Review: It Must Be Love by Rachel Gibson

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: AVON
Hero: Joseph Andrew Shanahan
Heroine: Gabrielle Breedlove
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 07, 2000
Started On: July 28, 2021
Finished On: July 29, 2021

Needing to read a book that would bring all the feels and then some, I decided to take something out of the backlist of Rachel Gibson’s published works, and found myself reading It Must be Love, bringing together two protagonists who are the very opposite of each other in every single sense.

35 year old Joseph Andrew Shanahan (Joe) is a law enforcement officer who has been shadowing the moves of 28 year old Gabrielle Breedlove for the past couple of days. Fifteen years as a police officer, and Gabrielle is the first person to get the jump on him, which hurts his pride. Gabrielle and her business partner Kevin comes under investigation upon suspicion of using their curio shop to deal in stolen antiques, and Joe remains unconvinced that Gabrielle might be as innocent as she claims to be.

Forced to play boyfriend-girlfriend for Joe to get the evidence he requires means that the situation creates for the kind of moments that makes it hard to turn away from the blistering heat and desire that flares to life between them. Neither Gabrielle nor Joe believes that they are right for each other, but then there is no denying the other half of your soul, is there?

I had such fun reading this novel, and picking this was the right choice at the time. I love the uniqueness that is Ms. Gibson in her books – she brings together the classic alpha male who literally makes you swoon and then some, and it is always an experience to see how the smart-ass heroine brings them to their knees before all is said and done.

Like I said earlier, Joe and Gabrielle are the antithesis of each other, which makes it hard for either of them to see the qualities that actually draws them together. Joe, who has a colorful childhood growing up with four older sisters, is chauvinistic in his way, and wants a woman who is low maintenance, would be a good housewife (after all, he does not like to cook), would pick up after him, and also enjoy fabulous uninhibited sex of the kind that he does.

Meanwhile Gabrielle, who has an unconventional childhood at best traveling across the country with a mother who claimed to have psychic powers after their “summer of awakening”, wants a man who is enlightened and physically appealing – a tough combo to find if ever there was one. Gabrielle would rather chew her arm off than admit to the fact that Joe gets under her skin in a way that makes it impossible for her to deny how much she is affected by everything that is Joe.

However, being forced to engage as a couple means looking beyond their initial impressions and finding common ground, which leads them to give in to the heady desire and strong connection between them. While both Gabrielle and Joe are reluctant in their own ways, Joe has a harder time reconciling with his reaction towards a woman whom he considers to be crazy and not so right in the head.

I loved Joe, his chauvinism and all – I found it adorable the way he fell so helplessly for the woman who drove him stir-crazy in many ways. I loved Gabrielle too; for all her need for an enlightened man, she is no match for the charm and intensity that is Joe in every sense. Yin to her yang, it is Joe that resists towards the end, until he too of course has no choice left, but to surrender. I also had such fun getting acquainted with Gabrielle’s mother, Joe’s family, alongside with the unruly mouthed parrot of Joe’s!

Recommended for fans of Ms. Gibson and romances that features two opposites, whose journey towards their happily ever after is always a delight!

Final Verdict: It is nothing but love that draws together two people at odds with each other; what is fascinating is their journey towards reconciling with that love, which is where Ms. Gibson excels at!

Favorite Quotes

The kiss was tender, almost sweet, and she fought to keep her eyes open, fought to remind herself that the lips brushing hers, as if he really were her lover, belonged to a hard-nosed cop with a black aura. But at that moment, his aura didn’t feel black. It felt red, the sultry hot red of passion, his passion, surrounding them both and urging her to surrender to his persuasive touch.
She lost the fight. Her eyes slid closed and her lips parted. He coaxed her mouth open, and his tongue touched hers, hot and slick and enticing a response. She pressed her mouth against his, deepening the kiss, and gave herself to the sensations surging through her. He smelled good. He tasted better.

Teasing even as he soothed her with his mouth. Her position against the wall arched her back and thrust her breasts into his hard chest. Her nipples drew tight, and when he deepened the kiss, Gabrielle got all squishy inside. Hot liquid pooled low in her abdomen and dragged a moan from deep within her chest. She heard it but barely recognized it as coming from her.
Then she heard something like Joe clearing his throat, but standing within the hypnotic influence of his deep red aura, she wondered how he could clear his throat when his tongue was in her mouth.
“When you get done with the handyman, Gabe, I need you to look over those invoices for that damaged shipment of sushi plates.”

“You don’t believe I’m trigger happy?”
She shook her head. “I don’t believe you’re reckless, or that you’d take someone’s life unless you weren’t given a choice.”
“Maybe I’m as cold-blooded as the papers said. How do you know?”
She answered what she knew to be true in her heart. “Because I know your soul, Joe Shanahan.”
Joe looked into her clear green eyes, and he almost believed she could see inside him and know something he didn’t know with absolute certainty.
She licked her lips, and he watched the tip of her tongue slide to the corner of her mouth. Then she did something that stopped his heart and sent pure lust slamming into his groin. She bent her head and kissed his thigh.
“I know you’re a good man.”

He reached for her and covered her mouth with his. He recognized the taste of her full, sweet lips, as if they were lovers. As if he’d known her forever. He slanted his head to one side, and her mouth opened to him, hot and slick and welcoming. He felt her shudder as his tongue touched hers. Her arms twined around his neck, and she clung to him. The front of her bibbed dress brushed his bare chest, while her hips arched toward him, pressing into his rock-hard erection. Joe grasped her waist, and instead of playing it smart and shoving her away, he ground his pelvis up against her. The pleasure was exquisite and painful. Throbbing agony and ecstasy, and he wanted more from her than a kiss.

He opened his mouth to tell her she had great breasts, but all that came out was a tangle of swear words as he spread the bead of oil across the tip and circled her puckered flesh.
Gabrielle swayed and placed one of her hands on the back of his neck. She pressed her moist lips to his and gently sucked his tongue into her mouth. Joe smeared oil all over soft breasts and smooth belly. He wanted her. He’d never wanted anything like he wanted to give into the aching lust pounding his groin.

“Do you remember the night I walked into your backyard and found you floating in the kiddie pool?”
“Mmm-hmm.”
“I wanted to do this.” He leaned over her and placed his palms beneath her shoulders. He lifted, then nestled his face in her cleavage. He placed soft kisses between her breasts as she ran her hands across his bare shoulders and down his smooth back. She wrapped one leg around his waist and pressed into him. A low groan tumbled deep in his throat as he pressed back, shoving his hard erection against her crotch. Everything in her consciousness focused on him, the pleasure of his touch, and the dull ache between her legs.

“Put your hands behind your head,” she ordered.
Suspicion shone in his eyes, but he did as she asked. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to blow your mind.”
“That’s a bold statement.”
Gabrielle just smiled. She’d taken six months of belly dancing, just enough to know how to roll and undulate real good. She raised her hands high in the air and rotated her hips as she swayed. She closed her eyes and lost herself in the feeling of him touching her deep inside. “You like this?”
“God—d da—mn!”
Her smile grew, and with him buried deep inside, she blew his mind.

He knelt before her, placed her foot on his shoulder, and grasped her behind in his big hand. He combed his finger through her short pubic hair, then tilted her pelvis toward his mouth and kissed her there. She leaned her head back against the shower wall as the tension inside her built tighter and tighter. Then he stood and she wrapped her legs around his waist. His smooth, hot erection slid against her bottom, and she shivered.
“This is my favorite part,” he said, lifting, then lowering her onto his engorged penis, burying himself deep inside. “Touching you where you’re all hot and slick. Where it feels so good. Where you feel so good.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Apple | AbeBooks

Review: From the Embers by Aly Martinez

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Eason Maxwell
Heroine: Bree
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: April 28, 2021
Started On: May 15, 2021
Finished On: May 17, 2021

From the Embers by Aly Martinez is one of my favorite reads from 2021. Discovering Ms. Martinez through her book Release has been a godsend. Stumbling across authors like Ms. Martinez is why I spend countless hours sometimes, looking through title blurbs of authors I have never read before. Books like From the Embers makes all the bad books you come across worthwhile in the long run.

The story begins at the point where the main protagonists, Bree and Eason Maxwell are married to each other’s best friends. Bree a businesswoman prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom of two when their family’s finances had given her the freedom to do so, and Eason, a songwriter whose marriage seems to be on a perilous path all because he was just not doing enough to keep his wife satisfied on all fronts.

All that changes in a heartbeat when an explosion takes the lives of both Bree’s husband and Eason’s wife, leaving them both bereft, hurting, and bewildered in the wake of the heartbreaking loss. Eason might have carried Bree to safety from the explosion, but it is Bree who finally sees him for who he is, as they are both forced to rely on each other to get through the days ahead. However, as these two navigate the circumstances of the new reality that they have been thrust into, dark secrets come to the forefront, threatening to crumble the foundations upon which the bond between Eason and Bree is forged to life.

Bree had never been Eason’s fan – she had always found Eason lacking, all owing to the fact that she had viewed Eason through the lens of her best friend’s viewpoint. All of that changes when Eason becomes her rock in the turbulent times that faces them both, the family they become as they leave the painful night behind them and starts the slow and painful process of moving on.

Both Bree and Eason are wonderful characters; every single character that you come across in the book is special. Kids often have a tendency to annoy me in books – but Ms. Martinez makes it all work, bringing the right mix of cuteness and wholesomeness to the mix. The plot was well done; at first I was a bit skeptical thinking that what comes to the forefront was just too easy – but in the end Ms. Martinez surprised me with the plot twist that brought a different edge to the story as it reached its climax.

Eason was perfect. Bree was perfect. The secondary characters were perfect. This story was nothing short of perfect. Recommended for those who want a story that would sweep them off their feet on a journey that is all consuming!

Final Verdict: Beautiful, surreal, and utterly spellbinding, From the Embers makes for an explosive read in every single sense!

Favorite Quotes

“I don’t hide anything from you.”
“Good,” she said. “Let’s keep it that way.”
My throat got thick, and as hypocritical as it was, I hoped the sweat breaking across the back of my neck and the tempo of my racing heart were both hidden. Her proximity suddenly felt suffocating, which was almost as confusing as it was intoxicating.
Together, we stood there, surrounded by white lights and unspoken emotions. There were gratitude and respect, but most of all, there was love. Maybe not the conventional or romantic variety, but it was there all the same.

“Look, I know this is going to complicate the hell out of things. But being with you is the only thing that feels right in my life. I’m gonna be real honest: I’m mad at them. I’m hurt. I’m embarrassed. And I can’t even begin to imagine the agony that’s going to follow over the next few weeks as we sort this shit out with Luna. But there are two things I know for sure: I want you, Bree, and I’m not waiting one fucking second longer to make my move.”
In one swift motion, I rolled over and tucked her beneath me. Smoothing the wisps of hair out of her face, I added, “I can’t wait any longer to kiss you from head to toe, to make you feel good and know for sure it was because of me.”

After unwrapping her like a candy and sampling the sweetness between her legs, her hands balling the sheets beside my shoulders, I nearly lost my mind.
Just before I tipped the scales out of my favor, she annihilated them altogether by rolling on top of me. “In my dreams, you said I wasn’t ready. But I’m ready, Eason. I’m so damn ready for you.”
She’d had dreams.
About me.

Every day, Eason was easygoing and laid-back, but in bed, he was a completely different animal. He was powerful and strong, almost unyielding in the way he ravaged my body with his. He was bold and sure, confident in knowing everything I needed even before I could anticipate it myself. He was demanding and gentle, but above all else, he didn’t hold back.
Eason gave. I took.
He went harder, faster. I begged for more.

“I swear to God, Bree, your fucking body was made for me.” His hips twisted as he pushed deeper. “I can’t go much lo—”
I silenced him with my mouth on his. “Shhh. Then don’t. Give it to me. Give me everything.”
Breaking the kiss, he went up onto his arm, looked down at where our bodies were crashing into each other, and then pressed his forehead against my shoulder as the most erotic moan rumbled through his chest. “Fuck.”
His heavy weight collapsed on top of me as he pumped and twitched his release. For as ugly and tainted as the world could be, the sight of Eason losing himself in an orgasm would forever be one of the purest and most beautiful things I could experience.

Purchase Links: Amazon | BookDepo

Review: Hate Me by Ashley Jade

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Black Mountain Academy
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Trenton Knox
Heroine: Aspen Falcone
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 28, 2021
Started On: March 30, 2021
Finished On: April 01, 2021

“He tastes like cinnamon and uninvited desire…wrapped in pure evil.”

Hate Me by Ashely Jade is a novel that would be hard to take in for a lot of readers because it deals with a bullish hero who comes off as the worst of the lot at the initial stages of the story, until Ms. Jade slowly reveals his backstory and allows us to peek into his most formative years and the toll of constant physical and emotional abuse from a very tender age. Growing up with a vicious psychopath has its consequences, and that is what Ms. Jade shows us through this mesmerizing story.

The main protagonists, Trenton Knox (Trent) and Aspen Falcone meet at a very young age. The first meet does not go exactly as one would envision it would, with Aspen walking away crying with a bloodied nose and Trent hating the very essence of the girl who for the very first time sees right through to him and the misery that his life was.

Through the years, there are countless encounters between the two, until fate leaves Aspen fatherless and her mother remarries none other than Trent’s father, bringing everything full circle. That is when the story actually begins, with “Stray” as Trent loves to call Aspen finally landing on his home turf.

For Aspen, whatever notions she had before of Trent starts to change slowly as for the first time, she starts to see what Trent’s life must have been like through the years. However, Trent does not make it easy to understand him as he pushes her away at every turn, even though the sizzling connection between them roars to life with a ferocity that refuses to be denied as the story progresses.

Aspen’s life is no walk in the park either once her father passes on, with a mother who only cares to keep up appearances. With little or no emotional support in her life, Aspen takes on paths that are only attractive to someone who has nowhere else to turn to. It feels at first as if Aspen switches from one path to destruction to another when the attraction between Aspen and Trent reaches its climax, but there are undercurrents at play in the story that needs to reach their conclusion before anything long lasting can come to fruition between the two.

I enjoyed Hate Me for the most part; it was captivating through the bigger chunk of the story and had me anxious to find out what would happen next. Additionally, the way Ms. Ashley spun Trent’s arc was gripping, with the layers to his character exposed as the story delved deeper into the combined lives of both Aspen and Trent. Some of the scenes of abuse or the aftermath of it were difficult to read, but nevertheless it was needed to show the depravity of monsters that live in society, taking up revered positions in the community.

The only thing that I could not wrap my head around was the ultimate conclusion of the arc of Aspen’s mother’s character – without giving way to spoilers, all I have to say is that I did not find what happened to her sitting well with me at the end. The only reason why this book did not get a higher rating was because I could not understand that particular ending.

Ms. Ashley gives us a realistic happily ever after once all is said and done, with both Aspen and Trent doing some needed healing and growing up before coming together once again.

Recommended for those who enjoy stories that brings together difficult to understand heroes and the heroines whose spunk and courage definitely makes them stand out!

Final Verdict: Trent and Aspen are two halves of one jagged soul; each beautifully broken in a way that only those who are survivors can be.

Favorite Quotes

“What is your prob—”
I don’t get to finish that sentence because his hand slides to the back of my neck and his mouth crashes against mine.
What the hell?
Everything freezes…except my heart, which feels like it’s exploding.
It’s my first kiss..
The fact Knox is the one doing it is just…weird.
I should probably stop him. I hate his guts and he doesn’t deserve to kiss me.
But I can’t…because he’s kissing me like he just swallowed poison and I’m the antidote.
At first there’s no tongue. Just greedy lips.
But then he growls, low and deep, and everything changes.
I rest my hands on his shoulders, my knees going weak as the fingers on my neck tighten and he coaxes my mouth open to feed me his tongue.
He tastes like cinnamon and uninvited desire…wrapped in pure evil.

“Do you want my jacket?” Leo offers.
I shake my head, my nipples puckering as I fight to keep my breathing in check. “No. Thank you.”
The woman turns to him again. “What is it you do for a living?”
I’m thankful for her nosiness, because Knox curls his fingers and an orgasm tears through me so fast my head spins as I clutch the chair for dear life.
That’s when I feel a sharp pull on my panties. I’m in no position to protest, so I don’t as he wrenches my thong off before tucking the silky material into his pocket.

I spread her pussy with my fingers, stretching it as far as it will go before I lower my mouth and thrust my tongue deep inside her, extending it as far as I can.
Liquid heat fills my mouth as she squirms below me.
“You know why Leo didn’t know I made you come last night?” I flick my tongue ring against her swollen clit and she moans around my cock. “Because he’s never done it before.” I suckle the sensitive bud as she gags on my dick and the sounds of me eating her fill the jeep. “He doesn’t have a clue how you look when you come.”

His lids lower, and his hand grazes my bare knee. “Why are you down here, Stray?” Ever so slowly, his calloused palm moves up my inner thigh. “What is it you really want?”
An electrifying tremble breaks free and I suck in a sharp breath when he cups me between my legs.
I hate how his touch feels like both damnation and deliverance.
Right and wrong.
Bad meets evil.
His free hand trails down his sculpted stomach until it disappears under his sweatpants.
My heart speeds up, pumping hard against my ribs when he pushes them down his hips and his weighty cock bobs out, slapping against his abdomen.
“Is this what you want?”

Rising on my knees, I slowly lower myself onto him. He’s so big, so thick, it aches as I stretch around him. My eyes flutter closed when I sink down and he fills me to the hilt, my skin tingling and my nipples puckering as I relish the sensation.
Slowly, I start to ride him. I suck in a breath when his grip on my hip tightens, and he bites his lower lip and groans.
He looks so sexy…so hungry. Like he wants this even more than I do.

I gasp when the sharp tip of the knife pierces the top of my breast. “Knox—”
In one fluid movement, he wraps an arm around my lower back and shifts us into a sitting position.
Groaning, he inclines his head and licks the blood from the small cut he made. “Every part of you tastes good.” Squeezing my tits in his big hands, he sucks a nipple into his hot, wet mouth. “So fucking good.”
I tilt my head, arching my back and closing my eyes…getting lost in the feel of his warm lips on my skin and his cock pumping deep inside me.
I hold on to him for dear life as his thrusts pick up speed.
Oh, God.

“Stop.”
But he doesn’t. Instead, he grabs the back of my neck, turning my face up to meet his before he kisses me like I’m the air he needs to breathe in order to survive.
He explores every inch of my mouth, leaving no stone unturned.
I feel the armor I’ve built around me begin to crumble like cheap plywood with every hungry stroke of his tongue.

I hiss when he spreads my ass cheeks and holds them open—exposing all of me—before I feel the head of his cock nudge my entrance. “Tell me you don’t want this.”
“I don’t want to want this,” I whisper, the last of my willpower shattering like glass.
Because everything was so much easier when I hated him.
His gruff voice cuts through the air. “That makes two of us.”
With that, he pushes forward until he’s buried deep inside me.
“Fuck.”
His thrusts are fast and brutal—punishing—yet rewarding at the same time.
I scratch at the seat, tearing the upholstery as he gives it to me exactly the way I need it.

His nose skims the length of me and he inhales deeply, his long fingers tightening around my hips. “I don’t give a fuck.”
He proves his point by licking and kissing my pussy the same ravenous way he does my mouth.
The vulgar sounds of him eating me fill the kitchen, causing my skin to tingle and my head to spin as he continues drawing incredible sensations from my body.
I place my hand on his head, keeping him right where I need him as he stabs his tongue between my legs. He makes tiny circles, causing the metal from the barbell to graze my inner muscles.
I whimper as pleasure coils my insides, and he shoves two fingers inside me before attacking my clit with his mouth.
“Oh, fuck.”

I trail my palm down his chest. “Because you wanted it to be my mouth around your dick?”
His lids grow heavy as his eyes track my every movement. “What are you doing?”
Moving my hand lower, I undo his belt buckle, release his fly, and slip my hand inside, grazing his length through his boxers. “Giving you what you want.”
He raises an eyebrow in challenge. “What makes you sure I want this?”
Tugging on the waistband of his boxers, I reach inside. He’s warm and hard for me. “It feels like you do.”

He playfully tugs my t-shirt. Or rather, his t-shirt. “Take this off.”
I fold my arms around his neck, not quite ready to put an end to his kiss. “Why?”
“Because I want to watch you shower.” Reaching down, he grabs a handful of my ass and squeezes. “I want you to pretend you’re all alone while I watch you play with yourself.” His fiery mouth slides down my neck. “But you’re not allowed to come.” He sucks the sensitive skin above my throat. “Not until my cock is inside you.”

“Knox.” She utters my name like a warning and a plea.
Standing up, I work my cock inside her pussy while I finger her tight little asshole. “How does it feel?”
“Full.” Her teeth saw along her lip as she closes her eyes. “I can feel you everywhere.”
Good.
Pumping my finger, I thrust deeper.
The walls of her pretty cunt squeeze around me, milking my dick as I give it to her harder.
But it’s not enough.

He drops me on the bed and kneels in front of me, his rough hands immediately going to the zipper on my jeans. I raise my hips as he tugs them off. My shirt, bra, and panties follow shortly after.
I reach for the hem of his shirt and bring it over his head.
I need to feel his skin on mine.
I need to feel him inside me…owning me, claiming me, fucking me.
Making everything make sense again.

His thrusts deepen as he kisses my cheeks, my chin, my lips.
Our skin sticks with sweat as we rock into each other and he presses his forehead against mine.
Oh, God.
This is so different…so intimate.
He holds my gaze as we exchange the same breath. “Aspen.”
There’s so much stark emotion contained when he says my name—hate, love, want, desire, obsession—all of it tangled into one.
Just like us.

Purchase Links: Amazon

Review: In the Deep by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Montlake
Hero: NA
Heroine: NA
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: October 27, 2020
Started On: November 21, 2020
Finished On: November 25, 2020

Loreth Anne White’s books are sometimes quite hard to review because she is so good at what she does; taking readers on a mind-twisting, stomach churning, nail biting journey that is difficult to put into words once you are done. In the Deep fits this category and takes readers into the life of the Hartley Heiress, Ellie Tyler, whose marriage and life falls apart with the tragic death of her daughter.

While her husband moves on and starts a new life, Ellie is stuck in a rut, trying to erase the feelings of guilt and inadequacy in booze and drugs, until she decides to get her act together. That is when she meets property developer Martin Cresswell-Smith, who basically sweeps her off her feet in a whirlwind courtship that leaves her reeling and a little bit stunned, and the marriage that follows, along with following her husband to Jarrawarra Bay, located in New South Wales on the south coast of Australia to start anew; things should have been fun and exciting but reality turns out to be anything but.

From that point forward, things start heading downhill once again, as Ellie finds herself struggling with the onslaught of rapid changes Martin undergoes propelling her into the arms of darkness. When Martin turns up dead, Ellie of course becomes the number one suspect in the eyes of Senior Constable Laurel “Lozza” Bianchi, not a inconceivable when Ellie expresses relief at the news of the demise of her husband.

When the big reveal happened as the story escalated and Loreth takes us back and forth the past and the present, I was blown away, even though I did have my spidey sense going on alert when this particular character came to light. After all, books like In the Deep tends to make you suspicious of every single character you come across, and even goes as far as to make you doubtful of your own motives behind your feelings of bias perhaps, towards a particular character. But alas, nothing is ever so simple when it comes to Loreth’s writing and that is where her ingenuity lies.

Ellie’s character is one that makes you sympathize and empathize with her, not just because of the tragic events of her past. But you can see how Ellie is a woman starved for warmth and love, and that her father compensates for the lack by throwing money at the problem than giving her the time and affection she rightfully deserves. At the same time, I was left feeling uneasy by who Ellie is.

The way the lead detective voices out her observations towards the end echoed my sentiments on the character that Ellie is. She is a victim, yes. The altogether too perfect a victim perhaps. There is an edge to her that leaves you feeling unsettled, as if you have been cheated in some ways or manipulated with a subtlety that only bothers you at a subconscious level.

That is how good Loreth is with characterization, which is why I ended up having a deep intellectual discussion with a colleague of mine about her character having finished the story. I talked my colleague’s ear off, expressed my fears and doubts when it came to Ellie’s character, and also ended up professing my undying fascination with Loreth’s work. Even though I finished reading this book last November and just got around to writing the review, I do not think I will ever fully be able to reconcile with what happened in the story, mainly centered around the way Ellie’s character morphs and changes throughout.

I spent many a restless night while I was reading this book, disturbed by dreams of a subconscious that wouldn’t let me dream in peace. What is more sinister than a perpetrator who actually shows their true colors when they lose out on furthering their agenda, is the one who is a chameleon of sorts that is nuanced in the art of subtleties. I found that quite insidious and more menacing.

Needless to say, In the Deep is a novel that is highly readable and enjoyable, recommended for those who love a good suspense novel. Loreth’s prowess is unbeatable!

Final Verdict: Loreth does it again, with masterful writing that keeps the reader on the edge, guessing, but to no avail. Taut and suspenseful, this will linger on in the subconscious for a long time to come.

Favorite Quotes

Women are the harshest critics of each other. I suspect this is because the flaws we see in other women are flaws we hate to acknowledge in ourselves. Being critical, lashing out at other females, is a way of attacking those traits within ourselves that we detest most.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Review: The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas

Format: E-Book
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Lady Sherlock, #4
Publisher: Berkley
Hero: Lord Ingram Ashburton
Heroine: Charlotte Holmes
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: October 15, 2019
Started On: April 27, 2020
Finished On: April 29, 2020

The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas is the much awaited fourth installment in the Lady Sherlock series. This time around, Charlotte Holmes and her ragtag band embarks on a journey to find a lost piece of art for a former lover of Mrs. Watson’s, who is being blackmailed.

The third book saw Lord Ingram Ashburton and Charlotte coming together as lovers, but alas, only as a ploy to deceive the villain into playing right into their hands. Ingram is adamant that he would not take advantage of Charlotte in that sense, even if she is more than willing to be taken advantage of.

Lord Ingram’s life revolves around taking care his two children of whom he is now the sole parent of. While he deals with the unwanted and unwarranted affections of a governess, he must also deal with his mixed feelings when it comes to Charlotte, which has always been the case when it comes to her.

While I am not much of a fan of cat-burglar variety of mysteries, I still enjoyed this for the most part, with Charlotte and her accomplices donning disguises to infiltrate a prestigious household in pursuit of the lost artwork. What I particularly did not care for was the fact that Ingram and Charlotte’s arc takes backstage to all that is central to the plot of the story.

However, at the same time, there are subtle shifts happening between Ingram and Charlotte in terms of how Charlotte starts viewing Ingram and the prospect of a more permanent future between the two. But then again, I have my doubts when it comes to how Charlotte will fare with Ingram’s children, who need a mother as well. Which was for the main part what Ingram also has mixed feelings about when it came to the governess plot in the story.

Finally, this had bits and pieces to the story which sounded so preachy in terms of women’s rights, colonialism, gender equality etc. I am all for messaging done right and properly in a story, but for me, when stories start sounding like a women’s rights leaflet, that tends to bore me to tears. I kind of got fed up of reading stories by Courtney Milan because of the very reason.

I find it quite odd when authors go against the realities of the fabric of society at that point in time in which the story is taking place and flesh out out of place aspects of characters that seems far fetched for the time. I am all for strong heroines who defy the conventions, but at the same time, one must be realistic about what one is crafting and presenting to the readers.

Recommended for fans of the Lady Sherlock series.

Final Verdict: The Art of Theft moves at a slow pace for the most part, while the other half sounds overly preachy at times, along with muted shifts taking place between the main protagonists.

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

Review: Savaged by Mia Sheridan

Format: E-Booksavaged
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Lucas/Jak
Heroine: Harper Ward
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 27, 2019
Started On: February 03, 2020
Finished On: February 25, 2020

The blurb was what got to me when I picked up Savaged by Mia Sheridan as my next read. Savaged tells the story of Harper Ward, local wilderness guide/psychologist in Helena Springs.

When she is summoned by Agent Mark Gallagher to assist him in a case where a man with seemingly no past had materialized out of the wilderness that surrounds the area, a man who is suspected to be connected to two murders in the vicinity, she does not expect her life to take a 180 degree turn overnight.

When Harper meets Jak, she is moved in a way that is unfamiliar to her. There is something about the stillness to his character, the haunting in his eyes, the loneliness that is wrapped around him that tugs at her heartstrings.

One thing leads to another and Harper finds herself working with Jak in piecing together parts of her past that had never made sense up to the point where she had landed in foster care. There is surreal quality and edge to the story that hums through the words as Mia Sheridan works her magic and summons the truth of how Harper and Jak are connected on a level that would be hard to comprehend for the average person.

Savaged was a story that was profound in many ways; the human psychology that Ms. Sheridan so cleverly weaves through the story, giving insights into what the minds of the depraved are like, in stark contrast to the the minds of survivors of the said depravity is a variance that you find so vividly striking in her novels.

I loved a lot of aspects of the story, most the main protagonists Harper and Jak. The latter took every bit of my heart and then some; the lonely and lost boy who was subjected to so much abuse, who survived in spite of everything that he had to go through, that gentleness inside of him and the ferocity that burns within him; all of that and more claimed all of me in a way that I cannot describe.

Jak’s effect on my heart was similar to how Harper felt when she met him. From that point on wards, there was no looking back where Jak was concerned. The way Ms. Sheridan tends to so effortlessly weave together the past and present, creating that wholesome edge to her characters is one reason why her books stand out from the rest. Jak’s past is one that would make anyone cry; the atrocities he was subjected to and the abject loneliness that had been part of his existence.

Harper’s past, though not as detailed, paints a similar picture. A girl who had lost her sense of security and the love of her parents one fateful night which had resulted in life as she had known it disappearing forever. The loneliness that she feels is one that is harder to explain, but loneliness it is, and when Jak fills in those pieces of her making her whole for the first time in a long while, it is no wonder that she falls for him like a ton of bricks.

What did not work me stemmed from the fact that the story seemed to lose its momentum from point to point, and dragged a little towards the end. I wanted an ending that would explode through the pages, a conclusion that would give closure of the kind my mind and heart craved after reading through the first half of the book. The gaps in between did not settle well with me, and I found myself skipping parts of the book towards the end.

Even with all of those aspects that did not work, Ms. Sheridan being the brilliant writer that she is, managed to keep me engaged with her characters in a way that refused to let me go.

Recommended for fans of strong heroes and heroines who are lost in a life steeped with loneliness until their significant other comes calling. This is that novel!

Final Verdict: Savaged is classic Mia Sheridan in the way she explores the depth of emotions and cuts through to the soul of her characters. There is an edge to the story that does not let up till the end.

Favorite Quotes

Jak caught her, his arms wrapping around her waist as she wept. “You’re not alone,” he whispered. The whimper died on her lips as she opened her eyes to his face directly in front of hers, his mouth mere inches from her own. Her heart stuttered, swelled. For a suspended moment, their quickened breaths mingled in the air between them. She blinked in surprise, her body stilling. He glanced at her lips, his gaze heating and his arms squeezing her just a little tighter. Kiss me, she thought. Oh please, kiss me.

For a second, they were both still, then he let out a small sound, a combination between a grunt and a groan as he opened his mouth very slightly and rubbed it over hers. Despite the completely unpracticed nature of the kiss, sparks shot through her veins, her blood heating. She didn’t want to take control of the kiss. The waiting, the discovery of what he would do instinctively, was more arousing than anything she’d ever experienced.

He nuzzled her with his nose and his mouth, inhaling, learning her scent so it became a part of him, and she jerked when his nose rubbed the spot below her mound.
She smelled like life, like sweet water, like fertile earth, and perfectly ripened berries that would take away the pain of hunger. Her woman scent was the beginning of everything and the place where he wanted to draw his final breath. She was meant for him, he knew that now. No other woman. Only her.

The night deepened, wrapping around them so it felt as if no one else existed. Only them. “This. Here,” he breathed, looking at her with deep intensity, their bodies connected, their hearts entwined.
“What?” she asked on a breath, the moment slowing, though everything physical about her was rushing, quickening.
“This fills my soul. You . . . you fill my soul.”

His eyes narrowed and the air changed very suddenly, her awareness spiking, breath stalling. He was going to strike. Going to test the truthfulness of her words with action. Do it,she whispered in her mind and his nose moved, very slightly as though he’d caught the scent of her acquiescence. Her need. They stared at each other, and she was trembling now, her entire body charged, her heart pumping blood through her veins, faster, faster. “I want wild,” she repeated. She wasn’t afraid. She would willingly surrender to him because she had faith in his goodness.

When he ran a finger through her wet folds, she thought she might come right then and there. She was panting, she realized, like an animal, like a woman being taken by the man she loved. This was mating. Elemental, ungoverned by any civilized laws or strictures. It was ordained by nature, by miracles, by the tides and the moon and the blood pumping in unison through their veins. Their bodies sang to each other, the same tune, melody and harmony, the notes pulsing, suspended around them.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Requested Review: Wallflower by Krista Gold

Format: E-Bookwallflower
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Erotic Thriller
Series: The Gardener, #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Emilio
Heroine: Tessa Calliope George
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: October 06, 2018
Started On: December 27, 2019
Finished On: December 27, 2019

Wallflower by Krista Gold is an erotic thriller that had me guessing until towards the very end. Given how much I love a good mystery, and combining eroticism of the kind that set my senses abuzz, Wallflower was one of the best reads for me in 2019.

Wallflower begins when 22 year old Tessa Calliope George is left reeling in the wake of the death of her mother, trying to piece her life back together. Tessa’s mother had found her fame late in life, and living off of it somehow is at odds with what Tessa wants in life, what she wants, something that she herself cannot grasp in its entirety.

Then enters Emilio into her life, devastatingly handsome and able to woo her into submission from day one. The deep and intense need that he invokes in Tessa is one that refuses to be denied and Tessa plunges headlong into what is the most erotic experience of her pretty much virginal life up till then.

When Tessa receives a job offer which allows her to delve into her mother’s life, she starts to piece together a side of her mother that she had not being privy to, bringing forth the story of a woman who had been lonely and looking for her other half, and had found it too, before she had met her untimely death.

As Tessa digs more extensively into her mother’s past, the revelations that emerge makes the reader take a step back, reevaluate, and reassess everything they have read before. The way your head reels trying to connect the dots together was one of the best bits about reading this book and why I enjoyed Wallflower so much.

Having read this full length novel in one day is telling, because I rarely have the patience or the time now to read an entire book in 24 hours time. But that was what happened with Wallflower because it was that intense and that much of a page-turner.

I would like to thank Krista Gold for requesting a review of this book, without which I may never have otherwise come across the title. It is hidden gems like Wallflower that makes it worthwhile to dig through stories from authors who you have never come across before.

This psychological erotic thriller has so many twists and turns and an ending that is impossible to discern which is pretty much why the story has amazed me on so my fronts. There is raw talent seeping through the words and it is almost as if you are watching a real life story unfold right in front of you.

From the emotional tumult of a newly founding relationship, to the sexy and carnal scenes of passion, followed through by the intriguing mystery woven together so intricately that everything fits seamlessly, I enjoyed every single aspect of the book!

Recommended for anyone who loves a good thriller with erotic scenes of passion that smolders.

Final Verdict: Wallflower is a novel that digs deep into the emotional ties that bind complemented with the erotic flair with which Krista Gold delivers so splendidly.

Favorite Quotes

Before I even know what I’m doing, my hand is moving with a singular purpose, down to my swimsuit bottoms, and then under the silky scrap of fabric, and – there. I close my eyes as I find the sweetly throbbing nub.
Emilio’s face is as clear as a bell in my mind’s eye, and I focus on it as my hand begins to move.
The feeling is intense. I am throbbing, and my fingers find the throb and work it, slowly at first, then with increasing urgency, until they are moving and teasing in rapid circles, and I am thrusting my sex hard against my cupped palm.
Emilio, I think. Oh god. Emilio. The sweet ache in my belly swells and expands until I feel I might burst.

He takes a step towards me and I can’t help it – I let out a gasp. Emilio stops, and catches his lip between his teeth, and I feel a flare of desire low in my belly. He groans softly, and the flare travels lower, down into my sex where it settles, pulsing like a second heartbeat.
I can’t look away from Emilio’s face.
“Tessa”, he says, and his voice is a low growl, and his green eyes are dark. My name in his mouth is the most erotic thing I have ever heard. I am rooted to the spot on my trembling legs, I couldn’t move if I wanted to.

I stare into his eyes, completely in his thrall. I can’t concentrate on anything other than this moment, this look…and then he whispers very softly, “I’m going to kiss you here”, and the pad of his other thumb parts my skirt like a curtain, pushes up and into my panties.
Holy shit. The shock is electric, and I cry out. I am all sensation, I am pure pleasure, and every bit of my attention is there, on that thumb, which is moving in slow, slow circles. There is a deep heat in the pit of my belly, and that sweet pulse is beating faster now, a hummingbird-heart.
“God, Tessa”, he breathes, still looking into my eyes. “You’re so wet.”

“Oh God”, I pant. “Emilio”. It’s all I can manage. My breath is coming faster and faster, and I know what he’s going to do. I can’t bear the suspense, and he knows it. He’s making me wait, and I want to scream in frustration, but then oh god, oh sweet Jesus, his mouth is there, and I jump, electrified, as he touches his tongue to my throbbing sex.
My body is white fire, my every nerve is lit and crackling. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on. I don’t want this to end, but I can’t hold off my climax, I don’t know how.

I feel his hardness nudging at my thigh, and I breathe into his ear, “Now, Emilio. Please”, I beg. I arch up into him, and he complies – I gasp as he nudges at my entrance, and then, with a sigh of pleasure, he slides into me. There’s a brief moment of resistance, a sweet stab of pain, and then he is fully inside me, thick and solid and hot, and nothing has ever felt more right.
Slowly, slowly, he slides out of me, almost all the way, and I moan – but then he thrusts into me again, the whole hard length of him, so I feel the shock of his penetration, so deep, so full. I can’t contain myself, and an involuntary Aah! escapes my lips.
“God, Tessa”, he says, and his voice is shaky.

Before I even know what I’m doing, my hand is reaching out to touch him, coming to rest on his thigh. Neither of us are breathing, and the air is suddenly thick with tension and anticipation.
Emilio makes a sound low in his throat, and that’s all it takes; suddenly, I am wet.
Before I can respond, Emilio has moved toward me, lightning quick, and his hands are in my hair, and he is crushing his mouth on mine, and I can’t even remember how to draw a breath, and it’s erotic, oh my god, it’s so unbelievably erotic. I never knew my body could be made to feel this way – like an electric storm, like it was made solely for pleasure. I never knew I could burn like this, or want someone so badly, so much.

God, I want him. I need him inside me. I need him now.
Instinctively, I’m releasing my seatbelt, reaching for Emilio’s buckle, wrestling with his zip. It’s not even a conscious thought, but pure animal instinct: I need this more than I need the air in my lungs.
We are both breathing hard, and I can feel that sweet pressure building inside me.
And then he springs free of the zipper, and I’m staring at his magnificent cock, which is already hard, already waiting. For me, I think with wonder, and then I’m lowering my head, and taking him into my mouth.

“God, Tessa”. Emilio’s voice is tight suddenly. “The things I want to do to you.”
Without warning, he runs a finger the length of my cleft, and I buck in ecstasy at his touch, crying out. Those little shivers of pleasure are back, crawling along every nerve ending, lighting me up.
I can’t form a coherent thought; the sensations in my body are too intense. All I can do is moan softly, squirm under him, wet with want and with need.

He leans in so that his lips are hovering right by my ear, and I can feel the warmth of his breath on my neck.
“I haven’t been able to take my eyes off you all night”, he murmurs, and his voice makes every hair on my body rise. “Do you know how fuckable you look in that dress, Tessa George?”
He leans closer so that his lips are actually touching my ear. “The answer is very,” he says, and a shiver races along every nerve in my body. “Very. Fuckable. Indeed.”

I am powerless to stop my climax building. I am panting against the wall, my legs trembling uncontrollably. “Now, Emilio”, “I beg him. “Fuck me. Please, fuck me now.”
Emilio’s eyes flash darkly, and then in one swift move, he lifts me so that I am pinned against the wall my legs wrapped around his waist. “Now”, I tell him again, and he pulls at my skirts. I lean back a little to give him access, and then I can feel his throbbing cock nudging at my entrance. I cry out – a sharp, animal cry of want and need, and then he is smothering my cries with his mouth as he impales me deliciously in one long movement. He stills for a second, long enough for me to savour how he feels inside me: thick, and full, twitching with desire.

“Now”, I pant, unable to manage anything else. “Quickly. Now.”
Emilio reads my urgency. In one smooth move, he lifts himself up on his elbows, and then he slides into me, filling me, stretching me. God, he fits perfectly. He lies still for a moment, and I let myself feel everything – the hardness of his hips, the pulsing of my bitten nipple, the urgent humming of my sex.
And then he is moving, knowing instinctively that I need it hard and fast, and god, does he deliver. He pounds into me, and everything is forgotten but the sensations of my body, my physical ecstasy.

“What do you want, Tessa? Tell me what you want.” His breath on my neck, that slow golden spiralling in my body. God, I want him. God, I need him.

Emilio’s breath is ragged. Slowly, slowly, I use my right hand to part myself, slip one finger into my wet darkness. Watching him watch me, feeling the first silvery tingles as I move my fingers, I feel more powerful than I have ever felt before. I understand now why Emilio likes to tease the way he does. The power, the heady feeling – it’s incredible.
A smile plays over my lips as I watch naked desire travel over his face. He stops stroking his cock, and I see that the tip is swollen and glistening.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: Where the Blame Lies by Mia Sheridan

Format: E-Bookwheretheblamelies
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Self-Published
Hero: Zach Copeland
Heroine: Josie Stratton
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 13, 2019
Started On: November 25, 2019
Finished On: December 02, 2019

Where the Blame Lies by Mia Sheridan is the kind of book that leaves you speechless, aching, and yet satisfied in all the ways that matter. It is the sort of story that flashes through your mind at odd moments because for one reason or the other, your brain is still processing the information and the messaging embedded deep within.

Where the Blame Lies begins with the heroine Josie Stratton, at nineteen years of age is abducted, imprisoned, raped, abused, and starved for ten months, where she had remained chained to a wall until she had broken free from the abandoned warehouse where she had been held. Josie’s nightmare had culminated in the suicide of her abductor.

Years later, Detective Zach Copeland of the Criminal Investigative Section (CIS) gets called to a case that bears eerie similarities with that of Josie’s. Zach had been just a rookie officer back when Josie had broken free, but he had never forgotten the strength and determination carved on Josie’s face, as she had pleaded and screamed at the officers to find her baby.

A second victim with the similar markings on her body brings Zach to Josie’s doorstep, where he finds a seemingly put together and a more beautifully poised version of the woman he had never truly forgotten. The spark between the two is immediate and altogether powerful enough for the readers to feel that pulse as understated as it is.

Chasing the clues to piece together the truth and digging through to the possibility that it had been a case of mistaken identity when police had closed in on the perpetrator back then makes of heightened suspense, while also delivering an emotional roller-coaster of a ride to readers. Mia Sheridan’s prose is poetry to the heart and mind, even when she is writing about stuff that gives you nightmares.

The story weaves the past and the present together in a way that leaves a deep impact on the reader. It helps in understanding the nuances of the dependency that Josie had had on her abductor through those harrowing months when she had no means of escape. Josie had lost her innocence at the hands of her abductor, and the child that had been born through the depths of her suffering is something the reader would not forget easily. Even at the deepest moments of her desperation that had tested the very limits of her endurance, Josie had never given up, and that is exactly why you fall like a ton of bricks for her and root for her through the most harrowing of circumstances.

When everything clicks into place, the resolution towards the end is just as painful to watch as it unfolds. The feelings of trepidation lingered through the last couple of chapters, always fearing for Josie, and my heart’s rhythm never fully adjusted to the tension that is interwoven so superbly throughout.

I loved everything about Where the Blame Lies, if you had not got that already having read to this point of the review. I was transfixed and mesmerized with the way Mia Sheridan took on a plot that had so much depth, depravity, and hope as well, which was its saving grace.

She wowed me with her deep characterization that not every author has the ability to pull off. There is so much tragedy and heartbreak in this story, violence and the gory details of what it truly means to be abducted and abused for over a long period of time. That is exactly why Where the Blame Lies is a story that I would not be forgetting anytime soon.

Josie for all that she had gone through, not just at the hands of her abductor, is all sweetness and light. There is no bitterness to her, even when she had hit rock bottom in her life. She is the kind of heroine that you fall for so effortlessly, which is why Zach’s love for her is so easily understood.

Zach, my God Zach, he was just perfect in every way. There is a beauty to his character that just meshes with the resilience of Josie’s and I could not have asked for a better partner for Josie, no matter what. His protectiveness endeared him to me on so many levels.

The ending reminded me a bit of Cry No More by Linda Howard, one of my top favorite re-reads. The pain that Josie must have felt, the utter heartbreak; I wished I could reach in and hug her close and comfort her, all the while knowing that she had to come to terms with what life had thrown her way by herself. That beautiful and yet painful act is exactly why I fell in love with the story, even through all the heartache ingrained in it.

The utter ingenuity of the story lies with how the villain was crafted. I miss novels of this kind where you feel as part of the story, where you often find yourself understanding where the villain was coming from, even through all that despicable acts of violence.

Where the Blame Lies is a novel that makes you think really hard about life, the abuse that the most vulnerable often face, and how that alters a person fundamentally. But at the same time, you also question how some people stay sane and kind even with all that they go through, while others turn out to be vengeful, evil and all of those things that makes your skin crawl.

Recommended for fans of beautifully moving stories that leaves its mark on you. You need not be a romance reader to find a calling deep within when it comes to this one. My first Mia Sheridan certainly delivered beyond my expectations.

So excited for the follow-up of this novel, Where the Truth Lives, to be released in April 2020, which Mia just announced on her Instagram page. Definitely marking my calendar for this one!

Final Verdict: Where the Blame Lies leaves the reader questioning so many things; it makes you think and ponder long after you turn the last page. That’s when you know an author has nailed it, and nailed it well and good!

Favorite Quotes

The song changed, something slow and crooning filling the air around them, mixing with the blood beginning to whoosh in Zach’s ears. Josie’s eyes moved to his lips and she licked her own. Zach’s heart began pounding in his chest, muscles tensed, waiting.
And then as quick as that, her mouth was on his, and she was pressing herself more fully against him. He let out a deep groan of need, their tongues meeting, tangling, as she angled her head so he could explore her mouth.

She pulled herself up, her hands shaking as she unzipped his pants, fumbling as she reached inside and grasped his erection. He was hard, ready. He wants me too. The knot inside unclenched slightly. She kicked off her shoes and then stood unsteadily, keeping eye contact as she removed her jeans and her underwear. She climbed back on him and took him in her grasp again, using the smooth head of his penis to stimulate herself, throwing her head back and moaning at the exquisite pleasure.

She gripped him harder and he gasped out, sitting up straighter, the lust in his eyes deepening. She used his erection to drag some of the moisture from her opening up to the tight bundle of nerves and circled that spot until she almost came.
“Josie, God, I, ah—”
She smiled, lining his straining cock at her opening and spearing herself almost violently. He let out a masculine sound of pleasure, his head falling back as she began to ride him, slowly at first and then faster, faster, his erection almost slipping from her body before she slammed back onto him.

Purchase Links: Amazon

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Review: In the Dark by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-Bookinthedark.jpg
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Thriller
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Mason Deniaud
Heroine: Callie Sutton
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: December 01, 2019
Started On: December 02, 2019
Finished On: December 20, 2019

Sometimes the only thing to fear . . . is yourself.

In the Dark, the latest release by Loreth Anne White, is a story that stands testament to Loreth’s ability to spin thrillers that are dark, forbidding, and explores the deepest facets of human psychology. Some might shy away from it, others may scoff at the very notion of it, but what Loreth puts to paper is in part what humans are capable of. The good and the evil that resides in us, which makes us so complex as a creation, combined with our intelligence which makes us unpredictable.

In the Dark begins with an entity known as RAKAM Group in Malaysia bringing together a group of nine individuals for a test round of their future business in terms of holidays provided at a remote location. None of the chosen foresee the darkness that lays ahead, the harrowing circumstances under which they would each fight to survive in the days to come, nor what ties one to the other.

The group consists of Dan Whitlock, a private investigator who dies before the journey begins, Monica McNeill, a grocery chain heiress and her husband Dr. Nathan McNeill, a professor of mycology at the University of Toronto, Bart Kundera who operates a transportation service, Katie Colbourne, a travel-documentary maker, Jackie Blunt, former police officer turned owner of a private security firm, Dr. Steven Bodine, cosmetic surgeon, and Stella Daguerre their pilot who carries them to their final destination.

When the group arrives, instead of the cozy vacation mountain lodge they were expecting, there stands an abandoned lodge in total isolation, without seemingly anyone around for miles. With a storm front that had moved in making it impossible to make the return journey, the spooked out party decides to wait out the storm, and instead find themselves in a bizarre setting within which they come to realize that they had been duped well and good, and brought together for a purpose none of them understands well.

With the realization that someone amongst them or outside of the nine is playing a harrowing mind game on them willing them to turn on one another bringing the ugliest of truths each harbours, the group starts to fray at the edges when one by one, members are killed, in line with a rhyme that they were meant to find from day one. According to the rhyme, only one is meant to survive, or none, depending on how the events unfold.

Sergeant Mason Deniaud, is a veteran big-city homicide detective, who decides to move to the middle of nowhere that is Kluhane Bay for personal reasons. When he encounters his first major case in the form of a downed plane with an apparent homicide victim, this kick-starts a chain of events which leads him and Callie Sutton of Kluhane Bay’s Search and Rescue on a mission to uncover the truth and search for survivors. With time running out, Mason and Callie’s team battle with nature itself to get to where the group of individuals may have ended up in.

When I turned the last page of the story, what was racing through my mind were the words, what a creepy and sensational book! I don’t even know if I should be using those two words in the same sentence. However, the more I think about it, the more drawn I get into the ingenuity of the plot, the layers to it, and the deeply rich characterization upon which the plot is built. There is no one character that does not add value to the plot, and that is no mean feat when you are juggling multiple individuals who all play pivotal roles in the story.

For the first time when it comes to a Loreth Anne book, I didn’t miss out on the romance angle. Maybe because I have conditioned myself not to expect romance in her books now. Even though there exists an elemental connection between Callie and Mason, I didn’t feel morose about the fact that nothing actually did materialize from that connection. Rather, the way Loreth left things on that turf seemed fitting, because you know deep inside, that somewhere down the line, what’s meant to be would find its way.

In short, on the psychological thriller front, what Loreth delivers in this story is priceless. I have never really read an Agatha Christie novel, but the premise of this novel’s plot depends deeply upon one of her novels. In the Dark strips down human nature to its very core, where Loreth drives and forces her characters towards their most feral and survivalist of natures, and taps into the psychology upon how people who have been dealt with extremely tough hands in life choose to shape and steer their future.

While I empathized with the mastermind of the plot, I couldn’t wholeheartedly say that I agreed with the character’s actions in its entirety. But that is exactly why Loreth is such a brilliant writer. She makes you see through the thin veneer holding civilized society together and strips us bare to expose the very elements which makes us who we are. That in short is why this book is a mastery unto itself.

Recommended for anyone who loves a tightly plotted thriller that delivers.

Final Verdict: In the Dark is a novel that brings together Loreth’s unique ability of in-depth characterization, exposing our deepest and darkest fears, and the wildcards among us who serve to be the ones you must look out for!

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

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ARC Review: Dark Water by Tricia Tyler

Format: E-bookdarkwater.png
Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Hero: Nick Garrison
Heroine: Evangeline Marie Broussard
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: September 24, 2018
Started On: September 09, 2018
Finished On: September 22, 2018

There’s a killer hunting in the backwoods bayou town of Barfleur, which is where FBI Agent Nick Garrison is headed, as a favor to his army buddy. Three victims thus far, with no clues whatsoever as to how the killer was selecting victims. That is until heroine Evangeline Marie Broussard (Evie) comes into the picture.

Evie is a gifted psychic, who works as a private investigator. However, working on crimes like the one her cousin Remy Boudreaux is trying to solve takes a lot from Evie. But knowing that there is something she could do to help before the killer strikes again is something that Evie cannot turn her back on. Even if it means facing the scorn and contempt on the face of the FBI agent who comes along for the ride.

Nick has had his run in with psychics and learnt the price for it. He has never forgiven, nor forgotten the way people can abuse a family’s grief for their five minutes worth of fame. There is nothing Nick would love to do better than dissuade the notion that Evie could be of any help in the investigation, at all.

However, even with all the disdain he feels, Nick is man enough to accept and acknowledge the fact that no woman has moved him in the way Evie was, ever since he walked into her life. For Evie, the connection is just as intense. No matter how much she tries to protect herself from the onslaught on her senses, she finds that it is a game she is going to lose, spectacularly.

As the killer draws in, taking someone whom Evie considers to be very dear, it’s time for the hunted to become the hunter. There is no stone that Evie would not turn to get her friend back, which is how she is led right into the lion’s den, with nothing but her wits to use in the fight for her life.

I picked up Dark Water on a whim when I happened across the title on netgalley. I seldom request books on netgalley now because I usually do  not end up reading them, unless they are authors whose work I am already familiar with. However, I have always loved me a good suspense, and with the cover calling to me, I decided to check this one out. I am so glad I did (even though the review is a tad late than I would have liked), because I enjoyed reading Dark Water immensely.

I loved the sexual tension that is palpable and intense throughout this novel. I loved how the author brought the sizzle into the scenes and made me sit up and take notice, even when there was plenty happening otherwise. When sexual tension reaches its peak and the culmination of it all is as explosive as what took place in this story, then the author has done it right.

Nick was a delightful hero. Sexy, broody, and the take charge type with a core of sensitivity that works well when it comes to Evie. His need to create and restore beauty in contrast with the kind of darkness that his job usually invites was a fascinating aspect to him. I loved seeing both sides of him, and it helped me see a long term future for both Evie and Nick because there was so much more than just good sex, hot enough to scorch your reader, between them.

I liked Evie just as much. Her vulnerable nature is evident once you see her through her grandmother’s eyes. The visits that her grandma’s spirit does was a charming facet to the novel. Evie’s preference to be alone was also understandable given the weight of the ‘gift’ that she carries, and how her past has taught her to be stingy with her trust when it comes to love.

The only thing more I could have asked for  was more details on the villain in the story. I wanted to learn about what created the monster residing within, rearing it’s ugly head until the desire to kill is satisfied. A good romantic suspense delves deep into the darkness that manifests within the killer as well, and I felt a bit cheated out on that aspect. Regardless of that little fact, I enjoyed the suspense that went into the story, and how the dots were connected towards the end.

Recommended for those who love the slow heat that comes with romances packed with the Southern charm. This little number certainly delivers. I hope this novel serves as a debut to a “series” because I definitely want more!

Final Verdict: Dark Water delivers a story that thrums with the tightly wound sexual tension and the dark and evil energy of a killer who had lost his way a long time ago. Definitely recommended!

Favorite Quotes

“This is a mistake.” His body gave lie to his words as he settled deeper into her. The rough material of his jeans rubbed against the sensitive skin of her thighs, heightening her senses to a fever pitch. Every move, every shift, sent a craving through her until the only thing left was a deep hungering need for more. An ache thrummed within her lower belly, spreading until it encompassed every part of her. Bon Dieu, she was in serious trouble. He’d barely touched her, and she was ready to explode.
“A mistake? Yes…most definitely,” she said, shaking her head slowly back and forth. It was one her body desperately wanted to make. Giving in to her body’s demands, she rubbed herself against him. She knew exactly what she was doing to him. It was empowering to realize the effect she had on him. He was a prisoner to the same hunger controlling her own reactions.

His grip on her hair tightened. He released her hands, sliding his slowly down her arm and across the length of her body until he cupped her ass, pulling her up and closer. Frantic, she blindly reached for his shirt. Buttons flew until smooth hard muscle lay beneath her fingertips, threatening her sanity. Sucked in by her own body’s traitorous reaction, all she could do was enjoy the ride. She didn’t give a rip at the moment about the little voice of reason inside her.
Jolts of heat ran up and down her spine like little devils racing in a marathon.
Bon Dieu.

He pulled in another ragged breath. Reaching between them, he grabbed the string along the side of her thong and yanked it off without regret. He’d buy her a new one. Hell, he’d buy her a drawer full as long as the last barrier between them disappeared. Catching her gasp with his mouth, he drove his tongue inside as he slid and plunged two of his fingers into her. Hot and wet, her muscles clamped around him.
Fuck!
“You’re so damn tight,” he mumbled against her mouth.
“It’s…it’s been too long,” she gasped, her body writhing beneath his ministrations.
Satisfaction swept over him knowing she hadn’t been with anyone in a long time. He refused to dig too deeply into why he felt that way. If he did, it might scare the hell out of him.
“Sweetheart, you’re killing me.”

“Bon Dieu…I want to feel you inside me now,” she begged. “Please, Nick. Now.”
He claimed her mouth as his own in a quick, bruising kiss. “Tell me you’re ready,” he demanded, not sure he could hold out any longer.
Her legs gripped him tighter, pulling him against her. He meant to go slowly, but the warmth on his cock sent him over the edge. He plunged fast and deep with the first stroke. She closed around him tight and sweet, and the rest of his body wanted to follow. All thoughts of taking it slow fled.

“You’re mine.” He lowered his head until they were nose to nose. “Say it.”
Her breath hitched, and her pupils dilated.
He lifted his hips until only the head of his dick remained inside her. The need to hear her say the words overwhelmed him and scared the shit out of him all at the same time. The need was stronger.
“I want the words, Evie.”
“Yours. I’m yours.” The words tumbled out on a shuddering breath, filling him with relief.
“And you’re mine,” she whispered, her expression fierce.

She tightened her muscles and bit the inside of her cheek, attempting to clamp down on the fire spreading through her. It was neither the time nor the place, and not the right man for God’s sake. Unfortunately, no other man had ever made her feel this way with just one look.
“Fuck. You can’t look at me like that and not expect me to respond,” he said, with an edge to his tone. He stepped in closer crowding her against the vehicle, determination engraved in the lines of his face. Reaching out, he clasped her face with both hands, and his lips crashed down on hers. Fast, deep, and hot. Oh…so very hot.

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