believes she has been hired on as replacement of the cook that was fired from the household.

Though the initial start to the book was a bit slow, the pace and the trademark Anne Stuart banter between the hero and heroine picked up towards the second half of the book. And I loved every single bit of it. Sophia, the woman who believes herself to be stronger than those that succumb to a pretty face finds herself doing just that every single time Alexander steals a kiss from her, taking away her very breathe and sliding over senses making her falter in her determination to seek the truth.

Not much gets done in the way of finding out whether Alexander had anything to do with the death of their father as Sophia makes up her mind to escape from the clutches of Alexander before its too late for her heart and soul. But then again, where would the fun in that be? Alexander’s passion for Sophia is one that unnerves him, though he would rather die than admit to the fact. Sophia charms his jaded heart, makes him possessive in an almost animalistic manner and makes him conjure up fanciful notions of a life with her that he’d have believed his first marriage had cured him of.

There is this particular bit in the story where Sophia’s thoughts had a profound effect on me. Before she had totally succumbed to the power of the heady physical attraction between her and Alexander; and I just had to go and include that bit in the review itself because I think as women, we have all been cautioned against men who would try and get in our pants just for the sake of it. But no one ever tells us or can really describe to us what it is that makes us abandon every reasoning power that we have and just give in, because sexual attraction and desire is that powerful. And I quote:

“Her sisters hadn’t told her about this. No one had. She’d been advised on the technical details of mating, which was far more warning than most girls received, but she had two older sisters to fill her in, though to her knowledge neither of them had firsthand experience. And they’d talked about love, and shared interests, and companionship, and comfort.
But no one had said anything about a fire in your blood that burns away any common sense you might have once possessed. No one said you could want a man’s touch so much that your body was in an uproar, parts that you didn’t even name seemed to be aching with longing. No one had said you would throw everything away for a man who mocked you and teased you and then spoke to you in clipped tones like you were a servant, and yet all he had to do was touch you . . .”

Anne Stuart has a formula that works beautifully in each of her novels. And it never gets old.  Though Alexander turned out to be quite a milder version of her usual fanfare for bad boy, ruthless heroes, he nevertheless managed to charm the socks off of me and then some. Fans like myself, who read Anne Stuart because of her ruthless heroes might be just a tad disappointed that Alexander didn’t offer some of that. Sophia bears the hallmark characteristics of the usual Stuart heroines. Headstrong, stubborn and determined, Sophia remained resolute against the web of desire that she had been ensnared in until every time Alexander proceeds to take her in his arms and shows her just how good they are together.

Never Marry a Viscount ties up all the loose ends in the trilogy and gives fans the closure they need. Recommended for fans of the series, fans of Anne Stuart and fans of historical romances with heroes who can make you swoon.

Final Verdict: Formulaic Anne Stuart. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

Each time he kissed her she seemed to go a little farther on the road to inescapable madness. This one was a little rough, a demand rather than a question, his hands hard on her, but, instead of freezing, her heart leapt in immediate response. She didn’t even want to think about what she was doing—she pulled at her hands that were locked between their bodies, and slid them around his waist, holding on as he ravished her mouth.
It was hypnotizing, it was heartbreaking, it was everything she wanted and nothing she could ever have, and she deserved it.

“You are a beast,” she said in a low, furious voice.
“And as you’ve pointed out to me numerous times, you are a beauty. See how well matched we are.” He put his finger under her stubborn chin, lifting her face to his. “So let’s see how easy you are to train.”
She tried to elbow him in the ribs for that one, and he swallowed his laughter. There were times when he was his own worst enemy, but she was just so delicious. He lowered his mouth to hers, half expecting her to bash him in the head, or at least bite him, but the moment his lips touched hers she stilled, like a startled woodland creature confronted by danger, and all his humor fled.

He lifted his head and looked down at her, bemused. He knew the answer to the question she kept asking, and he was damned if he would tell her. He was marrying her because she made him feel alive, he was marrying her because he’d never wanted a woman so much in his life, he was marrying her because in her arms he felt like he’d finally come home for the first time in his life.

He rubbed again, just enough for another small climax to hit her, and he pulled back. She made a soft cry of need, and a fierce possessiveness washed over him, one he didn’t want to consider or question. Mine roared through his blood, and he pumped his fingers into her, feeling the start of another climax. He wanted more from her, he wanted to make her cry and scream with pleasure, he wanted to give her such pleasure she could never forget it no matter how far she tried to run.

It was his kisses, she decided. She gave him a disgruntled look, calming down a bit. “Do you put some kind of poison on your lips?”
He raised both eyebrows this time. “I beg your pardon?” “Every time you kiss me, my wits desert me.”
She expected mockery, but after a startled moment he simply smiled. “Well, that’s a start.”

“Let it come,” he whispered. “Scream as loud as you can.” He slid his fingers through her wetness, up to the top, rubbing her, and watched her as everything left her and she did scream, a hoarse, sobbing sound of such wild pleasure that he could have come from watching her.
He pushed her up on the bed, following her and wrapping her in his arms as she shuddered and trembled, errant stray convulsions still rippling through her. She hid her face against him now, suddenly shy, and he smiled when she couldn’t see it. Mine, he thought. He’d claimed her, and he would never let her go. Mine.

He had his hands on her hips, holding her still as he sank into her, and his pace was driving her mad. “Do it,” she said hoarsely. “Now.”
It seemed to break whatever hold he had on himself. He thrust all the way into her, deep and hard, and it felt so good, so necessary, and she exploded once more, her body clamping down around that part that she’d taken into her mouth so lovingly, ripples of reaction shaking her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

greatread

Requested ARC Review: Fatal Hearts by Norah Wilson

Format: E-bookfatalhearts
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Boyd McBride
Heroine: Hayden Walsh
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 19, 2014
Started On: August 26, 2014
Finished On: September 4, 2014

Boyd McBride turns up in Fredericton to solve the mystery behind the sudden death of his twin Josh who had been pursuing the truth behind their adoption years ago, which seemed to have been carried out seemingly under the most shadiest of circumstances. Boyd doesn’t accept that Josh died of natural causes like everyone else is inclined to believe. Digging into the everyday life that Josh had led brings Boyd up close and personal with Dr. Hayden Walsh, Josh’s best friend.

Given that they were identical twins, Hayden would never have thought that she would respond to Boyd McBride on an intrinsic level that she had never responded to when it had come to Josh. Though Hayden tries to hide behind her walls of self preservation, she has a hard time sticking to her guns when it comes to Boyd and the grief that they share over Josh whom they both had loved so much. As Boyd starts digging and begins to uncover clues that would lead him to the eventual truth, Hayden realizes that there is more to the no strings attached affair that she and Boyd embarks on after giving into the tumultuous desire between them.

Norah Wilson is an author that has always worked for me. Her books always have a lot of heart, depth and emotion, not to mention the heart thumping variety of heroes that you can never get enough of. Her books like The Mezeretti Effect and Lauren’s Eyes, later published under Montlake as Every Breathe She Takes testifies towards the immense amount of talent she has. And it pains me to say that Fatal Hearts didn’t do it for me.

At first, when Boyd walked into the book with his brood and heart stopping good looks, well you can imagine what I would have gone through. But as the story progressed, I felt that Boyd didn’t live up to his potential, perhaps the reason being the narrative was a bit too dry and procedural in the story. I love books that go into depth with the crime solving aspect but I felt that this book could’ve removed a 100 plus pages and still would’ve managed to tell the same story.

I don’t like writing reviews that sound negative, but as a reviewer it is my duty to be honest about how I feel about a book. I believe with my whole heart that Fatal Hearts had the ingredients that would’ve made a helluva romantic suspense. Boyd could’ve turned into the hero that could’ve made me weep for thousands of reasons and Hayden though I did love her as she was, I felt she too could’ve shined just a tad more. While the mystery aspect was predictable, that still gave the story a bit of an edge that kept the pages turning.

Having felt all out of sorts after reading Fatal Hearts, I did look up a couple of reviews on Goodreads to see how other readers have felt. Surprisingly, a lot of them have given Fatal Hearts 5 stars though a couple of readers like myself have stated feeling the same way I felt when I read the story. In the end I would have to say that it was my love for Norah as an author and the warm, beautiful person behind the name I’d gotten to know through social media, is the reason I gave my every effort to finish the book.

Honestly, if this is where you aim to sample Norah Wilson, I would caution you to stop right there. Pick up any other book, preferably either The Mezeretti Effect or Every Breath She Takes. Those are the stories that would blow you away and make you fall in love with Norah’s ability to spin a wondrous tale that entertains and excites and that’s what you should be reading.

Final Verdict: For those who love reading procedural romantic suspense.

Favorite Quotes

There was the slightest hesitation on his part, long enough for her to wonder if she’d made a horrible mistake. Before she could retreat, he lifted his hands to her head, holding her in place as his mouth crashed down onto hers.
The thrill that forked through her was almost painful, leaving her nerve endings feeling singed. Her heart thumped so hard, she could feel her pulse throbbing in her fingertips.

“Touch me,” she commanded.
He didn’t need any more encouragement. Or a road map. He released her hair and dropped that hand to clasp one of her breasts. His thumb found the stiffened peak through the thin fabric of her bra and T-shirt, and she gasped softly.
Then his lips were on hers again, as though he wanted to take the sound into him.

She moved with him, meeting his every thrust. He felt the tension rising in her as the tempo increased. Going down on one elbow, he reached between them to part her folds wider, moving higher to hopefully give her more friction. That tipped her over the edge she’d been striving for. Her words were broken, sobbed out of her, as her orgasm rose, peaked, and rolled over her. It was all he could do to hold on and let her ride it out before his own need took over.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

fairread

Review: Scream For Me by Cynthia Eden

Format: E-bookscreamforme
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: For Me, #3
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Kyle McKenzie
Heroine: Dr. Cadence Hollow
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 4, 2014
Started On: February 12, 2014
Finished On: February 13, 2014

Its being a while since I’ve read a good romantic suspense novel and Scream For Me, the 3rd book in Cynthia Eden’s For Me series seemed to be a good place to start. I actually had no idea that Scream For Me belonged to a series of books; I just received an email from Amazon on its release this month since I’ve purchased Cynthia’s books before. Either way, even though there was a time or two while I was reading that I thought to myself I should have checked whether this was a standalone before purchasing, Scream For Me had the ability to wipe out every other thought from my mind and make me focus on the developing story.

Dr. Cadence Hollow is an FBI agent who specializes in serial killers. Her “talent” lies in thinking like the victim, going through the motions the victim would’ve undergone under the circumstances. Kyle McKenzie is Cadence’s partner, a sexy and dangerous agent that makes Cadence wish for things that could never be. Cadence had been unimpressed at first when Kyle had been assigned as her partner, but as time had gone on and Kyle had proved himself, Cadence had come to realize that when it comes to Kyle, there are many enticing layers to him that she wants to explore, even if it might not be whats best for both of them.

Their latest case takes them to Paradox, Alabama, where a woman has been snatched from her car which was left stranded in a lonely highway. For Kyle, the case is personal on a level that would have him taken off of it, except for the determination that drives him to find the killer. Cadence might not want to believe Kyle and the connection that he at first makes with a similar abduction that had happened a long time back, but when the clues start to pile up and the bodies too in its wake, Cadence is left with no choice but to find the killer who had spent so much time doing what he does and had managed to slip under the radar for so very long.

What the killer wants is to play a game, a game to draw Kyle into a web of destruction that would ultimately destroy him. And with the clock ticking and the pressure on, Kyle finds himself edging more and more towards the vortex into which the killer wants him sliding into, the only thing holding him back being the fiery connection he has with his partner, a connection that forgoes the professional level into personal, a connection that he wants to expand and work on without any walls of pretense between them.

Scream for Me is a quintessential Cynthia Eden when it comes to romantic suspense. Her stories are always intense, both in the suspense and romance aspect and Scream for Me had all the ingredients that made this a worthy read. I especially loved how good the suspense was in the novel, enough to make me switch back on the reading light to light up the room even though I was reading from my iPad. Yes, the killer was that creepy to instill that sort of fear inside of me and I would say that alone tells enough the story on just how good a tale Cynthia weaved with this novel.

Though the sex was insanely hot as is usual when it comes to Cynthia’s novels, I did feel that the deeper connection that should have existed between Cadence and Kyle was a bit off in this story. Somehow I just didn’t get the feeling that there were the feelings of the variety of deep abiding love between them. Don’t get me wrong, Kyle has enough singe to him to light the whole room up with that dangerous vibe to him hot enough to put the heat on. Perhaps my point of contention stems from the story’s intensity in every aspect not giving Kyle and Cadence enough leeway to have a moment to slow down and take it all in. Or perhaps it could be a result of not having read the two books prior to this one. Either way, I wanted something more for Kyle and Cadence which somehow did not materialize. Or it could also have been the fact that both Kyle and Cadence’s pasts were left untouched even though there were references to that which if delved deeper could have changed how I felt about their connection.

Recommended for fans of Cynthia Eden and fans of intense romantic suspense novels.

Final verdict: Nail biting suspense guaranteed!

Favorite Quotes

His tongue thrust into her mouth. She gasped in surprise, and he took the sweet breath away from her. She’d stiffened in his arms.
No, Cadence. No. Want me, need me, as much as I do you.
Her hands locked around his shoulders. Her nails bit into his skin.
She kissed him back with a wild desperation of desire and passion that matched his.

He bent toward her. Wanted her mouth again. He’d been denied it for too long. “I think if I don’t have you tonight, I might go insane.” She’d been what got him through the darkness.
Her hand tugged away from his. “Go get your shower, McKenzie. Maybe it will cool you off.” She turned for the door.
He didn’t move. “Since I’ve been burning alive for you from the day we met, I doubt a shower is going to help much.”

He licked and wanted more. She was gasping now, pushing her hips against him, and he wasn’t stopping. He wanted deeper. Wanted more.
Wanted everything Cadence had. Everything she’d ever have.
Her nails sank into his shoulders. He liked the sting of pain.
He liked it even better when she came against his mouth, gasping his name.

He ditched his jeans and had his cock at the entrance of her body in seconds.
All that wet heat. Just waiting for him.
He held his body still, even though all he wanted was so close. “No going back,” he told her. The words were a promise. A warning.
He thrust into her and was lost.

“This is a mistake,” she whispered.
“Then it’s the best fucking mistake I’ve ever made.”
She smiled then.
His heart stopped.

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookDepo

awesomeread

Review: Never Trust a Pirate by Anne Stuart

Format: E-booknevertrustapirate
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Thomas Morgan (Luca)
Heroine: Madeleine Rose Russell
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: December 3, 2013
Started On: January 12, 2014
Finished On: January 12, 2014

Never Trust a Pirate by Anne Stuart is her second book in the Scandal at the House of Russell series. Scandal at the House of Russell is a series that centers around the three Russell sisters left destitute in the wake of the scandalous demise and death of their father, who the three daughters believe was framed and murdered. Having been thrust into a life of hardship with their riches stripped away, the series tells the story of each sister as they embark to find the truth, and finding love with the most unusual of men in the most unusual of circumstances. And Never Trust a Pirate tells the story of the middle of sister Madeleine Rose Russell aka Maddy.

Maddy finds herself taking up the task of seeking the truth behind their father’s demise by following a cryptic clue in a hastily scribbled note left by their father. The phrase “never trust a pirate” finds her seeking the position of a maid at Captain Thomas Morgan’s residence, willing to spy on the man Maddy believes to have played a hand in her father’s death. But things however go far from according to plan as Maddy makes up close and personal acquaintance with the man in question hours before she finds out that the seemingly old captain that she’d been thinking he would be turns out to be a man who fascinates her on levels beyond her understanding.

Thomas Morgan (Luca) is a man who belongs in the ocean, sailing the ships that he is supremely famous for commandeering and of course an immensely wealthy man who is rumored to have been a pirate once. Though restlessness hits him every now and then, Luca is determined to go down the road of domesticity, and is engaged to be married, when the most insufferable woman he had ever crossed paths with and he hasn’t been able to put out of his mind ever since he claimed those scorching kisses from her turns out to be the new maid at his residence.

Luca knows just like he knows that he isn’t who he claims to be that Maddy is not whom she is impersonating herself to be. And when he realizes who she exactly is, it doesn’t douse the fire that burns and rages inside of him to possess the woman who haunts his every waking thought from that first kiss onwards, rather it burns stronger than ever until Luca is driven to the point of madness. While Maddy tries to outwit Luca in a game that he is far more good at, an outside force that truly does not want the Russell sisters from ever finding out the truth sets out to silence their quest for the truth forever.

Never Trust a Pirate proved to be a fascinating tale in every single aspect. Luca or rather Luca is the type of hero that is unforgettable, long after you turn the very last page. Dangerous, wily and charming with a rough past, Luca is your proverbial bad boy hero come to life, the badness tampered down a bit to suite societal needs. But one look at his gorgeous frame you know that no other hero would ever claim the place he would forever hold in your heart. And best of all, Luca fits the type of hero that Anne Stuart is famous for; ruthless and dangerous, even when it comes to the heroine herself. Don’t get me wrong, what makes men like Luca so alluring is the fact that there are those seemingly small deviations from their behavioral norm that lets the reader witness just how affected he is by the heroine and Luca was definitely no exception to the rule.

Maddy proved to be someone equally interesting. Having never let herself grieve for all she had lost, Maddy holds all that anger and grief deep inside of her, ready to change everything, if nothing else by her sheer force of will and determination. And that is exactly how she embarks on her quest to uncover the truth til she sets her eyes on Luca and her world as she knows it comes tumbling down right in front of her. Inquisitive by nature, Maddy has a hard time playing the meek role required of a maid. And even knowing that Luca might be responsible or even partly so in terms of what had happened to her father, Maddy finds that the way she is drawn towards Luca doesn’t seem to abate, if anything it seems to grow in strength by the day.

The sexual tension was top notch and oh dear god what followed was more so, the dialog between Luca and Maddy witty and the other secondary characters in the story well developed to give a well rounded story that I finished within just one day, a rare occurrence for me of late when novels hardly seem to hold my fascination for that long. But like almost every single Anne Stuart I have read to date, the story seemed to call out to me until I had finished the very last chapter, and that too with an altogether too huge a smile on my face. I can’t wait to read the third book in this series that will hopefully conclude and give answers to the mystery surrounding the demise and death of their father.

Final Verdict: Carries all the trademarks of a classic Anne Stuart. Definitely recommended!

Favorite Quotes

He kissed her again, hard at first, as if imprinting his claim on her, and then more slowly, brushing his mouth against hers, softly, back and forth, and she knew her lips were trembling beneath his. Her words were her best weapon, but they were locked in her throat as she felt his tongue, his outrageous, shocking tongue intrude into her mouth and the sensations moved through her body like fire.

He pushed her fully back against the wall, both hands on her breasts now, and there was only a thin bit of cloth between them, a thin bit of cloth he pulled down, so that she felt the rough texture of his calloused hands on her sensitized skin and she let out a helpless moan of pleasure against his mouth. His knee was between her legs, and somehow she’d ended up straddling it, so that it was pushing up against that damp, most sensitive part of her, and she wanted… she wanted…

His voice was no more than a low, carnal whisper. “I could show you so much more. All you have to do is tell me your name.”
She wanted to. She wanted to do everything he asked of her, and more, just for the sweet, drugging pleasure. She opened her mouth to betray all her secrets, only to gasp in shock as he bent down and put his mouth on one hardened nipple. He made a soft growl as his mouth tugged at her, but it was nothing compared to the heat that flashed through her, and her fingers dug into his shoulders, savoring the exquisite sensation. More, she thought. Please, I need more.

“Speaking of which, what put her out. Dorrit use chloroform? That’s not his lay.”
“I hit her.”
Billy looked at him in astonishment. “Jayzus,” he said with a whistle. “You really must love her.”
Luca stalked away.

He pushed all the way in, and a spasm of pure delight tightened her body around him, and he seemed to swell inside her. “Hurry,” she whispered in clawing desperation, fighting for release.
“No. I want to savor this.” His answering thrusts, slow and steady, made her want to scream in frustration. But he couldn’t control her body, any more than she could, and he’d only thrust a half-dozen times before she climaxed, her body clenching down on his, her skin prickling in an endless contraction that left her breathless and panting.

When she fell back again, panting, he kissed her breathless mouth. “I can keep this up for hours.”
“Why?” she gasped.
His laugh touched strange places inside her. “Because there’s no where else I’d rather be. I want to stay inside you forever, I want to make you come so hard you can’t even think, I want to forget where I end and you begin. I want everything from you, Maddy Rose. Everything.”

Fuck. Such a dirty, nasty, erotic little word. That was what he was doing to her. And she wanted more.
His hands on her breasts set off another paroxysm of pleasure, and this time when he moved again he was faster, his breathing a little more shallow. And then, to her shock and despair, he pulled out of her completely.
She cried out, reaching for him, but he simply turned her onto her knees, pushing her hands down on the mattress, her face into the pillow, as he pushed inside her from behind.

Purchase Links: Amazon | iTunes

fantasticread

Review: Never Kiss a Rake by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookNeverKissARake
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Scandal at the House of Russell, #1
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Adrian Bruton, Earl of Kilmartyn
Heroine: Bryony Arielle Josephine Russell
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: August 20, 2013
Started On: September 5, 2013
Finished On: September 9, 2013

Anne Stuart is on the list of my utmost favorite authors though I discovered her books a bit late in my reading life. The one reason I love her books is how unabashedly honest she is with her characters and she brings to the romance genre the darkest heroes that you would encounter that makes them that much harder to forget and move on from after you are done reading a tale from her.

Never Kiss a Rake is her latest release and my very first historical romance from her. Book 1 in the Scandal at the House of Russell series, this series is focused on the 3 sisters of the Russell household who suddenly find themselves destitute with nowhere to turn to when their father is killed. Bryony the eldest of the three is determined that she would get to the bottom of everything and erase the black name from her family name that would provide the opportunity for her sisters to marry and lead respectable lives.

To embark on the journey which would bring her to the truth, Bryony takes the position of housekeeping at the home of Adrian Bruton, the Earl of Kilmartyn. While secrets shroud him and the life he shares with his wife, Bryony is definitely not prepared for the way she yearns for the beautiful man that Adrian is. Bryony is shocked to say the least with the wanton desire that takes a hold of her and refuses to let go, until she succumbs with her heart, body and soul to the man who holds all her senses enthralled.

Adrian is a man who is bound by circumstance to the life he leads. While he doesn’t trust Bryony to be who she says she is, Adrian cannot help himself with the way he yearns for her and wants her to succumb to the desire that is a visceral part of the fragile relationship that forges between them. With a killer who lurks freely amidst them, counting the days until he can complete the path of revenge he has chosen which gives this romance the edge that it requires, Never Kiss a Rake though it doesn’t offer the usual darkness and depravity that is part of Anne Stuart novels, nevertheless proved to be an entertaining read that kept me up late into the night.

I loved Adrian. What’s not to love about an Irish hero whose good looks alone is enough to make a woman swoon from his utter beauty alone? And then there is the way he gets under Bryony’s skin, the way he slowly seduces her into giving into the explosive passion that bursts into life between them from day one. Adrian is not the dark type of hero that Anne Stuart usually creates, but he is the perfect fit for someone matter of fact and practical like Bryony who needs more than her fair share of beauty and love in her life. And that in my opinion is what makes this book a winner.

Recommended for fans of Anne Stuart and historical romances with a bit of suspense in the mix.

Final Verdict: Anne Stuart is a master in storytelling, whichever genre she chooses to write.

Favorite Quotes

Her breasts were hot, there was a tight feeling in her belly, and she wanted… she wanted… she couldn’t name what she wanted. She could only feel it.
And he was feeling it too, she knew it. That look was holding him captive as well, unable to move, staring down at her with fathomless emotion, need and doubt and surprise.

He moved closer, blotting out the fitful light, and she thought, now I am going to be kissed, really kissed, and she closed her eyes, preparing herself.
Instead, his mouth moved to her ear, and his teeth bit down on her earlobe. Instead of pain, warmth flooded her body, and her eyes flew open again. “Just so you know there are other, surprising places that can be almost as much fun as lips,” he whispered, before his mouth closed over hers.

Before she could say anything he kissed her again, no teasing this time, just a hungry demand, and she felt her body tremble with longing that she didn’t understand, could only feel. She wanted this man. She wanted to stay here, lie beneath him, have him push between her legs and take her as a man took a woman. It was wrong, it was selfish, and it didn’t matter.

Bryony tasted of cognac and salt tears and sweet, untutored lust. She tasted of the redemption he could never have, the fiery hell he was heading for.

She sucked in her breath. She could feel him everywhere, he possessed her, owned her, and she wanted to weep with the beauty of it. Because as she was his, he was hers, shaking in her arms, thrusting, a deliberate pace that began to grow faster.

He cursed, a low, guttural sex word, and twisted his hips against her, and the darkness hit, turning everything into a cataclysmic explosion that rocked every inch of her. She was barely aware that he’d pulled out of her, that warm wetness spread over her belly, and she would have cried out, but her voice was strangled in her throat, and then he covered her mouth with his, swallowing the last of her protest, the last of her passion, and she wanted him back inside her.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

greatread

ARC Review: Dark Waters by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookdarkwaters
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: Untitled Series, #2
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Brent Carver
Heroine: Anna Silver
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: August 6, 2013
Started On: July 29, 2013
Finished On: July 30, 2013

Nearly 40 years old, Brent Carver is an ex-con who is on parole after being served life sentence. Brent likes to keep to himself, living on a remote island that he knows like the back of his hand. Handsome as sin and tempting as they come, Brent is a man tormented by the dark shadows of his past, paying a penance that had seen half of his life spent behind bars.

26 year old Anna Silver is a teacher who likes her life calm and chaos free, something she strives hard to achieve be it even by locking down all her emotions. With a past that is shrouded in darkness that more than explains her ice cold character that is a front for every emotion that she keeps at bay, Anna is not at all prepared to receive the news of the death of her father and the fact that she has to run for her life and rely on the only man that her father trusts to keep her safe.

When Anna turns up on Brent’s doorstep, she unravels all the layers of protection that Brent uses to keep people at bay. The attraction that flares to life between him and his best friend’s daughter is not one that settles well with Brent who is hellbent on keeping her at arm’s distance which works well and fine until Anna discovers that she practically smolders in the presence of Brent and Brent alone and that she would rather burn than turn away from the way he makes her feel.

With merciless killers hunting her down, it is a race against time as Anna tries to figure out the truth behind her father’s message, something that is a tougher challenge given the fact that she has little trust for her father. With the viewpoints of multiple characters in the story told in the 3rd person, Dark Waters by Toni Anderson is a romantic suspense novel that would shake the readers to their very core and is definitely the kind that would make one lose their precious sleep over!

Brent Carver was just the right mix of hot, broody, intense and darkness to melt me from the inside out. And yes, I melted on the spot from the very first encounter with the heady specimen of male he is and never looked back. The sacrifices he made, perhaps through a misguided sense of responsibility for a life that had gone awry when he had been a mere teenager more than makes up for the “crime” that he has been serving more than half of his life for. The beauty and the unleashed passion deep inside of him comes when he lets go & puts paintbrush to paper. His connection to Anna is one that is forged long before Anna even knew of his existence and that is the thread that continues to pull at him and totally eviscerates the walls he has built around himself to keep those whom he cares about at bay.

Anna is a wonderful heroine who has just the right balance to complement a man like Brent. Her nightmares are still vivid and haunts her even though she refuses to acknowledge their existence. But Brent and the sharp shards of awareness that shoots through her with each passing day in his presence makes it near impossible for her to shut him out, and the protection and safety she finds in his arms becomes the soothing balm that seems to heal the old hurts that had never seen the light of day.

Honestly, Dark Waters by Toni Anderson is one of the best romantic suspense novels I have read this year. Toni Anderson completely blew me away with what she has brought to readers with her realistic characters, gritty emotions and the out of this world suspense with enough twists & turns in the story to keep the reader guessing that keeps the momentum going at full throttle. Only thing I missed was an epilogue to give a glimpse into how Brent and Anna fairs later on; its only right to give readers a beautiful epilogue to let the story really seep into the pores and cement the deal in my opinion. Regardless of that little trifling detail, Dark Waters by Toni Anderson comes highly recommended & doesn’t change the fact that it was a read that rocked my world. Fans of romantic suspense who loves the perfect balance in the romance, heat and suspense of the dark edged variety would love this one!

Final Verdict: Dark & gritty with excitement and danger at the turn of each page; Dark Waters is definitely recommended!

Favorite Quotes

A low growl rumbled through his chest and then he was kissing her hard and deep, his tongue tangling with hers in a searing dance. Hunger exploded along her nerves. Her heart hammered. Breath coming in gasps. Her fingers slipped beneath his shirt, sliding over taut hot skin. She felt him shiver even though he made no move to touch her. He was letting her take everything at her speed, giving her the sort of control she usually craved.

“I want you to touch me, Brent. I want you inside me.”
“I am touching you.” He was annihilating her. He let go of her wrists and shifted one hand to torture a beaded nipple. “And I am inside you.” His teeth grazed her neck. Two big fingers plunged deep, the heel of his hand pressing against her clitoris just hard enough to make her explode from the onslaught of sensations. Every nerve blasted like a firework, white light blinding her and she opened her mouth in a silent scream as it went on and on and on.

She held on tight to his shoulders, wanting to touch him, but knowing if she let go, she’d fall, and if she fell, he’d stop touching her.
She did not want him to stop.
One of his hands moved south and eased inside her panties. Her back arched up as he slid one finger inside her. “You’re so fucking hot.”
“For you,” she gasped, and let her head fall back as he moved his finger inside her, then added another, the fullness testing her. She dug her nails into his shoulders. “I want you, Brent.”

Then she started rising up and sliding down and he thought he was going to black out. He couldn’t stand it anymore and gripped her hips and drove deeper, deeper, harder. Grinding against her, wanting to get more inside her so she could swallow him whole. Then she cried out in those small gasps that curled around him and squeezed so tight he could no longer breathe. He let himself go, the hard release catapulting him to the moon as a nuclear explosion of white-hot ecstasy burned his mind, obliterating every thought in his head except this. Except her.

There was nothing gentle this time. No holding back as her body demanded more, fingers biting, ankles digging into his ass. This was therapy. A way of getting off and getting some sleep. It was raw sex on a deserted beach and they both needed it.
He drove her to another orgasm and followed her over the razor’s edge, resting his forehead in the curve of her shoulder as he shattered. Then he carried her into the water and they did it again.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

fantasticread