ARC Review: Seeing Red by Sandra Brown

Format: E-bookseeingred
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Hero: John Trapper
Heroine: Kerra Bailey
Sensuality: 4
Date of Publication: August 15, 2017
Started On: July 02, 2017
Finished On: July 25, 2017

“Two minutes after you knocked on the door of my office, I was fantasizing your mouth taking me.”

Seeing Red, the latest novel by Sandra Brown was amazing in so many ways. From start to finish, Seeing Red delivered a story of the kind that is rare in the genre today. Ms. Brown has always been an author that pushed the boundaries of “convention” that many authors safely stick to when writing their books. So it is not surprising that when a new novel from Ms. Brown hits the stand, I am always eager to get my hands on it.

Seeing Red tells the story of John Trapper, ex ATF agent, whose mundane existence of a life starts to unravel the minute television journalist Kerra Bailey comes seeking him for an interview to do with his father. Trapper had been just 11 years old when his father, Major Franklin Trapper had become a hero in the eyes of the country owing to his daring rescue of victims of a hotel bombing that had shocked the nation. Trapper’s life had changed drastically, so had Kerra’s, and it is only when their lives entwine at this point that everything starts to unravel.

Seeing Red starts off with an introductory chapter that blows one’s mind, and it does not let up from that point onwards. Taking the reader to the days since before the event and then beyond, Seeing Red delivers a story that goes deep into understanding the lengths to which a cult-like society would go to in order to protect an age old secret. From one harrowing experience to another, Ms. Brown does an amazing job of weaving the multiple threads of the story together to deliver a story that was mind blowing in all the good ways.

Trapper, oh dear Trapper; he is the kind of hero that Ms. Brown has perfected along the years of writing romance novels. I have always been a fan of her hard-edged heroes who do not conform to the standards of behavior as is expected by majority of readers of the genre nowadays. This is exactly one reason why I adore Ms. Brown’s books. Because they never fail to deliver a hero that is delicious, sexy as they come, and can talk dirty like the best of them that makes you quiver on the inside.

Trapper has his own vulnerabilities and scars that he hides. However the ingenuity in the buildup of his character lies in the fact that he hasn’t grown bitter throughout what life had dealt him with. Taking second stage in his father’s life from a tender age had definitely left its mark, so had how his career had turned out, all because Trapper had not given up on pursuing what he had felt was right.

When his path crosses that with Kerra’s, for the first time in a long while, he starts to give a damn, which of course makes him irritable and then some. However, Kerra’s unrelenting nature and her way of standing up for herself means that for Trapper walking away was no longer an option. Nor was standing on the sidelines and watching Kerra get hurt in the aftermath of the can of worms that she had opened up with her interview.

The sexual tension between Kerra and Trapper was off the charts, and Ms. Brown delivered on that exceptionally well. On the suspense side, with all the twists and turns that came, the ending and the revelations were explosive enough to make me go “oh my god” every couple of pages. Yes, it was that good!

Definitely and absolutely recommended!

Final Verdict: Seeing Red is Sandra Brown at her exceptional best. A good Sandra Brown goes a long way towards curing all reading woes.

Favorite Quotes

“I’m not him. I’m not noble, not a gentleman, not a hero, understand?”
“That wasn’t so hard to deduce.”
She thought the putdown would anger him, but he retaliated by gently placing his palm against her cold cheek. He brushed his thumb across her beauty mark.
“I noticed this right off, and the whole time you were sitting there in my shabby office, wearing your city get-up, acting all sassy and know-it-all, you want to know what was going on in my mind?” He ceased the stroking motion of his thumb, stopping it right on the small mole. His mouth lowered to within a hair’s-breadth of hers and he whispered, “Figure it out.”

“Why do you ask? Do you know him?”
“By reputation only. Everything I’ve read about him says he’s secretive. Keeps his business private. Shuns media attention.”
“All true. I had to finagle him.”
His eyes narrowed to slits. “That sounds like really dirty foreplay.”
She laughed, but stopped laughing when he slid his hand under her hair at the nape of her neck and turned them until her back was to the door. Leaning in, his lips skimmed her beauty mark on their way to her ear, where he whispered, “I’d like for you to finagle me.”
She didn’t speak a word, didn’t move, didn’t do anything except give herself over to his body heat and largeness and maleness and sexiness, the blend of which seeped into her like a potent restorative.

He moved his hand up from her nape to cup the back of her head and held it in place while their mouths opened to each other. During the deep and greedy kiss he worked his free hand under her top and into the elastic waistband of the baggy pants. He lightly ground the heel of his hand against her hipbone while his fingers curved around the slope below her waist. He drew her hips forward. She gladly went along with his subtle invitation, and their parts fit together perfectly on the first attempted connection.
He groaned, “Christ, Kerra. Please tell me I’m gonna get to fuck you.”

“You never asked what I was thinking.”
“When?”
“In my office while you were sitting across the desk from me looking all prissy and disapproving. Did you ever figure out what was going through my mind?”
Sounding prissy and disapproving, she said, “I didn’t want to know.”
He grinned. “I was thinking about your beauty mark.”
“That’s it?”
“Disappointed?”
“Surprised. I thought it would be something crude.”
“No. I was focused on your beauty mark, thinking it looked like a speck of dark chocolate and wondering if it would melt against my tongue.” He dabbed his tongue against it now, then a second time. “Hmm. Still there. Guess I’ll just have to keep testing it.”

“I might’ve been thinking about more than just your beauty mark,” he whispered. He shifted closer, covering half of her, and used his nose to nudge aside the collar of the tracksuit jacket so he could nibble her neck, then lowered his head and nuzzled her breast, rubbing his open mouth against the hard tip, taking love bites of it through her t-shirt, pushing at it with his tongue.
“You’d blush to know all the places my wandering mind has taken me. I’ve touched you, tasted you…” He wedged his hand down between them and cupped her sex. “…everywhere.”

“I want to take you like that,” he whispered as he dragged his open mouth down her neck to her collarbone, then lowered his head and rubbed his face against her breasts.
“I haven’t forgotten how you feel inside. I want to be there. In you deep.” His voice was rough and low, his lips aggressive against her raised nipple under her t-shirt. “It may never happen, but the mere thought of any other man being on you, in you…I’d want to kill him.”

Taking her face between his hands, he fused his mouth to hers, pressing his tongue deep, thrilling to the way she hummed her pleasure. He might have gone on forever just kissing her if not for a greater hunger that he must gratify or die.
He worked her top up over her breasts. Her bra was lacy and sheer and only half there to start with. The cups were easily lowered. He took a moment to cradle a breast in each hand. “I freakin’ love that,” he murmured.
“What?”
That they get so hard so fast.
The words were in his mind, but he didn’t say them aloud because by the time he thought them through he was already taking one nipple into his mouth and toying with the other, deriving pleasure from the pleasure he was giving her.

He dipped his head and sucked her nipples in turn, causing her to whimper.
Even during this love play, he didn’t stop pumping into her. He probably had been this hard before, probably as strained and blood-infused and lust-mad and unable to command the instinctual mating movement of his hips.
But if so, he didn’t recall it, because this was the only time that mattered. He wanted this time to be an exorcism and possession at once. Doom and salvation. He wanted it to be both carnal and sacred.
He wanted this to be the fuck Kerra would remember for the rest of her life.

His voice low, Trapper said, “It felt good, Kerra.”
“It did,” she whispered back.
It was simple, but, in its way, profound. He wasn’t one to make romantic declarations, and if she said anything now, it would be more than he would want to hear.
She was perilously close to letting this evolve into something that would leave her heartbroken. She was perilously close to becoming like Marianne. But she wouldn’t take back having made love to him. Not for the world.

He took her hands and stretched her arms above her head. Fitting her palms into his, he linked their fingers and began to stroke her inside. As before, he wanted her to remember this, because it would be engraved on his memory: the feel of her around him, the way she hugged his hips with her thighs, the sexy undulation of her belly against his, the sight of his chest hair dusting the hard tips of her breasts.
The kiss.
He kissed her, and, of all the other mind-blowing sensations, it was that of her mouth so greedily taking his tongue that caused his control to burst. When it did, she arched up and ground against his straining pelvis and brought on another soul-rending orgasm.

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

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ARC Review: In the Barren Ground by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-bookinthebarrenground.png
Read with: Adobe Reader for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Cameron “Crash” O’Halloran
Heroine: Tana Larsson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: August 16, 2016
Started On: August 03, 2016
Finished On: August 06, 2016

In the Barren ground of the soul
nothing can grow.
For here is bitter and cold where
the sun hangs low.
Where a midnight caribou mutilation
awakens a howl of emptiness with ice
where once there was heart.
And it comes with hunger
for blood in its mouth.
For, in the Barrens of the soul
monsters take toll . . .

Loreth Anne White is an author whose name belongs right up there with the masters of the romantic suspense genre. Label her books as romantic suspense or thrillers, either way, you get a story that is worth your time and money in gold, and In the Barren Ground, her latest procedural romantic suspense novel fits right in.

Set in The Barrens, a vast wilderness in northern Canada bordering the Arctic Circle, the terrain is as unforgiving and harsh as they come. When winter rolls in, few are the numbers of people around, and predators come out to stalk whatever food they can scrounge up from the vast areas of hostile territory.

Constable Tana Larsson takes up a post in the remote fly-in community of Twin Rivers because of mistakes of her past, to escape the memories that haunts her more than she would like it to. Though the isolation of the town makes her question her decision at times, Tana knows deep inside that she needs a place as such to lick her wounds in private, to let herself heal and in the process learn to fit in and accept her new role as a mother to be.

When Tana gets called in to cover a wolf mauling that had cost the lives of two students, the evidence at hand suggests something more sinister at work, a force that looks as if it has been in operation for over a span of years, none of it jiving with what the people of Twin Rivers has believed up till now. Though the folks of the town are less than helpful in their hints that Tana is stirring up bad spirits by going deeper into a case that had already cost the sanity of a law enforcement personnel before her, Tana is determined to piece together the clues that points towards a meticulous and horrific serial killer at work.

With the help of a local bush pilot known as Cameron “Crash” O’Halloran, who elicits the sort of reactions from her that are not at all welcome, Tana enters into a dangerous game with a killer who has pretty much perfected the art of killing and getting away with it. The ritualistic nature of the kill, the patterns of it suggesting a sort of violence that is deep rooted in issues of the kind for which help of any sort might never ever be enough.

Before this, I had the misfortune of reading a procedural romantic suspense novel a year or so earlier, which nearly put me to sleep and made me want to bang my head against the wall. The narration of all the procedural aspect made the book intensely dry and made me want to weep from the effort it took for me to finish the book. So my apprehension when it came to reading this was a given, since In the Barren Ground is also characterized as a procedural romantic suspense novel. My worries were totally unnecessary, as I found myself totally captivated by the story that unfolded, a trait that has always held true when it comes to every single book I have had the fortune of reading when it comes to Loreth’s work. Loreth sports a mind of the kind that delivers dark and edgy, the kind that I absolutely, wholeheartedly revel in.

In the Barren Ground, while procedural, it made me appreciate all the more, the intensive and at times tedious work that officers of the law enforcement have to put in in order to get a case right, and to do it right as well. The evidence gathering, collating, picking up the clues and patterns; all of it and more requires a mind that is keen as well as intelligent, and a heart that believes in justice and doing it right and not taking short cuts, because you never know which piece of evidence would end up becoming the pivotal piece in a case.

I loved Tana‘s character. There is strength and resilience in her, the sort that knows when she needs help and when she can do it alone. I think this is basically the first thriller of the kind that I have read, in which the lead character did not go in half cocked, thinking she could save the day just by turning up. No. She used her God given intelligence which made her see that to face off a killer of the kind who takes pride in the planning, the lure and the hunt should not be taken lightly, because if Tana were to piece it all together, the whole world of the killer comes tumbling down. I loved that about this story and that was definitely one of the highlights.

Crash’s character was an absolute delight. Crash is a man who throws all your assessments of his character sideways, his character as appealing on the inside as on the outside. What drew me to his character was how he could read people, how he understood where they were coming from, the career which he had worked in before honing skills in him that turned out to be pretty useful when all was said and done. Crash has his own agenda which he seeks, his own demons to fight, his own past that is filled with regrets of the kind that could break a guy. But Crash perseveres, and knows which battles to fight and which ones to give up, which made me love him all that more!

The killer in this novel, well, that is the masterpiece when it comes right down to it. Loreth’s imagination takes the reader to places where some might not even want to go. Those who have delicate sensibilities might not like where her stories take them. But for me, Loreth’s stories are the high that I seek whenever I pick up a thriller of the kind. The fact that the identity of the killer totally surprised me, something that has been happening too rarely lately for my sake, was one of the winning aspects of this story! Be prepared for a killer that has multiple facets to the character, a testament of the mastery that Loreth holds over the genre.

The setting itself is one that lends credence to the whole story. Definitely not the kind of place you would want to end up with a killer who enjoys the hunt and is relentless. Loreth’s writing is so evocative, and I always keep repeating this point in my reviews; it just feels as if you are one with the story. As if you are standing at the edge of The Barrens, the cold seeping through, right into your very bones, the chill you feel when you encounter the malicious intents of a killer for whom all reason had been lost, and the subtle, yet strong connection that forges to life between two unlikely protagonists; all that and more, and you feel every single aspect of the story to the deepest recesses of your soul.

This is a story that sends chills running up and down your spine, taking you to the edge of your seat and back. Be prepared to lose sleep and to read through the night. Brace yourself to become engrossed and engaged in a read that would have you turning on every light in your house, because that is how edgy and real the story that unfolds is. Definitely and absolutely recommended!

Final Verdict: Taunts and haunts you! An irrefutable page turner!

Favorite Quotes

It was 3:48 p.m.
Nearly ten minutes away from pickup time. Only five more days before she was due back at school.  With her friends. Her mom. But as Selena  slid  into  oblivion,  she  realized  she  would  not  make  her  twenty second birthday. Perhaps, she thought in an absurd final moment of consciousness, this basin in which she lay beneath the cliff face was one of those  “dreaming  places” where  she should  never have stopped  to rest, or to empty what she had from those bags . . .

Tana banged on O’Halloran’s door, praying she’d find him in a better  state  than  Jankoski.  The  door  opened  almost  immediately,  startling her.  Warm light spilled out into the night. His dark-blond hair stood on end. He wore a tight, long-sleeve tee.  Tattoos poked out from the base of his sleeves. His jeans slung low  on his hips. He grinned, and it put dimples into his rugged, weather-browned cheeks, amusement into his light-green eyes. He reminded her of a scarred and cocky junkyard dog. An edginess crackled through her. Because he intimidated her. Just a little.

“You know why they call this place Headless Man?”
“I’m sure you’re about to tell me.”
“Two prospectors were found a few miles southeast from here, in the twenties, sitting  with their backs leaned up against  a cliff face, just like  we’re doing.  Fully dressed.  Boots on,  packs and  picks and  guns at their sides. Only trouble—no heads. Just gone. Just the two torsos propped  there like they were having a good old chat. Still had  diamonds in their bags.”
She turned to him. “They ever find the heads?”
“Nope.”
“How’d the heads been removed?”
“Ripped. Clean off. Bodies all intact, just those heads torn off their stumps.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | BAM | BookDepo

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ARC Review: Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey

Format: E-booktoohottohandle
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Romancing the Clarksons, #1
Publisher: Forever
Hero: Jasper Ellis
Heroine: Rita Clarkson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 17, 2016
Started On: May 06, 2016
Finished On: May 08, 2016

28 year old Rita Clarkson manages to get her siblings Aaron, Belmont and Peggy to agree to go on a road trip on the quest to fulfill the dying wish of their recently deceased mother Miriam, who had been a well renowned chef, a legacy that Rita had managed to burn down to the ground.

Though the siblings had never been close, everyone agrees to go along and that is how they end up with their car broken down in the town of Hurley in New Mexico. To their rescue rides the most handsome man that Rita might have ever laid her eyes on, 33 year old Jasper Ellis, who from the very beginning makes her heart go pitter-patter.

Labeled as the town tramp, Jasper has good reason to not want to go physical the minute he lays eyes on Rita. While Jasper has no qualms about letting Rita know that he is attracted to her and wants to know her in every possible way there is, Rita is the type of woman who does not believe in happily ever afters and does not think much of the concept of dating.

However, Rita is forced to revise her initial assumptions and beliefs when it comes to dating and Jasper, as she finds out what lies beneath the gorgeous surface; a heart and soul seeking redemption and acceptance as he is, not just as the town’s good time guy but as someone worth much more.

The romance between Jasper and Rita takes place amidst the developing stories of the siblings. Belmont who has the whole silent, stoic thing going for him while Aaron is the one with the political ambitions and Peggy the youngest who at first comes off as the airheaded variety of character but as you read along you realize that she is one of the most astute characters in the story.

Rita has her own past from which she is trying to flee, but the walls seem to close in on her the more she tries to do so. In Jasper she finds a man who is willing to help her through it all, even when she does not realize that she needs the help that Jasper is willing to offer.

Jasper’s reluctance to take things up a notch in the physical aspect when it comes to Rita is something he does consciously, exerting effort to do so. Not because he wants to play hard to get or because he is not attracted to Rita. It is in fact because of his vivid attraction to Rita on all levels that he wants the opportunity to take it slow, for it to be different, and I for one liked it.

I loved the emotional wallop this book carried with it. Unlike most of Tessa’s recent novels I’ve read, this one is not just about dirty talking heroes pinning their heroines on every flat surface they can find. Of course there is that too! But there is so much more than just hot sex in this story. In one sense, I’m glad that Jasper kept backing off from the heat because if otherwise the story would’ve lacked the substance it managed to deliver. 

The cast of characters that Tessa has crafted for this series is one I can’t get enough of. Belmont of course has already become my favorite while Penny’s story is one that I’m hankering to read, even now. While Belmont already comes off as the deep one, the connection that he shares with Sage is one that would intrigue any reader. Penny has become as fascinating in one way because beneath the surfaces of all that gaiety lies a heart that bleeds, and I for one am dying to know why. 

I liked how Tessa was patient enough to let Jasper and especially Rita work their way towards one another. Both deeply flawed in ways that makes each of them unable to trust their own selves to do right by their lives. Jasper with good reason of course, but failing to see how far along he has come until Rita manages to show it to him. For Rita, the hurt had been more raw and recent, which had needed someone patient and with foresight like Jasper to heal her gaping wounds. 

A road trip to fulfill a mother’s dying wish that turned the world into the Clarksons’ oyster. This series has so much potential that I for one cannot wait for more!

Final Verdict: Beautifully plotted, all the way. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

He’d be a rougher ride than a bull.
He might as well have whispered that promise out loud because it surrounded him like an aura. Men like Jasper were supposed to be reserved for naughty Internet memes, but here he was. Her own private, moving GIF, only he didn’t loop back to the beginning after three seconds. No, he just kept coming, like he might never stop kissing her once he started. Like he might do a shit ton more than just kiss with that mouth.

“Jasper, I shouldn’t have—”
“That is why you came, isn’t it?” Talking dirty to a woman was just like riding a bike. Jasper rubbed a hand over his stubbled jaw and gave Rita a deliberate, head-to-toe once-over, watching her thighs flex under his notice. His cock gloried in the sight, hardening in his briefs. Right, beautiful. I’ll fit myself between them with enough force to show you who’s taking the lead. “You’re an up-against-the-wall kind of girl, aren’t you?”
“All girls are up-against-the-wall girls,” she whispered

It took her fingers stroking down his forearm to cover the hand cradling her pussy for him to regain awareness of the intimate touch. Oh, and he remembered with a goddamn vengeance. She put pressure on his hand, moaning into his mouth with the universal language for More, keep going. With their tongues tangling together, lips slanting for frantic tastes, he had no choice. He yanked down her panties and slid his middle finger between her wet folds—so wet he tore his mouth away so he could curse.
“God. I would mouth-fuck this little sweetheart for days.”

“Do it,” she moaned, propping her bent legs higher on his hips, using them as leverage to lift off the swing. “I need you. Hard like before.”
“Hard like before, yes. But this time you’ll look me in the eye while I’m ringing your bell. You understand me?” Jasper pressed her back down into the swing, bearing down with his lower body, grinding her into the wood until she whimpered. “And at some point tonight, I’m going to make love to you. The kind of sex that takes an hour of slow rocking and pumping. The kind where we wrap our fingers together, then twine them around the headboard. And I whisper things in your ear I can’t say in the light. Promise me.”

“God, Rita. I can feel that little lace edge of your thong rubbing up and down my cock.” He gave her a full minute of nonstop bucking, stopping only when her pussy locked up, a telltale sign she was near the edge. She wailed and dug her nails into his shoulders when he paused, but she settled when he started a slow bump and grind. “Yeah, beautiful. Fucking is that much sweeter when you’ve driven a man to the point where he wants to jack off in his own kitchen, isn’t it?” He dropped his forehead onto her shoulder and groaned. “I’m not finishing you down here. You’re going to leave your scent in my bed, you understand me?”
“Yes,” she moaned, curling around Jasper as he advanced toward the stairs, still impaled on his dick.

“Jasper,” she whispered, sounding out of breath. “I don’t—”
“Please, just don’t act surprised. I won’t be able to stand it.” His mouth fell to hers, kissing, kissing, like a man mouthing a furious prayer. “You can’t be surprised when the last few days have given me life. Act upset or happy or storm out. But I can’t handle surprised, like maybe you didn’t even consider me for a second.”
“I’ve considered you,” she sobbed. “Of course I have. Just stop talking like that for a second, stop stealing my breath when I’m trying to catch it.”
“No.” He pressed their foreheads together. “I don’t want you to catch it. I want it to stay lost and I want to be the man who steals it. All day, every day. Forever. Stay with me right here.”

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

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ARC Review: Project Virgin by Megan Crane

Format: E-bookprojectvirgin
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Hero: Damon Patrick
Heroine: Scottie Grey
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: January 21, 2016
Started On: April 29, 2016
Finished On: May 01, 2016

Damon Patrick is a seventh year associate at the historic law firm Granger and Knox, a renowned litigator and San Francisco’s favorite sex symbol. 26 year old Scottie Grey is a first year associate who is barely out of law school, who just booted her fiancé out the door for being the lying and cheating man he had turned out to be.

When Damon notices the missing engagement ring on Scottie’s finger which is followed by the lengthiest conversation they have had to-date regarding non-work related stuff, Scottie to her horror realizes that she had started to have very strong reactions towards Damon which does not bode well at all. The topic of her status of virginity somehow comes up, which is how Damon eventually “volunteers” to help her get rid of the pesky matter, once and for all.

Told in first person from Scottie’s point of view, Megan Crane I believe has done justice to the story with a novella of this length. Damon definitely lives up to the description that I started off this review with – he is definitely a sex symbol if ever there was one.

This book made me reassess every not-so-positive thought I might have had about kissing scenes when it comes to a lot of books. The act itself can barely get a passing glance from some authors, while others quite ineffectively launches into a description of tongue tangling and tongues doing other stuff which sometimes does not come off as such an erotic act. However Megan Crane has made me a believer of just how erotic the act of kissing itself can be in books with how Damon chooses to kiss Scottie, possibly out of her senses and beyond. I am a definite believer in Damon and his prowess in kissing and otherwise. Wowza!

Because the book is told in Scottie’s point of view alone, it is at times difficult to assess what Damon might or might not be feeling. For a man who has no problem in getting any woman he wants (I believe I would not turn him down if he were to turn up on my doorstep – and I digress), there is little novelty perhaps left when it comes to the harem of women that parades in and out of his life.

I guess what affected Damon most was the fact that Scottie had waited all along, believing in giving herself to the one that she wanted to share the rest of her life with – even though that man had turned out to be the douche-bag of the century. At first it feels as if Damon remains unaffected by the scorching and burn-through-the-ereader chemistry that he and Scottie had going between them. But little by little the chips fall away & reveal that he is as stunned and affected by what is happening between them. 

The way that Megan makes the reader see how moved Damon is by the experience and beyond, when everything else suggests otherwise, that was the part of the story that I couldn’t get enough of! Loved, loved, loved the emotions that this little delicious number invoked.

Definitely recommended!

Final Verdict: In Project Virgin, Megan Crane tells a delicious tale not to be missed!

Favorite Quotes

“I  think  I’ll walk home,”  I  said after a  stretch of time  that could have  been  years.  It felt  like  decades, hot  and  dark  blue, and  I  wondered who  I’d be  grieving  tonight when  I cleared my  head  and slept alone.  Alexander or  Damon?   “I  could use  the  air.”
He  shifted then, and smiled, and  I  felt as if everything  had  changed.   As if  the world had been shoved out of its usual orbit, even if  I  couldn’t see  any  difference.   I  felt that restlessness, edgy  and needy, like  a  dull  kind  agony  right beneath my  skin.
“Or,”  he  said quietly, but with all  that electric  confidence  that pooled  deep  in my belly and pulsed hard between my legs, “you could let me give you what you want.”

“Which one of us knows what he’s doing?” Damon asked, his voice dark and hot and close to my ear. “You or me?”
“I don’t know to answer that. You refused to confirm if the rumors I heard about you were true.”
A rumble of very male laughter. Then the scrape of his teeth against the side of my jaw. He’d nipped me. He’d nipped me. My entire body seemed to switch on, straight into a white hot, humming blaze of fire.
“They’re true.”

The position was as ridiculous as I’d feared. My ass was in the air, my hair was tumbling everywhere, and I had to concentrate to lower myself toward him without simply collapsing and writhing against him the way I wanted.
But his mouth. His mouth. He tilted his head back and it was right there. It was temptation and sin. I could smell him—a hint of something spicy and a certain underlying maleness that was all him. I could feel the heat coming off of his skin.
My own mouth watered.
Between my legs, a sweet fire bloomed into a volcano.
Then I lowered myself down and fit my mouth to his.

He bent to capture my mouth with his, and everything exploded.
Holy shit.
I’d been kissed before. Some years, that was all Alexander and I had done.
I’d kissed a lot, and artfully. But never in my life had I ever been kissed like this.
Damon didn’t play. He took.
He was like a hurricane, taking me over and shaking me down, and I loved it. He ate at my mouth. He plundered me, until I was lost in the heat of it, the slide of his tongue and the clamor of my heart.

Damon pulled his mouth away from mine, but he left his hand where it was, his palm moving to gently abrade my nipple. The sensation was a wild tumult, a line of fire that shot straight from my breast to my clit and set me ablaze, and I couldn’t seem to do a thing in the world but arch into him.
He laughed, then let go, claiming my mouth again as he did.
The music in the club swelled around us, the high notes chasing each other through the insistent bass, and it was as if it was inside me, too. I was lost there, the music a delirious throb within me, Damon around me and beneath me, and his mouth moving against mine.

Higher he went, then higher still, until he cupped my pussy with his big, hard hand.
I trembled. Hard.
The club raged around us, right there on the other side of the balcony that shielded us, but I wouldn’t have cared if we were in the center of the dance floor and lit up by a set of spotlights.
“Please…” I whispered.
As if he’d been waiting for that, Damon smiled.

“You’re perfect,” he growled against my mouth, and then he claimed my mouth again as he drove two fingers deep into me.
I’d come before of course, me and my hand or a toy at the ready, but this was something else. This was different. This was a tearing apart. An awakening. I convulsed against him, going stiff as my hips tried to pound themselves against his hand, my head thrown back and my wild cries swallowed up by the loud club around us.
Damon laughed, a sound of rich male delight.
Then he claimed my mouth with his.
And he did it all over again.

He kissed me hard. Deep.
He made a noise I couldn’t interpret and then he was lifting me, positioning me on my back on the bed and then climbing over me.
We both groaned when he came down on top of me, pressing his whole body against mine. I let my legs fall open to cradle him against me, that hard cock of his separated from my aching pussy by two scant layers of thin fabric. For a moment we only stared at each other, making a lie of my commentary on plumbers and possessiveness as we lay there stripped bare in the dark.
I thought we both knew it.

“Have you done this a lot?” Even I could hear the wonder in my voice, and his dark blue eyes crinkled in the corners as he gazed down at me.
“Sex, yes,” he said, dropping his face down to put his mouth against my neck again. “Virgins, no.”
“Have you—”
“Scottie.” A drag of his teeth against my sensitized skin. “Quiet.”
Once again, I obeyed him.
And everything fell away.

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ARC Review: Lake of Dreams by Linda Howard

Format: E-booklakeofdreams.png
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Pocket Star
Hero: Richard Chance
Heroine: Theadora Marlow
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: May 02, 2016
Started On: March 22, 2016
Finished On: March 22, 2016

I have been undergoing a vicious dry spell in my reading the last couple of months. Every single book that I have picked up to read (some even from my favorite authors) have proved to be lackluster in some way and I eventually put them on hold. There were times I kept wondering whether romance genre altogether had lost its appeal to me. Maybe I had come to my saturation point where my beloved genre was concerned – all very alarming conclusions of course for someone who seldom goes on to read other genres.

Then I picked up Lake of Dreams by Linda Howard, up for grabs on Netgalley. Linda Howard has been a legendary writer back in the day. Her recent novels have lacked the punch that is the usual accompaniment of her novels. I actually believed this to be a full length novel and one that has not been previously published – I was wrong on both accounts. But the story that Lake of Dreams delivered is the reason why Linda Howard rose to stardom in the first place.

Theadora Marlow, a house painter who seems to lead a reasonably normal life is being plagued with dreams of the erotic variety. The man who visits her in the dreams takes her, possesses her in ways that she would never have thought possible, and yet at the end, always leaves her aching and crying for more when she eventually wakes up. Thea becomes affected to the point where she cannot concentrate on much, going to sleep itself becoming one of the hardest chores of her life.

To get away from it all, Thea makes her way to her family’s summer vacation cabin, hoping to let loose and relax without anyone intruding on her. However, as soon as she turns up, Richard Chance comes calling, the embodiment of the very man who has been visiting her dreams, some of it ending with a less than favorable impression of the man, leaving her bewildered and scared at the same time.

The short story that unfolded proved to be the balm that my frayed soul required, the water to my parched throat, the book that answered every single of my needs when it comes to reading romances. This was the Linda Howard that I remember, that I want to remember and keep in my memories and recall them from time to time. Earthy heroes, feisty heroines and a love so affecting that one can never be removed from it, if at all. 

I could not help but sigh as I turned the last page – because that is what a good book does to a soul that is starved for one.

Recommended!

Final Verdict: The beauty that is a well written romance is enough to tide one over a lifetime. 

Favorite Quotes

He took her that way, pulled to the edge of the bed and with only her lower body bared, and the mosquito netting between them. He took her with anger, and with tenderness. He took her with a passion that seared her, with a completeness that marked her forever as his. And, in the end, she did cry out. That triumph was his, after all. But her cries weren’t of pain, but of pleasure and fulfillment, and a glory she hadn’t known existed.

Before she could ask why, now that she was perfectly comfortable in his arms, he withdrew his arm from beneath her legs and let her lower body slide downward. Though he took care not to let her nightgown get caught between them, the friction of her body moving over his could scarcely have been more enticing. She caught her breath, her breasts and thighs tingling with heat even as she sought his boot tops with her feet and let her weight come to rest on them. Nor was he unaffected; there was no mistaking the firm swelling in his groin.

The taste of him was like coming home, their mouths fitting together without any awkwardness or uncertainty. A growl of hunger rumbled in his throat, and his entire body tensed as he took her mouth with his tongue. With the ease of long familiarity he thrust his hand under her T-shirt and closed it over her breast, working his fingers beneath the lace of the bra cup so his hand was on her bare skin, her nipple beading against his palm. Thea shuddered under his touch, a paroxysm of mingled desire and relief, as if she had been holding herself tightly against the pain of his absence and could only now relax.

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

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ARC Review: Driven by Fire by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookdrivenbyfire
Read with: Adobe Reader for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Fire, #2
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Matthew Ryder
Heroine: Jennifer Gauthier Parker
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 16, 2016
Started On: January 18, 2016
Finished On: January 18, 2016

I have been stalking Netgalley since forever, in anticipation of the release of the second book in the Fire series by Anne Stuart. As usual, once I had this baby safely in my TBR pile, I couldn’t focus on any other book, which is a given when it is the newest release by the Queen of Romance herself. I finished this in one sitting, which is rare for me these days. I always tend to take breaks now, the days of reading a  book straight in 4 hours a thing of the past as I have grown older. But Driven by Fire demanded that I lose sleep over it as I raced to the finish line, determined that I wouldn’t miss out on any of the deliciousness that is a fresh Anne Stuart novel.

37 year old Matthew Ryder is a member of the infamous Committee, a group of high level operatives and assassins who are trained in the art of deception and all the skills required in order to preserve democracy in its member countries. 28 year old Jennifer Gauthier Parker is a member of the notorious Gauthier family of organized crime and political power, one that she has distanced herself from a long time back. A pro bono lawyer, Jenny is hellbent on doing good where her family is determined to live their life doing just the opposite.

Ryder and Jenny’s paths cross during a night that Jenny’s father reaches out to her to save her youngest brother. Stubborn in her belief that her brother is innocent where a heinous crime such as human trafficking is concerned, Jenny is the one who prevents her brother from ending up in the hands of the ruthless operative who stands in her way, and later finds herself turning up on his very doorstep, determined that The Committee help her where one of the victims of the trafficking ring are concerned. Little does she know that once she enters the den that is Ryder’s fortress, nothing in her life would remain the same, ever again.

Ryder might dislike the fact that he and Jenny are thrown together, with both having to stick it out until he can find out who it is that has it out for the seemingly innocent Jennifer Gauthier. A man who is more cynical than most, Ryder prefers his life without commitments of the kind which features women like Jenny. While his reaction towards her on a physical level makes him think that he has gone too long without a woman, his suspicions about Jenny holding back something from him makes for the pivotal point in the story, and one that may turn out to be a tough selling point for many a reader. But true to the style of the legend that Anne Stuart is, she makes the relationship that fosters and grows between Jenny and Ryder one that reaches its ultimate explosive conclusion, delivering a read that is combustible on many a level.

I also have to admit. Between the two books that have been published in the series so far, the clear favorite of mine would have to be the debut, Consumed by Fire. Ryder is ruthless in a way that makes the James Bishop look like a wuss. I am not kidding. But the reason why I love books by Anne Stuart is because she doesn’t shortchange in her delivery of ruthless heroes. She makes them stay true to their character. They don’t turn into a puddle of gooey softness the minute they know of their vulnerability towards the heroine. Just the opposite in fact. They fight their emotions, and they fight it hard, but inevitably its a losing battle – thank God for that. Ryder while ruthless in a way that most readers might have a problem forgiving, I loved him, all that ruthlessness as well. But I did wish that he had to grovel a bit more where Jenny was concerned. But then again, Anne Stuart delivers heroines who are pragmatic at best – while they are strong and independent, they have no qualms about accepting their fate where their love for the hero is concerned.

Jenny is a heroine who has it bad. With a family that cares naught for her, and a family that one should be leery of at best, it is Jenny’s naivety that gets her in trouble as it is. Naivety in trusting the wrong people, in being too trusting – period. With Ryder, even though Jenny knows that she might not survive his brand of ruthlessness, it is because she doesn’t trust Ryder to do right by her that she continues to skirt away from coming clean with him. Given the circumstances, I wouldn’t have accepted an agent of Ryder’s caliber to turn his back on his mission, and I think Jenny knew that deep in her heart. I think one of the reasons why readers would have a difficult time in coming to terms with what happens as the story progresses is because there is seldom any talk of Ryder’s past, where he comes from and what makes him tick. Consumed by Fire tended to be more well rounded in this regard which is why it was more splendid in that manner and ended up being the five star read it was for me. But like I said earlier on, I didn’t have any qualms with accepting Ryder and Jenny as they were, but this heart of mine did wish that Ryder would have redeemed himself, just a tad more where Jenny was concerned.

I was ecstatic to come across two characters who are most likely to get stories of their own if Anne Stuart is going to continue with the Fire series, which I dearly hope she does! Jack Abbott and Remy Vartain makes for two secondary characters that appeared in this novel for whom I would love to have their own stories! Especially Jack Abbott. Anne Stuart seldom writes about heroes and heroines who have known each other for a while. For her, it is always a case of a chance meeting that explodes into something hot, worthwhile and long-lasting. Abbott’s story if I am not mistaken, is set to follow the less traversed road and I can’t wait to indulge!

Driven by Fire recommended for fans of ruthless heroes. You don’t need to read the series in order to enjoy this one. But be warned. Ryder will shake and throttle your comfort zones, if you have one where ruthless heroes are concerned. For those who love Anne Stuart’s brilliance in crafting them as they should be, Driven by Fire should be a hit!

Final Verdict: Caught between loyalty towards family & the fiery love for a ruthless operative. This is why Anne Stuart tops the game – every single time.

Favorite Quotes

He pushed his tongue past her teeth, and she shuddered in response. At some point her hands had come up from her sides and landed on his shoulders, but instead of pushing him away, which she no doubt would have wanted to do, she was digging her fingers in, pulling him closer to that delicious body of hers.
He wanted to fuck her. It would be easy enough to hoist her onto the butcher-block countertop, yank down that baggy pair of boxers, and thrust inside her. She’d like it—he’d make sure of that— but horny as he was, she wasn’t worth the trouble it would bring.

She opened her mouth to tell him to get off of her. She opened her mouth to tell him no. She opened her mouth to the man who’d hurt her, and she lifted up and pressed it against his.
His reaction was instantaneous. He cupped her face, holding her still, and slid his tongue between her teeth, an intimacy that startled her into even greater arousal. He kissed her with such thoroughness, his tongue dancing, tasting, teasing, and she heard her soft little whimper of response as her fingers tightened on his shoulders and she closed her eyes.

“Please,” she whispered.
He was kissing his way down her neck, over the soft swell of her breast.
“Please what, Parker? Please leave you alone?”
The words filled her with despair, and she shook her head wordlessly.
“Please put your mouth on my breasts and suck?” he suggested softly. “Is that what you want?”
“Yes.” She couldn’t believe it was her voice. “Please,” she said again.

She should touch him, pleasure him, get him ready—the thoughts swirled through her brain—but then she felt him, rock hard against her, and his solid thrust went in deep, so deep, and she slid her arms around him, pulling him tight against her. Her nipples were so hard they hurt, pressed against the silky smoothness of his muscled chest as he moved, sliding his hands under her butt and lifting her up so he could go deeper still. He was huge, so big she wasn’t sure she could take all of him, but he whispered in her ear, his tongue tracing her lobe, reading her fears. “You can take me. Just relax.”

He was all around her, in her head, in her heart, in her cunt, and she wanted to devour him, own him, never let him go. His slow, steady thrusts made her gasp, getting her used to the size and power of him, stilling her apprehension, stoking her desire, as sweat slicked their bodies until they were slapping against each other, hard, fast, again, again, again.

He braced himself over her, kissing the side of her mouth, letting his tongue trace her lips, slip past her teeth to coax her tongue forward, kissing her as he’d never kissed anyone before. He moved his mouth to her ear, biting into the lobe, and she made a muffled sound of pleasure. “I need more,” he whispered. “I need you to take more of me.”
He felt her hesitation, and he kissed her mouth again. “I’ll help you,” he murmured, licking the side of her neck, and he slid his hand down between their sweat-slick bodies to find the bud of her clitoris.

He was almost home, and he knew he should hold back rather than risk making her uncomfortable, but need was raging through his body, and he needed his entire cock deep, deep inside her. He pulled out, pushing in gently, then pulled out again, and she reached up and caught his arms in her tight grip. “No,” she said. “I want all of you. Give it to me.”
He couldn’t have stopped himself to save his life.

“I’m not mourning Soledad and Billy,” she said in a voice so soft he almost couldn’t hear it.
“Then what are you mourning?”
“Loss,” she said, turning her back on him and walking to the window. “The loss of my brother, loss of innocence, loss in the belief that I knew what I was doing. You.”
“What about me?”
She kept her face averted, her back straight. “I’m mourning the loss of you.”

A moment later he pulled away, and she went flying through the air, ending on her back on the huge bed, staring up at him in shock as he ripped off his clothes, then crouched over her like a predatory beast. “I don’t care if you’re afraid of me,” he growled. “I don’t care if you’ve been hurt. All I care about is fucking you as hard as you can take it. I’m going to make you come so hard you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to hell. I’m going to fuck you so hard that no one will ever come close. You’ll never get me out of your mind, out of your body.”

He kissed her mouth, slowly, deliberately, his tongue making lazy swirls inside her mouth, his teeth biting down on her lower lip, his hand sliding down her stomach to touch her once more, and she could feel the excitement building almost instantly, and she wanted him, so, so badly. “I need you,” she whispered, her voice raw.
“I need you inside me.”
“Then take me in your mouth.”

Purchase Links: Amazon

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ARC Review: In the Waning Light by Loreth Anne White

Format: E-bookinthewaninglight
Read with: Adobe Reader for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Hero: Blake Sutton
Heroine: Meggie Brogan
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 3, 2015
Started On: November 6, 2015
Finished On: November 10, 2015

Meggie Brogan returns to her hometown of Shelter Bay because she wants to prove that she has indeed left her past behind. The past that involves the brutal murder of her sister Sherry, a murder that had rocked and torn asunder the idyllic town where she had grown up in. The murder that had splintered her family, having now left her all alone in this world, except for the man who wants to make her his, if only she would let him.

A true crime writer, Meggie has never broken the cardinal rule of not picking an unsolved case, which is sort of what Sherry’s case is. Although the killer had been identified and things had gone horribly wrong in between, Meggie can’t help but believe that a part of her subconscious keeps holding back fragments of the memories associated with the day Sherry had been killed. Returning to her hometown raises more skeletons from her closet, ones like the sexy Blake Sutton, the man she had left behind when she had fled her home all those years ago.

Blake has got his hands full with being a single father to his son Noah and trying to restore his family’s place of business to its former glory. And then in walks the woman that had gotten away, the woman whom he has never forgotten, though so many things had happened in his life since then. Meggie’s quest to write a book on her sister’s murder brings a fresh source of worry for Blake even amidst the haze of desire for her that almost obliterates everything else. The town of Shelter Bay is about to be rocked to its very core once again as Meggie’s quest for the truth takes her deeper into a web of secrets, lies and half-truths, secrets so deadly that she might not live to tell the tale she came home to write.

Loreth Anne White writes a mean story with in In the Waning Light, throwing the reader into the chaos that she has so beautifully crafted. I was in shock, in awe and everything in between as I kept turning the pages, trying to piece together what had happened that fateful day when Sherry had died such a brutal death. Meggie and Blake’s connection that rekindles was another factor that kept me glued to the pages. Though Loreth doesn’t spend all that time discussing their past, the bits and pieces tossed in between makes for wholesome reading, showing a passion that had refused to die even with all that distance and time that had come and gone since then.

There is so much tragedy and loss in the story that I at times felt like I was totally going to lose it. The secrets as they came forth like a dam that had broken, kept me on my toes, afraid of what just might be around the corner. I think it was because of all the factors above that In the Waning Light turned out to be a story that really got to me. I kept telling my husband about this great book I was reading; I was like a child with a beautiful sleek new toy that was all mine and I wanted to savor it in small doses but wanted to just take all of it as well. I actually managed to convince my husband to read this book, my husband who rarely reads, if ever. This book consumed him just like it did me, he barely even made the time to watch any of his favorite TV shows, just holed himself in the room and kept reading, cursing me all the while for giving him a book that refused to let go.

There is such beauty to the way the settings are described in this story that I absolutely fell in love with it. There are authors who try too hard to describe the scenes they are writing and end up failing miserably, making the reader flip through the pages just to get to the story that is at its core. Believe me, cos I have read my fair share of those books. But In the Waning Light tossed all that out of the window and made me sigh and yearn at the magic that Loreth was weaving right in front of my eyes. It is almost as if you are engulfed in the fog described, being tossed around in the roiling sea while the wailing wind tries to snatch you from the scene before it engulfs you as a whole. That was how I felt through every single scene in the book. It was all encompassing. It was that gripping, and I loved the sensation of being thoroughly swept away!

The suspense itself was topnotch. The clues lead the reader on a wild goose chase and then some. But at a certain point, you start getting a feel for who the murderer could be, that is if you are the type who questions every character that you come across in the story.

A small town brimming with secrets everyone is keeping from the other person, even their loved ones, those secrets that can rip families apart and toss a town inside out; those are the type of secrets that Loreth was dealing with In the Waning Light. A heroine suffering from a memory block, the same memory block that perhaps had saved her life long ago, the very block that prevents her from committing to anything or anyone in her life except for her passion of writing true crime.

If there ever was a romantic suspense that I would recommend the hell out of this year, it would be this.

Final Verdict: Blew me away. Completely. Cannot recommend it just enough!

Favorite Quotes

She leaned in toward him, her lids lowering, and desire gushed hot through his gut, kicking every residual thought clean out of his head and sending his blood south with a sweet, pulsing delirium as his lips met hers. Her mouth was cool, soft, firm, and she opened to him.
He slid his fingers up into the dense, soft waves at the nape of her neck. A moan slipped from her throat, and her hand touched his arm, moving up his biceps, along his shoulder, encircling his neck as she pulled him closer, and opened her mouth wider, moving suddenly faster, hungry, her tongue, slick, warm, mating, warring with his.

He reached for her hands, and drew her to him, slowly, inexorably, giving her time to stop him, the question implicit in his pacing, in the darkening pools of his eyes. And when she didn’t resist, he yanked her firmly against his solid frame, his other hand sliding down her hips and cupping her buttocks. He pulled her pelvis up against his groin as he forced his mouth down hard on hers. She felt his erection pressed between them.
Heat exploded logic from Meg’s mind. She came up onto her toes, arching into him, opening her mouth under the crushing aggression of his hunger, her tongue tangling, fighting with his.

Sex with Blake was elemental and it was rough. It was slammed up against the wall, her legs wrapped around him, and it was back down on his bed with her on top of him rocking against his pelvis, milking him, panting, a trembling tension building in every fiber of her body as she clamped his wrists down above his head, and he bucked under her, up into her. He flipped her onto her back, and she tasted blood as his teeth raked and bit her lips, and she responded with equal ferocity. He kneed her thighs open wide, and thrust up into her, impaling her, forcing her to gasp and burn with each push to the hilt of his thick cock. She felt the wet heat of his mouth down her belly, at her groin, his tongue inside her. And she shattered like bridge cables that had held too taut for too many years, suddenly exploding in an almighty crash as rolling contractions seized her body and her mind.

She eyed him. “If I didn’t know better, Mr. Sutton, I’d say you were jealous.”
His features tensed, and his eyes grew dark. She swallowed. He stepped forward, grabbed her shoulders, and kissed her hard, backing her up against the wall. “Maybe I am, Meggie Brogan,” he murmured over her mouth, his hand sliding down her back, and cupping her buttocks. Heat arrowed instantly into her groin. She was turned on by his rough and sudden intensity. “Shall we christen these nice clean carpets?” he whispered, his mouth moving down her neck, down to the vee in her shirt. Her nipples contracted.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes

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