Review: Break the Night by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookbreakthenight_new.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Hero: John Ripley Damien
Heroine: Elizabeth Stride
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 01, 1993
Started On: June 16, 2018
Finished On: June 18, 2018

Break the Night by Anne Stuart is another one of her masterpieces in her long list of books (which I am forever grateful for), that more or less belong in the same category. Taking on the events surrounding the killer Jack the Ripper as a premise, Anne Stuart weaves a tale that left me wanting more on every single aspect of the story that unfolded.

Elizabeth Stride (Lizzie) is an artist trying to survive the LA scene. A creator of masks, Lizzie is caught in a nightmarish circumstance when a serial killer takes on her masks as part of the killer’s signature. Known as the Venice Ripper, Lizzie’s only saving grace comes from the fact that members of the public remain unaware of the use of Lizzie’s masks in the killer’s grotesque pastime.

However, Lizzie’s “anonymity” when it comes to the Venice Ripper becomes a thing of the past when news reporter John Ripley Damien i.e. J. R. Damien takes it upon himself to release the details about the masks in one of his articles featuring the Venice Ripper. Damien’s interest in the killer comes at a cost to both his personal and professional life. Renowned for his skill and talent as a reporter, Damien’s life takes a turn for the worse when he starts blaming himself for failing to see the line that exists between professional reporting standards and what is not. What could have been and what actually did happen.

Damien is haunted by dreams of a past that is filled with bloodshed, nightmares that seem hauntingly too real, when those dreams coincide with murders that happen in the present. Damien believes that stopping the killer is a job that is his duty, perhaps his past life had made it his responsibility to be the savior. But Damien knows that avenging the killer would come at a cost, a payment that he might have to make by giving his own life up in the process.

All of that is fine with Damien until Lizzie shows up in his life. Damien is none too shocked when an outraged Lizzie turns up on his doorstep, calling him out for publishing her details in relation with the Venice Ripper. While Damien tries to project an aura of indifference to all that is Lizzie, deep inside he knows that he is in deep trouble when it comes to her. The farthest thing from his usual style of women, Lizzie is what Damien would call a homebody, and for the very first time in Damien’s life, he wants to embrace the dreams of togetherness forever that he can see in Lizzie’s eyes.

However, there is a killer who is relentless, who is closing in on them as the passion between Damien and Lizzie ignites and burns with a ferocity that leaves them both stunned. And it will take everything Damien has got, all his wits about him to protect the most precious person in existence for him from a killer whose blood-lust has reached uncontrollable levels, taking on the task of the “cleanser of sinful souls” in the world.

I loved Break the Night. It is hard to believe that this was a story published more than ten years ago. Standing true to the test of time, as is the case with all Anne Stuart novels, both Damien and Lizzie are lovable and enticing characters. There is a vulnerability to Lizzie that is hard not to fall for, and a heart that yearns to open up to Damien and take him for all that he is – darkness and light together.

Damien is another topnotch example of heroes that Anne Stuart brings to life so effortlessly. Tall, lean, and darkly handsome in a way that makes a woman sit up and take notice, Damien’s demons run deep into his psyche, starting from a childhood that had been less than idyllic under most circumstances. However, it is Damien’s ties to a past that has long come and gone that is most intriguing, his often misplaced “blame” of self that takes place, because he is that kind of man.

Every Anne Stuart I pick up gives me a meaty read to sink my teeth into, delivers sexy and sinful heroes, pieces of whom I carry with me always; these are just some of the reasons why I would always keep coming back for more.

Recommended for fans of romantic suspense novels with a bit of creepy ethereality in the mix.

Final Verdict: Break the Night is the sort of novel that would rightfully leave you with the heebie-jeebies. Entwining long gone past events with the present, this is a story that will keep you reading into the wee hours of the night.

Favorite Quotes

“Damn it!” He hauled her upright, fury fighting with the panic that had suffused his body and winning. She simply stared up at him, her face wet with rain, and then it was too late. He pulled her into his arms, shoving her against the brick wall behind her and kissed her.
Her reaction was immediate. She slid her arms around his waist, clinging to him as if her life depended on it, and kissed him back. She tasted of rain and fresh coffee; she tasted of love and hope and despair.

For a moment, neither of them moved. And then he reached up to touch her, his hands cupping her shoulders, drawing her down, bringing her mouth to his. He kissed her slowly, gently, his mouth soft and damp and questing against her lips. He nibbled at her, tasting her. It was a kiss of such startling sweetness that she felt tears spring to her eyes, as a gnawing, yearning warmth started in the pit of her stomach and grew, spiraling outward, downward, filling her with such heat and longing that she began to tremble herself, and she wanted to move closer, to sink against him, into him, to press against him and dissolve.

“I’m yours, am I? Always?” he said, and there was no missing his bleak, self-mocking grin. “Lord, Lizzie, I only wish it were that simple.”
She let her eyelids flutter closed as she absorbed the feel of him against her. She could feel the sudden increase in tension, the hissing intake of breath. “Damn you, Lizzie,” he muttered under his breath.
She opened her eyes and smiled at him. “Only if you want me.”
The feel of him against her hips left no doubt in her mind, despite the torment in his eyes. He pulled himself away from her, heading into the living room like a man facing his executioner, and Lizzie almost smiled.

She had beautiful breasts, small and perfectly formed. He leaned over and put his mouth on her, drawing the nipple deep and hard against his tongue, and her body jerked in reaction. Her hands were clutching the rumpled sheet beneath them, and he pulled one away, bringing it to the front of his jeans, holding it there, feeling the exquisite agony of a desire so strong he didn’t know how long he could make it last.
He could feel the darkness closing around him, could feel the blood beating in his ears. His hands were rough as they stripped off her jeans, but if she protested he was beyond hearing, lost in some black, dangerous place of his own.

“No,” she said fiercely. “Don’t. I don’t want you to touch me… ”
He wasn’t going to listen to her, and neither was her body. Despite her hurt and anger, she was aroused, and he was deft, determined, as he reached between and caught her clitoris between his fingers, somehow knowing how to touch her in just the right way, and she climaxed, fighting it, her body tightening and rippling around his aching hardness, as a helpless little cry filled the darkness.

He hauled her up into his arms, roughly, before she realized what he was doing, wrapping her legs around his waist. He looked dark, remote, not t he man she thought she knew, as he shoved her up against the wall, his face almost brutal in the firelight.
He pushed into her, hard, filling her, and she braced herself, welcoming him, no longer worrying about pain, only needing him, more of him, all of him, but this time her body didn’t resist him, this time she was ready. Her face was crushed against his shoulder as she felt him thrust into her, and she cradled his head, holding on, wanting nothing but his release, his pleasure to fill her.

It was darkness, madness, blood and death. With each thrust of his body she went a little farther, a little deeper, lost in some world where nothing remained but the inexplicable, powerful feelings surging through her body, the sound of his breathing in her ear, the beating of his heart against hers, the slick sweat on his skin as he surged into her, again and again and again, deep and hard and eternal.

His body was lean and wiry and golden in the firelight, a runner’s body. She slid her hands up his chest, placing her mouth against his neck as she pushed him down on the mattress. He tasted of soap, of skin, of something dark and wonderful. She moved her mouth downward, over his flat belly, kissing, biting, tasting. And then she took him in her mouth, the full, silky length of him, consuming him, consumed by him, lost in an act she had never performed, not in this lifetime, and never with love.

His hands caught her shoulders, his long fingers caressing, and she could hear the strangled sound of his breathing, taste the salty sweetness of his desire, feel the blood course through his body. The night closed down around them, and there was nothing to fear, only the two of them, and she wanted this, she wanted him.
She spread her legs for him, closing her eyes as his hands cupped her hips, and waited for the thrust that would fill her.
A moment later, her eyes shot open when he set his mouth between her legs, using his tongue, his teeth, his lips, to bring her to the precipice, and she knew her first fear. And then there was no room for fear and she leapt over the edge, her body dissolving into an endless convulsion that stole her breath, her heartbeat, her mind and soul.

He rolled over on his back, taking her with him, looking up at her as she moved over his body, the two of them slick with sweat as the firelight cast eerie shadows across their skin. He reached out and caught her hips, but let her set the pace, his face drawn taut with the effort of control.
She felt smooth, sleek and powerful. “Don’t fight it,” she whispered in the darkness. “Give yourself to me. Now, Damien.”
His eyes shut tight. “Now,” he said. “Now.” And he thrust up into her, hard, filling her with his warmth, his wetness, his love.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

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Review: Blue Sage by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookbluesage2
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Charles Tanner, Jr
Heroine: Eleanor Johnson Lundquist
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 01, 1995
Started On: June 10, 2018
Finished On: June 12, 2018

Charles Tanner, Jr. is returning to his hometown. It would be an understatement to say that he is not looking forward to the “homecoming”. If Tanner were to have his way, he would never have made the journey, but then for the man who had been the father figure he never had, he would return to his place of origin, even if it means facing the demons left behind by his father.

Tanner’s father is a legend for all the wrong reasons. Known as a vet who had gone on a killing spree murdering sixteen and wounding one before turning the gun on himself, Tanner knows that he is going to end up stirring some bad memories for a lot of families who had lost loved ones.

What Tanner doesn’t expect to happen is to come across the all too beguiling Eleanor Johnson Lundquist, the almost 31 year old widow, and the lone survivor among the victims of the massacre at the hands of Tanner’s father. Tanner catches Eleanor during one of those rare moments in which she lets her uninhibited self roam freely; something that is not too easy given her revered status in the close-knit community that is Morey’s Falls.

With the anniversary of that fateful day coming, Tanner’s arrival undoubtedly stirs someone to once again force members of the town to relive the nightmares. With everyone on the edge, it is all too easy to paint Tanner as the bad guy. But within Eleanor, there is an altogether a different kind of storm brewing. For the very first time in her 30 plus years, Eleanor feels the stirrings of lust and desire, to take and be taken, and scandalously enough, by none other than Tanner himself.

As Eleanor and Tanner spends more time together amidst Tanner’s pursuit for the truth, they discover elements and facets to each other’s characters which otherwise would have remained uncovered. Each layer as it is peeled back, exposes a side that appeals to the other more. Tanner who has a habit of leaving, the itch that possesses him to go roaming and not stay put, finds himself with an inexplicable need for the very first time in his life to stay.

Blue Sage was a pleasant surprise because of the depth of the story that Anne Stuart delivered. Harlequin titles are not often known for the depth in their stories, but mostly quick reads that gives you a much needed escape. But somehow, Anne Stuart even then, managed to deliver books that were close to perfection with her ability to present to readers characters that seem polar opposites of one another, and yet form this bond around an almost indiscernible connection that springs to life from the get-go.

I loved both Tanner and Eleanor. Tanner with his lean whipcord physique, who believes that his pursuit of the truth comes from an innate responsibility towards the only man he looks up to, when it comes from a need within himself as well, to understand the man who had sired him, and a community that had failed all of them with their inability to see an unstable character for what he was, until it was too late.

I actually did think that there would be more to Tanner’s father’s story, but it didn’t turn out that way. Nevertheless, the whole aspect of a reemerging menace from within the community, with history repeating itself was a captivating aspect of the story.

I loved Eleanor as well. That inner vulnerability, core of strength, and the fact that she does identify with the fact that she is drowning on the pedestal that Morey’s Falls has put her on, to the way she blossoms under the touch of Tanner; the sensual awakening that is slow, hard and fast at the same time, were all parts of her story that I adored.

I loved the scene in the moonlight, up in the hills, with just Tanner and Eleanor – that was as elemental as it could get, and it somehow seemed fitting when it came to both of them.

The ending definitely made me teary-eyed. Tanner’s need to walk-about which hits his restless spirit and how it all played out was apt. Recommended for fans of contemporary romances with suspense in the mix.

Final Verdict: Blue Sage is magical and uncanny in equal doses; Anne Stuart waves her magic wand and creates characters that leaps off the pages, taking you for a ride you would never forget anytime soon!

Favorite Quotes

Lock your door, Ellie,” he ordered. “And I’ll keep away from Pete’s Fireside Cafe.”
She looked up at him. The shadows were all around them, the smell of the approaching storm thick in the air, and a sudden, waiting stillness caught at her.

He was so close, and so locked away from her. His blue eyes were hooded, unreadable, and his mouth looked hard and unyielding.
It wasn’t. Before she realized what he was doing he’d pulled her into his arms, out on the back porch in plain view of anyone who cared to

look. His hand cupped the back of her neck, holding her in place as his mouth came down on hers.

He lifted his head, his mouth leaving hers, and his eyes glittered in the shadowy half-light. “You kiss like a virgin,” he said, his voice softly mocking.
She kept herself from flinching. “I wasn’t kissing you,” she pointed out with an attempt to sound matter-of-fact. All she sounded was shaky. “You were kissing me.”
“Then let me do it properly,” he whispered, and the sound played across her spine like a thousand tiny leaves. “Open your mouth.”
She could no more deny him than she could have stopped her heart from beating.

It was beguiling, the innocence and enthusiasm in her untutored mouth. He kissed her slowly, lingeringly, giving her time to get used to the contours of his mouth, the dampness and texture, before using his tongue. He loved her little start of surprise at his intrusion, the acquiescence, the growing boldness as her tongue touched his.
Her hands tightened on his waist, digging in slightly, and if his mouth hadn’t been busy he would have smiled. Instead he encouraged her, teasing

her, his mouth sliding wetly over hers, lips nibbling, touching, biting, tongues dancing against each other.

It was unseasonably warm for a late-June night. Tanner’s pack was lying on the ground, his sleeping bag unzipped and spread out on the grass. She’d let Shaitan get a little closer, just close enough to read his expression. If it wasn’t welcoming, she could leave.
His dark-blond hair was wet and slicked back away from his face. His mouth was a narrow line, thin and unsmiling, and his cold blue eyes were in shadow. Ellie could feel the dampness in her hands as they held the reins, feel the trembling in her knees. Somewhere in the distance an old owl hooted, and overhead a million stars warred with the bright moonlight to flood the field with light.

Ellie didn’t move. Fear was supposed to be a cold, hard lump in the chest. Her fear was a blaze of fire burning deep inside, much lower down. She didn’t say a word, and neither did he. He merely stood there, his strong hand stroking Shaitan’s neck. And then he moved closer, and his hand left the horse, reaching to catch her bare ankle in his long fingers.
His flesh was hot, hers was cool. He slid his hand up her calf, up to the ruffled hem of her lacy nightdress. Before she realized his intent he’d pushed the material away, exposing her bad knee. His mouth followed his hand, tracing the line of scars that stretched along her leg.

She heard a quick, shocked intake of breath, and vaguely realized it was her own. And then his hands were reaching up, encircling her waist, and he was lifting her down, down from Shaitan’s high back, her body sliding against his, her skirts bunching up around her thighs, his warm, bare shoulders damp beneath her trembling hands.
She began to shiver in anticipation of some distant, unapproachable delight, and she felt Tanner, slippery with sweat, tremble in her arms. She wanted to cry, but she didn’t know what for. For the moon, still shining down on the entwined lovers? For the stars, glittering in the sky beside their sister moon? Or cry for herself, lost and seeking, shivering and reaching and aching and longing?

Her head thrashed back and forth in mute negation of something she couldn’t begin to understand. She wanted to tell him to stop, it was useless, it was more than she could bear. He thrust all the way into her, holding her with the pressure of his hips, and his hands caught her head, holding her still.
“Not without you,” he muttered obscurely. And setting his mouth on hers, he reached down between their sweat-slick bodies and touched her.
Her body arched, convulsed around his. Her mind, her emotions shattered, like the thousand stars of the Montana night, and she was gone, lost, floating, and Tanner was with her, his strangled cry swallowed in their last, desperate kiss, his body rigid in her arms.

“Ellie,” he said hoarsely, lifting his head, trying to pull away, to regain the last tiny shreds of self-control. He couldn’t do this to her.
She put her hand up to his face. It was shaking, and there was blood on her fingertips. She pulled his head down to hers, and her mouth was waiting. And her choice was life, not death.

He tore at her clothes and she helped him, raising her hips so he could slide down her jeans and underwear and throw them across the room, lifting her head so he could pull off the bloody shirt and send it flying after her other clothes. Her own hands were just as eager, just as desperate, fumbling with the zipper on his jeans, digging into his shoulders as she pulled him over her, on top of her, into her, wrapping her legs around him and holding him tight.
No sooner had he slid into that delicious warmth when more shudders of reaction began to wash over her. He held himself still, reveling in her helpless

response, and then he thrust deep, joining her in a white-hot blaze of heat that burned the past to ashes.

Purchase Links: Amazon | iTunes

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Review: The Drowned Girls by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-bookthedrownedgirls.jpeg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Angie Pallorino, #1
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: James Maddock
Heroine: Angie Pallorino
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: June 20, 2017
Started On: March 03, 2018
Finished On: April 21, 2018

Loreth Anne White’s voice in the romantic suspense genre is one that resonates with readers like myself who need that dark edge to their reads. This makes Loreth’s books heavy reads, and mind you, they can get quite heavy because they delve into the darkest and most forbidden aspects of humanity itself. But for all that and more, Loreth’s books are unbeatable, and I would never have it any other way.

If I am not mistaken, this is the very first series of books that Loreth has written, interconnected in terms of stories and characters with one another. Entitled “Angie Pallorino” after the lead female detective in the series, The Drowned Girls as the debut novel deals with crimes of the kind that would make a woman look twice over her shoulder in paranoia, lock their doors and double and triple check to see whether they are actually locked, and worry about the whereabouts of loved ones, especially if they deviate from the normal hours they keep.

Angie Pallorino works on sex crimes at the Victoria Metro Police Department. Angie comes with issues that are layered with issues, and she is one of the most complex female leads I have ever come across. Angie has a way of dealing with the darkness inside of her, the voices that won’t quit, that feeling that has always hounded her that the life she has been living wasn’t really hers. Did I mention that she was complex? Yes, Angie is the definition of the word itself.

Usher in Sergeant James Maddocks, the newest recruitment to the Department, who is actually hired for the job that that Angie herself has been eyeing for quite some time. Coupled with the fact that the guy Angie randomly hooks up with at her pickup bar the previous night, the man she had labeled as “Mr. Big Dick”, and made her react in a way that was totally unlike her when it comes to her anonymous hookups turns out to be the one and the same? Needless to say, the tension and sparks between the two were very much a part of the unfolding story.

When a Jane Doe is discovered by a tour guide, with signs of mutilation of her sex organs, with a cross carved into her forehead, the tingles running up and down Angie’s spine tells her that this was no ordinary criminal that had done the deed. That it in fact looked like the perpetrator that Angie and her now deceased partner had been after for serial rape cases that had landed on their case pile, a lead that had gone cold for two years, now surfacing once again, and in a way that does not bode well at all.

When a second dead body surfaces, also bearing similar marks on her body, thus begins the investigation to find the person behind the heinous crimes. With the newly elected mayor reportedly having promised to make the city “great again”, the department is under enormous pressure to deliver, and to deliver fast and without bumbling it up in the need to rush.

What unfolded was way more than I bargained for, even knowing that Loreth is capable of taking a story in a direction that readers usually wouldn’t see coming. There are multiple threads running through the story the entire time, and in hindsight I wondered if that could have been the reason as to why one of the most crucial aspects of the story didn’t get much time – i.e. the villain and how he came to be who he was.

The discovery of his premises, the fate of his father when he was young, and the theories that had been floating around about what had made the monster out of a child who had seemingly looked happy in his childhood pictures was one that I wanted to read about. I feel that when authors write about evil personas such as the villain, they do so after a ton of research, and its not easy to craft a character as such without investing a lot of time on them. The villain in his own right, in novels like this, becomes part of the main protagonists in the story that unfolds. But, given the direction that the story took, taking readers onto sex crimes on an international scale, I suppose the villain that brought so much horror to the minds of the readers was a little overlooked in the end.

But, that does not by any means indicate that the story was lacking. The furthest thing from that in fact. I was fascinated with the multitude of connections, the painstaking work involved in terms of investigations, the interviews, the tedious work of corroborating witness statements etc. that goes into crime solving – not just solving a crime but making the charges stick.

However, in the end, it was Angie’s actions that came to the forefront; her “rash” actions that had saved the lives of two very important people in her life, or two people who could become the most important in her life, that changed the ending.

Loreth has an ability to bring to life a scene in a way that makes you feel like you are walking right through it. Every single aspect of the scene from the chilly, foggy, and wet weather of the region in which the story takes place, to the creepy characters you encounter along the way; all that and more are more or less alive, in front of you, like a myriad of images that goes through your mind as you read along. That is one of the aspects to Loreth’s books that makes them so darn difficult to put down and makes you crave for more.

Detective James Maddocks aka Mr. Big Dick (I like the sound of that way too much), is the type of hero that makes you swoon, even without realizing it. There is a way about him that just soothes those jagged edges to you, makes you simmer down a little, sit up and take notice of a man whose tamped down sexuality makes it all the more prominent perhaps. James and his life story takes a backseat to the baggage that Angie brings to the table. Angie is the one whose past comes roaring to life, making her question every single thing that has been part of her life narrative as long as she could remember. Her volatile temperament certainly does not help, and if it were a man less patient than Maddocks, they would just walk away and wash their hands off of her.

But then there are the moments in which Angie shows that side of hers that is vulnerable, hurting, and in need of someone that understands where she comes from. This is in fact the place from which she takes on the offensive; in her mind, lashing and fighting out is way better than letting people know exactly where to prick and prod if they intend to hurt her. Plus, the crimes that she works on? They are the kind that would probably make you go home and drown your sorrows in alcohol or worse when it gets to be too much. Or in Angie’s case, her outlet comes in the form of random sexual encounters with strangers, the high she gets out of being in control of the setting, when in reality her life is spiraling out of control and there is nothing much she can do about it.

If this is your very first read from Loreth, worry not. She has a couple of standalone romantic suspense titles that are absolutely to die for. I for one, can’t wait to find out what Loreth has in store for Angie and Maddocks in the next couple of books.

Final Verdict: Involuted and engrossing, The Drowned Girls is an eye opening tale of human depravity at its most obscene perhaps, because it speaks to parts of your conscience that everyone tries to hide from. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

We all lie.
We all guard secrets—sometimes terrible ones—a side to us so dark, so shameful, that we quickly avert our own eyes from the shadow we might glimpse in the mirror.
Instead we lock our dark halves deep in the basement of our souls. And on the surface of our lives, we work industriously to shape the public story of our selves.

There is none righteous, no, not one. —Romans 3:10

Angie shut out the voice, opened her thighs wider, and sank deeper onto his dick. She rocked her hips faster, filling herself, making herself hurt. She was close, so close, and he could feel it. He bucked under her, wilder, wilder, thrusting his cock up into her. She tried to pull back, to deny him full pleasure, but suddenly she froze, her entire body going rigid, as if in rigor. Her breath caught in her chest, and she held still a moment, red lights pulsing, bass beating. And suddenly, she came, her vision blurring, a cry suffocating in her throat as her muscles contracted and released in hot, rolling waves. She collapsed onto him, her breasts against his rough chest hair. He was still hard inside her as aftershocks continued to ripple around his erection.

He called after her. “You got a name there, warrior princess?”
She paused, hand on doorknob, and the devil on her shoulder whispered, Yes, you can control this. You can stop anytime you want to . . . Besides, she was only human. She could have a life. It wasn’t as though it was forbidden to have a relationship. As long as she held the reins, all the control.
“Angie,” she said.
Silence.
“You?” she asked.
He smiled slowly, one side of his mouth curving slightly higher than the other. “I’ve got your number.” He paused. “Angie.”

Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will bear silent witness against him. —Locard’s exchange principle

. . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. —Romans 3:23

The rules twisted down into a hot vortex of total oblivion as her mouth, her hunger, her aggression met his, tongues tangling, mating, rough, taking. He fisted her hair, tilting her head farther back, as his other hand slid down her spine. He cupped her buttocks and yanked her hard against him. His shirt was completely plastered to his body, and she could feel every inch of his muscular contours under the wet fabric. She could feel the long hardness of his big, gorgeous dick straining against his zipper as he pressed against her pelvis. Heat pooled molten between her thighs. Dizziness swirled, and her knees began to buckle out from under her. She wanted him. All of him. Inside. Deep and fast and hard and rough. Out here. Right now.

Naked, Angie sat on the edge of the bed, Maddocks standing between her legs while she undid his pants, a lust building, boiling, deep inside her. She slid his pants down his hips and that gorgeous dick swelled free. She caressed him, taking him into her mouth, holding his hips as she worked him with her lips, her tongue. His hands clamped down hard on her shoulders, his fingers digging deeper and deeper into her skin as she stimulated him to the point that he groaned, fisting her hair. He stopped her suddenly, pulling her off his wet erection by moving her head back. His gaze, dark, dangerous, locked with hers, and he shoved her backward and hard onto the covers.

He moved slowly at first, achingly slowly, and a tension of another kind built inside her as she wiggled to free her hands again but couldn’t. And her eyes flared wide. She was struggling to breathe.
He gave a powerful thrust, and he was inside her, up to the hilt. She gasped, and he moved his hips harder, driving himself yet deeper. Her eyes watered as he began to fuck her, his heavy, muscled build pumping her deep into the bedding, her hands trapped high above her head.

“Please, Maddocks,” she whispered. “Please.” He swallowed, his muscles beginning to shake against his battle to suddenly control himself, sweat slicking over his skin, and suddenly he gasped, and came powerfully, uncontrollably, inside her, his fingers digging into her flesh as his body took charge, shuddering him inside her. Tears filled her eyes as Maddocks, spent, lowered himself slowly down onto her, then rolled onto his side, withdrawing from inside her.
“Angie?” he whispered, his eyes refocusing.
Tears leaked out from the corners of her eyes, onto his covers. And she still ached with desire, and she felt shame, defeat, guilt. He stroked her cheek and moved a damp tangle of hair off her face. “Did I hurt you? What is it?”
She shook her head, unable to voice it, unable to tell him what was going on, unable to understand herself. And she was filled with embarrassment.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured. “So sorry.”

His vision swirled as he thrust and entered her hot wetness. She sighed softly as if with relief. Maddocks moved slowly, tentatively at first, rocking into her, and she met each of his thrusts with soft, sure movements of her hips—a pace as old as time, a rhythm that matched the waves upon which his boat rocked. And inside him a blinding pressure began to build. He could feel her growing hotter, hungrier, beginning to move faster. He thrust harder, faster. She wrapped her legs around him, hooking her ankles behind him, taking him tight into her arms, as if she couldn’t get him deep enough, as if she wanted to absorb and consume him wholly.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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Review: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: E-bookdukeofpleasure.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane, #11
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: Hugh Fitzroy
Heroine: Alf
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 29, 2016
Started On: December 06, 2016
Finished On: December 12, 2016

Elizabeth Hoyt is an author who writes with a flair that grabs the reader from the start, her heroes and heroines having that edge to their characters that makes a world of difference when it comes to the world of romance, especially today. When I “discovered” Hoyt’s books, I devoured them in a frenzy that left me stunned, because it had been so long since an author has had that effect on me.

Duke of Pleasure, which is the 11th book in the Maiden Lane series came out almost towards the end of 2016. It was a book that I had been waiting for quite eagerly, just like the legions of fans of the Maiden Lane series out there. While Duke of Pleasure didn’t quite live up to all the expectations that I had for the novel, it however, in classic Hoyt style, delivered a read that made me sigh and swoon in all the right places.

With a Maiden Lane novel, you get not just a romance that is beautifully crafted, but an adventure that goes along with it, which is one reason why these novels are so damn good. Duke of Kyle, aka Hugh Fitzroy is a man tasked with a very important case, not just by anyone, but the King himself; bringing down the Lord of Chaos, a group consisting of the very upper echelons of society participating in most vile and despicable acts for revelry of their own. A mission easier said than accomplished, all things considered.

Following a lead deep into the recesses of the filth of the city is where Kyle encounters none other than the Ghost of St. Giles “himself”, someone who fights and defends the weakest members of society, the ones that law enforcement officials seldom bother protecting. From the moment Kyle witnesses the grace with which the Ghost fights, his interest is one that is piqued in earnest, more so given the fact that he sees the Ghost of St. Giles as the woman she is under the mask and costume she wears.

Moonlighting at night as the Ghost of St. Giles, Alf resumes the role of the boy that she has been as far as she can remember. Having grown up on the streets with no one to look after her, Alf is as tough and resilient as they come, amassing a wealth of secrets along the way in the tasks that she carries out for those who seek out her help. Having rescued Kyle once, Alf is drawn to him in a way that is foreign to her, something that she has never let herself open up enough to experience before.

Finding out that Alf and the Ghost of St. Giles are the one and the same not only stuns Kyle, but makes him realize just how much he has been deluding himself when it comes to the slumbering beast inside of him. Having succumbed to passion’s wily nature before and paid for it, Kyle is a man who is the classic example of “once bitten, twice shy”. Feeling the tendrils of desire that rocks the iron bars of the cage within which he had locked that side of himself does not settle very well with Kyle.

Alf on the other hand, innocent in terms of the guileless nature behind her desire for a man who takes her breathe away, is just two steps short of falling head over heels in love with a man who is far above her station in every single way. But the heart has a way of wanting what is wants, consequences be damned, and that is how Alf finds herself taken in by the powerful embrace of the Duke who wants her, and at the same time seems to wage an inner battle with himself every single time he succumbs. The quest to root out the evil of the Lord of Chaos also comes with a price, one that both Kyle and Alf might have to pay in terms of the lives of the ones they both hold near and dear to their hearts.

While I found myself enamored by the characters of both Kyle and Alf, I felt that there could have been more to their coming together than what was delivered in the story. I just felt a lack that I cannot quite put my finger on. Maybe it stemmed from the fact that the hero from Duke of Sin, the 10th book in the series was ruthless in a way that spoke to me on so many levels, and I was perhaps hoping for the same or more from Kyle. Either way, even with the tiny bits and pieces of misgivings that I had, I nevertheless enjoyed the journey which Hoyt delivered amazingly well.

I just loved the inside cover of this book so much so that I decided to include it in my review. Let the drooling and sighing begin!

dukeofpleasure2

Recommended for fans of the series & historical romances that deliver reads worth sinking your teeth into.

Final Verdict: The Maiden Lane series by Elizabeth Hoyt is decadent in a way few historical romances ever are. Duke of Pleasure delivers everything that a reader could want when they sit down with one of Hoyt’s books.

Favorite Quotes

A tall man in a ragged brown coat and a filthy red neckcloth stepped forward. Hugh half-expected him to make some sort of a speech, he looked that full of himself. Instead he drew a knife the size of a man’s forearm, grinned, and licked the blade.
Oh, for—
Hugh didn’t wait for whatever other disgusting preliminaries Knife Licker might feel were appropriate to the occasion. He stepped forward and smashed the bottle of very fine Viennese wine over the man’s head.
Then they were on him.
He slashed and felt the jolt to his arm as he hit flesh.
Swung and raked the sword across another’s face.
Staggered as two men slammed into him.
Another hit him hard in the jaw.
And then someone clubbed him behind the knees.
He fell to his knees on the icy ground, growling like a bleeding, baited bear.
Raised an arm to defend his head…
And…
Someone dropped from the sky right in front of him.
Facing his attackers.
Darting, wheeling, spinning.
Defending him so gracefully.
With two swords.

He slid on cobblestones as he ran to the lane. Someone yelled from behind him. And then he was in another narrow passage. There was an abrupt right-angle turn, and he took it, ignoring the yowl of a cat as he raced by, and then he burst into a courtyard.
The Ghost was there.
On the ground, her half cape a black whirl as she danced with her swords, their prey cornered. Something caught his attention about her movements—something not quite right—but as he watched, she knocked aside the man’s knife and placed her long sword against his throat and the thought died.
She smiled.
And he was amazed that anyone thought her a man.

Hugh watched her sheathe her swords. He touched his finger to her chin, feeling soft skin, and tipped up her face. He couldn’t tell the color of her eyes in the dark and behind the ugly half mask, but he saw the glint of moonlight in their depths.
“Who are you?” he whispered, that strange wildness still in his veins.
She didn’t answer.
So he did what he’d wanted to do since he’d first seen her tonight, there on the rooftops of St Giles: he bent and covered her mouth with his. Her lips were soft, so soft, and she tasted of wine and honey. He angled his head, drawing her slim body closer, sliding his tongue along her bottom lip until she opened her mouth beneath his.

She leaned a little closer and pressed her mouth to those pretty, pretty lips and inhaled his breath.
For a moment he was still beneath her, and then he moved, his hands rising slowly to grasp her arms.
She drew a little back, watching him.
His eyes opened, black and drowsy, staring into hers. He seemed entirely unsurprised to find her in his library, kissing him.
She smiled and for the first time that night felt herself settle. She placed her hands on his shoulders and straddled his lap. Knelt on the chair and bent her head to his again, opening her mouth over his, her palms on either side of his face.
The book tumbled to the floor.
She skimmed over his upper lip, feeling the odd prickle of his stubble. Caught his lower lip between her teeth.
An ember fell on the hearth.
Something sparked, and he took charge of the embrace. He opened his mouth beneath hers, angling his head, kissing her slowly, lazily, lushly, as if he had all the time in the world.

At that moment Alf opened her eyes, and he inhaled silently.
Her eyes were sleepy and a little dazed. Her cheeks flushed from sleep and, no doubt, the warmth of his sons, snuggled so close to her. She looked at him and seemed to become aware almost at once, her brown gaze sharpening. There was the mocking amusement he’d seen from the lad, Alf, the biting wit.
But now it was in feminine form.
She stared at him, and her soft pink lips—God, he’d been a blind fool to ever have thought that the mouth of a boy—smiled. Full and warm. Like sunshine. Like joy and hope.
The smile of a woman. Lethal as a spear to the chest.
Dangerous. Seductive.

He held her fast with his gaze and demanded, “You’re not what, Alf?”
Her pointed chin jerked up and she glared at him. “I’m not female. Not anymore. It’s been too long. I’ve been a boy too long.”
“My cock would beg to differ.”
Her mouth dropped open. “Wha—?”
He grabbed her wrist and dragged her over the bed, and thrust her hand crudely against the sheet covering his crotch. “Do you feel me? I’m hard for you.” He ground his cock up into her captive palm. “And I assure you I’m not at all interested in boys or men. Only women.”
Only you, a treacherous part of his mind whispered, but he ignored it. He was doing this for a mission, just that. It had nothing to do with the two of them. With the desire to see her bloom into the woman he wanted deep in his conflicted soul.
She stared down at her hand over his cock and her fingers flexed once.
He bit back a groan, and the thing within him, the thing locked away, rattled its chains.

She looked up at him, this powerful man. “What do you want from me, guv?”
“I don’t know,” he muttered, sounding angry—whether at her or himself, she couldn’t guess—and his hands pulled her against his hard body.
He bent and took her mouth, sliding his tongue against her lips until she parted them. Until she let him in with a relieved sigh. She’d missed this. Missed him. She’d wondered if he’d decided he was done with her.
Apparently not.
His fingers brushed over her bare neck, ticklish and sweet, even as he thrust his tongue inside her mouth again and again.
“Alf?” The call came from outside the room.
For a second more he continued to ravage her mouth as if he couldn’t tear himself away from her, and then Kyle lifted his head. His lips were reddened, his eyes dark.
Carefully he tucked a lock of her hair back inside her cap. “I don’t know what the hell I want from you.”

“I’ve hardly seen you,” he said moodily.
“I thought that was what you wanted,” she replied, her small expressive face closed. “You kissed me and then said you didn’t know what to do with me. You avoided me.”
“That hardly matters.” He flung up a hand irritably. “I didn’t know where you were.”
She lifted her chin. “I didn’t know I was supposed to be telling you everywhere I go, guv. You never mentioned.”
“Didn’t I?” he growled, taking that chin in hand.
He glanced at the windows. The boys were chasing the puppy down the graveled path. He bent and took her mouth, hard and fast and not nearly enough.
Not nearly enough.
When he raised his head again it was to breathe words across her parted lips. Words he didn’t stop to think about. Words that came straight from that part of himself he’d thought he’d locked away deep inside: “I’ll say it now, then. You tell me where you are and what you’re doing until such time as I’m done with you, do you understand?”
“Oh, I think I understand, guv,” she whispered, and though her words were a concession, her tone was not.

With her hand she squeezed the part of his cock that didn’t fit in her mouth and then began stroking up and down.
“They’re gone,” he muttered, his breath hitching, his hips rolling in little pushes he couldn’t seem to stop.
Oh, he wanted her. He wanted her.
She looked up at him and sucked harder.
It was dark, but she could just make out the glitter of his eyes. He was watching her. Down on her knees, with his cock in her mouth, sucking him.
His nostrils flared and that beautiful upper lip curled.
She rubbed the tip of her tongue underneath the head of his penis and he gasped. Slid his hand down her face in a caress.
Touched the corner of her wet, stretched lips with his thumb.
And came, flooding her mouth with his bitter seed.

He pressed into her, wide and thick. Hot, so hot.
There was a pinch.
But she kept her eyes on him, staring. His lush mouth was almost grim, and his forehead shone with sweat. He’d propped himself up on his elbows above her.
He thrust again, more of him entering her—stretching her—and she saw him clench his teeth.
She wrapped her legs around his hips and stroked the back of his leg with one foot.
He jerked and his hips met hers, his entire length buried inside her. She was stuffed full of him.
He inhaled through his nose and his nostrils flared.
She raised her head and whispered in his ear, “Are you going to fuck me now, guv?”
“Little devil,” he breathed.

“Ride me,” he rasped.
She blinked, not fully comprehending, but he was spreading her legs farther apart, taking away his knee and lowering her to his cock.
Oh, if she’d thought it large before, that was nothing to how proud he was now. A dark, angry red, heavy and full, thickest at the middle, and the foreskin stretched taut about the ridge of the head. She wanted to stare. To look her fill and perhaps feel it with hands and tongue.
He had other ideas.
He took hold of himself as she watched and rubbed his prick against her wet quim. “Sit.”
She could feel him at her entrance—there—big and waiting. She leaned a little forward, placing her hands on his shoulders and meeting his eyes.
Staring into his eyes as she tilted down and felt him breach her.
His nostrils were flared, his gaze implacable. “More.”

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

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ARC Review: A Cold Dark Promise by Toni Anderson

Format: E-bookacolddarkpromise.jpg
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Cold Justice, #8.5
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Alex Parker
Heroine: Mallory Rooney
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 14, 2017
Started On: November 15, 2017
Finished On: November 24, 2017

A Cold Dark Promise by Toni Anderson is a novella that fans of the Cold Justice series would adore. One reason being that this novella brings to readers the wedding of Alex Parker and FBI Agent Mallory Rooney, the main protagonists from the debut book of the series.

Alex’s character was one of the main reasons why I fell in love with the Cold Justice series initially. Toni Anderson’s way of putting a story together is another, and there was ruthless edge to the story that made me think of Anne Stuart’s books as well, which I obviously adored. Having come a long way since, A Cold Dark Promise takes place with a 27 week pregnant Mallory, getting ready to tie the knot with Alex, in order to celebrate their love, and make things official before the baby were to arrive.

However, a member from Alex’s dark past comes calling, and even though Alex wants to turn away from the plea put forth by a grieving mother, he finds that he is not as ruthless as he thinks himself to be, which is how Alex finds himself in the south of France, where a mission that he had thought would be simple, turns out to be anything but.

I absolutely adored this novella. I am mostly never a fan of short length novels, because though they rarely serve their purpose, and they usually fail to deliver just enough to satisfy readers. But I had no such complains with this little number and I believe that Toni has done a remarkably impressive job out of delivering a well rounded story that readers can sink their teeth into.

I loved Alex and Mallory’s shared moments as described in the story. There is a normalcy to their whole relationship that makes their love that much more real and relatable. There is no dramatic flair to it, but yet it is deep and as meaningful as they come, which is why I adored the bits of their lives that Toni brought to light in this story.

Moments of truth like Mallory grappling with the fact that she doesn’t particularly like it when Alex might be in the line of danger while she herself wants the independence to put herself on the line when it comes to her work as an FBI agent; those are the things that struck me the most in the story.

I also enjoy how Toni brings together the cast from various other stories in the series. I sometimes have a problem with how some authors seem to have too many cooks spoiling the broth so to say, when too many protagonists from other stories seem to become the centre stage of the story. Toni also does an impressive job of portraying male friendships; rather than making them sappy in a way some authors tend to do, or go overboard trying to generate the whole “bro” vibe, I think Toni’s understated way of handling things works beautifully.

The mini secondary romance tucked into the story was just the icing on the cake – Reilly being a wonderful, wonderful hero that I fell in love with, just as hard and just as fast.

Definitely looking forward to more in the series. Toni sometimes describes her imagination as being dark – but I love just how dark it can get, with the possibility of there always been more.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: Warm fuzzies is not what I would normally associate with a Toni Anderson, but this little number does it!

Favorite Quotes

Licks of pleasure spiraled into a cyclone of lust. His fingers dipped between her thighs and she moaned. Finding her ready, he turned her away from him, arranging a pillow beneath her baby bump and another cushioning her head. This was her favorite position now she was pregnant and he knew it. Alex moved behind her and slid deep inside and she came with a deep shudder. He leaned up, squeezed her nipple even as he thrust slowly in and out. She could lie like this for hours, days, it felt so good. She shook with pleasure, and she couldn’t bear for it to change but…
“More, Alex. Deeper.” It was a private joke between them, but the hoarseness of her voice took her by surprise. He got to her every single time.

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

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Review: The Jade Temptress by Jeannie Lin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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